Safety concerns about Latin America? You can’t be serious.

It’s usually the first thing people ask: “Aren’t you concerned about your safety down there?  After all, we hear all the time about drug wars, tourist muggings, machete killings, pick-pockets, crooked police, beach rape, military juntas, big spiders, donkey shows and spleen thieves.”

Well, the short answer is no.

The slightly longer answer is, yeah, okay I’m kind of freaked out about the spiders.

But the real answer is this: When I was a young boy, my family spent every single Thanksgiving at my Aunt Bobbie and Uncle Curley’s house.  They lived in a nice, quiet “All-American” suburb where the biggest safety concern would have been Aunt Bobbie’s true 70’s style four-pack-a-day smoking habit.  But lets face it, the Surgeon General hadn’t even dreamed up the whole second-hand smoke idea yet, so even that didn’t count.

We’d spend all day playing hide-and-go-seek with our cousins, watching the football game on a their fancy color TV, being ordered out of the kitchen, and chasing a wiener dog named Taddy.  When the food was finally ready, my Mom would suggest that everyone take turns saying something they were thankful for.  The men would join the children in protest until the proposal was retracted and everyone was allowed to dig in.

We’d sit at the kiddie table and make entirely too much noise while eating as much brown stuff and as little green stuff as we could get away with.  Taddy would assume her position under the table, olives would turn into hand puppets, and just when it looked like the final aunt might actually sit down to eat, a glass of something would get spilled.

I promise, I’ll get to the point in a moment.

Anyway, next would come the part where an entire living room full of men would go into a tryptophan coma while the second football game needlessly ran up the electric bill.  This would be followed by a walk around the block for anyone who had the energy, followed by the real meal–the breaking out of leftovers–mere moments after the final dish had been cleaned, dried and put away.

Hold on, I’m getting to it, I swear.

Finally, the adults would break out the Pinochle cards and us kids would be required to go find something quiet to do because we were giving Aunt Bobbie a splitting headache.  We’d generally choose to play Monopoly only to discover that it was still just as boring as it had been the previous Thanksgiving.  So instead, we’d put on our pajamas, go downstairs, argue over who got the two bean-bag chairs, and watch “Happy Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown.”

Next thing you’d know, we’d wake up the following morning in our own beds, in our own homes, having no idea how Mom and Dad had managed to carry us out and flop us into the car without waking us.

So what does any of this have to do with concerns about Diana and my safety when we move to Latin America?

Only this: Aunt Bobbie and Uncle Curley’s “All-American suburb” was Aurora, Colorado, where just yesterday a man walked into a movie theater and proceeded to kill twelve innocent people and wound 59 others.

Now, before you conclude that this was somehow an “isolated incident” as compared with the crime stories we hear coming out of Latin America, consider this: one of the young women who was killed in Aurora had narrowly escaped a similar rampage in a Toronto, Canada, shopping mall just last month.

So get over yourself, First World.

By the way, many of my cousins, nephews, and nieces still live in and around Aurora, Colorado, all with families of their own now.  I have no idea if any of them were killed, injured, or otherwise directly affected by yesterday’s shooting.  I guess I could get on the phone and make a dozen or two phone calls, but if there’s bad news to hear, I’m pretty sure it will find me.

Until then, I’m busy living life.

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4 thoughts on “Safety concerns about Latin America? You can’t be serious.

  1. What great post John. Clearly you have writing skills and I enjoy the read. Ya, this one may be a bit predictable, but you’ve hit it on the head again. I can honestly say I look forward to your posts and appreciate the blog. Thanks again for sharing your experience.
    As for me, there are days I feel “entangled” by daily life .But I continue to reach towards breaking free tnd getting to that simpler and rewarding life.
    Kew

    • Thanks again Kew. I take from your avatar name that you practice and/or follow Zen philosophies. Unfortunately, as you know, it’s kind of tough to find and hold serenity when you’re neck deep in the trappings of life in the States. But I respect and applaud your ongoing attempt. Have you read anything by Thoreau? I really think you’d enjoy Walden.

  2. John,

    Number of my friends asked recently if I’m not concerned about safety in Ecuador, or told me that, as a single woman, I just I shouldn’t go; we all live in Toronto, where in a week we had two shootings and several people dead and injured. The shooting last month at the mall was not in a “bad area” – in fact, it was at a very busy Eaton’s Centre downtown, a popular shopping spot for locals and tourists. I’m no more concerned about safety in Ecuador than I am here, in the “safest city in the world”, according to our major.

    Maya

    • Yeah, it’s crazy. When a white guy unloads four assault weapons on a theater full of people it’s the act of a lone gunman. But when a brown guy kills someone, it’s a culture-wide epidemic.

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