RECENTLY, I’VE received word from people above the Rio Bravo that living in Mexico is a war zone or a hellhole. I became worried and decided to investigate.
After all, we do reside in one of the “most dangerous” Mexican states, according to the U.S. State Department, an agency rarely given to error, as everyone knows.
Normally, every weekday morning, the two of us take our exercise walk around the nearby plaza, but since we’d never witnessed violence on the plaza, we decided the mayhem must be taking place elsewhere in the hardscrabble ‘hood.
We left the plaza and headed down some ominous-looking streets. Surely, we would find the war zone quickly.
There was a Hellish cast to the blue skies.
* * * *
But before I tell you what happened next, and how we managed to arrive home unscathed, know that yesterday we drove the 40 minutes down the mountainside to the state capital, a spot where no sensible soul sets foot unnecessarily.
First, we went to the snow-white Star Medica hospital and got our yearly flu shots. Then, with ballooning trepidation, we drove down a flower-rimmed boulevard to an office of the ETN bus line where we safely made a ticket exchange.
The red splashes on the street were bougainvillea instead of blood.
Then, breathing sighs of relief due to our stretch — so far — of good fortune, we headed to the Superama supermarket — part of the Walmart chain — for purchases. Following that scary venture, we had lunch at a vegetarian buffet.
The restaurant’s clientele consists primarily of medical students from a nearby university. Surely, most are studying to patch bullet wounds, grenade gashes, and to reattach severed heads that roll across all cantina floors.
Next on the agenda was a stop at Costco. Then we went to an ice cream stand before dashing back to the Honda, heads down, expecting gunfire at any moment.
Again, luck was with us. Not even a flesh wound.
* * * *
We made it home, and the next day dawned, this day, and now we’re walking through the neighborhood in search of our war zone.
Something blood red approaches down the street, and there is noise. We freeze in place. Is this it? Am I about to meet my Maker?
It comes closer, a marching band and rows of students in scarlet uniforms. They’re from the nearby school, rehearsing routines for Revolution Day next month.
We stand on the sidewalk as they pass. Many of the kids giggle on spotting the tall, strange Gringo in their neighborhood.
They decide not to murder us.
As music fades behind, we trod on, apprehensively. But nothing happens, and we return to the Hacienda intact, still wondering where the war zone might be.
I toted my camera, expecting to shoot exciting footage that I would sell to international media outlets. There would be corpses, blood and body parts. A Mexican Robert Capa.
I was disappointed. But I did take these photos.
The war zone remains elusive, hidden. Maybe mañana, amigos.