Monterrey suffers from identity issues. Mexico’s third largest city seemingly has as much in common with the U.S. as it does with its own country. There are American chain restaurants, outdoor strip malls, cheesy bars, and a monument to NAFTA in the sanitized town square. People follow American styles and trends; there are scads of banks and money to spend.

We managed to get out of that all-too familiar loop. Staying in the only affordable part of town—the red light district near the bus station—meant our environs featured bar fights, drunk guys asleep on the sidewalk, and prostitutes available from morning to night. By day, it had its own seedy charm and plenty of street life. We also hooked up with a talented underground band, watching them practice and listening to them bemoan how schizophrenic and suffocating their town is.


Passing through small northern towns on the way to Monterrey.


Vaquero culture was everywhere.


A man and his guitar in the rather depressed city of Salltio; magazine venders at the bus station.


Cowboy hats and Rachera cassettes abounded.


Our first glimpse of downtown Monterrey—this thing is a monument to NAFTA [really].


A street fair sponsored by a pharmacy chain.


The band merchandise for all the teenage metal-heads located outside a show;
we hung out with a really good indie rock band while they practiced.


I saw him wandering around several times.


On one corner by the bus station, musicians lined up to get picked up to play parties…


Prostitutes queued up on the other side beginning in the morning.


Plenty of weird sites in Monterrey.


The pristine beer garden [free pints] and façade of the Modelo brewery.


The main shopping street had plenty of U.S. chains; a business owner waits for business.


Daughter and daddy.


The son of a candy vendor amuses himself.