What made you choose Juarez over another border town?
When I initially planned a move to Mexico, I was hoping to move to Nogales. I briefly entertained the idea of staying with the company I was working with and commuting to Tucson. After I realized what the commute would entail, that idea was off the table. I had already looked at our budget and knew that even if I could secure a "decent" job in Mexico, it still wouldn't be enough to make ends meet. We had/have quite a bit of debt and financial responsibilities in the US so I knew I would need to continue earning a US wage for the foreseeable future. Next stop TJ. Ideally, I wanted to live in Tijuana and commute to San Diego each day, but again, after looking at what that commute would be like, I changed my mind. I absolutely hate driving and having another 30 minute drive added to the already insane wait times at the Baja California POEs was just too much for me. Texas it was. We looked specifically at Matamoros, Reynosa and Ciudad Juarez because at the time I knew one woman living in each of those cities. They all told me the same horror stories and to me, none of the border towns, including those California and Arizona borders, seemed to be particularly safe. Mind you, this was in 2009 when the drug war and violence was at it's height. We ultimately chose Juarez because after looking at the job markets in various cities, El Paso was booming with opportunity compared to the alternatives. And it ended up being a smart decision as I was able to land an interview for a company on August 9th 2010, only 2 days after our arrival, and was hired about a week later. It was also a plus that Juarez is the closest border town to my husband's family in Hidalgo del Parral so a visit to his home town is just a 9 hour bus ride away.
Did you ever expect to become this popular in the immigration community?
This question literally made me LOL because I don't see myself as being "popular" in this community. There are so many people and blogs that I look up to and follow and I just feel like little old me with nothing more to offer than the next person. This week a gentleman came up to me at the grocery store and asked me if I was The Real Housewife of Ciudad Juarez. He went on to tell me how he could relate to my story and I couldn't believe it! He wasn't someone who I would ever think would read my blog, so I was touched to see that people from all walks have been following my journey. It was definitely surreal moment for me.
What do you do for a living?
I am a Russian spy.
Do you ever experience reverse racism? Guera this and guera that...
I don't personally experience it aside from a few flippant comments online from time to time, but I'm not so naive to think that it doesn't exist. I'm sure people have preconceived notions of me and the fact that I am a gringa and the fact that I am American. Why wouldn't they? That's just human nature. But I am the type of person that doesn't really consider color, so maybe that's why I haven't noticed the judgement on myself. All in all, the people I have met in Mexico have been so welcoming and so appreciative and so willing to open their hearts and homes to me. It's definitely been humbling.
How do you decide what to write about each week?
I have no clue. I just write whatever I feel like writing. It may be about something that went on that particular week, or something I am going through emotionally or a topic that I can't get out of my head. I literally just wake up on Saturdays, have a breakfast beer, and let the good times roll.
How did you get off drugs?
By locking myself in an apartment for several weeks, eating copius amounts of chicken wings and tortillas, writing in my journal for hours each day, and filling the rest of my time with the first season of Lost on DVD. This is also, coincidentally, how I found God. But that's another blog in itself.
Will you have children while in Juarez?
I hope so. People assume that because our children do not live with us, it is because we find Juarez to be an unsafe place to raise a child. That is absolutely incorrect. I would almost prefer to raise a child here so that they can experience at a young age some of what I have been luckily enough to experience as an adult in this city.
A few months ago you wrote a blog about starting a healthier lifestyle and posted a lot on Facebook about your workouts. Are you still doing that?
Yes! I am currently doing a Turbo Fire/Focus T25 hybrid program. I have lost 50 lbs since April but have had my fair share of hurdles with a foot injury in July. And let's be real, I have some pretty big issues with food and alcohol addiction that get the way of my weight loss journey. But yes, I am still trucking along. It is a never-ending process and I'm learning to be more forgiving of myself when I slip up. My ultimate goal is still health and happiness.
What is a good bar/restaurant to go to in Juarez?
I should start off by saying that it is very rare that we go out in Juarez. That has nothing to do with feeling safe or lack of cool places to go. It has everything to do with our finances. We have only been out a few times in the last 3 years but I can give some quick and simple reviews. Las Alitas on Antonio Bermudez. Loved it. Cheap beer, good wings, Applebee's vibe. Mayflower on Gomez Morin. Best crab rangoon of my life. Shitty service. Maria Chuchena on Tomas Fernandez. Too upscale for me to feel comfortable. I'm more of a hole-in-the-wall-kinda-girl, not a valet-parking-kinda-girl. Really good salsas and impeccable service. Frida's on Paseo de la Victoria. Amazing art and enmoladas. Best margarita I've had in Juarez. The city is also riddled with burrito and hamburger stands that make some of the most mouth-watering food I have ever eaten but of course most of them don't have names. As for bars? We can't really afford to drink in bars... We drink too much, we'd go bankrupt. Also, neither of us ever want to be the DD, so we usually opt to have house parties. However we have stashed a little cash over the last month and are planning a date night tonight. Our first date in over a year. I think we've decided to skip the movies and go to a bar and grill to watch the fight, so maybe I will have a better answer to this question tomorrow.
If your husband could by some chance wave a magic wand and be able to live with you in the United States legally, would you, at this point, come back or stay in Mexico?
This is a really hard question for me to answer. Honestly, I was tempted to ignore it. I didn't come to Juarez thinking that it would change my life for the better. I didn't think it would change my character or affect my marriage in the way that it has. Leaving behind a place that has provided so much for me would be difficult. Whenever there is a glimmer of hope for immigration reform that would include my family, I have to say, I get nervous. The idea of moving back to the US is a bit scary for me. It is financially tempting, but to stop the learning process that has begun within me since we moved to Mexico seems like the wrong thing to do. But man, some carpet and a bath tub and two normal paychecks and being physically closer to my family sounds pretty nice sometimes. But then I begin to question, do I really need any of that? I'm not so sure. I don't have an answer to this question. I try not to think of the what if's when it comes to things like this. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a very Merry Christmas.
I just have to say that I feel so blessed to be able to share my life with all of you. The fact that so many people are curious about our lives here, especially people who have never been personally affected by immigration, is amazing to me. I love all of your questions and comments and reflections.
Now I have a question. How did you poop before Smart Phones?