Minimum Security

Some amazing thunderheads are forming this afternoon over the lake – signaling the arrival soon of the rains, we hope! We may have our heads firmly stuck in the aforementioned clouds, but it’s possible that things may be calming down a tiny bit. The army and the federal police came in for a short while at least (until for some unfathomable reason, our state government told the Federal government that we didn’t need them here, so they may be going away….) A local Expat/Mexican citizens’ group formed that bought cell phones for the patrol cops out on the streets, and passed out the phone numbers to as many people in the community as they could, and are initiating some other community-based security measures. They have also started an anonymous denunciation telephone line that at least a few people are actually starting to use. So far two people have been arrested from tips received on that line, they tell us. We don’t dare to become too complacent but it seems as though people are starting just to rebel — anyone who knows the Spanish verb “hartar” will be hearing that word used a lot these days. In this context it means, basically, to be weary, fed up. People are just getting sick of all of this and trying to figure out how to take matters into their own hands.

I heard that a few days ago a van pulled up by a group of kids in the street right in the center of town and it was looking like they were going to kidnap a couple of them. The kids had the good sense to start screaming for help, and people came running out of their houses with bats, rocks, anything they could find, broke all the windows in their van, gave the vehicle a good bashing too, and were ready to kill the guys by stomping on them. The police arrested the alleged kidnappers but of course they insisted they were innocent, it was all a joke. Well, one will never know, but there was another similar incident in another Lakeside village where people rose up on their own and defended themselves against a real or perceived threat. This is what Mexicans are used to doing, after all (viva Zapata) historically and culturally, since the police and justice system are often so completely dysfunctional.

And it is very difficult for the people who work here – we went out for an early dinner at one of our favorite restaurants – early enough to get back home before dark – and there was one other couple in this big place and that was IT. On a Friday night. Before, given the expat community and the weekending  folks from Guadalajara, it would have been pretty busy. We were chatting with the very charming young man who was our waiter – since there was no one else to wait on –  and he said there was a real danger that the restaurant might not survive, throwing yet more Mexicans out of work. Even we are talking about – especially given Arnold’s new status as an official cardiac patient – finding some sort of alternative base back in the States, not only for medical care (paid by Medicare!) but in case things really do get dicey for us.  But with my mother ensconced in a rented house here with her team of caregivers and ever-so-slowly declining, we are indeed sort of stuck for now.

Still, friends are writing to us and saying “Come back! You can’t live as prisoners behind your own gates!” Well, no, but it’s not like that. We aren’t exactly prisoners; one has to go to buy groceries, to the drycleaner, to the doctor, to the dentist, just like anywhere else. They’ve just moved our farmer’s market from across town to within a couple of blocks of us and I can’t wait to check it out as now it is much more convenient. We go out to see friends and to dinner, we just try to get home by dark. And as we get older we aren’t so thrilled about driving at night anyway, so that part is okay. The Princess does have her private sessions with her personal trainer. And we do have this house we’ve put a lot of energy into, and a garden bursting with color, so it’s not exactly like being cooped up in a tiny room somewhere. Picking up and leaving all this….we still love it here in spite of all its blemishes, and it is also, let’s face it, much harder when you’re older than when you are young and it’s all just a big adventure.

For the moment, we are spending time in the afternoons lying on our poolside chaises, Arnold reading his latest mystery novel and trying to regather his wits after the insertion of his pacemaker, learning to live with the reality of the new memento mori he has ticking away inside him. We watch the swallows swoop down and just barely touch the  pool surface to drink and catch waterlogged bugs; there are flowers in bloom and hummingbirds zooming around everywhere. Our version of the minimum-security prison for Wall Street types?  Everything feels tentative, and undoubtedly our future is uncertain. Do we just hunker down and wait it out? Bail? Hard for super-cautious me to live with the “I just don’t know how it’s going to turn out” part and try to live in the moment till things sort themselves out. The Zen of the Drug Wars? We are just crossing our fingers and hope that things will somehow improve – which they actually apparently HAVE in Michoacan and even in, god help us, Ciudad Juarez.


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