Everyone has an opinion on safety in Mexico. Everyone. Whether they received their medical degree there or they got a root canal there, they've got an opinion. Whether they were a foreign exchange student there in high school or they went to Cancun for Spring Break in college, they've got an opinion. Maybe they just ate a burrito once at On The Border or they heard a report on the 6 o'clock news last night. It doesn't matter. They've got an opinion.
None of those opinions matter to me, though. The only opinion of Mexico that has ever influenced my decisions are my own and I fear that I am far too stubborn for that to ever change. One of the opinions that I have always had, and will most likely continue to have, is that if something bad is supposed to happen to me, it will happen to me. I could be in the US, I could be in Mexico, I could be in Antarctica, and that shit will happen. When it's my time to go, I'm going. I could be caught in the crossfire or hit by a bus anywhere. I truly believe that I am not any safer on one side of the border or the other and when I was back in the states visiting my family a couple weeks ago, something happened that confirmed that opinion.
My family and I decided to take advantage of one of the annual free days at the Kansas City Zoo. We saw the polar bears and the chimpanzees and the kangaroos and much to my dismay, countless species of birds. We learned about water conservation and fed the goats and avoided the pricey camel rides and observed the elephants. After 4 hours we were all tired and hungry but decided to hang around to catch the 1:30 pm sea lion show. We left the park at about 2:00 pm.
Shortly after, my sister received an alert on her phone from a local news station that she gets updates from. Just after 3:00 pm, numerous fights had broken out amongst different groups of teens at the zoo and shots were fired leaving hundreds of people fleeing for safety. 19,000 people went to the zoo that day and surely never thought their day would end so violently. Luckily, no one was hurt.
As we marveled at the fact that we missed the violence by a mere hour, my phone began to sound off with incoming emails and Facebook direct messages from many of you. Most of the messages came from readers who live in Missouri and while I was very touched that so many people had been following my travels online and were concerned, I couldn't help but laugh. I know that sounds a bit fucked up because it was a very unfortunate event and I am saddened by the fact that such a thing can take away from the joy of a leisurely day at the zoo, but I just couldn't help my reaction.
There I was, in Kansas City of all places, getting emails about gunfire and people concerned for my family's safety. The only thing I could think was that it felt exactly like it does when I am in Mexico and people call, text and email every time they hear something violent about Juárez in the news. Everyone warned me about moving to Juárez. But why doesn't anyone warn us about all the bat shit crazy people North of the border?