What do you do when the city you live in is in total disarray and violent chaos? Do you hide inside? Do you put padlocks on your door? Do you buy a bat or a gun and hope you’ll never have to use them? And even if you don’t really believe in God, do you pray that the week’s reported dead won’t be you or anyone you know?
While 37 adults and children, both guilty and innocent players in the drug war, were killed over the weekend, I was in Punta Banda, a tiny farm and fishing town located about 30 minutes south of Ensenada, at a beautiful house on a private stretch of beach that seemed to go on forever. While the rain poured down, my visiting family, my new fiance, my Tijuana neighbors and I gathered around a table inside, played stupid board games, ate entirely too much food (my fiance and I provided the mole and poblano chile sweet potato enchiladas, the recipe of which I’ll post soon since they were such a hit!) and laughed, sometimes, like when my own lovely mother revealed her surprisingly sick sense of humor in a board game called “Bubble Brain,” until we cried and gasped to get air between chuckles.
The day trip to La Bufadora, which sits at the end of the penisula, proved to be fun, but the Bufadora itself isn’t as grand as the tourism ads would lead one to believe. In fact, I liked walking through the Mexican market and being harrassed by the vendors more than I liked watching the water spurt out from between the rocks.
The mariachi guitar player who was hanging out at the overlook at La Bufadora was a nice touch, but I had envisioned a huge geyser rather than just the modest squirt we saw last week.
Drinking the magical margaritas at Hussong’s, the actual birthplace of the margarita, led to a fun night in Ensenada that ended with dancing at some kid’s birthday party in the wreck of a room that is the famed Papas & Beer bar. Shopping in Ensenada the next day was fun, too — my dad found a nice leather vest and my sister bought a $5 Mexican blanket — but when the store owners found out I lived in Tijuana, their responses were annoyingly all the same.
“Ug,” they’d say. “Tijuana is dirty and dangerous.”
I always argue when I get this response, so I kept up the routine and tried to convince them otherwise. How was I to know 7-year-olds were being shot while I was convincing people’s of Tijuana’s worth and looking through cheap silver rings?
Anyway, I haven’t read all the news reports yet because that’s all they are: reports. Nothing I’ve seen so far offers any sort of explanation as to why the nephew of Baja California’s tourism secretary was shot. Is the secretary involved with the drug cartel? Is he involved with the police who are fighting the drug cartel? Is the drug cartel trying to send the world-at-large a message, meaning, do they want us to completely stop all tourism??
And on that note, the six college kids who were shot at the Bar Utopia in Otay Mesa, were they meant to be killed: Reports say they were lined up before they were shot, which would make it seem as though they were the intended targets, is that the case? If not, is the bar a known drug-cartel hot spot? Were the kids family members of cops or cartel members? Was this some sort of message? Should we stop going out altogether?
This morning, I heard from a neighbor that the shooting at the Cinemax Plaza in Otay Mesa wasn’t actually related to the drug wars at all. He said the guy who was killed was a known pedophile and the killer used the city’s violence as an excuse to walk into a public movie screening and shoot the guy, execution style, point blank in the head. Is that true? I have no idea, because no one is giving us any explanations for the violence. We’re just left to assume that every death in TJ these days is somehow related to the drug cartel turf battle.
In the meantime, I suppose I’ll just go on doing what I’m doing. Next post will be about the wonderful time my sister, fiance and I had wine tasting in the Guadalupe Valley. I feel somewhat senseless, heartless and straight-up silly for saying so, but, really, what else can I do?
I have to confess to being scared – for the first time, I should say – about living in this city. Or maybe not so much about living in it, but about trying to have a life in it. It used to be that if you didn’t have any relation to the drug world, the drug world would keep to that unspoken agreement, but now there doesn’t seem to be any lines. Or is everyone involved? Because you DO wonder.
Of course, I still get upset about the image the city has now everywhere. I used to try to “sell” it, as you do, but I’ve given up. We had friends coming in from Raleigh, and now they’re not. They’re frightened. Which is fair enough.
I’m rambling. It’s early and I haven’t yet had my coffee. And I haven’t written a thing in ages. I just thought, well, I don’t know what I thought.
YES! I remember.
It’s good that you’re still writing, and it’s good that you’re keeping it light hearted. I mean, what else can any of us do (besides cover our heads with ashes, tear our clothes, and walk the streets grieving, which, much as it would be a dramatic protest, would achieve nothing)?
Same as María, there was a thing that if you aren’t into drugs you could live your life just well over here. Tell that to the waitresses, kids, policemen or restaurant owners that have gotten killed in shootings.
That is the thing exactly, when ever I see a police convoy I pull over and wait for them to pass, I don’t want to get in the middle of anything.
What can we do then? at least try to still have a life, even if we don’t get out that much…
drug killings certainly account for some degree of the violence, but it’s the city’s attitude itself that’s keeping it down.
as long as the fearful remain fearful, the criminals and vigilantes (though not necessarily drug dealers) will use the opportunity to exert violence and disorder.
all change is personal, which is why this despondent attitude that abounds is possibly the thing that is hurting tijuana the most.
A now more than ever we should finish that fence and keep that crap from coming into the country. As long as you let the bad guys do this with out some sort of resistance tells me my government is just as corupt as thiers.
Get out of tijuana, that city is only going to get more violent over the next year!
I’ve heard of the killings and the innocent children who have been killed in the crossfire.It’s very scary to think going through TJ would be so dangerous. My 17 yr old daughter goes with her Church to the Gabriel House every summer to volunteer with the children there. I’m thinking maybe this year I should not let her go. They caravan through TJ and Ensenada to get to La Bufadora where they stay for a week. I’m looking for some answers. Do I or don’t I let her go?