I was in Mexico last year and I’ve posted a few stories from that trip already. This story, though, by far takes the cake on my craziest night in Mexico.
I was visiting the city of Monterrey in the state of Nuevo Leon and there was a festival going on- Festival Santa Lucia at Parque Fundidora. It may have been a multi day thing but I only attended one night when they were having live Jazz music by the band Kyle Eastwood (the Clint Eastwood’s son) plays in.
My friend and I went together and were supposed to meet two of her friends at this event. They were Americans teaching at the international school in Monterrey. I was excited to meet new people and also relieved that I would actually be able to follow the conversation and not be totally clueless like I was most of the time I was in Mexico. Be gracious, por favor-mi Espanol es improving.
The first few minutes of getting to the park consisted of us trying to find the right entrance at the park (as there were several and we didn’t know the right one and it was dark already), finding the actual event (at first we thought the event would be by the giant ferris wheel so we made a bee line for it), and then finding the people we were supposed to meet. We were late and the concert had already started and of course, there were almost no empty seats! Certainly not four empty seats in a row.
So we kind of stood around, then sat on steps, and then literally
stalked watched and waited for people to get up and then run to take their seats. Sometimes, we would be too slow and other people would take the seats. Or we’d think up to 4 people were getting up and only 3 would get up. Slowly but surely, we made our way to almost the front row, At some point, I was just like I am happy with my seat but the others just wanted better and better seats. So we kept changing seats like every 5 minutes. With all the commotion we were causing with each move, one lady finally turned around and shushed us! Cringe!
Apart from all that craziness, the music was really good. I felt very grown up and city-girl like.
After the concert, we all decided to go have dinner. One of the teachers had a car (she drove her car all the way from the US (mid west) to Mexico when she moved, which I thought was very brave) so we all got into it and headed to La Bodegita Del Medio. A Cuban restaurant my friend had been to and said was really good. For the first 10 minutes, the GPS wasn’t behaving itself do we drove in the opposite direction and had to turn around. Of course, all the signs are in Spanish and really only one of us knew Spanish very well. The google maps on the phones weren’t really working – or was it the data being slow? I didn’t mind- it gave me a chance to see more of Monterrey.
But no joke, the way they drive there is craaaazy! Think New York City or Lagos, Nigeria crazy. So there was quite a bit of us swerving and sudden braking and running red lights by mistake and almost missing exits off of the highway and check this- turning into the only street in Monterrey where they drive on the left side of the road (England style) and of course we turned into the right lane because we can’t read Spanish or something. We got a few loud and lingering honks – that’s for sure. It was not a boring ride.
We got to the restaurant and there was a huge wait. Apparently, it is expected to make reservations at most restaurants- not just the fancy ones. They had a live salsa band here and we could tell from the outside that it was a fun atmosphere. But the wait was very long. We almost jumped ship and went to a steak place nearby. At that point though, we had waited so long we decided to wait it out. And yes- it was worth it!
The food was great. We all ordered the same thing. lol. Rice, fried plantains, beans, and chicken. They even had a room where they stored the Cuban cigars. It had some sort of humidifier which made the room look steamy. I heard it’s to keep the cigars fresh. The decor in the restaurant was also quite unique. Apparently, patrons sign their names or whatever else they want all over the walls. We didn’t.
Then one of us suggested we hit the dance floor … I was like “no, ma’am. you do NOT want to see me salsa!“. I mean, I am not a terrible dancer, but I was in the land of the salsa people- I wasn’t going to embarrass myself with my limited skill. Plus, 4 girls dancing salsa?? I had just imagined it had to be a male and female dance. So we said we’d dance right there by our table. Less embarrassing. It just wasn’t practical. So then we said we’d only go to the dance floor for 5 minutes. That turned into about half an hour and it was a lot of fun! We only left because of what time it was.
Not that I danced beautifully or anything. But the people were so friendly; random people came and danced with us, showed us some moves, talked with us and asked where we were from (we clearly stood out). There was this couple that came and danced with us. The lady was a zumba instructor so she instructed us on the salsa a little bit, and the guy (I don’t know what he did for a living) also showed us some moves but his eyes were closed the whole time. I started to think he was blind so I was even doubly impressed. But one of the girls said he was probably high/drunk. Oh well. Still impressed.
After leaving the restaurant, it was the whole GPS trouble again to try to get back to my friend’s apartment. In the midst of this struggle, we turned into a one way street, and it was a busy street. More lingering loud honks again. But seriously, the GPS did say to make that turn. Anyway, we were finally on the right road home and then we got into some traffic. Apparently, it was police checkpoints.
The girls explained to me that this was common. The police and dogs would check for drugs; especially on pay day. And that day was pay day. The driver was also especially nervous because she had American license plates- apparently, it’s worse for you if you are a foreigner? I didn’t really get that. Anyway, the police came by and asked a few questions in Spanish. We must have given the right answers because we were allowed to resume our journey. I was already thinking about what I would tell my parents if for whatever reason I ended up in Mexican jail. Haha.
We finally get to my friend’s apartment and the other 2 continued to their apartment. We wished them all the luck in getting there and asked them to text us when they made it home. They made it ok.
It was a fun filled night packed with lots of [unexpected] activity and real action. The girls I met were fun to hang out with so it was great company, many laughs, and a wonderful experience. Definitely una noche loca!