I always try to focus on the positive in Mexico and Mexico City as I believe that Mexico receives so much negative press already. I really wanted to show another face of Mexico to my readers, I wanted to show the beauty of the country that I have grown to love and the generous people who live here.
However, sometimes the ugly side of Mexico rears it’s vile head and you are faced with the cold facts that Mexico can be a dangerous and unpredictable country. A country where you should always be on your guard and should always be aware of your surroundings.
This was brought home to us last week on a sunny Sunday afternoon, where C and I were caught up in the middle of a shoot-out. We were in the south of the city, in an area called Tlalpan stuck in traffic – when suddenly on the other side of the street we heard a loud ‘POP’. It sounded as though a tire had burst, and initially this is what we thought it was. Within seconds my eyes had narrowed in on this man running, and I could see the shiny black gun in his hands and hear the continuous popping noise. It felt like a scene from a movie.
I think both C and I realised the enormity of what was happening simultaneously, as we both dropped down. I’m in the passenger seat so I slide down under the dashboard and C is lying down as far as he possibly can over me – while we continue to hear a rapid succession of shots.
It’s funny how quickly facts become muddled in your head when you are put under pressure. I now understand why police can never truly trust a witness, as even straight after the event I can’t really remember the sequence of what occurred, or what really happened and what I imagined to have happened. I see flashes of images, but nothing concrete.
I do remember thinking that I saw someone running across the road away from the shooter, and I do remember thinking ‘shit we are going to get caught in the cross fire, and we are stuck in traffic so we have no where to go’. But it all happened so quickly and it was over in a couple of minutes, I didn’t even have time to be scared – it was almost as though I was on auto pilot and instinct took over.
It was only when it was all over, when traffic began to move and we could drive away, when the reality sunk in (well for me at least! C is always so incredibly calm, and nothing seems to rattle him). A flutter began in my stomach, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to start laughing hysterically or start to cry.
On the day, I found it pretty shocking and kept replaying the images in my head – luckily we did not see anyone killed or hurt (in fact I’m pretty sure the shooter missed his target), however I knew that it was only a matter of time until we experienced something like this considering Mexico’s crime statistics. It is also something that in the back of my head I have been expecting to happen.
This incident has not diminished my love for this country or made me want to leave Mexico any more quickly (we pack out in 2 months!), but it has made me realise a couple of things which I wanted to share with you:
First of all: ALWAYS be on your guard. ALWAYS be prepared that something unexpected could happen as I believe that you will be better suited to handle a situation if it were to arise. Although this shooting happened out of the blue, I think the fact that I have mentally prepared myself of the likelihood of something like this happening in Mexico, it enabled me to react to it calmly.
Second and most importantly of all: APPRECIATE every day you have on this earth! A couple of things has happened recently which has really demonstrated to me how fragile life is, and how quickly it can be taken away from you. You never know what is around that corner, or how something will turn out, so enjoy every moment you have!