A Tale Of Fear

According to many, I’ve been in danger the moment I crossed the border into Mexico and not to mention, specific locations and times that are labeled “dangerous”. Although this is true in some sense, I think it’s more complicated than at first glance.


Since the dawn of communities, people have told tales of fear. In essence, the tales go like this, “Little one, don’t leave the community, there are monsters lurking in the darkness, and on the other side of the fence. The darkness will swallow you and we will never see you again. Stay close to your people. Stay in line. We need you”

Part of this tale was told to me by friends and family. They said it was too dangerous, that I’d be robbed, I might need to be rescued, or I might die. Everyone had similar reactions, even Mexicans who regularly visited Mexico.

Yet, here I am. It’s been nearly 5 months since I crossed the US-Mexico border knowing nothing about the culture or language and I have yet to be a character in a dangerous story. I haven’t been beaten, robbed, or threatened. Nobody has laid a hand on me, I’ve been unscathed. (knock on wood) Perhaps I’m just lucky. I am a male, American, and white. I’m also athletically built with a deceiving age of about 30 and I got a heartwarming personality. Haha It’s a combo commanding some sort of respect around here. Locals go out of their way for me, give me the benefit of the doubt, and more. But I’m not so special because I think you, more or less, could experience the same good-natured treatment that I’ve received.

And that’s the point that I want to make.

The foreign lands to America’s south are not the tales of fear I was told. They aren’t the stories I saw on the news or in movies. What I was told and led to believe was wrong, but it’s dangerous in a different way. Let me explain

In our homes there is danger. We just know how to navigate it. It’s something we’ve done before and in many cases, we become blind to it and adapted. Then, when we venture out of home, into the unknown, we are in unmapped territory. It’s a place of discovery, where we encounter new people, places, ideas, etc. So, the difference between being home and being in foreign lands is not that danger is in one place and not in the other but it’s that danger is either mapped or not-yet-mapped. A good example of this type of danger are the 100’s of manholes and drains that are coverless; literal holes in streets and sidewalks that are dangerous for everyone, but especially for someone who has not-yet-mapped it.

Thanks for reading

The attached photo was taken several days ago in Santa Ana and is not even the worst of it. (I’ve seen 4 coverless manholes scattered across a 200-yard section, on one side of a four-lane road.) The drain is on the corner of two one-way streets where the car in the photo has the option to turn left or keep straight. The pedestrian sidewalk drops off directly into the drain


These photos were taken in Mexico

Analyzing and Attempting to Understand Fear with Dots