A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!

Rosana

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August 23, 2007 – Last night, Kelly and I walked down to the center of San Juan Cosala for a meeting to discuss the numerous thefts that have been going on here. We were told about the the meeting by Gerardo Tolantino, a middle-school teacher (English and computers) who is also active with the sports program for teenagers. He led a fascinating historical tour of San Juan Cosala many months ago… that’s how I first met him. He is deeply concerned about the well-being of the young people and the whole community.

He’s a neighbor of some foreign friends of ours who recently experienced the most thorough burglary I’ve heard of. Our friends were away on vacation, and their housesitters out for the day, when three young guys broke into their house and took their time. They went through everything, and got away with a lot of stuff. They even helped themselves to food and made a mess with it. The good news is that neighbors called the police and some of the items have been recovered. But our friends are still very stressed, and uncertain about staying here. This event seems to have been one of the reasons for the meeting.

So at the meeting. Kelly and I sat in a circle with Gerardo, a Mexican couple and an American man from the Raquet Club development where there have been many petty thefts, government officials from San Juan Cosala and Jocotepec, the Chief of Police from Jocotepec, the head of the Fire Department which includes many aspects of public safety, and some other people whose roles I didn’t catch. I was impressed with how many civil servants came to this evening meeting. San Juan Cosala is part of the municipality (kind of like a county) of Jocotepec, and the nearby larger town of that name is the county seat, so to speak.

The meeting was conducted in Spanish. I asked them to slow down a couple of times, and generally they did. Both Kelly and I could pretty much follow the drift of the conversation, but not all the nuances by any means. At first the people from the Raquet Club spoke of how much crime there had been and what could the police do about it? The Chief of Police described their situation, how much geographic area they have to cover, how much staff they have.

He and other officials stressed the importance of community members acting in concert with them, particularly by reporting when crimes occur. Various ideas for working together in the future came up. “Neighborhood Watch” and D.A.R.E were mentioned as the types of programs that have great potential, and I think it was said (the limits of my Spanish got in the way again) that there are similar programs in place here, to a degree.

By the end of the meeting, I felt a lot better about the future of San Juan Cosala for ourselves and other expats. Sure, as the Chief of Police had said, they are “not Superman,” but I was quite moved by the depth of caring and dedication that he and others exhibited. Vicente Moya, one of the Jocotepec government officials, contributed a great deal to the meeting and to my greater confidence.

We hear a lot of complaints from both foreigners and Mexicans about corruption in government. We don’t hear enough about the day-to-day hard work that goes on, largely unnoticed, to make this world a better place.

To find out more about the workings of Jocotepec, you can browse their website at http://jocotepec.jalisco.gob.mx. It’s in Spanish but you can still find out a lot.

When the meeting ended, people stood around chatting for a while. Kelly and I discovered that the head of the Fire Department had lived in California and speaks English as well as we do. Also we met another American who hadn’t been at the meeting, who volunteers with the Police Department.

It had gotten late, and Gerardo asked if we wanted a ride home. I said sure, and he said that he had to go pick up his wife someplace but that the Chief of Police could drop us off. So he did. A classy ending to an encouraging event.

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