Now that I finished writing my series about living on the border, I’m in an awkward transition. Apparently, people want to read about where I live.
Yet, this is a food blog.
In my first post, I mentioned that I probably wouldn’t writing about border life again, but now that the cat is out of the bag, readers have asked to hear more. And, since the goal when writing is that people read your posts… well, I think I will add details of border peculiarities to my writing from time to time. It will be a combination of mundane and shocking. In other words, our version of normal.
For instance, this Easter one of my sons is home visiting, another is away studying, one is working, while other family members have driven across the state to reunite and enjoy the glorious South Texas springtime weather. After I write this post, I am baking a cake, visiting my brother, and then getting ready for tonight’s Easter vigil at church.
Unfortunately, my brother in law and sister in law that would have driven in from Mexico will not be joining us. This year, there is simply too much violence on Northern Mexican highways to risk the drive.
Every year, Holy Week along the border rivals Christmas in terms of visitor activity. Laredo, McAllen and Brownsville see tens of thousands of Mexican families cross into the U.S. to shop, dine and enjoy all the perks of U.S. consumerism. It seems like the sum total of Mexico’s middle class population hops into their cars, and head to the closest U.S. big box shopping district
After the onslaught of Spring Breakers has subsided, South Padre Island is besieged once again with vacationers from all parts of Mexico. Entire households, including grandparents, nannies, and personal chefs take up temporary residence on the island. The activity level along the border becomes frantic with multi-generational clans in search of bargains and bed space.
However, during this current Holy Week, the local cartels seem to have Spring fever as well. A few days ago, an entire family was killed on the Mexican side of the border. They were caught in the crossfire of a cartel gun battle with police. Two little girls died, one in her mother’s arms, next to her father. The toddler was found face down on the floor of the car. (Here is the news article, but be forewarned of the graphic content.)
I wonder if this family was on their way to visit relatives, or go to the grocery store, or headed to the international bridge for a Holy week shopping spree.
Families, Holy Week and the Border
Last night, around our kitchen table, someone mentioned that there was a local shootout on the Mexican side of the border. “Which one? There have been several shootouts…” was the chuckling response. We compared the online news reports with personal accounts we had heard, and had trouble identifying what day, and where, as daily there are so many reports of cartel violence. But we did agree it wasn’t the same shootout that had killed the family with two little girls. The family with the little girls was local, but the new victims were tourists from elsewhere in Mexico. With the recent uptick in border violence, we get the details mixed up.
When watching movies about Europe in World War II, or reading books about living through conflicts in Asia, I often wonder how people can celebrate holidays amid gunfire, or war. And here we are…making cakes, eating late night cheese burgers around the table with family, talking about the other family members that weren’t coming to the ranch because of the shootouts. Life has rolled on as usual.
But for what is good in front of us, we will celebrate. And we will call my brother in law, to wish him a happy Easter. Today, the day before Easter, my nieces and nephews came by. We made cookies, and banana smoothies, because that’s what monkeys prefer.
In spite of what is happening on the border, It’s like any other Easter. We will break piñatas and cascarones, eat cake and hunt for eggs under the watchful eye of a border security aerostat blimp. We will enjoy the pink and purple swaths of wildflowers along the ranch roads, as we drive home past the water barrels left by good Samaritans for lost migrants. Regardless of the realities, it is a day to celebrate our blessings. And just like every year, we will spend the day at the ranch, which is where we will be for all the Easters that are yet to come.