Saturday, October 1, 2011

Calm Before the Storm

Well, I say this is the calm before the storm because Guadalajara and the surrounding areas are going to host the 2011 Pan American Games starting October 14.  Most of the events will be in various areas of Guadalajara, but Chapala will host the water skiing events on Lake Chapala.  Athletes from 42 nations will descend on Guadalajara creating security challenges.  The city expects 800,000 visitors for the games and 2000 Federal Police are already in the city.  We have noticed increased security presence here at lakeside as well.  Most of us plan to stay out of the city during the Games.  I can just imagine the traffic!

 Meanwhile all was peaceful at the Ajijic Plaza today (above) with the gazebo still decorated with the red, white and green flags left over from Independence Day on September 16.  We have discovered a wonderful video shop in the plaza.  It is jointly owned by a Mexican and an American and they stock many films and television shows we gringos are fond of.  We just asked today if they could find the first season of Mildred Pierce and the first season of Mad Men for us.  Here is Pixie browsing through some sale items in front of the shop.
Last week at our Fellowship we had our annual service dedicated to Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of our own Unitarians.  Each year we have this opportunity to highlight the creative talents of our fellowship members.  We have writers reading their stories, artists showing off their art,  and musicians performing.  It is always a favorite service as we can enjoy one another's creativity.  Our photographer, Kelley, caught me on camera performing a blues song during the service.
 Tomorrow we will have, for the first time, a blessing of the animals.  Actually, we are celebrating the blessings animals bring to our homes.  Many Americans and Canadians living here enjoy the companionship of dogs and cats.  Some own birds and fish as well.  We will see many of these animals tomorrow as we conduct our service out on the patio with our animals.  I, personally, think it will be a bit of a zoo!  Of course, Chuy will be there and I am sure he will enjoy seeing all the other dogs especially. 

There was an article in the local paper addressing the issue of violence in Mexico.  I thought the readers of this blog might be interested in getting some perspectives on this topic.  Although the rise of gang-related drug crime has been well reported in the US media, how bad is the violence here?  It clearly is a problem.  Murder is the greatest cause of death for youths aged 15-29 years, followed by motor vehicle accidents. The murder rate in Jalisco (our state) has increased 125 percent form 2007 to 2010 (from 389 to 879), but the vast majority of that increase is from the increase in gang-related crimes.  The vast majority of these victims are gang members, police, and journalists.  The risk of murder for regular people has not risen much at all.  

The murder rate in Mexico is far less than other Latin American countries.  The Mexico the murder rate is 18 per 100,000 people, less than Honduras, El Salvador, Venezuela, Belize, Guatemala, Panama, Brazil, and Columbia.  The rate in Mexico City is  9.2per 100,000, while it is 22 per 100,000 in Washington DC!  

The media continues to focus on Mexican violence.  Whereas it is clearly a concern, it would be easy to overestimate its frequency.  

Not a lot is going on at the moment.  The rains continue to diminish, as the weather is comfortably cooler, especially at night.  We have another month or so until the snowbirds start to arrive.  It's interesting to note that even now, without the winter visitors here, traffic is bad at Lakeside.  I can just imagine what it will be this winter.  In the meantime, life goes on at a slow rate.  I am working on a new poetry book which may be released in November.  Here's another view of the plaza in Ajijic this morning.  

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