Letters from Juarez: “We’re not just locked up at home all the time.”

8 Jul

Juarez is not all fun and games, but there is fun to be had, even in the midst of violence and uncertainty. There are pool parties and graduations. There is the color guard. There are movie theaters showing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in Spanish. See? Si.

July 1, 2009


I’ve officially been living in Juarez for a month now. It’s amazing how time flies. Really, the days are just stuck together. Maybe it’s because I try not to think about them. I have only 3 weeks until my appointment, and it’s going to come quick.

Life around here has been pretty busy. The night before Father’s Day, my aunt, uncle, their three kids and I went to have dinner, to celebrate both Father’s Day for my uncle and my birthday. We went to Las Alitas, a laid back wings place in the Misiones Mall. I kept laughing because all I heard on the sound system was American pop music. They kept laughing at me because I kept singing every song it played. It’s not my fault I know English. What did they expect?

Dinner was something we did because it was a special occasion. We don’t go out much, but we do once in awhile. From what I’ve seen, most people try to carry one with life as normal, but with caution. The mall is full of security everywhere. I think they have undercover people, but I’m not 100% positive.

On Father’s Day, we baked two cakes and made food for a get-together at my grandparents’ house. That day was great. We saw how everyone admires my grandpa. He is one extraordinary man. He worked in the gold and silver mines in Santa Barbara, Chihuahua, Mexico. He could tell you loads about the history of Mexico. He can also tell you about old Mexican movies, and the cowboy ones from America. I think he knows more about Gene Autry than I ever will.

That day I got to meet so many nieces and nephews. I keep telling the family that we could fill up a school with our kids alone.

On Monday, for my birthday, we went to the movies. My little cousin Peanut Butter and Jelly (PBJ)* and I went to see 17 Again, and the rest of the family saw Up. I swear I’m only ever watching movies in Mexico. We paid 35 pesos for 5 tickets at the grocery store and then spent 120 pesos for popcorn and drinks. That’s less than 20 bucks!

The following week was nuts. PBJ was getting ready to graduate from elementary school, my cousin Chapito** was getting ready to graduate from kindergarten, and my cousin Caritas*** was preparing for his First Communion, so my aunt was busy with details. I changed my name to Nanny Lupe because that’s all I did that week.

When we went to a party for PBJ’s classmates, I got stuck watching a bunch 12- and 13-year-olds at the pool. Oh, to be that age again. Sleep overs, and no worries about violence. They live in their own little magical world. I’m serious. They really do. I was talking with PBJ about it the other day. She said they know what is going on around them, but they choose to think about happy things.

We had a triple celebration on Saturday, June 27 for PBJ, Chapito, and Caritas. My relatives say it’s the season for First Communions and graduations. I didn’t go to the communion because I was being Nanny Lupe and babysitting at my other cousin Chuche’s house, and because we didn’t all fit in the car. I did hear about the communion at the celebration. Apparently, Caritas was still tired from spending the day before at the pool because he kept falling asleep. My aunt kept waking him up.

First Communion

They told me that the priest told the parents that often kids learn by what they see. If kids don’t see their parents involved in the church or actively reading the Bible, then kids won’t follow suit. If the kids see their parents complaining and avoiding church, times of prayer, or worship, then they shouldn’t judge their kids for not wanting to go to church or do those things. They’re just doing what they’re being taught. I found that very interesting and very true.

Older Graduates

The graduation was hot but nice. They held the graduations for the kindergarten, elementary, and junior high all at once. They all wore their green and yellow cap and gowns. The ceremony started with the presenting of colors, the national anthem, the pledge of allegiance and an introduction of the teachers. PBJ is part of the color guard. They won a competition a few months ago but didn’t receive their awards until graduation day.

Kindergarten Grads

PBJ's Color Guard

After the introduction, a little kindergarten girl went up and gave a cute speech. She made everyone cry. After her speech, the kindergartners got their diplomas, followed by the elementary and then junior high students. The school my cousins go to is a private school. They take half of their classes in Spanish and other half in English. Most schools around here are private. Apparently, those are the best. My aunt and uncle told me that kids don’t get the same education in public schools. Most of the public schools are far behind.

I know my last letters weren’t fun. I want you all to know that we do have fun, that we’re not just locked up at home all the time. Yesterday, we went to see Transformers in Spanish. My family kept laughing at me because I kept saying the words in English and kept yelling at the screen. Now they have a story to tell about their nutty cousin who yells at movie screens in English.

I hope you are all doing well. I miss my family, my friends, my community, everyone.

Take care,


*That’s not her real name, but it is her real nickname.

**See previous footnote.

***Again, see first footnote. Protecting the innocent and all that.


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