We left Austin on Thursday, February 4th at around 9 AM. We filled up the tank and drove until we hit the Mexican border at the Colombia Crossing.
The crossing was soo easy. We were the only ones there. (Click this link for a more detailed border crossing description).
Our first stop in Mexico was Saltillo. Saltillo is the largest city in the state of Coahuila as well as the capital.
We weren’t really sure what to expect. The only thing I had really looked up to do in the area was Chipinque Ecological Park right outside of Monterrey. Monterrey is a beautiful big city in Nuevo Leon. It’s a booming metropolis on the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range and home of Topo Chico mineral water named after the mountain Cerro Del Topo Chico.
We picked Saltillo as our first stop in Mexico because it was close to the border crossing we did, but far enough south from areas we were told to exercise caution in in Northern Mexico. We arrived at our Airbnb around 6 pm, right before sunset, except we realized we were at the wrong Airbnb once we waited outside for 15 minutes and no one came to let us in.
Our Airbnb was on Canada street, but it turns out there are two Canadas in Mexico. So, I called the Airbnb host and she gave me directions to where we were supposed to be. Moments like those I really appreciate being able to speak Spanish. We checked in and made some vegan chili over brown rice and watched a movie in bed. We were so tired.
The next morning we woke up and decided to go on a hike. We originally wanted to go on a hike 15 minutes outside of Saltillo, but we literally couldn’t find where the trail started so we decided to drive a little further and go to Chipinque Ecological Park. It was stunning. The park was so nice. We got to drive through Monterrey and actually see some of the city. The roads were perfectly paved and the buildings were tall, modern and bright.
When you get to Chipinque you start driving up a mountain until you reach the entrance. Once you’re in the park you can either park and hike from the bottom to the top or you can drive your car to the top of the mountain where there are trails, outdoor gyms, lookout points, picnic tables and even a hotel. Most of the amenities were however closed cuz covid. But we came for the trails so we didn’t care. The only amenity that was open was the bathroom at the base of the park and it was by far one of the nicest public restrooms I’ve ever had the pleasure to pee in.
We drove to the top of the mountain just to check out the park and then went back down so we could hike up. We picked a trail and hiked to the highest point we could, the top of Chipinque Mountain. It was at 2,229 meters/7,313 feet. It was really hot and pretty hard, but totally worth it. From the top of the mountain you got the most incredible view of the city of Monterrey. It was stunning and a great introduction to Mexico and it’s beautiful scenery.
We drove back to the Airbnb before nightfall, had some leftover chili with brussels sprouts, did laundry and went to bed.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to explore much of Saltillo itself since we were only there for two nights, but the city felt safe and it had everything you could possibly need. Our Airbnb was also only $24/night and had a washer/dryer. There was a Costco near us, an Autozone, Holiday Inn and everything else in between. There are also many mountain hikes in the area if you’re into that sort of thing. Our trip to Saltillo and Monterrey was short, but we felt welcome and good about our first stop.