A few nights ago, captain Andy and I were chilling around 11:15 p.m., Andy in the living room watching TV and me in the bedroom reading. Suddenly I heard some very strange sounds. Andy came in the bedroom and said, “Did you hear that? I’m pretty sure it was gunfire.” It was a bit off in the distance, but it sounded like a shootout in the Wild West. Over the course of about 10 minutes, it sounded as if 100 or maybe even more than 200 rounds had been fired, by machine guns. Late in the sequence, we heard one short barrage of gunfire from what sounded like the street behind our backyard.
I was shocked. I was scared. This was the first time we had ever heard gunfire in our safe neighborhood in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. We’re still not fully sure what happened, but from the local news reports we’ve read, it appears as if cartel (ie. gang) members in two cars, after being spotted driving oddly by law enforcement officials, started to trade gunfire with said law enforcement officials — a confusing web of municipal police, state police, federal police and military, all of whom constantly drive around town in military-type Jeep vehicles, some with a mounted machine gun at the ready.
Perhaps the badmen engaged the police; perhaps it was the other way around. We’re not really not sure. But after the shootout, three men were reported dead with four wounded, including a policeman who sustained minor injuries.
I’m upset. I’m perplexed. I’m sad. I’m speechless. What I am not is worried for our overall safety. As it turned out, even though it sounded close at times, the shootout happened a mile from our house in an area where we would not be late at night. It’s not in a bad neighborhood; just a place we wouldn’t be. Still, no matter where it occurred, the shootout was a sad commentary on the state of life in contemporary Mexico, where cartels have too much influence, and politicians have either too little (or are controlled by cartels or corrupted by other influences).
I pray for people’s safety and security. I pray that an increased police and military presence around town keeps Mexicans and tourists safe. I pray that those of you who want to come visit us still want to come, because I remain positive that we and you will be safe. I pray that those of you who are new to Mexico learn to love it as much as we do and that you get to experience true Mexican hospitality and a nation’s zest for living.