How People Reacted When I Told Them I’m Moving My Family to Mexico
At first, I just told people we were moving internationally again and didn’t go into details; and then I said to Latin America; and finally, I was ready to take the heat, and I said, “Mexico.”
One lovely friend’s eyes opened as big as her hair, which rivaled Cyndi Lauper’s. “Oh, really. How interesting.” Her eyes couldn’t relax.
Some people gasped.
And the best was my mom.
“Honey, people don’t go to Mexico, they leave Mexico.”
She said this in front of my husband whose parents are from Mexico.
“Mom! Hector’s parents are from Mexico.”
“Yes. My point exactly.”
And that’s my mom.
When people see that we are serious, it always ends in, “Is it safe!?”
What’s funny is that these are the exact same reactions we had when we told our friends in Germany that we were moving to Los Angeles (where I grew up).
“Is Los Angeles safe?”
“Is Los Angeles good for kids?”
“Are you sure?”
“You can’t be serious?”
Los Angeles is known internationally for its violent and drug related crimes, but we weren’t going to live in an unsafe neighborhood. We were going to a town 20 minutes north of downtown Los Angeles that has had 3 homicides in the last 12 years. Those are some good odds, right? But they couldn’t believe we would take our children to this family town because it was near Los Angeles.
Mexico is exactly the same. There are places that are unsafe because of criminal activity, like gang violence, drug trafficking, and human trafficking. Some of these places cannot be controlled by the police and governed. Before you gasp, there are also places in the United States that are ungovernable, like parts of Detroit and New Orleans.
Here’s an example of someone who drove through Mexico and was killed. His second to last Instagram picture was of the city we are living. However, the last post was in another state where we are not going because it is not safe. He was killed there. We are only going to places with no travel warnings.
It’s easy to know where to go and not to go. The United States issues travel warnings to specific states, so you know exactly where organized criminal groups are located; where carjackings would take place; and where you could easily become a human trafficking target. You also see where there are no warnings because not all states in Mexico are dangerous.
But let’s look at the numbers. Last year in 2014, there were 20,916,000 trips made into Mexico by U.S. citizens. Of those trips, 100 people were murdered (did you expect the number to be bigger for how worried people are? Yeah, me too), and none of them were targeted because they were US Citizens. Most were killed by participating in drug activity. Some were killed by being in the wrong place at the wrong time during a gang fight, and as you know, you can lower your odds of being in the wrong place by not traveling to certain states.
So your chance of being murdered during your visit to Mexico is 0.000478%. And if you wanted to know, in Los Angeles last year, 259 people were murdered.
I cannot predict the future. I could finish writing this, and we could all be killed. But I also don’t know if someone will shoot us in Los Angeles; if my kids would get kidnapped in Dallas; or if I’d be human trafficked in New Orleans… actually there is a high chance of that last one, which is why I don’t party there. Well, I don’t really party anyways. (I have two kids…)
Where we live in Mexico, we are putting our family at as much risk as going to small town America, but instead, we will be learning a new language and enjoying a different culture. So instead of making a fear based decision, we just… didn’t.
But, really, it’s easy to be like the German who is terrified of Los Angeles because of the news they hear without any understanding of the geography. They simply clump all of Los Angeles into one place when it actually spans an unreasonable amount of miles full of traffic and CVS’s.
On this note, my father who lives in Los Angeles wants me to dye my hair dark brown / black, so I don’t stand out as much. Seriously. If you want to see me with long black hair, check out this low budget, horror film I played the lead in at Lynda Vista Hospital in Los Angeles because I totally did that, and it was so fun.