I had the joy of spending almost two-months with my 3 1/2 year old grandson, Julian, in Portland Oregon. We were there from late December, to the end of January, and then for two- weeks in early March. Julian is a precocious little boy with lots of creative ideas. He prefaces almost everything he says with “Did you know…..?” I have learned so many interesting facts from him. Sometimes his “facts” are more like opinions, but they are all captivating nonetheless. Last week we went on a tour of an old submarine. The tour guide shared lots of facts about the submarine, and every few minutes he asked if there were any questions. This prompted Julian to say “Yes, I have a question.” He would then ask a relevant question, followed by “Did you know…?” followed by some random fact related to his question. One of his questions was whether sharks were longer than submarines. When the tour guide said he didn’t know much about sharks, thinking he would be able to move on, Julian launched into a “Did you know…?” And then shared a short lecture on the lengths of sharks. The tour guide had no idea what to do with this information, but he rolled with it. We loved it! This continued throughout the tour and when we left, Julian thanked him for his time and off we went only to be regaled with more “Did you know? information” throughout the rest of our day.
So here I am with my list of “Did you knows?” We have been on the road for 5-months; some spent driving across the country, some in Portland, Oregon, and a month in Ajijic, Mexico, with my sister, who moved there several years ago. When we arrived in Mexico, I was reminded about how much I love that country. I went for the first time in 1977 and stayed for 3-months in Puerto Vallarta. Since then, I’ve been back several times, including three-trips to Zihuantanejo for several months each time. During those visits, I traveled to other places in Mexico: Oaxoca, Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Cozumel and Cancun. Every place I visit, I feel safe, comfortable and welcomed. Did you know that it is safer in Mexico than most large cities in the United States? Did you know that gun crimes in the U.S. are 6 times more likely than in Mexico? Did you know it is illegal to keep and carry a gun on your person or vehicle at any time within Mexican territory? Yes, there is crime in Mexico- mostly centered around the drug cartel, but if you aren’t part of the drug scene, you are probably safe from those crimes. It’s a bit like asking someone from Kansas if they’re worried for their safety when there’s a mass shooting in California. Did you know that Mexicans are some of the hardest working people you will ever meet? Many people hold a stereotype that Mexicans are lazy. They don’t have a rush, hurry-hurry, culture, and they do take a long leisurely lunch for a few hours, often including a siesta. Did you know that after that siesta, they return to work and often work until 8 or 9 at night? When I take an early morning walk in Ajijic, what I see are Mexicans outside, cleaning their front stoops, often hosing down the street as well. They are smiling and greet everyone with a welcoming “buenos dias.” They are anything but lazy. Did you know that Mexico is amongst the 15th largest economies in the world, and the second largest economy in Latin America? In my recent month in Mexico, I never once felt stressed about my safety and loved meeting so many wonderful locals.
While we were travelling across the US, there were many times that I worried about my safety- both as a woman, and as a Jewish woman. When we were in Oklahoma, and this is not only about Oklahoma, I was on the phone booking us an RV site. When the man on the other end asked for my name, I hesitated. Greenberg is a dead giveaway that I’m Jewish. Someone years ago asked me if Greenberg was spelled J-E-W! In the minute that I hesitated I gave my husband’s name, a less obvious ethnic name. I have no data that I was in danger of some antisemitic reaction, but given the current situation in the US with all its divisiveness and hate, I wasn’t willing to take the chance. Did you know that antisemitism in 2022 is rising at a rate unprecedented since the 1930’s? It does give me pause. Did you know that Mexico’s Jewish communities are thriving and rarely experience any anti-Semitism? Did you know that Mexican Jews make up .5% of the population compared to 2.4% of the US population, and less than 1% of the world population? Such small numbers drawing so much reaction.As we start our journey home, driving a more northern route, weather permitting, I’ll go with an open heart and at the same time with my eyes wide open. I will continue to be a student of life, and listen to all the wisdom my grandson has imparted to me. Life is short, and the older I get, the shorter it gets. Funny how that works. Did you know that I miss my Peaks Island community? I look forward to being back in my home seeing my neighbors and friends and walking the Island in the morning, enjoying the peace, quiet and safety my community offers.
With love and gratitude,