Article by Linda Ellerbee

Discussion in 'Living in Cancun' started by mixz1, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. mixz1

    mixz1 Guest

    +0 / 0
    Steve may want to cross post this, but I'll put it here. Remember Lynda Ellerbee? Even if you don't, read on.

    One Journalist’s View of Mexico

    By Linda Ellerbee

    Sometimes I’ve been called a maverick because I don’t always agree
    with my colleagues, but then, only dead fish swim with the stream all
    the time. The stream here is Mexico.

    You would have to be living on another planet to avoid hearing how
    dangerous Mexico has become, and, yes, it’s true drug wars have
    escalated violence in Mexico, causing collateral damage, a phrase I
    hate. Collateral damage is a cheap way of saying that innocent people,
    some of them tourists, have been robbed, hurt or killed.

    But that’s not the whole story. Neither is this. This is my story.

    I’m a journalist who lives in New York City, but has spent
    considerable time in Mexico, specifically Puerto Vallarta, for the
    last four years. I’m in Vallarta now. And despite what I’m getting
    from the U.S. media, the 24-hour news networks in particular, I feel
    as safe here as I do at home in New York, possibly safer. I walk the
    streets of my Vallarta neighborhood alone day or night. And I don’t
    live in a gated community, or any other All-Gringo neighborhood. I
    live in Mexico. Among Mexicans. I go where I want (which does not
    happen to include bars where prostitution and drugs are the basic
    products), and take no more precautions than I would at home in New
    York; which is to say I don’t wave money around, I don’t act the Ugly
    American, I do keep my eyes open, I’m aware of my surroundings, and I
    try not to behave like a fool.

    I’ve not always been successful at that last one. One evening a friend
    left the house I was renting in Vallarta at that time, and,
    unbeknownst to me, did not slam the automatically-locking door on her
    way out. Sure enough, less than an hour later a stranger did come into
    my house. A burglar? Robber? Kidnapper? Killer? Drug lord?

    No, it was a local police officer, the “beat cop” for our
    neighborhood, who, on seeing my unlatched door, entered to make sure
    everything (including me) was okay. He insisted on walking with me
    around the house, opening closets, looking behind doors and, yes, even
    under beds, to be certain no one else had wandered in, and that
    nothing was missing. He was polite, smart and kind, but before he
    left, he lectured me on having not checked to see that my friend had
    locked the door behind her. In other words, he told me to use my
    common sense.

    Do bad things happen here? Of course they do. Bad things happen
    everywhere, but the murder rate here is much lower than, say, New
    Orleans, and if there are bars on many of the ground floor windows of
    houses here, well, the same is true where I live, in Greenwich
    Village, which is considered a swell neighborhood — house prices start
    at about $4 million (including the bars on the ground floor

    There are good reasons thousands of people from the United States are
    moving to Mexico every month, and it’s not just the lower cost of
    living, a hefty tax break and less snow to shovel. Mexico is a
    beautiful country, a special place. The climate varies, but is
    plentifully mild, the culture is ancient and revered, the young are
    loved unconditionally, the old are respected, and I have yet to hear
    anyone mention Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, or Madonna’s attempt to
    adopt a second African child, even though, with such a late start, she
    cannot possibly begin to keep up with Anglelina Jolie.

    And then there are the people. Generalization is risky, but— in
    general — Mexicans are warm, friendly, generous and welcoming. If you
    smile at them, they smile back. If you greet a passing stranger on the
    street, they greet you back. If you try to speak even a little
    Spanish, they tend to treat you as though you were fluent. Or at least
    not an idiot. I have had taxi drivers track me down after leaving my
    wallet or cell phone in their cab. I have had someone run out of a
    store to catch me because I have overpaid by twenty cents. I have been
    introduced to and come to love a people who celebrate a day dedicated
    to the dead as a recognition of the cycles of birth and death and
    birth — and the 15th birthday of a girl, an important rite in becoming
    a woman — with the same joy.

    Too much of the noise you’re hearing about how dangerous it is to come
    to Mexico is just that — noise. But the media love noise, and too many
    journalists currently making it don’t live here. Some have never even
    been here. They just like to be photographed at night, standing near a
    spotlighted border crossing, pointing across the line to some
    imaginary country from hell. It looks good on TV.

    Another thing. The U.S. media tend to lump all of Mexico into one big
    bad bowl. Talking about drug violence in Mexico without naming a state
    or city where this is taking place is rather like looking at the
    horror of Katrina and saying, “Damn. Did you know the U.S. is under
    water?” or reporting on the shootings at Columbine or the bombing of
    the Federal building in Oklahoma City by saying that kids all over the
    U.S. are shooting their classmates and all the grownups are blowing up
    buildings. The recent rise in violence in Mexico has mostly occurred
    in a few states, and especially along the border. It is real, but it
    does not describe an entire country.

    It would be nice if we could put what’s going on in Mexico in
    perspective, geographically and emotionally. It would be nice if we
    could remember that, as has been noted more than once, these drug wars
    wouldn’t be going on if people in the United States didn’t want the
    drugs, or if other people in the United States weren’t selling Mexican
    drug lords the guns. Most of all, it would be nice if more people in
    the United States actually came to this part of America (Mexico is
    also America, you will recall) to see for themselves what a fine place
    Mexico really is, and how good a vacation (or a life) here can be.

    So come on down and get to know your southern neighbors. I think
    you’ll like it here. Especially the people.
  2. Dangers

    Dangers Enthusiast Registered Member

    Aug 19, 2007
    Likes Received:
    In a Little Cafe on the Other Side of the Border
    +0 / 0
    Terrific article, thanks for posting it. :cool:
  3. T.J.

    T.J. I can choose my own title Registered Member

    Apr 13, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Cancun. QR, Mexico
    +0 / 0
    About time Ellerbee wrote something that I agree with. I have never cared for her reporting.

    But this is 100% what I have been thinking about US network and cable news and about the "real" Mexico. They are just sensationalizing. I sure would prefer to be alone on the street in Cancun as compared to about 100 US cities I could name in a few minutes.

    Je Je.
  4. RiverGirl

    RiverGirl Guest

    +0 / 0
    I agree with others, her post is right on. I'm always amazed at how the press in the US and Canada talk about Mexico as if it's one tiny spot instead of a country with over 100 million people and over 750,000 square miles of territory.
  5. cancungrl

    cancungrl Enthusiast Registered Member

    Mar 29, 2008
    Likes Received:
    +0 / 0
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