The Mexican border towns are gritty places. I have been to both Tijuana and Juarez. Juarez stands out for its cheap manufacturing labor and spectacularly gruesome violence.
Probably the last time I will ever be in Mexico was to be with a family I cared deeply for, who lived in Juarez. I spent a long weekend, and learned of the pride and fear that was present in this border town. This town that towered over El Paso like a monsterous demonic giant.
I remember driving by the hospital. A heavily armored tank was at the driveway entrance with numerous men armed with machine guns at the ready. They were dressed in black, with masks over their faces. These were the good guys, there to stave off an attack on the hospital, to dissuade any cartel member from following a victim into the emergency room to finish off the job….
They were prepared for a massive assault, I have to suspect there had been some success on the part of the cartel in the past, breaking through the doors and extracting revenge, vengeance, or just terrifying innocents with a brutality of violence that kept the millions of inhabitants in permanent fear..
Driving by, you could not look at these armed men with trigger fingers. These men who stood there waiting for all hell to break loose at the drop of a pin. You drove without stopping, without slowing down. You drove and kept your eyes straight ahead. You drove so that you could accelerate quickly.
You never, ever took the camera out of your pocket.