Tuesday, 23 October 2012

We Receive Questions (updated 23 October 2012)

     Sometimes the OROG might ask what else does the Gringo Viejo do besides drink AirWick and nibble on NoDoz all day?   Sometimes people indirectly or directly ask for advice about Mexico.   Sometimes these questions come in chance meetings out in the real world, sometimes they come through the Time-Warner Cable that leads into our little computer, and sometimes they bubble up from indirect sources.    At other times, it comes from a telephone call that starts,"A friend of mine said that you helped him with this problem in Mexico..."   This entry that follows is a form of what El Gringo Viejo might be called upon, or might volunteer, to do.   These things are "free", although if it leads to direct service, then we charge for accompanying, negotiating, drawing up a reconnaissance report, or accommodating clients.    Our charges are a bit less than an attorney, and a bit more than what the neigbour boy charges to cut your lawn.
     This will be of a slightly enhanced bit of interest to El Zorro, because when he is not leaving messages at our Quinta, or saving Damsels, or intervening to right some wrong, he leaves the Sierra Madre Oriental and secrets himself and his lady near where our new friend resides.   Remember that in Texas, "near" is a very relative term.....something like 200 miles radius.   And before OROGs begin digging around for that old compass, take into consideration that El Zorro has been seen recently beyond Yellowknife, and even in recesses of the Rocky Mountains.

#1 2012-10-17 19:11:32

New member
From: Wichita Falls, TX
Registered: 2012-05-19
Posts: 8

I'd like to move to Tampico, but Mexico scares me. Opinions, please!

Hi folks, I spent a week in Ecuador (Guayaquil, Manta, and Bahia De Carraquez last June. I don't want to commit moving there before I try Mexico. I live in Texas, so Mex would be closer. However, I must be honest with myself: Mexico scares me. I hear there are SO many reasons to be thrown in jail. Everyone steals. The police are maybe worse than the criminals. I've heard of bandit raid in the country sections of Verzcruz. Please let me know if I'm imagining all this. I'm planning on a bus trip from my town to Tampico soon. Please let me know if I'm worrying about nothing. Thanks.
From: Near Victoria, Tamaulipas
Registered: 2009-02-19
Posts: 15

Re: I'd like to move to Tampico, but Mexico scares me. Opinions, please!

           Due to press reports, your response is reasonable and normal. However, the press most frequently reports the truth, but not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me, God.

      I live in Mexico in the belly of the beast in terms of cartel violence. We have a nice little adobe place we built in a rural area up against the mountains northwest of Cd. Victoria. During this entire war episode against the cartels, within 25 miles radius of our place, there have been numerous inter-cartel skirmishes, heavy engagements between Army or Naval Infantry units against the cartel units or gaggles (the military always wins), and various police elements and the cartel people (the police, especially the federal police, almost always win).
       Corruption continues, but not to the famous levels of 1970 - 1982 during the infamous administrations of Luis Echeverria Alvarez and Jose Lopez Portillo. That set the mind's view of many Americans about Mexican corruption. It is still not a perfect situation, but I will tell you that in my necessary dealings with the government at all levels there has been no corruption or shake-downs. I have suffered few such episodes even including the Echeverria and Lopez Portillo period. Our family has been involved in legitimate activity and business in Mexico (some of it not far from Tampico, relatively) since the 1880s.
       I have been asked to intercede for Americans who have been involved in criminal legal issues in Mexico, and in each case the American was guilty of something, by his/her own admission. The cavernous, labyrinthine judicial process in Mexico ranges from hopelessly inefficient, to corrupt, to sometimes fairly functional. The authorities, even the shady ones who (who become fewer as the days go by) really do not want a gringo in the police detention or state jail in his district. The truth is that in 99% of the cases of legal transgression the authority wants to get rid of the burr under the saddle that a gringo presents. Gringo legal problems in Mexico make a lot of news at times because of their rarity, not because of their abundance.
       In your case, I would try to get my feet wet. Tampico/Madero/Altamira metroplex is a fascinating urban madness. It has a lot of tropical aire, it has incredible food even at streetside stands....at 1st and 2nd clas full scale restuarants, and at fancy linen and silver deluxe places. It is bustling, a bit noisy, international in a way....lots of English surnamed people from the foreign oil operations days, old-tyme Chinese Mexicans from the railroad period in the 1870s and the port activity, and even Totonac and Huastec Indians who still come into the big city to sell crafts and buy supplies for their farms out to the west. It is a huge, major port....situated essentially downtown. It has a huge petrochemical industrial complex, and an ancient PEMEX refinery that is under continuous renovation and modernisation. There is a lot of French blood lines there and to the south and southwest from the Positivist farmers, ranchers, and educators who were invited in during the 1870s by President Lerdo y Tejada to "beef up" the agricultural and indigenous education systems. Gringos are a passively esteemed element in the area, but throwing beer mugs into the 10,000 dollar mirror behind the bar at your favourite saloon is still not a recommended activity. If you were to watch the movie, Treasure of the Sierra Madre with Humphrey Bogart all the way through, it will give you a bit of an idea of the reality. Things have changed in the sense that everyone has a cellular telephone, almost everyone has a computer or access to a computer.
       Excellent inter-city 1st class and deluxe bus service abounds, along with decent, scheduled air service from a modern international airport. The people are civil (albeit occupied and busy), water and food are good, beer and ice cream and packaged junkfood is better, and the beach ranges from easily survivable to elegant at times. There is a little less garbage and litter as each day goes by.

      To avoid problems with the violence about which you hear, 99% of that is solved simply by not becoming involved with the drug trafficking people. Most of the killing you hear about is cartel people killing cartel people. More troubling is the "secuestro" (kind of an "express kidnapping")that plagues people of the upper and middle income groupings. The general citizenry has become emboldened however, and are more and more willing to "drop a dime" on perpetrators to the Army or Naval Infantry hot lines (very quick response) and even now with the newly developed Policia Federal, a military-style civilian police agency that is proving to be about 99% as good as the Army and Naval Infantry. There has been slow degradation of the "secuestradores" and a bit quicker dialysis of the corruption within local and national, State, and local police and judicial systems. The trek is long before us still, but evidence of improvement cannot be denied. Even opposition parties give Calderon Hinojosa begrudging credit for having fought the good fight and for having won much of the "War". The new President incoming has made all kinds of public and private pledges to continue the War....and this has wide approval among the general Mexican population and the overwhelming majority of the resident foreign population.

       This set of observations could go on forever, because Mexico is like the five blind men trying to describe an elephant. But I would recommend that you spend some time in and around the Tuxpan, Vera Cruz State area, not far from Tampico. Spend a month there. Also, although it is very gringo-occupied, there is still a 99.9% central Mexican place that is heavily Indian w/ a sizable White colonial population with traditions from both that are pleasant, and that is San Miquel de Allende, State of Guanajuato. There is a large American/Canadian/British presence there....perhaps 10,000 permanent and semi-permanent people....who are between somewhat to totally "Mexicanized". They don't just love it...they live it. Cold beer, incredible eats, stunning colonial architecture and ambiance, no stop-lights, honest government, perpetual late Spring weather, totally advanced and totally, totally stuck in the past, remember SAN MIGUEL de ALLENDE, GUANAJUATO. I would also recommend GUANAJUATO, GUANAJUATO...which is an entire city that is an official National Historical Monument...wherein 5/6s of the city is frozen in the colonial period...Spanish tourists say it is more "Spain" than Spain. It is not a movie mock-up, but a living, bustling State Capital with 20 or so different integral economic, cultural, educational, agricultural and political foundations. Indescribable.
Find an apartment in either of those two places....something inexpensive....and relax, observe, and enjoy.

      Oddly, you might like to take the bus from Reynosa to a pleasant little dump like Valles, San Luis Potosi and hang around at the Hotel Valles for about a month...taking side trips to Cd. General Santos Tancinhuitz, Aquismon, and Xilitla, as well as Tamuin and Tempoal - all the latter places dominated to this day by the Upper and Lower Huastec Indian nation...fully integrated into the Mexican identity, but also integrated unto themselves...you have to see it and live it to appreciate it. But it will give you a really good, positive, AND realistic sense of the good and the problematic of hanging around in Mexico.

           I prosper in the madness, and enjoy it immensely. Thanks for your interest and attention. Visit our blog, where you can access our Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre bed and breakfast outside of Cd. Victoria by clicking on to privatouring.blogspot.com and then clicking onto the private linkage quintatesorodelasierramadre.com found on the rightmost margin of the blog.
Thanks for your kind attention, and "Buena Suerte!"
El Gringo Viejo