Saturday, October 3, 2015

Gender Reveal

From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I knew Baby Cruz was a girl. I also knew Ray secretly wanted a boy, but he didn't dare say a word. We had wanted a baby together for so many years, I think he thought being choosy about the gender would just be selfish. 

I didn't necessarily want a girl, I just wanted a healthy baby and knew it was a girl. If I'm being completely honest, having a daughter absolutely terrifies me. I mean sure, it would be fun to buy dresses and dolls and braid her hair and what not, but eventually this daughter would have the possibility of turning into her mother! Osea me! I shudder at the thought of having to deal with a 13 year old version of myself. But I figured God doesn't give us more than we can handle, so as terrifying as it was, I knew we would figure it out.

I already knew her name. We had picked it out nearly 10 years ago. Eva Marie. Marie is my mom's middle name. Done. The first gift we were given after announcing the pregnancy was a pink, Minnie Mouse walker. Perfect. Eva will love this, I thought.

My creative, thoughtful, crafty, should-seriously-be-a-chef friend, Veronica, offered to make us a gender reveal cake and I gladly accepted. It was really the perfect thing to do so that Ray and I could find out the gender together, since my OB is in El Paso and he obviously cannot go to my appointments.

Veronica was ready for anything!

Knowing I have no patience, on the day of my ultrasound she made not one, but two cakes. How amazing is that? I had my appointment in the afternoon and asked the doctor to determine the sex, but not to tell me. After the ultrasound she scribbled the gender on a piece of paper which was wrapped several times and then sealed in an envelope.

You would have thought I had presidential election results in that damned envelope with the way I sped back across the border. A few short hours later, it was time for the big reveal!

The gorgeous cake.

Here we go...

Blue?! What the...

Ray was completely shocked.
I had him convinced it was a girl.

I was in such disbelief I made Veronica
show me the letter from the ultrasound tech.

So it wasn't a little Eva inside of me after all! After some deliberation (you know, a quick glance at the list we'd been working on for a decade,) we settled on a name. Benjamín Joseph. Benjamín being the only name on our list that was loved by both our English and Spanish speaking family and Joseph being my dad's middle name. He will be Ben-HA-mín to Spanish speakers and Ben-JA-min to English speakers and that's quite alright with us.

We are absolutely elated to add this little boy to our family and cannot wait for his arrival!

Mom, Dad y El Benny

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Tales From the Bridge III

So I have to start this off with some really exciting news. And I wish I could have some great, creative way to do so, but it's not happening for me today so I am just going to come right out and say it.

Ray and I are expecting a baby! I'm due early next year and we are both over the moon with joy. BUT, I sort of despise pregnancy. Shocker. I'm already pretty sensitive and emotional naturally, and my emotions while pregnant are a whole new level of (as my stepdad would put it,) P-S-Y-C-H-O. Today took the cake though because it was just a really emotional day from the get-go and it all started out on the bridge.

The line wasn't really any longer than any other Thursday but it sure did drag. They recently changed which side of the bridge that the Ready Lanes are on and ever since then it's been pretty chaotic. I used to wait about 15 minutes in line on the Bridge of the Americas and now I am waiting closer to an hour in the mornings. It's a little frustrating but it was definitely worse when we first moved to Juárez so it's almost not worth mentioning. Anyway so this morning I ended up in a line that didn't really move for long spurts of time and then all of the sudden the cars would advance quickly.

I finally got to the point where I was next in line at the inspection booth and ended up waiting there for a good 15 minutes. The person that was in front of me being inspected had been there for a really long time. There seemed to be a lot of back and forth, but I just assumed that maybe the passengers were asking the officer a lot of immigration or importation questions because I know that happens from time to time. But one car sitting there for that long isn't very common, especially in a Ready Lane. Typically a car will pass through the booth in under a minute, if even close to that. They ask the necessary questions, do their inspection and move on to the next vehicle. If there are any suspicions they transfer the car over to secondary inspection to look into it further.

So after a while I did start to think that it was weird that I was sitting there for so long. People behind me were honking their horns and whatever but I was not about to follow suit. I understand that there's no way we can know what an officer is doing and if/when they are just slacking and taking their sweet time. For all we know that car could have been chock-full of cocaine. So I just sat there but did notice that as the officer was inspecting the vehicle at the booth, he kept glancing at me and giving me the weirdest looks. I ignored it and went back to scrolling through my Twitter feed.

Finally it's my turn to be inspected. I give the officer my passport, I say good morning and proceed to answer his questions. What was the purpose of your trip to Juárez? How long have you lived there? Where do you work? Simple stuff. He was a little short with me, but that's to be expected, I suppose. Then he takes my passport into the booth and looks up whatever it is they look up on their computer. He spent a good amount of time studying the computer screen before coming out of the booth and asking me why I cross multiple times a day. I explained that I work Monday through Friday in El Paso and only cross once a day. He instantly became argumentative and went on to basically accuse me of lying and insisted that I cross into the US multiple times a day. Not true. I don't know what he was trying to get at but his demeanor was extremely offensive. His facial expressions alone just threw me off.

Then he went on to ask me for my vehicle registration which I have never had anyone ask me for on the bridge with the exception of one occasion several years ago when the El Paso Police was checking for insurance of all vehicles entering the US. Is it normal for them to ask for registration? Maybe. I don't know. But there was just something about the way this guy asked me. Like he was going out of his way to make things difficult. I handed it over to him and he took a nice, long, slow look at it before handing it back to me with my passport stuck in the fold of the paper. He looks me right in the eye as he hands it to me and gives me this long creepy look and says, very sarcastically, "Have a nice day."

I responded with somewhat of a blank stare because how the fuck do you respond when someone says something to you that they clearly don't mean? You don't have to tell me to have a nice day, Border Patrol. I get it. You're not here to be my BF. I don't need you to wish me well or tell me you feel bad that I live in Mexico or ask me how my weekend was or tell me I look nice. I don't need your fake, condescending, "have a nice day!" There are plenty of people working for CBP who are actually pleasant at the bridge and may wish me a good day and actually mean it, but if you aren't one of those people, I'm cool with that. I literally have never had major problems at the bridge and maybe I've been spoiled by all of the people who have been so nice to me over the years?

In response to his obvious sarcasm, I stared at him blankly, mostly because I had no clue how to respond. He quickly went on to loudly say, "Or not," with an irritated tone in his voice, "Or don't have a nice day, whatever!" Oh hell no. Who is this guy? I really don't know what it was but that last comment just caused something to click in my head and I became so angry. I don't know... I just felt like he was talking to me like I was a dog or less-than or not worthy of his respect or something.

I asked him if there was some sort of problem to which he announced that there was, indeed, a problem. "You have an attitude problem," he said. Whoa. Where did I go wrong with this guy? I was polite, I said good morning, I answered his questions, I wasn't argumentative, I gave him the documents he wanted. I don't know what more he wanted from me and it was more than a little frustrating. So that's when I requested to speak with his supervisor. And as soon as the request came out of my mouth, I regretted it. I try to be a person that doesn't allow people like this to affect my whole day but for some reason (pregnantbrain,) I just couldn't let it slide this morning.

My request got him all riled up. He almost seemed excited. Oh yeah, let me get him for you, right away! Right now. You just just pull over here to secondary since you're in such a hurry but you have time to talk to my supervisor.

More bullshit sarcasm.

I never said I was in a hurry. After he told me I had an attitude problem, I told him, "Sir, I've been waiting in line for an hour," as I put my hands in the air hopelessly with a quizzical "what do you want my attitude to be like?" look on my face. "Well, that's not my problem," he said, "I just got here," he snapped.

Was I ear-to-ear smiles with a gleam in my eye, jumping up and down with joy this morning? Hell no! It was 7 am and I haven't had caffeine in 3 fucking months. I suppose what bothered me the most is that I feel like I have always gone out of my way to be polite to CBP. And honestly, in return I have had really great experiences crossing. I do think that my attitude has played a part in those good experiences because I believe that a person's attitude is infectious. Unfortunately today just didn't work out like most mornings...

I pulled into Secondary to wait for the supervisor at which point the officer asked me for my passport again, and then felt the need to ask for my car insurance (eye roll) and told me to turn off my vehicle. Again, going out of his way to be difficult. As I'm sitting there waiting for the supervisor I start to feel really fucking stupid. My eyes are welling with tears and I'm realizing that this whole thing is so trivial. There were no civil rights violations at play (which no doubt happen regularly at the border,) or anything that even warranted filing a complaint. If this guy is having a power trip and wants to talk to me like a piece of shit, tough cookies Emily, get over it. People are abused and talked down to and treated inappropriately all the time and here I am about to report this guy because he goes to work in the morning like somebody just pissed in his Cheerios? So not worth it.

The supervisor came over eventually and introduced himself and politely shook my hand. I immediately recognized him. He's seen me cross countless times before and has always gone out of his way to be decent and respectful. (Probably why he's the supervisor even though he's half the age of the guy who just finished giving me such a hard time.) I immediately apologized for taking his time but told him I just felt as though something had to be said. The tears started to flow as I explained what had happened. As I heard the words coming out of my mouth my brain was sending it fierce signals to stop talking but my words continued to flow as fast as my tears. I sounded all kinds of hormonal and I swear that poor man probably thought I was completely insane. I mentioned that I had never felt the need to file a complaint about CBP, not even the time an officer told me that my husband married me for a green card and would divorce me as soon as he got it, but for some reason this time was different.

He asked me if there was anything he could do and I told him that I really just wanted to tell someone that this man made me feel uncomfortable and I felt his demeanor was inappropriate and completely unnecessary. He talked down to me, told me I have a bad attitude and basically called me a liar and I wanted someone to be aware of that. The supervisor was sympathetic and asked me repeatedly if I would like him to do anything about it before making sure I wasn't late for work and wishing me a good day, genuinely.

Even as I'm typing this right now the entire thing seems absolutely absurd and I realize that maybe I am just totally and completely out to lunch. I don't know. I guess I really just wanted to check in here and vent about my silly experience on the bridge this morning that sort of ruined my whole day because I'm an idiot and I let it.

Any crazy, hormonal, pregnancy stories you'd like to share to make me feel less like I belong in a padded room?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Father's Day in Samalayuca

Several years ago when our move to Juárez was still in the planning stages, I had grandeur dreams about what our life would be like here. One of those dreams included using some of our savings to purchase a second car with Mexican plates which we would use to travel all over Mexico in our free time.

Unfortunately, I had grossly underestimated the cost of living on the border and there was no leftover savings just a few short months after our move. We never bought that second car and never did any traveling or exploring too far from home. I had overestimated our free time as well, go figure.

The traveling I had in mind hasn't happened largely because we try to use our vacation time to visit our kids, but that second car could have really helped out in the past few years as our truck broke down time and time again. I recently had the chance to purchase a vehicle through the company I work for and I just knew I couldn't pass it up. I'll be making payments for the next year that will make things really tight for us financially but I know it's worth it and I'm thankful for the opportunity. It's a little Toyota with a high reliability rating that's excellent on gas. Polar opposite of the Chevy we've been struggling with for years.

Knowing that we were getting the new car this week made it easy to accept an invitation from friends for a day trip to Samalayuca for Father's Day. Normally I would have said no, fearing that the Trailblazer would leave us stranded in the middle of the desert with no way to get to work on Monday. But with the promise of a new car on the horizon, we threw caution to the wind, packed up the truck, and headed South.

Thankfully the ride was uneventful for the most part and free from any car problems. There is a checkpoint on the way which is normally closed but was up and running last Sunday. The officials saw the Texas plates on our truck and pulled us to the side of the road. I immediately got nervous because although everyone had assured us that we weren't driving far enough into Chihuahua to need a permit for our truck, I was second guessing that as soon as I saw a man in uniform. However, it was no problem at all. After Gordo explained that we were just going to Samalayuca we were waived right along.

Samalayuca is just about an hour outside of Juárez, if that, and famous for it's white sand dunes. It's close enough that the trip doesn't feel like a huge production and far enough to feel like you're still getting out of town. The dunes are quite the tourist attraction and on the weekends they are filled with people four wheeling, sandboarding or just hiking. With the high temperature being in the 100's that day, we didn't go to the dunes, but instead passed them up to hang out by the pool at Centro Recreativo Dunas Campestre.

There were 5 pools, all connected but on 3 levels, a lake for fishing (catfish and tilapia), horses that could be rented for a ride around the campground and a very long water slide (maybe half a mile?) that was not operating when we went. There was a restaurant on site as well as a small store selling ice, matches, pop, snacks and other camping essentials.

The price to get in was 40 pesos ($2.60 US) for adults and 20 pesos ($1.30 US) for children and if you wanted to camp you would just repay that same amount as you leave the next day. There was a water spigot for washing, a grill at each campsite and a men's and women's restroom that each had 2 bathrooms and a shower.

There were a lot of people there so the pools got a bit too crowded and dirty for my liking after a while. I'm hoping that this was just due to Father's Day because I can't wait to go back and camp. I love everything about camping. Setting up your own little temporary home, cooking over an open fire, spending time with your loved ones, unplugged. All the necessary ingredients for a good time.

Up until now I never really knew of anywhere we could camp around here and it's something I really missed. My family went camping regularly as I grew up and while the Chihuahuan Desert is nothing like the wooded KOA campgrounds of the Midwest or Northern Arizona, it definitely has it's own charm and beauty. It's not for everyone, that's for sure. But personally, I can't wait to go back.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sober Sunday Funday

Seven days ago I quit drinking and I'm feeling really, really good. There is obviously a long story behind what finally motivated me to make this decision but maybe I'll get into that more when I'm ready. Today is not the day. Regardless, my decision to put down the bottle has left me with the need to sort of reinvent my life in Juárez. Ever since we moved to Mexico, our lives have revolved around alcohol. That was never the case when we were North of the border.
In Arizona, I wouldn't gulp down an entire bottle of wine on a Tuesday night or start taking shots of tequila before noon on a Saturday, or drink a beer with breakfast on Sundays. I would have a glass of my friend Christina's homemade sangria on Thanksgiving or maybe toast with champagne on New Year's but alcohol was never a problem for me then.

Looking back, I see that I just couldn't cope with everything that this move entailed. I needed something to soften the blow. As an addict, I was naturally drawn to this miracle liquid that seemed to magically remove me from reality. The only problem with that is that reality was still there every morning. Now accompanied by a splitting headache, ganas de vomitar and embarrassment over what I had said or done the night before.

I remember coming home from a job interview 3 days after we moved here to find my husband drinking in the kitchen with his brother and mom. They had hopped on a bus from Parral to Juárez as soon as they had confirmation that we had arrived in Mexico. Of course they were in celebration-mode. It had been years since they'd been face to face.

So how could I resist that shot of tequila when it was offered to me at 2 in the afternoon? We were celebrating! We had made it, we were safe, we were together! Pour me another! ¡Arriba, abajo, por centro, al entro! And then suddenly, there I was and nearly 5 years had passed, and I was still celebrating. 

Nearly 5 years had passed and I was still at the same fucking party.

It's time to wake up. It's time to be responsible. It's time to realize that I am strong. I am so much stronger than I was 5 years ago. I am certainly strong enough to deal with my feelings and my life and whatever God throws my way. No need to numb myself with alcohol all the damned time. 

I got this.

I'm not saying I'll never drink again, but I do think I lost my way and plan to take a nice long break from alcohol. I'm excited to get out and experience life and stop sitting at home in my cave staring at the TV all day. Although I do enjoy Netflix quite a bit, even sober, a Scandal marathon shouldn't be the highlight of my week.

Normally on Sundays we are both complete zombies. We waste the entire day nursing our hangovers from whatever inevitable celebration took place the night before. Today was different. We woke up feeling rested and ready to take on the day.

After cleaning house we went to see San Andreas at Cinepolis. Forgive me but I have to talk prices here people. 2 adult tickets for the matinee cost 110 pesos. 1 large drink at the concession stand, 47 pesos. Afterwards we strolled around the mall, stopping to smell some cologne at Liverpool and checking out the teacup piglet and Shih Tzus at Bichos.

We ended up at the food court and did a couple of laps before deciding on Taco Inn for an early dinner. I got tacos de pollo asado and a non-alcoholic sangria and Ray settled on tacos de bistec with a Coke. 134 pesos. I know, talking prices again, but I'm going somewhere with this.

After dinner we did a little more window shopping before getting a couple of ice cream cones on our way out. 40 pesos. I got extra caramel. 5 pesos. I know, I know, there's that price again. Here's why I keep mentioning it... 

I've been quick to bitch all these years about how tight money is for us. And don't get me wrong, it is tight. But guess what? The grand total for everything we did today was 336 pesos. That's about $22 US and ironically about the amount of money we would normally spend on alcohol on the average weekend. So it's time to stop bitching and time to find some new hobbies.

Yes, it's time for a little wake up call for the Cruz family. And it's a welcomed and long overdue awakening. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Plot Twist

It's been 142 days since my last confession and years since I've taken such a long a break from this blog. Actually, I've never taken this long of a break. A lot has happened in the last few months.

I celebrated my 9th anniversary of being clean from drugs, visited my husband's hometown for the first time, achieved a milestone in my career that I have been fantasizing about for many years. Can you say million dollar branch? I wrote a blog about that but didn't feel like publishing it at the time. I was sick all winter. Like 3 months straight. Bronchitis after Thanksgiving, then strep, then bronchitis again, then the flu. I was going to write a blog about that but didn't. I hit a road-block with my writing that brought out some serious insecurities. I wrote a blog about that one too but... You know.

I can make a million excuses, but at the end of the day, I haven't posted because I just haven't felt like I had anything worth saying. I felt so pressured to publish something of meaning that I forgot why I began this blog in the first place. First and foremost, this was to be a place where I could journal my experiences as an American adjusting to life in Juarez. To communicate with my family and close friends. To let them know that I was okay. Hakuna Matada.

It was never supposed to be anything more than that. It was never supposed to mean so much or to be so stressful. I've missed the connection that this blog gave me and have been humbled by everyone who reached out to me with concerns about the fact that I haven't blogged. I'm sorry I haven't posted or if I've worried anyone. I've posted here and there on Facebook and Instagram but I'm quick to forget that some of you aren't into social media.

What have I been up to in the past couple of months? Well, I drank too much, I ate too much, I binged on Netflix too much and I loved every minute of it while simultaneously feeling the guilt that has come from my laziness and absence from the world. Being sick for a couple of months left me with poor habits. Staying in the house under the covers, eating a bunch of crap, having no desire to socialize or partake in any real-world activities. Simply put, I'm all fucked up.

I don't know a better way to say it. I haven't blogged because I've been embarrassed about my current state. Although there isn't really anything I feel I can't share here, there are certain things I felt were better left unsaid. There have been some developments in my life that have left me questioning what I'm doing. They left me questioning where this blog is going, and where I'm going. I feel a bit lost and a bit self-conscious and a bit desperate for change. That desperation should motivate me, but instead I'm just left throwing my hands in the air. I feel defeated, perhaps. Life is good. My marriage is great. Work is excellent. But this? This blog? All of this? I'm not sure where it's going.

Which is ridiculous because from the get-go, I had no direction. This was just my way of communicating with you. With anyone who felt like listening. Anyone feeling desperate and in search of a solution. With anyone who could relate. With anyone who was curious. With anyone who just felt like reading a story and didn't mind a shit-ton of profanity. In time it grew to be more in some way. And suddenly, it wasn't. It wasn't more, it wasn't special, it wasn't a solution.

I don't really understand what I'm going through but after reading the emails so many of you have sent me, I feel like you deserve to see me write myself through it. I feel emotional and irrational and pessimistic. Maybe this is some sort of pre-mid-life-mid-life crisis. Maybe it's too early to tell. I don't know. But I feel... Off? Not really sad, but definitely not where I was, and not where I feel I should be.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

En Mis Sueños

I can't believe it. After spending nearly a decade learning the language, last night I had my first dream en Español.

It was quite involved and actually caused me to wake at 1:30 am in a fit of rage. It was a dream about a girl who was a cheerleader at my school who was plotting this horrible scheme to get me arrested. The person in the dream was someone I knew in real life and actually was a cheerleader at my school although we were never on the same squad because she was a grade ahead of me. Oh yeah, I was a cheerleader for 4 years in school. Different blog.

I suppose the details of the dream are probably not so relevant but it did involve me skateboarding, meeting a nice English (as in not Amish) boy, attempting to wipe my fingerprints from a red Solo cup full of vodka, flying (not in a plane) to Homecoming and also fist fighting with a member of my doctor's office staff. It was the Benadryl talking, no doubt. 

When I woke up, the first thing I remembered was the Principal screaming, over and over, "¡Mas vale que tus historias colaboran!"

She was referring to a boy whose testimony was the only thing that could prove my innocence. And as I laid there, putting the pieces of the dream together, I realized that the sentence didn't make sense to me. I didn't know for sure what colaboran meant. Of course, I could make an assumption based on linguistics but I've never actually used the word before and really don't ever remember hearing it. I looked it up immediately and it means to collaborate.

I don't even know if that's the correct way to say "you better hope your stories match," but that's what I dreamt. As I remembered more and more I realized that the entire dream was in Spanish. I'm totally nerding-out with excitement right now. As in, excited enough to be blogging about this in the middle of the night.

I dreamt in Spanish! I can't get past the feeling that this is some sort of right of passage... I wonder if it means that I am officially bilingual?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fiesta Juárez 2014

Ever since the Ham Sandwich Fiasco of 2011, I've done my best to avoid reading the comments that follow online news articles. I often find myself wondering what life was like before the Internet, when readers just kept their quiet, psycho thoughts to themselves. But I am a Millennial, so that is neither here nor there. People tend to say the most asinine things when they are behind the protection of a computer screen. So when the El Paso Times did a piece on Fiesta Juárez 2014, I should have known what would follow and ignored it, but I slipped and ended up sifting through the comments on Facebook.

It was the same bullshit that people have to say about Juárez anytime the city makes a cameo in a US publication. I guess I'm still a bit naive though because each time I read a hopeful piece about how my city is on the mend and that the violence is a fraction of what it was, there is a small part of me that expects a more supportive reaction from our neighbors to the North. Obviously it's not all lollipops and rainbows in Mexico these days, but in many areas things have calmed down significantly.

After reading this article about a carnival in Juárez that is back up and running this year after a 4 year hiatus due to violence, I stupidly expected people to be more excited. I mean, El Pasoans are always telling me about the glorious days they spent in Juárez, "before the drug war."

They go on and on about the food and the music and the clubs and the tequila and the parks and the people and all the fun they used to have. And this is their big chance to have it all back again, all wrapped up into one event. But no. No, it's too dangerous. Despite the promises from the organizers of Fiesta Juárez for heightened security this time around, and the reassurance that times are indeed changing in the area, many people just couldn't be convinced. That's understandable.

Even though things are improving here, I don't mean to make light of the struggles Juárez has had. I know first-hand how it has affected people. We too witnessed corpses on the side of the road and lost friends in the midst of this... Mess. But at some point, we had to move past it and keep on living. Everyone does. And glorifying what is actually happening today in Juárez and living in the past doesn't help anyone. There are 1.5 million people in this city who need to move on with their lives and in a border town such as this, it's going to take some cooperation from our friends from the North.

Juárez is deeply connected with El Paso and vice versa. One cannot survive without the other. If people aren't going to Juárez to spend their dollars, then people won't be going to El Paso to spend their pesos. Without the trade and tourism from one city to the next, both would just be another dusty ghost town in the Southwest. Comments like those that I read on this news article only add to the real problem.

"I heard they'll be giving out free shots." 
"Youth?!?!?! There wont b any youth the rate they goin over there.." 
"Get up missing posters out if u go.....An have people crying on y this happened." 
"What so the cartel can shoot it up na I'm good." 
"Everyone make sure to wear yur bullit proof vests..." 
"Oh lovely a huge target for the drug cartel! Let's hope nothing goes down because I don't want those stray bullets hitting anyone here in El Paso!" 
"Nah I rather deploy and get paid to get shot at"

When was the last time these people were in Juárez? Have they ever even been to Juárez? Those were the first things I wondered after reading their responses to the article. I went against my promise to myself and engaged. I had to know. I questioned people directly only to find that they hadn't been in the city for years, and in a few cases, ever.

So if you haven't been here for years and clearly don't know what you are talking about, why take the time to comment? Why feed into the negativity? Why glamorize and exaggerate the violence in a city you know nothing about? It seems that the people commenting usually live along the North side of the border but don't have any current ties to Mexico. I don't get it. That would be like me pretending to have some sort of first-hand experience with the tragedies in Ferguson just because I grew up in Kansas City. It's ridiculous.

I know I've said this before, but it's almost as if people want Juárez to fail. They want it to be some sort of dangerous, no man's land where anything goes and justice went to die. I know that sounds insane, but the more and more I talk to Americans about their current perspective of the city, the clearer it becomes. Maybe I'm over simplifying, but it seems as if by categorizing Juárez as no more than a crime-ridden, violent city, it makes people feel better about the US and it's current state of affairs. And of course, violence sells newspapers and magazines and books, right? If the media can continue to point a finger at Mexico, they don't have to stop to look at the source of the problem.

Look at those Mexicans, killing their own people, selling drugs, smuggling immigrants. Shame on them.

The longer America wags it's finger, the longer it can ignore it's drug addiction, it's archaic immigration laws, it's questionable policies on gun control. And eventually, the viewpoints of certain news outlets inevitably trickle down to their readers. I really need to learn how to just keep scrolling. No matter what.

I honestly didn't mean to go off on such a tangent, but people get me going sometimes. I really just wanted to share pictures of our night at la feria, sans bulletproof vests. Because the truth is, Juárez is rebuilding. Like it or not, Juárez is putting the pieces back together. This city is resilient and it's people are insanely strong. I have faith that everyone will see that strength in time.

To anyone who is in the area and still on the fence about whether or not to venture back into Juárez or go to this fair:

Go. Have fun. Don't listen to all the crap you read in the paper. Instead of reminiscing about the Juárez that used to be, go enjoy what it is today. I wasn't here before, but I know in my heart of hearts what Juárez truly is today. The city needs you to move on if this violent stigma is ever going to go away. The last day to enjoy Fiesta Juárez is November 2nd. Don't miss your chance.