Well. I appear to be back doing what I do best: dividing my time between groaning on my bed and sprinting to the toilet, throwing hefty punches at anyone who stands in my way.
Twelve days in and already I’m a germy munter who yells “STOP IT OR I WILL SH** ON YOU” when The Man tries to give my stomach a sympathetic rub. Seriously? Twelve days in? Give me a break!
I am seriously unlovely right now. Meeoww.
(NB I don’t know what the meow is for. Just a sympathy-garnering device, I think.)
Our trip is going well, apart from the fact that I’ve got the browns once again. Although it’s not been without incident. A few days ago we discovered that large tracts of Western Mexico are currently out of bounds and so we’ve gone off somewhere safe to re-group and plan our next move. Arrogant fool that I am, I presumed that I knew where the trouble was: the northern border states. The City of Juarez, for example, where – quite literally in the last twenty four hours – seventeen prison inmates were gunned down by other inmates from a rival cartel. I really thought the north was the only place there was trouble.
Wrong. Just in the last year violence has exploded across the central/western states. Everywhere we wanted to go, save for one or two towns, appears to be off the list. It’s not just the FCO telling us this – the locals do too. At that point, one really does need to sit up and listen.
I have to say that, having read more about the drug-related violence plaguing Mexico – which at best generates chillingly violent crime; at worst senseless, brutal murder – I feel rather angry. Angry, that is, at the number of people in the western world just casually buying a gram for a good Saturday night out, when in countless other countries perfectly innocent people are being embroiled in terrifying violence as local cartels fight to secure and protect their own patch of land. They’re killing each other, they’re killing the police and indeed pretty much anyone else who stands in their way. All to get their precious haul up into the western world.
I know that some don’t have a choice over whether or not they take drugs. As Amy Winehouse’s tragic death proved, an addict in the grips of their illness will pursue their addiction right to the gates of death. Control is something that has long-since deserted them. That’s a separate matter (which I thought Russell Brand dealt with very movingly in his Guardian piece the other day) No, the people who I feel pissed off with right now are the ones who have a choice. Who think “Oh! Tell you what, let’s make Saturday night even more fun! Let’s make a quick call and get a gram or two in… Ace!” And so the call will be made – no, probably not even a call – a text message to someone… who’ll call someone else… who’ll call someone else… All for the sake of a rip-roaring Saturday night at some Fashionable Party, man. Or nightclub, or whatever. Is any thought given to the innocent bystander washing his car who is mown down by a shower of bullets fired by a drug lord trying to take out his enemy? Until Wednesday, I was going to go and hang out in that man’s town for a week. His story is real. And there are many more similar stories from that very same town.
Rarely is a thought spared by the weekend good-timer for the blood that has been spilt in order to deliver that little wrap to the inside pocket of their nice leather wallet. Generally I think they will be far more interested in whether or not it has been cut with laundry powder or rat poison.
What makes me even more angry is that – as a friend pointed out yesterday – these are the same people who insist on buying fair trade coffee in the morning. Wake up, latte-swillers! Nearly 40,000 people have died in Mexico since 2006! 40,000 people. Can you imagine the scale of the uproar if that happened in the UK?
I do, of course, accept that reportage of these troubles is limited and our education scarce. I knew more than the average person about the situation in Latin America because I had the opportunity to research it for my job a few years back. Perhaps if we knew more about the terrifying journey each gram of cocaine must make to arrive in our back pocket, we’d settle for a slightly less hilarious Saturday night.
But a part of me suspects that it wouldn’t make a scrap of difference.
Anyway, while writing this blog I got up to go to the loo (again…) and fainted. It was all very dramatic, The Man had to carry me to a bed (when I came to I still managed to mumble “I’m too fat to be carried, I’ll break your back”) and the troop of enormous muscly gay men with whom we are sharing the hostel ran round rubbing alcohol on my neck, force feeding me water and generally being manly and useful. And so I probably need to do what The Man told me to do – ie nothing – rather than getting myself worked up over something about with which I am probably insufficiently knowledgeable to polemicise.
Yours, half-riled and pretty emaciated,
Wannabe Mexico Correspondent, L Robinson.