Reader Searches- Part I- Life in Juarez

So, I have been a very bad blogger lately for a variety of reasons mostly stemming from a lack of time and time spent at home with my computer.  I still have more to write up from the trip to Oaxaca and also my trip to Cancun but to atone for my blog inattention I thought I would try to address some of burning questions out there. I also promised a shout-out to the co-worker who keeps gently reminding me that I need to update this thing. Hope you’re enjoying the vacation and the TDY- Juarez misses you!

So  I enjoy checking my google analytics from time to time to see how people are finding the blog. Based on the top search terms (ignoring the ones that were people looking for a bakery called diplomat– which sounds like it has a tasty menu) it looks like what people are most interested in is the process of joining the Foreign Service (specifically failing a test and trying again) and life in Juarez. Life in Juarez searches broke down in to two general categories–what is it like here on the ground and “the joys of working in Juarez” (and there are joys to working in Juarez, really!)

I’ll tackle the Juarez question first tonight and write up my not so pithy advice navigating the entry process in a not-to-distant post (really, I promise!). So what is life like in Juarez? Well I do honestly feel safe most of the time. I haven’t seen anything other than a few car accidents since I have been here. You do see a lot of federal police armed to the teeth rolling around the streets, but you get used to them after a while.

Yes, I have heard gun shots but none of them very close to my community. The violence here is very random and some people have seen more than I have or heard shots closer to their community. There are people who have driven by crime scenes, I’m just not one of them.  I do go out to dinners in Juarez and to bars with friends at least a couple of times a week. It involves a lot of common sense, things like knowing where the exit is… just in case and not staying out late in Juarez. I have come back over the bridge late at night from El Paso, and honestly sometimes I feel safer at 1 am crossing than I do at 1pm just because there is no one around and I can easily see if anyone is coming towards me. I also don’t go deep into Juarez. There is about 2 square miles around the consulate that I mostly stick to. I do almost all of my shopping in El Paso. There are plenty of people who do most of their shopping in Juarez without a problem. I did more when I first got here. For me it isn’t so much the violence as the fact that I can speak English in El Paso, and well sometimes that is just easier after a day of speaking Spanish in the window. Yes it would be nice to be in a city where I felt comfortable going out and exploring every inch of it and I will probably finish my 2 years here in Juarez without ever having seen much of well, Juarez but I don’t feel like I am going to die at every minute. I don’t feel like I am living in terror. I miss things like running outside but I got a treadmill so you learn to make do. I’m mostly not tempting the fates and taking advantage of being in Mexico to get down into southern Mexico where I feel completely safe and getting out and seeing the American Southwest. Despite all the drawbacks of living in Juarez (not running outside, not getting out into the city, ect.) there is a great community at the consulate and I am having a great tour. It’s hard to believe that I’ve finished nearly 7 months already. Time is kind of flying by.

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