Reflections on living with violence in Mexico
By Linda Pierce,
As I write this, I hear the sound of helicopters overhead from my house 2 blocks from the main plaza in Morelia. It is been a frequent sound all day today, a not surprising sound after explosions last night at El Grito celebration in the main plaza, resulting in a reported 8 deaths and about 100 wounded. As Jennifer Rose opined in her blog , Morelia lost its innocence last night. We spent several hours at El Grito celebration last night, but didn´t have the stamina to stay up late enough for the 11 pm traditional ceremony with the Governor´s talk and bell ringing. The earlier hours were wonderful, a truly family event, wonderful music, happy people dancing in the streets.
5 days ago, my husband and I signed a contract to purchase a house in Morelia. We love this city. After two years of exploring Mexico, trying out San Miguel de Allende, Ajijic and Guadalajara (for 1 to 3 months in each location), we fell in love with Morelia. We fell in love with the architecture, the size (large enough to have a fair sampling of restaurants, theaters and other cultural events, and small enough to not get lost), the challenge of having to learn Spanish (not many English-speaking expats here), and the friendliness of the people, it all felt great to us. Now I wonder about our future. Will Morelia become a constant target of violence? Will we be afraid to walk the streets at night (this city is so gorgeous at night, it takes your breath away)? Will the sound of police helicopters be our constant companion?
Strangely enough, I do not worry about being killed in an act of violence. At age 60, I can say that I have lived a great life. If I get killed by a narco bullet or cancer or some other unanticipated cause, I will not feel cheated. Many have not had the blessings I have had in my life. I am not afraid of death. If I were 40 or had children to raise, I might feel differently. Still, I feel the odds of getting killed in Morelia are far less than when I lived in Hollywood, California for 10 years or when I lived in San Francisco for 8 years.
But it would just break my heart if the violence increased in Morelia to the point where living here was no longer the pleasure it is today. The sound of helicopters remind me of the 10 years I lived in Hollywood when we constantly heard police helicopters overhead. We never walked our neighborhood at night. I am not up for another 10 years of that.
Today, I am cautiously optimistic. I hope and pray that the violence last night will not be a frequent occurrence in our adopted city. I have always been a risk taker, and if buying a house in a city that may have an uncertain future ends up being a poor financial risk, well, so be it.
(This article was first published in September 2008 in my old website).