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Complimentary Issue

Health & Safety

Redefining Safety

By Karen Blue

One of the questions I'm most often asked is, "Is it safe at the lakeside?"

I've always felt much safer here than anywhere I've lived before. Yes, we have theft, but rarely is it accompanied by bodily harm. Children play safely in the streets until well after dark. There's no concern for kidnapping, rape or random shootings. We do not live in fear.

Now, after the horrendous events of September 11, I feel even safer here. I'd like to scoop up my family and friends and transplant them south of the border where I don't have to worry about them.

Coincidentally, one of the women I interviewed for the Los Picaros article a week before the terrorist attacks had said, "Originally, I didn't consider México as an option for retirement because of banditos and terrorists." I transcribed that tape a week after the attack. It made me shudder. This horrific catastrophe has changed many of our perspectives.

As has happened all over the world, those of us living in México have come closer together-the Mexicans and those of us privileged to live in their country. The day after the attack, the San Andres church held a special memorial service. On the evening of October 11, we honored the heroes, the victims and the families and friends of the victims with a special candlelight celebration.

Our own editor-in-chief, Judy King, felt the love of this kind country hosts on the night of their own Independence Day celebration:

Every year at 11 p.m. on September 15, in every Mexican town and village the town officials reenact Padre Hidalgo's Grito. While the entire speech was not recorded, all the versions end with cries of "Viva México! Viva!" It was this cry that rallied farmers and townspeople to begin México's difficult battle against Spain-eventually bringing independence to México and relief from the harsh slavery they had experienced for so long.

Tonight several friends and I went to Chapala to hear El Grito. When the presidente of Chapala, along with several other area dignitaries, filed through the crowd to the town hall, they were wearing small American flags in their lapels. At one point during the proceedings, the MC welcomed the North Americans present and commented on the importance of the foreign community living at Lake Chapala. He assured all present of the pain and solidarity the Mexican people felt for the United States after the tragic events of the week.

Mexicans nearby patted our shoulders, shook our hands, and whispered their encouragement, sympathy and sorrow. The evening deeply touched us. We didn't know what to say, other than "Gracias." Both my friend and I shed a few tears and decided we wanted to share this with all of you.


A short time later, I received this email from a Mexican friend and writer, Ilse Hoffman. She gave me permission to share this with you:

I have no words to express to you my feelings in this moment of trial after the World Trade Center and Pentagon tragedies, that is why I will let my heart speak to tell you that this attack has not only been against your country, but against the whole civilized world, and against the human race, including Mexicans.

Some of you, my friends, are living in México; some went back to live in the U.S., and some have just visited México as tourists or to do business. To all of you I want to say that the Afghans and Talibans might not be fond of Americans, but in México, we are. We love you guys. You are most welcomed into this land because you are an asset to this country. You are so caring and sensitive, always trying to help our poor people, natives, disabled children, etc. You probably do for our people more than we Mexicans do for our own people. God bless you for that.

My prayers, respect, and love go to all of you in these moments of trials and tribulations. May God give you all the strength to overcome this tragedy.

Ilse Hoffmann

And, from Ruth Ross Merrimer, a local news reporter:
On Friday, September 14, in an emotional display of support for the U.S. community, fifty students from the Ajijic Junior High School, wearing sparkling blue and white uniforms, marched onto the Lake Chapala Society grounds in single file and formed lines facing the patio. They embedded candles in the flowerbed, raised their right arms across their chests in salute and stood for a moment of silence.
During my Spanish lessons, I asked our instructor if Mexicans were now afraid to fly commercial airlines. He looked surprised and said, "No. Always, as we board a flight, we cross ourselves and put ourselves in God's hands. He alone determines when we die and we do not fear death."

Perhaps some of the Mexican faith and fatalism rubs off on us when we have lived here for a long time. Every American and Canadian I have spoken with since the tragic events in September have expressed their gratitude to be living here at the lakeside, where we feel safe and do not live in fear.

Judy King and I send prayers and condolences to our fellow Americans and hope that peace and safety will soon return to the United States and the free world. God bless America.

Subscribers may ask questions on safety by sending an email to You can expect a 48-hour response.


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