Friday, June 29, 2012

Violence & culture shock

My plane left Tuxtla Gutierrez on Thursday at 8:30 am. We would disembark at Terminal #2 in Mexico City's International Airport, the very terminal in which three police men were shot to death just two days before. It had been a drug related violent scene. Two policemen were under investigation for taking bribes and letting drugs get through the screening process. The head of the airport security was also a target of the police. When the suspects saw the police closing in, they opened fire and shot three. Two died on the scene and another later at the hospital. I never was able to find the rest of the story to see if anyone had been arrested. I wasn't terribly worried about further violence. Mostly I was concerned that security would be so tight I might miss my connecting flight to Houston and have to stay overnight in one of the most polluted cities in the world, fighting asthma the whole time. If such a thing had happened in the states.......

As it turned out, there was NO security. I walked right through the food court where the shootout happened and there was no added security, no police presence at all. It was business as usual.

Terminal #2 is for domestic flights. I had to find my bag and get on the train to Terminal #1where I could get the bag checked in at the United counter. After that chore was done, there was plenty of time for some lunch at their food court. It was anchored by McDonalds, Starbucks, and Panda Express. Other counters featured tacos al carbon, sushi, sweet breads, and fried chicken. I opted for vegies, noodles and chicken from a Japanese place, which took almost half an hour and could have been a bad mistake if there hadn't been so much time.

A bunch of Americans were seated around a large counter, dressed in matching green t-shirts. They were part of a missionary group finishing up a one week visit to an indigenous village where they built a system to catch and store rain water. Nice people, enthusiastic teenagers. I asked if any of them had been afraid before coming to Mexico. They all said yes, they'd been warned about how dangerous it was, so they prayed and came anyway. Then I asked how they felt now and they all laughed. One said he felt kind of foolish now, after seeing how wonderful Mexicans are. One of the mothers said she wouldn't worry about her kids coming back next summer without her.

In Houston, I had some culture shock of my own. I paid $8.25 for a granola yoghurt and a juice drink! Then in the bathroom, I looked all over for a trashcan next to the toilet, until realization flowed over......I can flush the paper now!

Fifteen hours after starting off with Guadalupe, the driver from San Cristobal, I made it to Albuquerque where it was daylight at 8:30pm and still sweltering from the +100 F temps. Such a shock after six months of coolth in the highlands of Chiapas.