August 2014 in Monterrey, Mexico

Wedding August 2014 Monterrey

Few things can lure me to Monterrey, Mexico during the dog days of summer. A long-awaited August 2014 family wedding did the trick, though. On July 31, my husband and I stepped out of the Monterrey airport and into a wall of 36o C (97o Fahrenheit) heat and humidity.

Mexican weddings have a way of growing during the planning stages. Fortunately, the months of hard work by this bride and la wedding planner culminated in a lovely church ceremony and fabulous dinner party that will be remembered for years by the 450 guests. I was told that some 150 were still partying when breakfast of chilaquiles and menudo was served at 4:00 a.m.

Since the invitation stated that the event was de etiqueta, my husband packed his tuxedo. I bought a long dress and, like my sisters-in-law, had my makeup professionally done. At 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night, the waiters began filing into the banquet room with the first course. The 13-member band played for hours. I got to visit with a niece who today lives in Mexico City and another who resides in Guayaquil, Ecuador, along with people I hadn’t seen in years. It was Monterrey at its formal finest.

Stories in the local news were less positive. The non-stop story of the week was the tower of the Tanarah Plaza in suburban San Pedro. The first part of the project, a trendy shopping center with La Méjico, one of my favorite restaurants, has been open for several years. Construction on the tower, slated to include a hotel, was well underway last August when an accident on the site resulted in a two-day closure of a major thoroughfare. In their investigation, city officials discovered that the builders had exceeded the originally approved height by 23 meters (6 stories).

Construction has been halted for the last 11 months, as the two sides wrangled. The importance of the issue goes well beyond Tanarah since affluent San Pedro has grown wildly in the last decades and along with it, questions about construction quality, possible favoritism and bribes. Last Friday, August, 1, it was great PR for Mayor Ugo Ruíz and San Pedro when, standing on the top floor of Tanarah Tower, Ruíz sledgehammered the first blow to the extra meters.

The media also had plenty to say about undocumented Central American children making their way to the U.S. Naturally enough, Mexican are more concerned with how this flood is affecting their own country. One example: Texas governor Rick Perry has loudly made it known that since President Obama won’t do it, Perry is deploying 1000 National Guard troops to the Texas border with Mexico.

Guess where those children are already piling up before being smuggled into the U.S.? Like the Texas border towns, their Mexican counterparts across the Río Grande are also struggling with the overwhelming numbers. It’s quite possible that when U.S. troops arrive, Mexico will have to deal with tens of thousands of stranded unaccompanied, poor, foreign children.

Inevitably, the drug wars and insecurity were in the media last week. Milenio newspaper carried a disturbing article last Friday. Of the 618 murders in Mexico during July (yep, that’s during one month), half occurred in five states. The good news, if you can find a bright side, is that in July, 2013 the number was 915. In addition, murder rates have declined fairly steadily during the last year. In 2014 to date, the total is 4,741, compared to 6,540 in the first seven months of 2013.

On Monday morning when a taxi driver got to talking about his experiences working night shifts, I asked if he’d ever had problems due to la inseguridad. He made the sign of the cross and replied, “So far, no, thank God.” He believed that the problems will never be solved and Mexicans simply have to live with the reality. This trip reaffirmed my commitment to see my novel, Monterrey Brewing Company, through to publication.

Novel update: the revised manuscript has been through one more round with a trusted paid editor and with two perceptive acquaintances. I hope to make the latest revisions and send it to literary agents in the mid fall. Personal update: I’m out of the boot after fracturing my foot on the Camino de Santiago and allowed a half-hour walk per day!

 

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