I moved to Monterrey – Mexico about a month ago and I like it. I like it in spite of the fact that Monterrey is one of the least known cities in the world and in spite of its long history of violence.
Demographically, Monterrey is the third largest city in Mexico, after Mexico City D.F. and Guadalajara, however outside Mexico it is relatively unknown. Coming from tiny but well-known TLV, this fact seemed very weird, but soon I realized how little we know about this country and how bad its world reputation is.
Back to Monterrey, here are a few facts for those of you who will decide to visit it in spite of its unappealing image:
Monterrey is the second wealthiest and the most expansive city in the country, home of the noveau–rich Mexican billionaires. The hill mansions might just overshadow the fanciest Hollywood houses.
Monterrey is also an important industrial and business city, the center of Mexican manufacturing and home of some of the largest company plants in the world.
Life in Monterrey can be described as completely normal American, with a developing country syndrome of a novo rich glitz. Sights of fast food chains, contemporary architecture, and a complete lack of public transportation make you feel like you’re in any town USA. Cultural adoration of big shiny brands together with fancy Mexican young women barely walking on their ridiculously high heels is one of the only reminders that we are still in Latin America.
To be rich and show it is the name of the game in the fancy bubble of San Pedro Garza Garcia area, some parts of which you will be ashamed to show up without your personal driver or LV newest purse.
Fighting its fake flashy image, this city has its own unique underground vibe, fast growing collaborating spaces, social development projects and growing numbers of young entrepreneurs. In the Cultural side there are varieties of establishments: theaters, museums, best Ballet Company in the country as well based here.
The people here love and are aware of a healthy lifestyle, on the contrary Mexico’s bad image of the most obese country in the world; enormous numbers of health clubs, gyms and yoga centers can be found specially in the nicer part of the city – San Pedro. Rubber running trails are provided for the outdoor runners and groups like “hash harriers” – international group for drinkers with running problem (this is how the define themselves) are taking place here every other week. There you can enjoy the company of eclectic runners from all over the world and the combination of booze and run.
Monterrey has some of the top plastic surgeons and facilities in the world. It attracts lots of the wealthy Latin Americans who come here to make their “plastic” dreams come true as lots of the Latinas physically (and excuse me my Latinas girlfriends) lacking a naturally large fronts. It’s even became a tradition, that breast implants received as a present for a girls 15th birthday as she celebrates her “quincinera”. Of course not everyone gets her plastic fantastic dream come true, as it still stays the share of the rich and famous.
But nevertheless Monterrey has some darks sides. As far as two years ago it was the epicenter of the harshest cartel wars, and up till today the foreigner service workers living here receive hazard pay as their service considered being in a high-risk area equal to places like Afghanistan, Iraq, or Iran.
To summarize my first impression of this least touristic city in Mexico will be that it’s a weird mix. Weird mix between the rich and poor, the old and the new, between traditions to overpowering west influence. You live and breathe those differences here surrounded by beautiful and magical mountains.
For business or pleasure, for good or for worst, Monterrey has it all.