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To Oaxaca! Whew! Done!

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

I waited until the day we left for Queretaro to call and tell my friend Patsy (we go waaayyy back) that we had changed our itinerary and would be seeing her that evening. What fun! It had been three years since I had seen her and Jose…in fact since June 13, 2006 when they drove into Oaxaca the night the municipal police tried to tear gas the striking teachers out of the zocalo. Haven’t seen her in Oaxaca since!

After she and Jose married in Oregon five years ago, they moved to Mexico so they could be near Jose’s aging mother after so many years working up north. A trained ESL teacher, they survive on what she makes teaching English in her home (cracker boxes are thanks to low-income housing by ex President Vicente Fox) and Jose’s meager computerized and complex mechanic work. Even though born of Mexican parents in San Francisco CA, Patsy feels isolated and lonely in this new country, she says. Interesting…

Parked the car in her fenced yard…in the care of her dog…and got a nice hotel in downtown San Juan del Rio. Drinks and dinner on me. My great pleasure. And I unloaded a few treasured magazines and books for Patsy.

The next morning after breakfast and coffee, Patty and Jose led us out to the toll road toward Mexico City so we wouldn’t have to use my GPS like we did during a Saturday fiesta day on the way in. Grrrrr. A brand new toll road cuts off after a few miles, however, toward Pueblo where we could then go on to Oaxaca. Open about a year. So we didn’t have to traverse Mexico City which can be crazy even on a Sunday. Cars are only allowed in the city on alternate days with licenses that end with even/odd numbers and we didn’t know which day was which…so the new Puebla toll road…as expensive as it was…about $30…was worth every penny.

Incidently, drivers are completely covered by Mexican insurance on the divided toll roads. Just keep your pay stub. Some are federally owned and some are owned by private corporations which are fenced to keep the animals out. A solar powered phone can be accessed every few meters from which a call to the Green Angels will bring out an ambulance and trained medical personnel. Or a mechanic. Repairs and replacement parts are free. A totaled car is replaced. A medical facility at the end of the toll will provide intermediate emergency care until transport to a nearby hospital. Now, why can’t the U.S. do this if Mexico can!?

Letter From An Expat With Another View of Mexico

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

My Mexican-American friend moved to Mexico a few years ago while working on her husband’s papers to legalize him to work in the States…which is taking a lot of time.  This was her recent email:


Now, I know Why They Jump The Wall…I Wanna Jump The Wall
And  –  Yes  –  We  –  Are  –  Still  –  Here

I was just telling a friend, back in the States, how waking up here I will sometimes think to myself, as I take in my surroundings, “shit, I’m still here.”  You know those mornings, where as soon as you open your eyes, you say to yourself, “man, it sucks to be me.”  Well, yesterday was definitely one of those days.  And, unfortunately not just for myself, but also for quite a number of people in my husband’s family, namely my mom-in-law.

My husband’s brother called us about 10 a.m.  He was frantic.  Evidently, Josefina had just gotten a phone call stating that my husband had been kidnapped and they were demanding a ransom of $50,000 Pesos, or they were going to kill him!  They put some guy on the phone who told my mother-in-law he was her son.  She asked him, “son, where are you?”  This same fucking bastard responded, SOBBING, “Mother, I can’t tell you because I’m bound and they have my eyes covered.”  The so-called kidnapper got back on the phone, and she informed him that she didn’t have $50,000 Pesos.  The caller told her that if she didn’t pay the money they would murder her son.  She simply stated that would be on his conscience, and that she didn’t have that kind of money and there was nothing she could do.  He asked her again if she were going to pay the ransom.  She repeated her response to his demand.  He finally yelled at her that she was a fucking bitch and hung up!

In her hysteria she couldn’t recall our phone numbers.  She ended up calling her eldest son.  He spoke with his mother and calmed her down as best he could.

My husband is the youngest of three sons.  He has been back home here in Mexico for almost three years after an absence of almost 11.  When we first got here, in February 2006, the first thing his mother said was that she couldn’t believe her eyes that her baby was home.  She said that she never expected to see him again.  They speak or see one another on a daily basis.

My mother-in-law is 75-years-old, in failing health, and lives alone.  We live minutes from her house, but she had no idea that this was not true at that moment in time.  Put yourself in her place.  Can you even imagine getting such a phone call about a loved one, and all that you would feel, think, experience?  I can’t imagine.  I don’t even want to.

My husband spoke with the police and they say that it is a local and national epidemic: Secuestros Telefonicos.  Translation:  Telephone Kidnappings.  They usually originate in prisons in the neighboring state of Mexico, in and around Mexico City.  Our very own landlord’s mother just two weeks ago received a phone call from someone stating that they had kidnapped one of her sons.  All of her children are adults living on their own.  She deposited $15,000 Pesos in ransom money into a bank account that she was directed to, which of course was under a phony name.  Thankfully all of her children were eventually accounted for and found to be safe, and the kidnapping to be bogus.  We’re told that she and one of her daughters are showing signs of extreme mental trauma. [read on]

Eleven Hour Drive To Queretaro

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007
Well, I left Sunday morning at 2:30am and made it across Mexico City without getting killed! Made it to Queretaro about 1pm in the afternoon. We're planning on leaving for the border on the 5th...then to Las Vegas to ... [Continue reading this entry]