Saturday, February 19, 2011
One of my favorite places in the world is the lovely city of Guadalajara, Mexico. For the past 7 years or so, I have brought groups of college students to Guadalajara over the summer to participate in a summer study abroad program. I have come to look forward to and to enjoy this summer experience. Last summer, in the midst of growing concern about the violence in the border areas of Mexico, our group in Guadalajara had a very tranquil experience. In fact, it was one of the most peaceful, stress-free, worry-free experiences I have ever had in Mexico. No run-ins with any kind of authority, no "mordidas" (or bribes to traffic officers), no road stoppages or bus searches during our excursions, etc. Nothing but fun and relaxing times, both in the classrooms and outside of them. And I always relate this to potential students in addressing concerns about the growing violence in other parts of the country. I say that the border region may be dangerous, but Guadalajara is safer than New Orleans. But that image has recently been shattered with a recent drug-related bombing that took place outside of a nightclub that was only blocks from where we took classes in Guadalajara, and in the neighborhood where most of our students found themselves living with their homestay families. I checked out the location of the bombing on Google maps and realized that I must have walked in front of the bombed location hundreds of times over the years. It was a sad wake-up call. But that doesn't mean that the city of Guadalajara isn't as lovely and charming -- just that I probably won't be going there with students for a while. Anyway, for anyone who wants to keep up with events in Guadalajara, including how the city is now coping with this tragic event, there is a great online news source in English, called the Guadalajara Reporter. And you can read in the Guadalajara Reporter all about the recent bombing.