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Pandemic Diary XV

One of the challenges with journaling during a time when not much is going on within my personal sphere is that there's just not much to write about. At first I thought I would use this "diary" as a form of self-therapy. I anticipated I'd deal with grief, anger, boredom, and a gamut of other emotions. I imagined creative ways to pass time, major transformations in life in my community, and unexpected moments of serendipity.

Much of that has happened. Online bridge has occupied a lot of my attention, as a player, a director, and the Manager of the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge Club, where I have had primary responsibility for setting up our virtual games. The community shut down almost completely, and then gradually reopened. For a long time there were no local cases of Covid-19. Now there are over 150 in our municipality. I adopted a puppy. I postponed a planned trip to Israel and Jordan until next fall. I choked up while singing "Try to Remember" along with Josh Groban on the car radio. I've enjoyed weekly Zoom get-togethers with my mom and sisters, plus regular meetings with my writing group from Seattle, two virtual trivia meet-ups every week, and monthly reunions with a group of friends from high school. I suffered the seemingly endless depravity of the occupant of the White House, and wept when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. And now I wait with increasing anxiety to see what will happen after the election.

So yes, there have been things to write about, but most of that, while it might have provided the therapeutic effect I was looking for if I'd written about it, would be pretty boring to read about. (Or maybe I just don't have enough faith in my writing ability to believe I could have made it interesting.)

Then, last week, something happened. Something exciting, scary, and potentially interesting to read about.

When I bought my house, the house next door was occupied by another expat from the US. She moved to a different neighborhood back in February, and after the house was vacant for a couple of months, eventually a group of college-aged Mexican guys moved in. We exchanged hellos, but otherwise they kept a low profile and didn't really engage with other neighbors. Perhaps I should have been suspicious when they covered up all the windows with garbage bags. And there were other signs, in retrospect, that I might have taken as evidence of something sinister, but not being the suspicious type, nothing set off alarm bells.

Then last Monday my neighbor on the other side (also a US expat) told me she had heard from some locals that the guys worked for the cartel.

And on Tuesday morning, while I was relaxing on my mirador, I heard a loud commotion coming from next door and from the street: bangs, shouting, and scuffling. Then a uniformed official climbed over from their mirador to mine, saw me sitting there, and yelled something to me. I didn't catch what he said, but I quickly made my way inside the house.

Down on the street was an assemblage of official vehicles: trucks marked "Guarda Nacional," and several armored vehicles, one of which had a big machine gun on the roof. Various men in uniform carrying large weapons were running up and down the street and shouting at each other.

It was about an hour before things outside calmed down, but the trucks and the military personnel remained all day and were still there when I went to bed that night. The street was blocked to traffic at both ends. They eventually let me take Taco out for a walk.

Details have emerged gradually through conversations with neighbors and an article in the Lake Chapala Reporter. Seven people were arrested in a coordinated raid on several locations. Some of the guys living next door tried to escape over the miradors heading in the opposite direction (thankfully they didn't come to my house) down to a house at the end of the block. The woman living there said they showed up on her mirador, banged on the locked door, and when she opened it, they asked her politely, in English, if they could come downstairs and leave. She said no and closed and locked the door, and that's where they were arrested. Later she said she found one of their guns under the cover of her jacuzzi.

The Forensic Sciences unit was investigating the house until late that night, and the next morning the house was locked up with yellow crime-scene tape in front.

It remained that way for just one day. The next day I heard noises coming from inside the house. Although the walk-in gate was chained, the driveway gate wasn't, and apparently someone got inside. I'm not sure what they did in there, but there was a large tub of some unknown liquid sitting on the porch, and the next morning I saw it sitting on the sidewalk across the street, where it remained until today. It seems it's finally gone. This past Tuesday municipal police swung by. (They were not involved in the raid last week.) I'm not sure who contacted them, and I don't think they did anything except put the crime-scene tape back up -- in front of my driveway! 

Right now the house remains unsecured, so anyone could go in through the driveway gate. I'm a little uneasy about this. I have reached out to the Chapala Expat Liaison, a local man who owns a popular restaurant and it supposed to serve as a bridge between the local authorities and the expats. So far I haven't heard back. But at least the cartel people are gone. 

And in, believe it or not, other exciting news, crocodiles have been sighted in Lake Chapala!

So yeah, it's been an exciting time, interrupting what otherwise has been a very unexciting time.

1 comment:

  1. Pretty scary stuff, perfect for Halloween, cartel and alligators :)


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