Monday, December 5, 2011

Life Lessons in Juarez

It's snowing here in Juarez. It's been snowing for a few hours now and it's pretty impossible to forget last year's winter. We had no heater, I was inventing crap in the house alone to stay warm. Maybe you remember the rice sock? I sure do! I swear it was colder because my husband was working second shift and I was all by my lonesome every night. I think there is much to be said about body heat.

There were nights that were so cold, ice formed on the walls inside and I was compelled to call my mother asking such things as, "How do you know it's cold enough, that you just won't wake up?" I know this may sound silly and exaggerated to some in the Northern US, but when houses aren't equipped for such cold, it makes a big difference. There is no insulation in the homes in Juarez and pipes are buried mere inches beneath the Earth, if not above ground. At one point we spent 8 days in a row without running water and a few without electricity.

And so this year, with a husband working days and an old-school heater in the mix, I feel disgustingly grateful. We purchased this 20 year old Solmatic gas heater for 250 pesos.

I really thought it was older based on the looks and mechanics of it, but after some Googling, I see that it's from about 1992. Yes, we had to purchase a carbon monoxide detector, and no we cannot have it on while we sleep, but this is a HUGE improvement from last year. I am only wearing 2 sweaters as I type this.

And so I get to what this post is really about. A couple of years ago, prior to moving to Juarez, I read that some 30% of the inhabitants of this city do not have access to running water, electricity or gas. I am assuming the majority of this statistic come from the outskirts and areas such as Anapra. I don't know the validity of the statistic (then or now) but after living here for over a year, it doesn't sound far-fetched. Now that I have seen such things, and experienced such a winter, how can I not feel eternally grateful for the warmth I feel in this moment?

Even in the midst of my misery last year, I was in a far, far better situation than many, if not most of the people in this world. I cannot imagine how the people of Anapra and other colonias of the like are fairing tonight with this weather. I hope and pray that they are okay. And for all of my blessings, I would like to thank God. I would like to thank Him for my situation and for the lessons I have learned in this experience. I do not regret a single second of this new life, and I wouldn't take back a thing.


  1. What a great post, makes you grateful for what we have!

  2. Inspiring Emily. Very well said. Stay warm.

  3. I pray that they are ok also. Hope your new purchase helps keep you warm. Great post.

  4. Life lessons from DURANGO!

    Hey there. Found your blog because I was looking for instructions on how to light this damned old ass gas heater. I'm an American teacher living in the heart of Durango City. So good to find this.

    1. Lol, I should not be giving advice about heaters! That could be dangerous... Best of luck to you in Durango!