Friday, July 12, 2013

Countryside tour, includes dead body!

The church Stew and I attend, a non-denominational enterprise with a sketchy doctrinal corpus but a strong commitment to good works in small villages surrounding San Miguel, had organized an outing to Fajardo de Bocas, located about ten miles from our ranch, to inspect a domestic gray-water treatment plant some members had built at a Mexican family's home.

So we took off for Fajardo in the pickup this morning, with Stew at the wheel and Félix giving directions from the backseat. Félix, who must have been a party-hardy boy in his earlier years, knows every town within a ten-mile radius and specifically when each holds its annual fiesta.

Chapel at the entrance of Fajardo de Boca,
home to many Rubio's—one of them perhaps dead. 
The morning began amid a dense fog that by nine o'clock had dissipated, creating a dazzling spectacle: The vegetation, freshly green after two weeks of rain and covered with dew, glistened under the breaking sunlight as if someone had sprinkled sparkle dust on the landscape. The moisture heightened the smells too, mostly of manure and mowed grass. Time to turn off the air conditioning and open the truck's windows.

We hadn't even arrived in Fajardo, though, when we ran into the alarming sight of police and other government vehicles, and officers wielding machine guns, officiously pacing around a body lying in the ditch on the left side of the road.

The crime scene could have been the opening shot for TV's C.S.I., for all the forensic props. A yellow police tape had been tied to the trees that surrounded the body, which was covered in a white sheet except for the toes, next to which someone had placed plastic marker with the number "01". A guy in a white, hooded hazmat suit walked around the scene and whispered to the other officers.

Unfortunately, the results of this or any other police work in Mexico are bound to be far less impressive than the paraphernalia. The country has an abysmal arrest and conviction record, so the chances of catching the guy who killed the poor bastard under the white sheet, much less sending the culprit to prison, are very near zee-roh.

We came close to another stiff a month ago, when we gave a ride to a young couple, three children and an older woman, all neatly dressed and each clutching small bouquets of flowers, headed for the home of an uncle who lived in La Campana, another small town about a mile from us, until the night before, when his brother stabbed him to death.

The mourners clambered on the bed of the truck and thanked and blessed us so profusely at the end of the ride that Stew and I thought we might be sucked up to heaven right there. Félix had heard of the stabbing—Félix is a one-man news/gossip organization for the area surrounding our ranch—but didn't know if the surviving brother had been jailed. Don't assume he has, cautioned Félix, ever the skeptic.

In Fajardo the search for the gray-water recycling project went about as well as Mexican police work. All we had was the last name of the family, Rubio, like the Tea Party U.S. senator from Florida. But Rubio is the most common name in town a woman explained to us, there are lots of Rubio-Rubio's in Fajardo (with the same paternal and maternal last names) and even more plain Rubios. Welcome to Rubioland.

This pattern of one or two dominant last names is pervasive in many of these insular towns where intermarriage among family members is common, along with genetic problems. Félix's last name, Arzola, is one of the most common in his town of Sosnavar; his full name is Félix Arzola Arzola.

After asking several pedestrians and owners of tiendas—tiny storefront markets—for about an hour, we finally gave up our search for the gray water treatment plan and returned to the ranch.

On the way back, the stiff was still lying on the grass, the police were still buzzing about, but a newspaper reporter was racing toward the scene of the crime in a tiny car with a sign "PRENSA" that took up about a third of the windshield.

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4 comments:

  1. A dark-skinned town where everyone is named "Rubio?" LOL...

    Or are they rubio in more than name?

    It's a pity about the police in Mexico. They are SO numerous, and yet SO incompetent. Mexico deserves better.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where the police are about as impressive as those on TV.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Poor reporter. Little did he know you had scooped him --and would undoubtedly top his reporting in quality. Nice essay.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete