It’s strange, how far away everything can be. Mexico seems smaller than it has any right to—it’s a large country, and not an easy one to travel over the longer distances. The roads and the highways are what do it, I think. They don’t branch and flower and whorl like in the States. They point singly and unerringly towards where they’re going. Through their simplicity they impart this false closeness. In a very real sense, Querétaro is just down the road, as is San Luis Potosí, and, with one turn, Mexico City.
So it’s always odd, off-putting, when in Jalpan our distance, our backwater position, and our parochial society come back into focus. People here have smartphones and the Internet, Hollister clothes and fair knockoffs of designer everything. It makes them seem like they’re in touch with the world, but it’s just pretend, and if it has any substance, any real connection, it’s directed northward to the States, not down and into the center of this Republic.
I’m told that the rest of Mexico is exploding. As best we know, they massacred some kids in Guerrero weeks ago, disappeared and then murdered and burned forty-three ‘activist’ students in the kind of collaboration between police, local government, and narcotraficantes that can define Mexican life in the further rural stretches. Killings like this are more commonplace than we could fathom or anyone would like to admit, but something about this one—how blatantly the police took part, how crude and incautious it was—something about it has touched a very raw nerve.