I flew into Monterrey on Saturday and was there for a few days before we left to Ciudad Juarez on Wednesday. Jose's apartment is pretty awful, with bad air circulation, no oven, a lukewarm shower, and a mattress of pure metal. The weather was hot and humid, so combined with safety concerns, we didn't go outside much.
Jose had his kitchen filled with food for me, and I'm ashamed to admit, he did all the cooking. We spent our time talking, doing homework, watching TV, and eating. It sounds relaxing, but the awfulness of his apartment succeeded in making it slightly miserable. That he manages to live there with so little complaining shows his patience.
Just a few days after Jose and I arrived in Monterrey in January, there was a gun battle between some cartel men and the police. Jose was at school and I was sitting in the living room when it started. At first I convinced myself that the noise was a jackhammer, but once the big automatic guns (my knowledge of guns is limited) started, I knew it was serious. I ran to Jose's closet and sat in there until the battle finished, and then some just for good measure. About an hour later, Jose came running into the apartment after seeing the Oxxo on one side of his block shot up and the dead police officer on the other end of the block, both just two buildings away. It was pretty traumatic, for me to have heard, and for Jose to have come home to and not know what had happened. Obviously, it wasn't a great start to Monterrey and neither of us are super excited about being there. This time was better, and we didn't hear a single gunshot while I was visiting.
Everything in Monterrey made us excited about going to Ciudad Juarez on Wednesday for an "indoor vacation." We are staying in a hotel with a swimming pool, internet, and a gym. It's close to restaurants and the Consulate. Pretty ideal, but when we arrived the hotel did not have our reservation even though Expedia had already charged us for the seven days Jose is going to be here. We sat in the lobby for an hour before we were given a room, and it wasn't even cleared up until tonight. Not a great start, but the mattress is soft and the shower gets hot.
I've had a kind of weird Spring Break--Monterrey and Ciudad Juarez aren't really what I dream of when I think "Spring Break in Mexico," but we're here for something important. Let's hope it pays off!