Like a hot and dusty cellar, Mexico has always been the unsightly foundation on which American capitalism stands. Over the years, as the United States has grown, advanced and thrown some truly outstanding parties, it has always been thankful to have a place to store its junk. But sadly, all that is coming to an end; the listless country of siestas, car shrapnel and wild chickens is crumbling beneath us. Since 2006, an all-out drug war has swept across Mexico. Tourists won't visit Baja anymore, ex-pats won't search for a cultural identity in remote mountain villages, and an unprecedented number of college co-eds refuse to make bad decisions in border towns. Frankly, it's gotten a little out of hand.
This is what's at stake.
Armed with only a pen, I traveled to the city of Juarez at the heart of the violence to lend an intelligent and unbiased voice to this explosive moment in North American history. Instead I accidentally got kidnapped by drug lords. It was the third worst trip I've ever had to Mexico.
On my first day there, I explored the winding city streets from the back seat of a car. The landscape was a monotonous brown, the heat oppressive, and the air smelled of old burlap.
"If you promise not to scream anymore, I will take the sack off your head," my new travel companion told me. His voice was soft and warm, his gun barrel pointy. I nodded once and the world was bright again. Three men sat staring at me, including the driver which seemed reckless even for a kidnapper. Their faces were dark but betrayed a hint of compassion. The gun carrier smiled and I knew immediately that these men were not killers.
"We have killed many men," he told me. "But never one as handsome as you. You do as we say and we don't kill you, huh?" His voice was still smooth though I could now see sweat beading his upper lip. The car stank of fear on both our ends, it smelled like a pine tree.
"Yes, absolutely. Anything." I warned him.
"Good. Now, we have been through your pockets. Do you know what we found?"
"Yes, awards. Many awards. What kind of man has pockets filled with awards?"
I didn't answer him, I was starting to feel carsick.
"I think, a very important man. Wouldn't you think that?" Everyone nodded. "A man who is well known and who many people would miss if he disappeared."
"Maybe. Look, is there like a straighter road we could take or-"
He pushed the gun under my ribs and whispered, "I think someone would pay a lot of money to see you again."
Now I've heard that police and military personal who have trained for years don't remember the actual moments of combat, the training simply takes over. Sitting in that car, my own instinct for heroism grabbed a hold of the situation and forced me into action. I launched an aggressive vomit attack on everyone in the car.