Friday, September 25, 2009

What Happened to the Green Zone?


Shots echoed off the concrete walls surrounding the gas station. People scrambled for cover—scrawny teenagers pulling older men alongside them—their heads ducked low, their eyes frantic.

Were they fireworks, or gunshots?

Either would be bad in a gas station, but only one caused people to run like that.

Several cars peeled out of the parking lot, desperate to get away. People cowered behind anything solid they could find—parked cars, electrical transformers, gas pumps. The gas pumps didn't seem like such a good idea.

And the shots continued.


Barely a heartbeat passed before three police trucks flew around the corner, lights flashing, guns drawn. The policemen had already pulled down their masks—no one would be able to identify them unless they were left behind.

And still the people ran.


We weren't exactly keeping count, but Ibis and I guessed there were at least 50 shots before the police arrived. We didn't make the light, and in the minute it took for the lights to cycle, the shots continued. The women stationed in the intersection seemed torn between washing another windshield for a couple pesos and diving for cover.

We just sunk as low as we could in our seats.

A couple miles away, after the checkpoint at the river that marks the border between the two states -— leaving Michoacan and entering Guerrero -- two more police trucks roared towards us.

The attack had already made the news by the time we got home an hour later. Apparently there was a shooting an hour earlier when the police tried to arrest people at a safehouse and were shot at from men inside the house.

An hour later, "the federal police men were ambushed by about 10 subjects, who opened fire with out warning against a the federal police convoy composed by three official trucks." The same three trucks we saw. Three people died in the first shooting, but fortunately no one was killed in the second.

I keep joking that the violence is following me, but this is no joke.


Adam said...

Holy crap!

Glad you and your peeps are ok.


Stacey Graham said...

I'm so glad you and Ibis are okay. Seriously, y'all give me a twitch with these updates.

JLC said...

UGH!!! Melanie! Are you still wearing your riot gear? I am so sorry you are having to go through all of this!

Be careful!

Melanie Avila said...

Adam, me too.

Stacey, I made sure to email my parents so they didn't get the twitches from this post. It's scary stuff.

JLC, I SHOULD get some riot gear. It was weird because at first we thought they were just fireworks -- which still seemed like a bad idea at a gas station -- but when I saw an older, heavy-set man running for cover I knew it was more serious. We saw people ducked behind concrete walls, cars, everything.

Janna Qualman said...

It was reading like really good fiction. I wish it had been.

Stay safe, you two.

Robin said...

That is so scary! I'm glad you guys are alright.

It is so ridiculous. Those criminals are ruining their own society, making everything scary and chaotic. It's so dumb. I wish I had a crack at them when they were younger.

Be safe.

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, I hoped the transition wasn't too abrupt, but sometimes that technique seems appropriate.

Robin, they need people like you down here.

Nadine said...

If you ever write a gun battle in one of your books, no one will be able to say that it didn't feel real! Wow!

So glad you are okay! How did Owen handle it?

Pink Ink said...

Melanie, where I live, we are close to a bomb disposal site.

It was a sad/funny day when I first asked a neighbor, what is that sound, and she said, "Oh, they're just exploding bombs."

I agree with Nadine. Let's hope you always stay a watcher and never have to deal with it personally. Stay safe!

Melanie Avila said...

Nadine, that's a great point! I don't think Owen knew anything was going on. I was giving him water when it started and then he just plopped in my lap and absorbed the AC.

Pink, eek! I know what you mean about feeling weird that you get used to something like that. I keep waiting for someone to wonder WHY I know what gunshots sound like, and how I have enough knowledge to distinguish between them and fireworks. Ugh.

Natasha Fondren said...

Crap, Melanie, I can't WAIT until you get out of there. That's just awful. I probably would have peed my pants.

Melanie Avila said...

Natasha, I was oddly calm during the whole thing. Still am. Maybe it's denial...