I’m Fine, Really! | The Truth About Mexico

Categorized | Personal Experiences, Sinaloa

I’m Fine, Really!

A post by "Jennifer " | http://www.MeXscape.net

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I got a disturbing call from a client in Texas the other day. I guess I should say calls. The phone started to ring fairly early, and just kept cycling between phones: home phone, cell phone, Vonage phone, repeat. We don’t keep any phones in the bedroom, but all the windows were open, so I could hear all the ringing coming from Chuck’s office directly above the bedroom. When I realized it wasn’t going to stop – ever – I got up to find out who needed to talk to us so desperately.

By the time I got upstairs, I was awake enough to start to be worried. Did something terrible happen to a loved one? The caller wasn’t leaving messages on any of the phones, so I sat down to wait for the phone to ring again. I didn’t have to wait long.

I picked up the phone and was instantly greeted with, “Are you okay?” It took me a few moments to recognize the voice.

“Yes, Mark. I’m fine. What’s up?”

“When you didn’t answer the phone, I was sure something had happened to you.”

Mark and I met when he hired me to develop and manage his web site and became friends. Well, maybe not friends exactly. We have never hung out or called just to chat about non-business related matters, but we deal with each other on an extremely informal level. Some of the things I say to him during a teleconference make his employees cringe, being a group of dedicated yes men. They are quite sure I am going to be fired at any moment.

With no small amount of acid, I said, “I was asleep Mark. There is a time difference, remember? What’s the emergency this time?”

It turns out he was calling on a minor business matter, but got terribly worried when I didn’t answer the phone. Mark has been watching the American news media, you see. And I live in Mexico. He was sure I had been kidnapped, or caught in a narco shootout, or come to some other equally heinous end.

Mark is a very aware type of guy and is constantly plugged into the news: on the computer, on the radio, on the television. Lately, all he has heard are stories about how dangerous it is in Mexico. The U.S. State department sent out a very strong warning about traveling to Mexico. No one has mentioned that the warning has remained largely unchanged for the past 10 years. It just featured a few enhancements this year.

My annoyance at being woken up turned into annoyance at ignorance. But I quickly squashed it. What I was hearing was the product of genuine caring, and I appreciated that. But I am still annoyed at the media that is sensationalizing problems in Mexico.

Here is the ironic part: Violence here, where I live, is down.

I think the news outlets in the U.S are very aware that the people are stressed out and really tired of hearing about the economy, joblessness, and foreclosures. What do most people want to hear about at a time like this? Someone else who is far worse off. Enter the Mexicans.

I’m not saying that the murders and kidnappings don’t happen. They do. In certain parts of Mexico. The drug violence in the border towns is astonishing. But so was the violence in Dallas three years ago. So is the violence in Detroit, with 47.8 murders per 100,000 people. Gee whiz. I just wish the news would put things in perspective when they report it.

Mark’s daughter and her sorority sisters had booked a trip to Puerta Vallarta for Spring Break. But the news has made them scared to come. They recently saw the movie Taken, and that sealed it. The girls are going to Florida.

To his credit, Mark did not forbid his daughter to come to Mexico. He interviewed body guards to send with her, but he never even implied she shouldn’t come. She made the decision on her own.

Even the young, who usually believe they are immortal, are scared to come here. I think the first reaction of most of the expats who live here is, “good riddance. The last thing we need is more drunken gringos making fools of themselves and making us look bad.” But the reality is, we need the dollars they bring with them. Part of the Mazatlan economy depends on the money tourists bring, and when they don’t come, businesses fail, people lose jobs, and children go hungry.

I think the State Department warning is having the exact effect intended: it is keeping American tourist dollars in the U.S., something that could never be accomplished by any “See America” PR campaign, no matter how good. I think encouraging people to keep their money in the U.S. is a very smart thing for the U.S. economy, but I really don’t think using scare tactics is a responsible way to do that.

I told Mark how very safe I am here. I told him that our little city of 450,000 people was just descended upon by 800,000 partiers for Carnaval and the police handled everything very well. I told him that his one U.S. Dollar buys 15 Mexican Pesos, making a trip here a very good value. I told him his daughter was a lot less likely to make an appearance in “Girls Gone Wild” if she came here. She is still going to Florida.

Note: This article originally appeared here.

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