Sunday, April 12, 2009
Alamos and True Crime in Mexico
I was excited to get to Alamos. When I first announced my plans to travel south, a chiropractic patient of mine had put me in touch with Hal and Anne. They had recently sold their home in the Seattle area and had bought a hacienda just outside Alamos' town square to restore. Eventually, they would starting taking in guests, I believe that I was their first legit customer.
Rolling into town through the town square, I took an instant liking to the place. The cobblestone roads lead to an energetic central plaza positioned at the steps of a 250-year old Baroque church. It had a good energy to it, and I was glad to be there.
I found Hal and Anne's place with ease, to my surprise. We introduced ourselves and I was directed to pull my bike into their walled courtyard area. It was hot, so I excused myself to get out of my riding suit before anything else. That done, we were talking in the courtyard while I was unloading the bike, kinda giving me the lay of the land, when a young boy walked into the patio area from inside the house. "Hola", he says rather awkwardly. Must be the pool boy here to get to work, I thought. Hal turned around, sees him, and yells "GRAB HIM!" Lunges for the kid and takes hold of his wrist. He yells for Anne to call "611, Policia!" Now the kid and Hal are on the patio floor, elbows and knees bloodied. The kid is crying out for his "momma". "JESUS", I thought to myself, what are these people into? Did the kid fail to get all the leaves out of the pool? I don't really know these people, DAMN! I don't know what to do - do I help Hal? Do I help the kid? Do I get on my bike and get the hell out of there?
I walk over to get some sort of explanation. The kid mellows and Hal gives me the skinny on the situation. I get some large zip-ties off the bike and we cuff the kid to the iron gate. Some neighbors eventually show up, and then a couple of cops.
Hal, who is a few years my senior, was at the mayor's office the night before, along with many other concerned gringo residents. The kid was there as part of a police line-up. A judge present at the line-up told residents that per Mexican law, you must catch this kid on your premises, you cannot simply accuse him. Also, per Mexican law, they don't really know what to do with him until he turns 12-years old (he's nine now).
Apparently, this kid has been terrorizing the town folk by walking into their homes (nobody locks their doors here-or use to not), and go through purses, grabbing keys to return later, and just generally filling his pockets. Some of these citizens are in their 90's and quite frail. If he gets caught by someone, he simply acts insolent and runs out, or plays innocent and says that he had come in to ask for a glass of water. The cops that had come to pick him up had him in their possession 30-minutes prior to coming to Hal's. The kid has no fear! I learn much more of the story over the next couple of days. It was the talk of the town, Alamos' "Most Wanted" had been captured.
Of course, this is a tragic story for many reasons. The kids mom is in prison in Tiajuana for theft, his brother was brutally murdered. The story goes that the grandmother taught them all how to steal. The grandmother also works at City Hall, which may be why this kid may be so "protected". Things are obviously going to escalate. He is going to get killed, or eventually wind up in prison, and someone is going to suffer a broken hip, or worse in the process. This is a good introduction on how Mexico is "different".
Turns out that Hal and Anne are "good people", the best, and Alamos is truly a special place. Story has it, that Coronado first set camp here in 1540, and things really got kickin' when silver was discovered in 1630. In fact, the money made here financed the Spanish expeditions that later founded Los Angles and San Francisco. The entire town of Alamos has been desiginated as a national historic monument.
The landscape is unique as it sits on the cusp of desert and dry tropical forest. This makes it desirable to a variety of birds, plants and pot growers.
My original plan was to explore the Copper Canyon area that is a bit of northeast of here, but that is going to have to wait until another time. I really enjoyed my three nights here and definitely look forward to returning.
(The "kid" was caught breaking into a car the day before I left. I also just recently got word that the city is going to send the kid to a juvenile detention center, which is best for all.)