Baby Boomer Peace Columns

Mexico is safer than it’s made out to be in the news

I have that seriously bummed feeling creeping in. I’m flying home to Encinitas.  That will conclude three weeks in my second home in Puerto Vallarta.  Our first contest winners, Dean and Sue Henningsen, are coming in to use my condo for a week and then my place is rented until mid February.

After that I’m wide open.  Since I only purchased my condo on the beach in August I have a hard time committing to potential renters.  I keep thinking, wait, I want to be there.  I’ll figure this all out over the first year of ownership.  Right now I’d rather keep my place open for my use, but if I rent it out then it pays for itself and I get to live there for free for at least six months out of the year.

Being in paradise for three weeks this time, there are a few things I just started noticing.  Besides the locals being so friendly all the time (they don’t have stress down here) I realized that there are no bars on windows and most people’s doors are always open.  The other thing I noticed is that nobody, including me, has screens on their doors or windows.

Now this is tropical paradise down here but typically when you hear the word tropical, visions of monster bugs come to mind.  I seriously have not seen a bug in the last year that I’ve been coming down here.  I also keep my sliding glass door open every night so I can hear the constant rush of waves lapping on the shore while I sleep to 65-degree perfect sleeping weather nights.  Great Feng Shui.
People from the states write and ask if I’ve seen beheaded bodies or “shoot ‘em up” street fights.  One of my readers called the other day to compliment me on my column and he too asked me if I feared for my life in Mexico.
The response was a simple “No,” but I went further and told him I seriously feel safer walking down a dark street at midnight in Puerto Vallarta than I do in the States.  One reason is because at midnight people are still all over the streets here, both visitors and locals.  In Encinitas they roll up the streets, oh, about 8 p.m. or so — world of difference.

The crime rate in Puerto Vallarta is non-existent.  No one can remember the last time there was an actual homicide here.  They did catch one of Khadafi’s sons there a month or so ago.  Oh, and Charlie Sheen was seen with his wife and two kids.

I’ve come to think now that something is going on in our press and politics when dealing with Mexico. The press is hell-bent on portraying Mexico as a scary place to visit. It’s mind boggling how reality and perception are so divergent.

I was talking to a concierge at the exclusive Haixa resort in Punta Mita.  He was walking me around as I was taking pictures of the second largest continuous swimming pool in the world.  His name was Sergio.  He said that he lived in Los Angeles four times.

He said that each time he had to come across the border illegally was to reconnect with family in Los Angeles and to make enough money to pay for the Coyotes the next time he wanted to come back.  He said it costs him $3,000 American dollars to pay a Coyote to come across the border.  He said the first time was really scary because there were six other males all in a trunk of a car with him when coming across the San Ysidro border.  He was sure someone would shoot him.

He spent $3,000 to be crammed into the trunk of a car with five others.  The second time he came across he paid $3,000 again and was in a van coming through the desert with 30, yes that’s 30, people in a mini van.  He balled himself up on the ground to show me how he had to be fit.  The coyotes would get them close to train stations and drop them off and wish them luck.  That’s how he got to Los Angeles, which was to just take Amtrak — so much for those checkpoints south of San Clemente.

The reason I bring up Sergio is because I feel so guilty.  I just bought a plane ticket, came to Mexico, bought an oceanfront condo and as long as I go back to the United States without being here a continuous 365 days, no one hassles me.

Now I’m conservative by political standards, but I love these people down here.  They used to come to the United States for a better life and to make money to help family back home, but Mexico is happening now and maybe that’s why the US wants to portray it down here as ugly.  Mexico is one of the only nations in the world that lives on a budget, a balanced one at that.  The US could learn a thing or two from these guys down here.

The government owns the petroleum and I buy premium gas for my little Mercedes for $2.90 per gallon.  That’s about 10 pesos per liter.  I can only imagine what I’m going to have to pay for “free enterprise” gasoline in Encinitas.  What is it now for premium, $4 a gallon?  Jeez.  The education system in Mexico is improving exponentially and because of low cost wages; it’s cheaper to move a company to Mexico than it is to China.
The other thing I notice is that Mexicans here are typically middle and upper middle class.

They drive nice cars, they wear stylish clothes and you rarely see someone who has eaten too many beans and tortillas.  They are health conscious down here as well.   And, the women are beautiful, almost Mediterranean-like.  I would guess women would say the men are handsome, too.

My next column will likely have my fingers shivering over the keyboard.  I’m coming home to winter and leaving the warm breezes behind.  I’ll be back though.  Have to.  Life is getting fun in this old age.  It is really fun learning how to live like a rich man on a poor man’s budget.  Peace be with you.  See you soon.