My Feel Bad/Good Story

Clark October 21st, 2008

I just got back from a trip to Mexico to attend the Morelia Film Festival, which is organized by some friends of mine. It’s now in its sixth year and has a fully-developed red carpet/movie star/paparazzi/lavish party culture.

Morelia’s Cathedral:

It’s always a guaranteed good time, but two weeks before the festival someone pitched a couple of hand grenades into the town square during the Independence Day celebrations. Ten people were killed and a hundred wounded. They say it was a message from one of the drug cartels to Felipe Caldron’s government.

Because of the attacks, most of the foreigners backed out of the festival, but we decided to stick with our plans. A good time was had by all, but the tragedy weighed heavily on everyone’s minds and there were many dedications and speeches honoring the victims.

The sea of votive candles at the massacre site:

To add to the dark side, we flew in and out of Tijuana. In the few days before we flew out, thirty-seven people were murdered in TJ, many of them handcuffed and beheaded. During the week we were in Morelia there were another seven found murdered in TJ, but bodies in various states of wholeness seem to be turning up every day.

As to the dangers in TJ, I figure that if you don’t happen to be a member of a drug cartel (I’m not) you’re not in too much danger. In Morelia they thought they’d caught the guys who were responsible for the grenades, and security was cranked way up. Obviously we made it back to California without incident.

I was wondering around during the last few hours before my flight out of Morelia, looking for a knick-knack to buy. As I walked down a back street there was a knot of people on the sidewalk ahead of me. I saw a girl in a Girl Scout uniform hug another girl, then I noticed there were eight or ten Girl Scouts and their Scout leader, a man in his fifties, all in uniform. When I reached them a cute blond Girl Scout came up to me and said, ‘Abrazo gratis!’…free hug. I hesitated for a second, perhaps my American hesitation about touching strange young girls, then hugged her, or rather, let her hug me. She really put some effort into it, then gave me a big smile.

I walked past the knot and watched this spontaneous outpouring of goodwill. Cute little Girl Scouts kept announcing ‘abrozo gratis,’ and were hugging old ladies, old men, kids, vendors…anyone who walked by. I watched one girl go up and hug a surly-looking cop and the guy pretty much melted. A few people broke into to tears after their hugs and looked visibly better and relieved. I certainly felt better about life in general, and considered walking around the block for a second go-around.

I kind of already knew the answer, but I asked one of the Girl Scouts (when she had a short break from hugging strangers) why they were giving free hugs: ‘With all the murders and violence, we asked ourselves at our meeting what we could do to help. We decided we could give free hugs. Everyone feels better after a hug.’

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Comment by pete
2008-10-22 17:52:22

Thanks for the bad/good story. I,m glad your home safe please keep your stories coming whether on land or afloat.

Comment by Clark
2008-10-23 07:42:46

Thanks Pete! I’ll do my best.

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