by Chris Bodenner
A reader writes:
This week's VFYW reminds me very strongly of where I lived and worked in the early 1990s – Muscat, Oman. I lived in an apartment complex called Hatat House and the view to the east was of jagged hills arising out of the surrounding plain and the area, a neighborhood called Ruwi, was developed right up to the foot of those hills. Sadly, this was before digital cameras and I have few pictures from that time, and Google Earth doesn't offer a lot of confirming evidence since Street View hasn't arrived there yet.
The sparse mountains look like Kurdistan, and the cement constructed houses are typical of the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq. The photographer could be in one of the new, Turkish-built apartment buildings. The sliding door and small balcony are characteristic. I'm gonna guess Sulaimania, though in truth this could probably be anywhere in the region.
Roxborough State Park, Colorado – or really close to that. Never participated before and I don't have the cartographic acumen like so many of your readers, but I've biked enough around those great rocks to know them.
So I am watching the golf tournament and I see a shot of a mountain with some kind of odd observatory on the top of it. (Watching golf, in Carlin's words, is "like watching flies fuck", so I decided to check out your site and this may be the only time I will ever get one of these right.) I don't google, I don't get earth shots like the rest of the VFYW-philes, but I believe it's in Arizona. When I hit info on my TV they say this tournament is called the Phoenix Open, in Scottsdale. So there's my answer. I never do these contests, but if I'm a winner, I'd much rather have your book on the cannabis closet than the VFYW book.
Finally! One I can answer.
The mountain is definitely this one. And that makes it Monterrey, Mexico – not to be confused with Monterrey, California or Montreal (means the same thing – King's Mountain), Canada.
Another sends a photo of Monterrey, Mexico:
The contest photo is taken somewhere in south Monterrey. The angle of that photo the same as this one and must be from a building down the hill from where this was taken. But Tebow knows where.
My guess is that we're looking at the "Cerro de la Silla" (Mt. Saddle, roughly), just outside of the northern Mexican city of Monterrey, in the state of Nuevo Leon. I visited as a kid, haven't been back since, but I remember the locals being particularly proud of their landmark, and the sight and name of it stuck on me. A quick look its Wikipedia page and a Google Image search confirms it.
This must be a picture of the iconic Cerro de la Silla (translated as Saddleback Mountain). My mother spent the first 15 years of her life in Monterrey – the third largest and arguably the most prosperous city in all of México – before moving to the U.S. Unfortunately, I don't see myself visiting this place anytime soon, given the recent wave of drug violence that has overcome Northern Mexico.
A reporter writes:
I’ve been spending a lot of time in Monterrey because it’s become one of the bloodiest battlegrounds between the Zetas and what remains of the Gulf drug cartel.
I worked at the U.S. Consulate there from 2000-2002. In those days you could walk the streets safely at any hour of the day or night. I left not too long after the first drug-related killing. It's a real shame how bad things are now.
I've been a long-time (silent) contestant, never wanting to respond lest I be embarrassed by my horrible guesses. This time, in the midst of dissertation writing, I took my regular Dish break and much to my surprise found an iconic picture of El cerro de la silla, or the Hill of the Saddle in Monterrey. The city is known by many names to us Mexicans, and the most common is the "Sultan of the North," given the city's importance as a great manufacturing center and until the rise of Ciudad Juárez, the largest city in northern Mexico. I've only been there once (2003 for a conference on Mexican, American and Canadian historians of Mexico), but I remember it well.
Unfortunately, it has become a hotbed of the drug war. It used to be that the drug war was fought in the remote, rural regions of the country – that's why my parents and I left Michoacán over 20 years ago – but recently, as the violence has spread, the main target became the urban areas.
I think the view is from the hospitals in the Loma Alta area of Monterrey. I am attaching a Google Earth image that gives a similar view of the hill. I'd love to return to Monterrey soon, the cabrito (baby goat) is delicious.
I am a New Yorker who lived in Monterrey for a number of wonderful years not too long ago and I was so happy to see the photo in the Dish. Actually, I will be making a trip back there in less than two weeks to see my husband, who must live there because we are a bi-national gay married couple living with the injustices of DOMA. In Mexico, at least their federal government recognizes their own state-level gay marriages.
This one's too easy. (I'm from Mexico City.) I'm not good enough with Google maps to provide an exact location from where the shot was taken, but it's a clear view of the mountain's distinctive saddle-shaped peak. The mountain itself is located in Guadalupe, but everyone considers it the symbol of Monterrey. There's a universally recognized Mexican corrido (a Mexican folk-song) that alludes directly to the famous mountain. I translated the lyrics:
I'm proud to be from the north of Mexico,From the neighborhood of San LuisitoBecause that's the site of Monterrey.Of all towns, the most belovedBecause it's the most northern, oh yes,The town where I was born.And that's why I'm from the northFrom that land of fantasyCalled Nuevo LeónBeautiful land, always in my dreamsAnd that I carry deep within, o yes,Deep within my heart.
From the Cerro de la SillaYou can see the viewWhen dusk begins to fallOf my beautiful and regal homelandMy homeland, which is called, oh yes,The city of Monterrey.
It's the home of Primera division champions UANL Tigres and Monterrey. Tigres is also home to US national team defenser/midfielder Jonathan Bornstein, who some US fans blame for the 4-2 loss to Mexico in the 2011 Gold Cup.
I lived in Monterrey for six months in the late 1990s and saw this view every day. You can see the outline of the mountain on countless shirts, hats and posters. It's the third-largest city in Mexico and in many ways its most modern and American-looking city. Only four hours from San Antonio, I was shocked by how un-Mexican the city feels. At times, it feels like you were walking through the suburbs of Dallas or San Diego. With its ranch houses, its punk rockers, it's elite technology universities and a very bilingual, educated population, I dubbed it the Seattle of Mexico. I know the drug violence has likely reshaped the city I fell in love with a decade ago but it's a great visit that in better times, you can literally drive to from the US. I actually went there, taking a bus line direct from the Chicago Mexican neighborhood I lived in at the time. When it was time to return to Chicago, the bus line dropped me five blocks from my house. It took 24 hours and cost about $100 if I remember right.
Another sent the above photo. Another writes:
This one took no time at all to get the city, but quite a lot to guess the window. The mountain is the iconic Cerro de la Silla (Saddle Mountain), backdrop and symbol for the city of Monterrey, where I lived for five fascinating years in the '70s and '80s – and met my wife! But this is a heavily built-up area now, so there are many potential windows. The picture is taken from a fairly high viewpoint looking across the valley to the Cerro, suggesting somewhere in the Colonia las Brisas, which sits almost at the end of the long ridge or Loma larga that runs along the south end of the City.
I think the actual picture was taken from this house at Huatulco 200, right next door to the radio towers. I’m guessing there’s a door on the right side of the house that looks out onto a balcony, surrounded by a beige wall similar to the ones that can be seen in the picture.
Foliage and geology look like the US southwest, but the built environment is wrong. After a couple of false starts (Turkey, Greece), I hit on Mexico and soon identified the mountain in the background as Cerro de la Silla (Saddle Hill), named for its saddle- shaped profile when viewed from parts of Monterrey, to the west. The fact that the profile of the mountain changes as you move around it made it fairly easy to identify a general corridor within which the photo had to have been taken: due west from the mountain, roughly following the street "Sendero Sur."
Picking the specific building, let alone window, proved to be much more difficult, and I'm not at al confident in my guess. The photo appears to have been taken from a considerable height, and there's a collection of high-rise apartments near the intersection of Lázaro Cárdenas and Alfonso Reyes that would be likely candidates; however, none of them appear to have balconies like the one in the contest photo. There's also an eight-story building at Lázaro Cárdenas and Sendero Sur that does have balconies, but the balconies have railings not seen in the contest photo and the building doesn't seem to be high enough to be able to see over the ridge line to the white facility on the hillside at the lower-left of the photo.
So, with much trepidation, I'm going to guess that the photo was taken from one of the upper floors of the new Connexity Tower just off Lázaro Cárdenas, and I'm just hoping there are balconies on the building that I haven't seen.
Another reader who guessed the Connexity Tower sent the above photo marked with the red circle. But only one reader this week nailed the exact location:
I immediately recognized the mountain as Cerro de La Silla which led me to Monterrey, Mexico. From there it got pretty difficult. It could be any number of houses below Privada San Pedro. The yellowish house at 5520 Verano shown to the right in this picture seems to have similar doors, from the back at least. A high-rise apartment also seemed like a good bet such as the Valle de Fundadores below this same location, but I couldn't see any doors. At some point I realized I was spending a ridiculous amount of time and decided I was close enough with the Verano house.
Details from the submitter:
The address is Plaza Verano 5520, Colonia Jardines del Paseo, Monterrey, NL. The main avenue below (out of frame) is Lazaro Cardenas (aka Las Torres) but is substantially lower in elevation. The next main avenue running parallel to Las Torres is Fundadores (higher in elevation but still much lower than the location).