I was thinking yesterday morning how different my blog is now versus when I started it waaay back in February 2010. When we first made our journey to Falls Church, VA, the Foreign Service life was, well, foreign. This blog was filled with growing pains-type angst as we (through the filter that is my keystroke) adjusted to our new lives. Most of what I wrote from February through November 2010 was about my new place in the world, meaning it was heavy on Foreign Service-type stuff.
By the time we arrived in Guadalajara, we were accustomed to the politics and so forth, and I jumped right into "Hey, look-a-there! See what cool things I did and saw this week?!?"
This occurred to me because yesterday we were waiting for the bid list...our first peak at a whole bunch of places we could potentially be living come 2013. I wondered what will happen once we move back to DC for training. Will this blog go all Foreign Service-centric again? I also wondered what will happen when we arrive at our new post. Will it be as comfortable as Guadalajara, or will I just find myself with a slew of things to bitch about?
Well, the list never did make it into our Inboxes, but something else did that snapped me back to reality. Foreign Service reality, that is.
At 3:10PM on Friday, March 09, 2012, the Guadalajara SMS Emergency Alert System was activated. Messages were sent to every current employee, as well as every Eligible Family Member that had registered an e-mail address with the consulate. A dozen or more messages would arrive by 7:10PM. Warden Messages were communicated via Facebook to American citizens living in Guadalajara.
Yesterday afternoon, Guadalajara was under siege. Each message contained little tidbits of information, telling us what type of attack had occurred, and where it had taken place. We were given directions on when/if we could leave the office, school, or home, and instructed to keep our walkie-talkies close by.
This was merely the latest in a casual string of narco-related activities in this otherwise beautiful city. I've never really commented on them before, unless the outcome somehow inconvenienced me, because they are so few and far between, and generally limited in scope. And also, the media does such a good job of scaring you all, I'd kind of just like to hit the high points.
But yesterday? Helicopters were canvassing the city, police units were out in full force, and employees at the US Consulate General in Guadalajara were put on lockdown until our Regional Security Office could find out just what the heck was going on. This wasn't just something that happened in the wee hours of the morning while we were blissfully, ignorantly, asleep. This happened and we knew it was happening.
All told, we were allowed to leave around 5:30PM, which is basically your average work day, so nobody was put out too terribly much. We were told to go straight home, and to stay there. So that kinda sucked.
Generally speaking we don't live in a war zone down here. We live in a country where a few bad people do really nasty things to other bad people (fellow traffickers)...or the good people (law enforcement agencies) that proactively make their lives more difficult. In this particular case, it is theorized that a couple of high-profile arrests had occurred and the attacks were a smokescreen to prevent further capture. Unfortunately, as was the case yesterday, sometimes there are innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire.
Yesterday's events served to remind me that there are a plethora of dangerous posts out there. There are also far cushier posts. And so I'm still left waiting for the bid list, wondering if we'll be bragging or bitching next calendar year.
Meanwhile, the rest of Guadalajara seems to be recovering nicely, finding humor in a bad situation.
Behold! The cause of yesterday's panic!...according to Facebook.