Friday, July 23, 2010

"Welcome to Hermosillo, This Way to Your Cell"

Mexico is a dangerous place these days.

Just before we started our journey, we were greeted with this news about a gang fight outside Nogales (where we crossed the border) resulting in 21 dead. The cynical (i.e. Me) wouldn't be too upset by this news as it does not appear any innocents were harmed. In my book, this is somewhat akin to Taliban and al Qaeda killing each other. We should be so fortunate - no tears were lost by me.

And then during our first weekend here, the big news was the car bomb triggered in Juarez (can't pronounce Juarez without "War").

Perhaps coincidentally, less than two weeks after the Nogales incident (but before the latest in war-zone-esque Juarez), the State Department issued yet another travel advisory in Mexico. I'll outline some highlights of this lengthy report:

Common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas during daylight hours, and avoiding areas where criminal activity might occur, can help ensure that travel to Mexico is safe and enjoyable.

Continued concerns regarding road safety along the Mexican border have prompted the U.S. Mission in Mexico to impose certain restrictions on U.S. government employees transiting the area. Effective July 15, 2010, Mission employees and their families may not travel by vehicle across the U.S.-Mexico border to or from any post in the interior of Mexico...This policy does not apply to employees and their family members assigned to border posts (Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, and Matamoros), although they may not drive to interior posts as outlined above.

And finally, the one of most interest to me:
Travel is permitted between Hermosillo and Nogales, but not permitted from Hermosillo to any other interior posts.

Not sure if your familiar with the Mexican map, but there is nothing of interest along the road between Nogales and Hermosillo. We can't drive east or south due to this most recent travel advisory. Fortunately, we can still go west to the beaches, but I imagine we are one incident away from losing that privilege as well.

As a reference, I've brought back this Mexican crime map from an earlier post. Sonora, the state we live in now, is the big yellow one in the upper left. Working your way right, you have the more dangerous, reddish states of Chihuahua, Coahuila de Zaragoza and Tamaulipas. The yellow state south of Sonora is Sinaloa, which probably has been upgraded to reddish now.

One of the other diplomats pointed out that this city has become very isolated and hard to get in and out of. Welcome to Hermosillo, Africa.

Hermosillo itself is not that dangerous in terms of drug-trade-related crime. The city has your typical big city petty crime such as pick-pockets, burglary, etc. Some one told us it used to be the case that the drug lords had an understanding of sorts to keep the drug fighting out of this city because many of the lords have families in Hermosillo. Sure, let the thugs off each other in other parts of Mexico (Juarez), but let's not let it effect our families. But even that understanding is starting to wear off as there has been some drug-related violence here.

In my last post I lavished praise on our house. And I do love this house. But what I saved for today is that these homes are designed to keep intruders out, which has the flip effect of being difficult for us to get out.

I don't want to go into too much details about the security measures here for fear that could upset some of the government types, but we have bars in our windows and doorways. We have spikes and nasty barbed wire on walls. We have security systems. We have secret handshakes. We don't mess around when it comes to security.


  1. Oofh. Compound living is hard - my old house had no windows on the vertical walls (only skylights) because of the threat from bombs. Don't let it wear on you too much... appreciate it, but don't let it drive you mad!

  2. Wow! Is there an airport in Hermosillo? Costa Rica is a beautiful country and not nearly such a security risk! Come visit!

  3. Jealous. We don't have any secret handshakes.

    Love the comment about leaving families out of the violence. At least the have morals?

  4. I remember that wire. We had razor wire, spikes, tall walls, round the clock guards, but no secret handshakes in Jakarta. It is amazing how quickly you get used to it all. The travel restrictions are a drag however and I hope that situation clears up so you can enjoy Mexico.

  5. We have the spikes here, but no wires. Although I'd like the wires. I caught someone climbing over my gate one day and totally freaked out!! Thankfully, he was just with the cable company...but still!!

    Y'all keep safe there!

  6. Spikes and a 24/7 guard, a couple other security measures here as well. Best of luck with the travel restrictions. What do you do to occupy your time? I only ask because I am looking for suggestions.
    another eligible family male.

  7. Without giving away too much info and torpeding future blog postings, I'm still in search of a daily routine. I spend some time blogging (of course) as well as reading other blogs. I also read up on my favorite sports columns.

    I do a fair bit of cleaning around the house, and taking care of the dog. I also have spent some time researching articles for my freelance work. And I spend a little time with computer games.

    This takes up a large portion of the day, usually gets me through 5 p.m. or so, and Natalie is usually home shortly thereafter.

    Eventually I want to get exercise and cooking more into the routine. Hope that gives you some ideas. Good luck.