Monterrey...such a curious city. Here are some facts about Monterrey: this is the capital of the Northeastern state of Nuveo Leon and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Mexico, after Mexico City and Guadalajara. This is a powerful economic center with a strong industrial activity where a cultural life just strated to emerge.
When we think about Monterrey, we think about steel, metal, aluminum, glass, automotive industry, but also now softaware, new technology, innovation and even health.
This is the wealthiest city with the highest GDP (Gross Dometstic Product) of Mexico, but also of Latin America: 31 000 US$ per capita in 2012.
We thus find big Mexican corporations such as Cemex, Vitro, Oxxo, Grupo Bimbo, Mercedes-Benz Mexico, BMW Mexico, Grupo Alfa, Heineken and a lot of others. Recently, the Korean giant of the automobile Kia implanted a huge manufacturing plant.
Three years ago the area was considered as highly sensitive and dangerous because of "narcos" (understand here drug dealers). The situation was so critical and the police so corrupted that the Mexican army had to take actions. Still today, some parts of the city are not safe and some precautions need to be taken, especially to go through the neighbor state of Tamaulipas, but do we know any big city in the world which is totally safe?
Regarding education few universities dispute their first place, in the state and national ranking, such as the TEC de Monterrey and its EGADE (considered as the first Business School of Latin America), the UDEM, the Universidad Panamericana and its IPADE Business School, the UANL and others. Of course all of those universities are private and highly expensive (at the exception of the UANL). Even if a lot of scholarships are distributed, only students issued from a certain social class can afford the cost of those studies.
After having said that, "who" is Monterrey?
According to me, Monterrey is a kind of non-identified object, a mistery, a strange alliance between Mexican culture and influence from the US. The city is indeed highly Americanized (we are located at 3 hours from the US border): for the best...or the worst. If we find some typical houses in the city center, the architecture is mainly urban and can easily be assimilated to suburban American cities: huge malls, no sidewalks, fast tracks with big cars, Coca-Cola as national beverage with all the health issues that it causes (diabetes, obesity), restaurants implemented within commercial places. No possibility to walk around without any final destination for the simple reason that you will never be able to find footpaths. European cities model is far from Monterrey and it's totally normal to take your car to go to walk to the park here (for people who walk...)
But at the same time, Mexican food is really present, mainly meat based (I will talk later about the famous "carne asada" in the north). Even if a lot of people speak English, the national language is still the Spanish! And the charm of Monterrey? Mountains! Outdoor activities! The city is surrounded by mountains and natural parks where we can find a lot of activities: cycling, canyoning, hiking, camping and this list is not exhaustive!
Moreover, a cultural life is now growing with the famous museum of MARCO, some art galleries, the development of special cultural events and especially the development of a "gourmet" culture.
Monterrey started to break free from its American shackles and from the yoke of the drug terror. Monterrey finds now new inspirations. Monterrey looks at new lifestyles, maybe more European. Monterrey is building its new identity. I am grateful to be part of this mutation and this is definitely what I want to share in this blog!