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

Life On the Border – Mexico

When we lived in Ciudad Juarez most of my photos were taken at home, around my neighborhood, across the border in El Paso, or on trips away. I have practically none at all around town. I never felt relaxed enough while we were out to wander around taking pictures. Our time in the city was rarely leisurely. It was always get in, get out, get home. I’ve mentioned before that we lived practically under house arrest there, but upon reflection there were many bright moments in our lives then, too, that I enjoy remembering. How could there not be with two new little babies innocent to the narco battles and violent crime in their new world? It was a gift to view my experiences through their innocence instead of my fear which would have been much more magnified without their lens to keep me grounded. Each day I focused on what they needed and relished their joy in the mundane things in our sequestered world. I truly believe that they are what got me through.

Juarez is currently a city of dying dreams and hopes of a better life. Each time we drove the three miles from our house to cross the border into El Paso we were witness to such hopes of those who could enter into the US, for just a day shopping or work, a temporary stay, or even for permanent entry for the lucky few. We could always tell a person entering for the first time by the high stride in their step, the grin on their face, and the vice grip on the DHL envelop that contains their visa.

On weekends when we din’t cross the border, one favorite outing in the city for us was going to El Parque Central, a large park with lakes, fountains, festivities and a very special giraffe named Modesto. It was an oasis of nature and families and fun, although I could never really relax there always watchful for escape routes or bullet-proof places to hide should a shootout occur. Luckily, nothing ever happened and we could leisurely feed Modesto until he got so full he would amble away from the eager arms stretched out shaking vegetables after him. He was loved for sure. To me, this one giraffe represented everyone’s nostalgia for the vibrant and safe city this place used to be and caring for him was caring for the city. That he survived a record freeze last winter holds out hope for the endurance of everyone living in this battle ground. Before we left for good I seriously asked my husband if we could raise money to buy Modesto a mate. My husband thought I was crazy.

If I ever do go back to Juarez, the first thing I would do is go visit Modesto.

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12 comments on “Life On the Border – Mexico

  1. gohorvilleur
    June 30, 2012

    Juarez is sad. I’ve recently returned a couple months ago, and although things have improved a bit, theres still that uneasy tension throughout the city. And police everywhere. police like you wouldn’t believe.

  2. Madhu
    April 29, 2012

    I can imagine how much worse it would have been without your beautiful babies! Sweet of you to consider getting a mate for Modesto 🙂

  3. growingmuses
    April 24, 2012

    What an apropos name for a giraffe living in a shy and forgotten city. I didn’t realize Juarez was SO close to the US. It must have felt surreal to be living abroad and in fear but able to jog the distance back to your home country and safety. Surely Laos will be a vastly different experience. I’m so happy you have that now and not the other way round. I love that you want to provide a mate for Modesto.

  4. stephenedwards425
    April 23, 2012

    I have enjoyed immensely reading your blog. As a writer I know you will understand if I am absent from making comments for a couple of months. I have two books I’m writing and the push is on to get them finished…so with only 24 hours in the day, I am going to continue to read and like, but my comments will be limited to replies for those who comment on my blog…thanks for the grace.

    Be encouraged!

    • Wanderlustress
      April 23, 2012

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving some very kind and encouraging words. I am not a writer but admire those who are. Good luck with your books. I have no doubt that you have many great stories to tell.

  5. meanwhilein3
    April 23, 2012

    Your pictures show a side of the city that has been shadowed.

    • Wanderlustress
      April 23, 2012

      And I hear from friends there that things have gotten much better since I left last August. More vibrant.

  6. travelladywithbaby
    April 23, 2012

    The look out for escape routes and shelter,know that all too well. It is so natural for me, that I do it in Canada still! Juarez has changed so much over the years.

    • Wanderlustress
      April 23, 2012

      Was Modesto there when you were there? How long did you live there?

      • travelladywithbaby
        April 23, 2012

        I spent 3 years in Mexico City as a child. I worked on a file on Mexico as an adult.

  7. Alaska Girl at Heart
    April 23, 2012

    I love visiting Mexico. It’s unfortunate the drug rep it got. I can’t tell you how any people think the entire country is unsafe. I’m sorry you lived in one of the worse places, but I hope that people understand other parts of Mexico are not only safe but amazingly beautiful. Congrats on moving away from Juarez..glad you and your family feel safer now.

    • Wanderlustress
      April 23, 2012

      You’re so right. Mexico is such a beautiful country with a rich heritage, great food, and lovely people. It should definitely be at the top of everyone’s travel list.

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