My village is in turmoil. There has been a murder in the family.
Whenever violence visits, facts get a bit muddled. There are plenty of rumors, but this much is generally accepted as being factual.
Robin Wood was a 67-year old Canadian from Salt Spring Island – one of the spots my sailing buddies and I visit during our summer excursions to British Columbia. He came south to vacation with a Canadian realtor.
Two young men came over the roof of the realtor’s home in Villa Obregon. They appeared to be intent on robbery, other than mere burglary, because one arrived armed with a pistol.
One robber grabbed a bag. Mr. Wood resisted. The armed robber shot him. Mr. Wood died before his host could get him to the hospital in Cihuatlán – about 15 minutes away.
A very sad tale (undoubtedly, where we know little of what actually happened). And one that could – and does – happen in large and small towns around the world.
I have been monitoring the reaction of the tourist and expatriate communities on the Melaque electronic message board – TomZap. And I am a bit surprised at what I have been reading.
There are the usual (and appropriate) sympathy wishes for Mr. Wood’s family. But those entries are dwarfed by the number of people who say they are evacuating Melaque because of the incident.
At times like these, logic is not a sought handmaiden. As far as I know, very few people talked about shunning Melaque when three young men died during the past three years in allegedly drug-related assassinations. Or when any of the local love triangle murders happened.
The difference, of course, is the unstated. Those deaths involved locals. This death was one of us.
And I am not talking about skin color. I will leave that topic for someone who wants to beat the tom-tom of tribalism that lurks in some of the TomZap posts.
For too long, visitors to Melaque have idealized it as a paradise. It isn’t. If it is Eden, the serpent of reality has long been coiled there.
Part of that reality is that a small portion of the local community, just like any community, is composed of thieves. The bars on our windows and doors are not merely quaint architectural artifacts of the Spanish occupation.
To our neighbors, we are part of the world’s wealthy ruling class. With our bottomless ATM accounts, fancy computers, and café lifestyles. To the thieves, we are targets as lucrative as any Mexican CEO.
Does that make this murder is our fault? Of course, not. We will undoubtedly eventually discover some fact that results in an aha moment. There is simply a risk that comes along with our worship of material goods.
Unfortunately, for Robin Wood, he evidenced that love far too clearly when he reflexively (but not reflectively) grabbed for a bag that was no longer his. And paid for it with his life.
I hope the murderers are caught. I hope justice is done. But leaving Melaque will not accomplish any of those ends.
I am not leaving. In fact, I will soon be flying back home to Melaque in a few days. And I intend to bring as many people as I can.