In which we make the most out of our trip in Monterrey, and have a set of wheels to get us there.
We breezed our way from Austin (did you come to our SXSW Imposition?) through the Mexican checkpoints, waved along without showing our passports by heavily armed men in tanker trucks and fancy red flags with which to do their waving along, and began the long stretch of open landscape dotted with Joshua trees and what I imagine the world looked like before it got fucked up by our existence.
We watched the sun set gracefully over mountains before entering the border into Monterrey on streets that a night before were blockaded with burning cars and overturned trucks–witnessed first hand by Eyebodega's Rob Chabebe on his way to a one night stand. Cops were reportedly killed in the resulting standoff, but there were no signs of violence upon our entrance, just a traffic jam. We winded through the dizzying roadways and finally reached our hotel an hour later, where we were greeted by the friendly owner of a small hotel.
He gave us a quick ride in the back of his pick up truck in search of food. We dined on campechanas and toronjas off a street vendor with the dudes from Eyebodega and hilarious Joshua Heller of Current. Then we headed to Barrio Antigua where Garage and Hotel Fundador are located and wandered the streets, downed 20 peso tequilla shots along the way, watched some band in Star Trek outfits perform, and ran into Jon Caramanica and Zach Baron, who did not partake in our drunken festivities. We met a fellow Brooklynite at Yo Garage who gave us a mini-tour and likened the area to the Lower East Side. We crashed.
Early morning, we drove west outside of Monterrey to Grutas de Garcia (caves of Garcia) where we ascended to the top of a mountain in the Sierra el Fraile and entered a 16 chamber labyrinth-like cave system filled with 60 million year old stalactites and stalagmites. I hate to sound New Age-y but exploring the inside of a prehistoric cave inside a mountain top once submerged under seawater was spiritual, to say the least. Also, leave it to Catholics to discover eerie images of Jesus Christ's face calcified into the wall and stalactites convincingly formed into crucifixes suspended from the ceiling.
Then a 30 peso burritos and a drive through Villa de Garcia – one of the oldest towns in the Northeast. One man stopped me to ask where I was from (or literally, “what are you?” – “usted, que es?”). I said I was Filipina – he gave an approving head nod then shook my hand and said “Manny Pacquiao.”
We arrived on the first day of MtyMx around 4pm to realize the show was retardedly postponed due to electrical problems. Rumors trickled in that certain bands weren't coming, buses were a no show or disgustingly behind schedule, people were turned away, and Todd P was stopped at the border, which later turned out to be true. We pretty much had the “fuck it, We're in Mexico – let's have a good time” approach to the situation. Others, mainly those fishing for a story, harped on the mishaps.
Though sparsely attended the first day, the people we encountered were incredibly genuine and friendly, especially one kid named Pablo who spit on us when he talked and offered watered down vodka out of a huge water jug. After asking him how he felt about the drug cartels, he told us we were in the safest place we could be in Monterrey, but not to buy pot off the streets, unless they were in suits because apparently they're the ones who grow it themselves, as opposed to the more dangerous “hippie looking” dudes. This is when we started to wonder if he was full of shit.
The night filled out a bit more. We drank our 16 peso 40 ounces, made friends, watched bands. This was a party after all, even if we waited until 2am to see Acid Mother's Temple, only to lock our keys in our car and to have one of the grinning security guys help us jimmy-rig the door open.
We headed to Garage around 3am to find a very exhausted Madison of Coasting lounging with Alex of Alexico/White Ninja. She said the afterparty bands were in a bus from Austin circling around Monterrey trying to find the venue, then she went to bed. Jeremy ended up escorting the bands from the bus a couple blocks away because the driver could not (or would not) drive through the narrow streets of Barrio Antiguo. We watched Aa play at around 4am bundled up in our jackets then called it a night.
Next morning we drove out to Cañón de la Huasteca. If there is a god out there, I truly believe he lives here. Completely surrounded by vertical ascending mountains arching towards the sky. The sun baked down and we lay against the cliff-side watching a soccer game on the open desert field. A nice lady took our first group photo and an old man hammering metal echoed across the canyon.
Day two of MtyMx went a bit more smoothly. We arrived around 2pm to be greeted by a jovial Todd P who talked candidly about bus mistakes. We walked to a packed 7-Eleven at the entrance and saw Das Racist drinking mezcal on the sidewalk then loaded up on cheap beer. This is the day Todd P infamously called out some bands for being pussies.
I had high hopes that during his set, Dan Deacon would persuade the locals to spread out across the field for some hardcore jazzercize'd calisthenics. Instead he played the reassuring camp counselor and warmed up the crowd in a tight dance circle while reminding us how lucky we all were to be sharing this experience together. Los Fancy Free put on one of the best performance I've seen from them, though I could have done with out the lead singer. The performance cascaded into an on-stage dance party, handing off instruments to people in the crowd – I doubt they were actually playing.
Next morning we drove out to Cola de Caballo, south of Monterrey. We read that you ride horses to a waterfall. The drive south past densely packed suburbs into vast expanses of lush mountain was only 50 kilometers or so from the rocky deserts where we saw god the day before, but we realized that our cascada was a tourist trap and we weren't about to take a five minute horse ride on a cobbled street. The waterfall was splendid, but. Lame. There was a narrow trail ascending the side of the mountain, but it was completely littered with trash, which was a huge bummer.
Driving back, we stopped at a lake seated between green valleys, where a Mexican tried to sell us another ride on his horse. We attempted to pet a donkey but he was not cool with it. Instead, we sat and drank a 15 peso beer and shared a cóctel de camarones that surprisingly did not give us the runs.
Last day of MtyMx was the most solid and successful. We got to see a bunch more friends who finally made it after hours and hours on the bus. I woke up from a nap to catch Best Fwends, and the rest of the day was spent floating thanks to some locals. We ran into Benjamin from HEALTH and shared a walk up to the show after loading up on coffee and Red Bull. Attendance at the festival never really matched up to expectations, but who cares when you're already surrounded by fun people and friends.
We left at 4am for the Northern Mexican highway on our way back to Texas for a flight back to New York. There were no road blockades, no sketchy drug cartel looking dudes, no problems crossing the border, just a car full of content MtyMx partyers waiting anxiously to get to the closest Taco Cabana and the welcoming sun rising over Mexico.
Hey Todd P crew and Yo Garage: Let's do this again soon, ok?