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A little bit crazy, a little bit happy – José Carlos’ story

In my last post I told you about meeting José Carlos and Ian on the beach. When I asked José Carlos what peace meant to him, I didn’t fully follow the answer, so Ian translated for us. “Peace is the perfect combination of being a little bit mad and a little bit happy, he said.

Mad like angry, or mad like ‘loco’ (crazy)?, I clarified.

Mad like crazy, locito.


“Peace is the perfect combination of being a little bit crazy and a little bit happy. – José Carlos


“Wow! That’s an interesting answer, José Carlos! I started writing on the cover of my novel, asking, “What do you mean by crazy? Reflecting, he said being crazy was doing what he wants whenever he wants. As someone who’s been known to take off her shoes off to run through public fountains or dance on the street, I could certainly appreciate that! “What’s the craziest thing you have done?,” I asked José Carlos. Pausing barely for a second, he said it was coming here. Surprised, I asked how that was crazy. So he told me the story.

You see, he and Ian are from Colima, a small city about 1,000 km north along Mexico’s west coast, and they had a very difficult drive here. For over 24 hours, they drove through poorly maintained, winding roads, day and night, avoiding fallen rocks and missing shoulders over steep banks. Complicating matters, a thick fog reduced visibility to almost nothing. During the drive, peace came over him as he concentrated carefully, experiencing a state of deep attention. I could imagine the road, having driven an hour on a similar road from the Huatulco airport to Puerto Angel. There was hardly a stretch where you could see more than 200 feet in front of you before the road turned, sometimes revealing obstacles or washouts around the bend. On a clear sunny day the drive required focus. Driving day and night under foggy conditions must have been exhausting! José Carlos took out his phone to show me a photo of the fog.

Later, over dinner, Ian elaborated more on the drive, telling me details that I found even crazier than the driving conditions. They didn’t take the most direct road, which would have taken about 14 hours. Instead, they took a circuitous, 26 hour route to avoid vigilante checkpoints for drug traffickers. It wasn’t safe to meet either the gang members or the vigilantes, armed men who inspected cars, trying to bridge the security gap that the police left in fighting the gangs.

Returning to his definition of peace, I asked José Carlos, “What was your happiest moment?” Pausing slightly longer, then smiling in memory, he said his happiest moments were when his family gathers together, especially when he sees his sisters. “Do they live far away?,” I asked. “Yes,” he replied.

The perfect balance of crazy and happy – what a unique perspective on peace! In Mexico, with the difficulties of life, gangs, economic and civil challenges, you would need happy moments to forget your problems for a while. A little bit of craziness would add spice to life anywhere, and counteract the craziness of the situation in Mexico. I determined to have more crazy, happy moments during my remaining time here. When Ian offered to be my translator to collect more peace stories, I enthusiastically accepted, promising José Carlos we’d have a happy, crazy time!

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