The view of the sunrise in our barrio here in Acapulco, where most of this story is set.
Today there was a shooting in my barrio, it happened at about 3pm and was probably the closest shooting (in terms of distance from me) that I've experienced since being in Acapulco. At the time, we didn't know any other details other than the fact that it seemed to come from the other street in the neighborhood. Lots of shots were fired and all the dogs in the barrio went wild for awhile afterwards. We continued our day as planned, until John asked me to get a Coke for him, which meant venturing out into the neighborhood. I negotiated for some paletas, the mexican term for sucker that happened to be sold at the end of the street the shooting occurred on. I decided that since it had been quiet since, I should be fine in my ventures to the miscelaneas. In the end I was right, although I had some experiences worth sharing.
I live in a rural barrio at the top of a mountain, in a mostly low income neighborhood. We have more miscelaneas in our neighborhood than government buildings of which we only have one. It's deep in the neighborhood, at the end of the other street in our neighborhood. Today, when I went for the paletas, I had almost forgotten about the shooting. I decided that I was going to take the small dirt alleyway that goes to the other street, to take that to the miscelanea. As I rounded the corner, I noticed the heavily law enforcement presence. I saw Federales, Municpales, and Estatal police with some marinas and general military thrown in. There were 10 to 15 different police vehicles lining the street. I could see as I approached that they had the government building roped off with crime scene tape. As I got closer, I could see evidence markers all over the yard in front of the building. There was no blood or bodies, so I can't even say for sure that anyone was injured. The police seemed confused themselves, wandering around looking for someone and not finding them.
The police seemed stunned to see me of all people walking by their crime scene. I walked to a sea of law enforcement that probably numbered over 30 different officers without fear. I figured they were there in regards to the shooting, and since that had nothing to do with me, they weren't going to bother me. I was right, they all just watched confused as I walked down the road with my empty glass coke bottle. I went to the miscelanea with the paletas, got those and planned to get the coca at a different miscelanea(My favorite) on the way back. As I walked by one of the Marina's basically asked me why I didn't get anything, I held up my paletas and he laughed at me as I walked past and got my coke.
An hour or so later I went out and got more paletas and coke, once again to face military although less this time. There was a military bus this time that wasn't there before, but all but about 4 of the Federales had left. They once again seemed surprised to see me walk through the gauntlet once again. I think they expected me to be more scared of them than I was. Not one of them bothered me, as they seemed concerned with closing up whatever they had been doing there for hours.
It almost reminds me of a day in Detroit, although I'll say I was in much more danger that day than today in my opinion. We were walking down our street, it was just a few weeks after returning to Detroit after our arrest. At the time we were doing several dab workshops a week, in which we demonstrated to our community members how we make dabs, to remove some of the confusion as to what's really involved in the process. We had a cart with everything from a pyrex pan, to the heat gun used to process the product, to the cannabis we planned on processing. We were headed to a friends down the way, when the gun shots were fired. They were coming from W Hollywood, the street currently still filled with drugs, violence and prostitution. The shots were fired in our direction initially, and we actually heard the bullets whizzing past us. There was then some return fire, and the shots ended soon after. Our friends were watching from their house, and thought we were crazy when we started laughing. In that situation, we couldn't think of anything else to do. We were amused by the irony of what we were doing and what happened. We recognized that we couldn't do anything to change the situation, so the best response seemed to laugh.
This is a photo taken from our bathroom in Detroit that shows the section of road we were walking down the day those bullets whizzed past.
We continued on, did the demonstration and continued our night. We weren't necessarily fazed, coming from having lived in one of the more dangerous neighborhoods in the east side of Cleveland, where shots were fired on the regular, sometimes in front of our house. They were never directed at us, and neither were the ones in Detroit. It's true in any city that there are always going to be close calls, especially in rougher neighborhoods. I find it funny however, that my closest calls have been in the civilized United States, not here in Mexico despite cartel and government being at war.
To make today better, as we went to leave our neighborhood, we found one of the streets blocked with tables and chairs, with people everywhere ready to party. As we circled the long way though the neighborhood to leave, we noticed a high amount of people on the streets, many dressed up and heading to this party. We actually remarked that it was the most we people we had ever seen out and around on our hill. As we turned to go down the hill, we got slowed by some estatal police, some I later recognized to be some of the same that had been sitting on the hill all day. They stopped at a point so the guy in the back of the truck could get a good picture of the view with his cell phone, so we passed and continued down. At the bottom of the hill, we noticed the bus I had seen earlier on the hill, with cops of all different kinds standing around bored, doing a checkpoint that wasn't checking anyone at the time. Not far away was a young mexican man practicing his skateboarding. Despite what happened, it seemed business as usual.
I noticed military looking around the neighborhood as if they were searching for someone, and from what I could tell they weren't finding them. I find it funny that the site of the shooting happened to be at the only government building in town. I also found funny the fact that all of my neighbors were investigating their presence, unhappy about the fact that there was so much government in the neighborhood. They all looked extremely uncomfortable with the military presence, something different here from the states is the fact that the general population is mistrustful of military presence which is something I really appreciate. People here don't depend on the government for protection, and for the most part see it for what it truly is, a mob.
I also find it funny that my neighborhood decided to have what was the biggest block party we've seen in almost 4 months, coincidentally on the night of a shooting that occurred at the government building. No one seemed scared at all or like they felt unsafe, they all looked comfortable and ready to party. We just laughed and responded "It must be a holiday" which is our mexican running joke. This is a party culture, and the celebrate everything here from kids to thursday night. Where we live, we can hear many of the parties on the hill, echoing up to our place all night long. Despite this shooting, I still feel safe in my neighborhood, safe enough that I went out twice for cheap mexican candies without batting an eyelash. I remember the fact that I had nothing to do with any of the events involved, and move on. In Mexico, shootings only seem to involve specific people, there's rarely people caught in the fray here.