Life in Laos through the lens of a diplomatic wife raising twin toddlers.

Two Years in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico

Today I managed to polish up my resume to send along with a couple of networking emails. It’s amazing how many times you can look at your resume during the job hunting process and still find things to change, as if anyone who read it could even detect the miniscule ‘improvements’ you made on it. It becomes an obsession when I know I’m going to be critically judged. I even agonize over writing networking letters to friends currently in the field, often taking way too long to write two mere paragraphs essentially only saying “Hey what’s up? I’ll be in Laos for two years. Let me know if you know anyone who knows anyone at an NGO I can hook up with. Hope to be on the same continent someday soon. Stay safe. Hugs.”

I hate looking at my resume though, really hate it. Hate the obvious gap between my last position in 2007 and…ugh…now. Sigh. The most frustrating part is that the chasm in between those years were super productive and really difficult. Moreover, I succeeded despite the hardship and challenges – the kind of achievement and fortitude that would be glowing on a resume if I could include them without being classified a certifiable loon.

For two of those years my husband’s work took us to Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, famously dubbed “one of the most dangerous cities in the world“. If you’re not already familiar with the level of drug trafficking-drug-cartel-related violence along the Mexico-US border, dare to search on-line and you will find countless news stories and gruesome photos of covered bodies and bullet riddled vehicles and one crime scene after the next. Ciudad Juárez is now pretty much a police state where the Mexican Federal Police patrol the city streets in heavily armed convoys wearing heavy flak jackets and balaclavas even in 100°F+ heat to cover their faces for the very real fear of reprisal should a drug cartel member be able to identify them. I can’t cite exactly the kinds of weapons they carry but I can tell you they are huge, mounted high on top of their trucks with shiny-gleaming bandoliers, and are ready to fire. Believe me when I tell you that it is unnerving and intimidating to have these convoys coming towards you when you’re just heading out to the store in your car, or to see them racing up behind you in the rear view mirror, or to be pulled over for inspection at a roadblock. What’s even more unnerving was the level of violence that occurred day and night around the area where we lived. ‘Assassinations’, as murder hits between cartel members are called, would be carried out at the local fast food restaurant, the mall, at the security gate of one of the gated-communities we lived in, at the bowling alley, outside of the restaurant around the corner, in the bar up the street (we actually heard this one from our house in the middle of the night), at the traffic light on the corner on the way to the store, at the gas station, or the dry cleaners. It did not matter where. It is the kind of violence where victims determined the location of the crime scene. One time I had to run for cover when a spray of machine gun fire broke out nearby while I was playing tennis. It was so loud that I felt it reverberate inside my chest like when you’re very close to a helicopter (unless I just felt my own heart thumping in sheer panic). As if the drug war weren’t enough for those living in this city to endure, thrown into this mix is the mysterious history of female homicides and a high propensity for violent car-jackings along the city’s streets.

My ‘work’ in Ciudad Juárez started when I brought our twin babies there when they were only six weeks old. Granted most mothers of newborn twins would typically be house-bound anyway but the security situation didn’t do me any favors. For the first two years of their lives, I raised our children in what I considered extreme isolation and in a constant state of low-grade fear for our lives. A small window into my day-to-day life as a mother living in this violent city is in one of my posts for World Moms Blogs entitled ‘Living Under House Arrest’

“I checked my email, Facebook, and the latest news headlines…and that’s when my tears welled and my heart sank for the second time…A car along a main street here in Juárez had been shot up killing several victims, including a 10 year-old boy. The article mentioned that the automatic weapons used were so powerful that the boy’s head was nearly decapitated. The horror hit me like a bad nightmare.”

I never wanted to be on the city’s streets, particularly not with my children in the car…

“I weigh the risks of leaving our home everyday, sometimes questioning if I can make a dwindling supply of milk last…”

Through it all, I managed to raise two pretty awesome children while keeping myself sane and even educated – I learned way more about the Mexican drug war than I ever thought I would, and I spoke Spanish everyday. And while I may not have learned how to completely control my fear, I definitely learned how to manage my fear for a very long period of time and endured. If the things I had to do over these two years could make it into several bullet (accidental pun) points of my resume, they would most definitely represent my biggest accomplishments yet.

If anyone has suggestion(s) as to how I might state this on my resume, please let me know!

Follow me on Facebook:
Wanderlustress | Promote Your Page Too


11 comments on “Two Years in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico

  1. Lori Lipsky
    May 1, 2012

    Terribly interesting to hear about raising children in Juarez. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Sarah
    March 6, 2012


    If I was an employer, I’d appreciate a section on applicants’ resumes entitled “Balls”. It’d be followed by examples of character that are far more integral to being a great employee (and person) than any years logged in an office. 🙂

    • Wanderlustress
      March 6, 2012

      Hahaha, you just made me laugh out loud! I’ll add ‘Balls’ underneath ‘Languages’, haha. Thanks for visiting. (btw, I love the title of your blog)

  3. Becky
    March 2, 2012

    I like the gap pull out idea.

    • Becky
      March 2, 2012

      Wow. That made no sense. What I meant was that I like the idea of having the one page pull-out to explain the gap.

    • Wanderlustress
      March 2, 2012

      Me too. Thanks for visiting Becky!

  4. Lisa McKay
    March 2, 2012

    No thoughts straight away, but as the mother of a young one in also isolated circumstances (though without much fear of violence) I have to say a huge kudos. I don’t know what your resume format is, but perhaps a one page pull out that directly addresses the topic of the “gap” with a title of “what I did between 2007 and 2012” and then bullet point accomplishments (including birthing and raising twins)?

  5. Eric Murtaugh
    March 1, 2012

    Wow! There has to be a way to work this experience into your resume. Life experience certainly counts for something.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on March 1, 2012 by in Mexico and tagged , , , , , .

Join 3,155 other followers

Blog Stats:

  • 58,343 hits

You can also find me at:

%d bloggers like this: