Ask a Mexican

Is it safe to travel to Mexico?

Dear Mexican: I am a butt-white Irish guy, stoked to be married to a beautiful Chicana. Her familia is from a gorgeous rancho deep in the corazón of Zacatecas, and I've been wanting to experience all of the ranchero lifestyle I keep hearing about from my acquired familia mexicana. However, our State Department has warned Americans to not travel into Mexico due to the violence by the drug cartels. Tales of decapitated bodies strewn across highways throughout Mexico have aired on just about all of the Spanish-speaking noticias I tune in to. Additionally, I've gotten such a mixed response from my compas of Mexican origin that now I'm as confused as my Irish grandpa was during Prohibition! Some of the family and my pocho partners have said that all is great, and to stop being a pinche güero panocha and just go. But los otros amigos have told me that I'd be loco to travel into the moreno motherland because my six-foot-two, blond, blue-eyed ass would stick out more than a pimple on a prom queen, and I would surely lose my oversized Ted Kennedy-looking head! I'm so confused! Do I stay or do I go?
Scared White Boy (With His Cabeza Intact)

Dear Mick: I recently talked to a pal who just came back from Zacatecas, and you know what he said? That his home town is safe now "because los del Chapo killed all the Zetas and now rule everything." Oy vey! While bigger cities like Tijuana and Mexico City (and even Juárez, to a lesser extent) are generally safe now after the narcoviolence of the Calderón administration, I'd still stay away from the rural regions of Mexico, which are experiencing full-fledged warring between cartels, corrupt cops, the Mexican military and autodefensas (local vigilante groups), who are saying a la chingada with everyone and defending their ranchos on their own terms. Then again, you're gabacho, and as I've said before, ustedes can walk around Mexico with all the impunity of Winfield Scott, because the cartels know better than to mess with you. They know that if they do, the Obama administration will stop its eternal waltz with various cartels and rain down the drone desmadre.

Dear Mexican: Why do Mexicans do everything in the front yard, from cooking on the grill to celebrating birthday parties with inflatable playgrounds to hanging their wet clothes over the front-porch railings? A friend of mine told me the back yard was where Mexicans keep all their chickens, roosters and autos up on blocks, but it isn't true, at least not here in Texas.
Tony Romo Is Lame, but Jerry Jones Is Lamer

Dear Gabachos: The sooner gabachos realize that front yards are just a pathetic remnant of Gilded Age nitwits pretending to live like British lords and start using yardas like Mexicans, the better off this country will be. Since houses in Mexico historically had no lawns or ornamental plants (that's what the fields were for), Mexicans view front yards as virgin land ripe for the taking. We grow fruit trees and sugar cane; we park cars on it. And, , we'll happily put a Dora the Explorer bounce house in the front. Why? Because the back yard is already too packed with partying Mexicans.

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano