This article is part of the The Great American Reach Around series.

José "Talas" Talamantes

Monterrey, México

The so-called "City of the Mountains" is a relatively big city of 3.5 million people in the northeastern part of the country, our state borders with Texas but the 130 miles that separate the city from the border used to keep us safe from all the problems with immigration and narcotraffic… well, not anymore. But let's not talk about it, I'm sure some of my fellow paisanos will touch the theme in a little more detail and well, this is a nation wide problem.

If I had to describe the city I would say that basically, Monterrey is Mexico City's weird little brother who thinks he's better than him because he showers every day and lives closer to the rich guy in the neighborhood. But don't be fooled by that, the feelings of the Regiomontanos about the United States can be defined by two words: love and hate.

Love in the same sense that almost everyone likes the American people, a house in the suburbs, a big SUV, a nice job, the whole American Dream. And hate in the same sense that almost everyone dislikes the American people, a house in the suburbs I don't own, a big SUV I can't afford, the shitty job I can't stand… oh yeah, there's also the whole war business, most Mexicans hate violence and would like to keep it on the TV where it belongs. But in the end it's mostly because Mexicans are apathetic, maybe that's why corruption runs rampant in our government and most people still prefer to watch telenovelas on TV.

It's traditional for a big sector of the population to go to shopping in Laredo or McAllen, in the border with Texas… why? I don't know, I do my shopping online. As my fellow regiomontano goon Topolino pointed out, a lot of stuff is actually cheaper in the United States, specially everything related to electronics. Food, not so much.

Monterrey is not what we would call a touristy place, industry and business are what define us and it shows. The buildings are spread around the city in a mix of pride and lack of planning. There's a big difference between social classes, most big business in the city (ergo, the whole country) are family business, so the wealth is kept in few hands. You can easily identify this families by their long last names.

The rest of the population is composed of mostly low-income factory workers and self-employed little business men…

The people of Monterrey are famous in Mexico for being what we would call "codos", greedy, the Scrooge of the country, but for us is a matter of survival since the beginning of the town because the weather around here is not what we would call generous for agriculture, if fact, air-conditioning is the norm in most buildings. And well, city life is expensive by nature.

The mountains around the city offer a great natural landscape but also they have the signs of unfinished projects and broken dreams. In the end, they are part of the city, since most people think that just by living there, they earn the right to be better than the rest of us. That's why you'll see how the mountain skirts and slowly being invaded by this housing developments.

In the end, industry is what made the city and what marks the people and almost every corner of this small valley surrounded by mountains.

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