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