Spring break is a time for college kids, and adults now that I have grown up and can experience adult spring break (it is the same thing but for adults) to get away to a beach somewhere, be free and open with their alcohol consumption and night time partners. (I have to keep this politically correct.) Popular destinations include Palm Beach in Florida, Lake Havasu out in Arizona, the Bahamas, and Tijuana. The beaches are packed with college kids and police (to nab those under age drinkers) from sun up until sun down almost every day for a month. (Do you know why public colleges have different spring breaks than private school? They are never the same and I would like to know the reason behind that.)
I have been to a few of these cliche spring break destinations but Tijuana is not one of them. However, I want to go. Let me rephrase that. I wanted to go. That was until four “kids” ranging from ages 19 through 23 years old were not only found murdered in the back of a van, but were strangled, beaten, and stabbed multiple times. The police are blaming it on the drug cartel down there, and the United States involvement in extinguishing the traffic, but I imagine that it was for different reasons than drugs.
These four individuals left their southern California home and traveled to Tijuana for what promised to be a fun weekend getaway. The idea was to celebrate, drink, party, and visit some of the famous clubs on the strip. But what happened? How do four people, two men and two women, get basically kidnapped, tied up, thrown in a van, and beaten / stabbed / and killed like these four were?
This makes me think of a movie. And you all know the movie that I am talking about. I would mention several here but every one is the exact same. They are all about a collection of college students celebrating something, like spring break, graduation, or whatever the case may be, and they get put into a situation that they can never get out of alive. Tourista was one. Taken is one. And the list goes one. And while they are not all the exact same, they have the same basic principles. You sit there and scream at the the screen in regards to how you would react in their situation. But the actors never listen. And that is the key point here. They are actors. So to hear that something like this has happened just outside of California to four United States citizens puts a little bit of terror in my veins.
I am traveling with my girlfriend to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua at the end of July. It is to celebrate my graduation (see, I was not kidding before) and to just get away. This is the first complete year that I get paid vacation (three weeks of it to be exact) and this will be my first vacation of the year. And sure, San Juan is not Tijuana but Nicaragua does have a lot of drug cartel that mingle around the capital, Managua.
Managua is similar to the size of Terre Haute, Indiana. Terre Haute is about the size of Carmel for those North side dwellers, and holds about 60,000 people. Managua holds just under 2 million people. Managua is dirty. It is crowded (obviously) and there are disease and infestation around every corner. There are some “nicer” sports of the city, but for the most part it is the true definition of a ghetto. And not your 38th street ghetto, the actual form of third world.
But I bring up Managua not because of it’s size, but because of something that happened there not three or four weeks ago. There was a military coup right outside the airport, which is not that big, and over 300 people were shot dead in the streets within a mile. There are hotels (and the that I stay in is really nice. It has a huge pool and a really cool bar. And a casino on the other side of the parking lot!) and schools and gas stations and housing all around the airport. And with it being the only place for you to fly in and out of the country having 300 murders in the last month makes July seem a little too close.
But that will not stop us from going. We will be fine as the complex is picking us up at the airport as well as taking us back the day of our flight. But regardless of that it scares me a little. To see this tragedy for these four Californians (assuming that it was a tragedy as we have no evidence proving other wise) just makes me stop and reevaluate everything.
But of course, laying on the beach and body surfing will help me forget all about that.