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feeling a bit crazy and needing to vent
March 10, 2010
10:33 am
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chelonia mydas
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I'm in the conservation field and work at a research station in an area that is currently experiencing increased violence from the drug cartel wars over trade routes into the US. When the US embassy pulled out of Reynosa, I decided to release the workers so they could ensure the safety of themselves and their families while I and the other foriegners at the station fled to Texas. Part of our station is within the direct route used by one of the cartels involved.

For years its been an uneventful although undesirable situation where they come through and ensure that we don't see them and if we happen to glimpse someone in the forest, they go the other way and we assume they are a local farmer out for a stroll in the woods. The local police are enmeshed with the cartel, so there isn't support even if we wanted to do something about it. I think the previous manager was involved at a small level with the cartel, but they so far have not approached me and I run things by the book and have that reputation, so I don't anticipate that they will.

A big part of why I chose to leave is because I don't want to make that ever an option. Our facilities would make a good staging area for the cartel and I would rather them use it as an empty facility than cut a deal with them or worse have them take it by force.

So I traded my pickup for a van so I could take all the pets and have been staying with friends.

I look like a crazy homeless lady with a van full of animals. My work has decided they won't grant me a temporary assignement in Texas due to cutbacks in temp research positions. They understand the reasons why I don't want to be in Mexico right now, especially since DPS just released warnings to all the Spring Breakers at South Padre Island to not go into Mexico because of the drug cartel wars, but they can't help me with a place to stay while I wait it out either.

I have to come up with a plan on what to do for now and how I'm going to reopen the research station and under what criteria do I do so. I'm thinking I won't return until the US consulate in Reynosa does. Even then, if the Zetas get control of that area, I don't know that I want to ever return. They are more violent and bloody than the CDG that currently runs through the station. But then what would I do to support myself and the pets? Getting rid of the pets is not an option, they are my children and asking me to leave them is like asking someone to abandon their son or daughter.

Things will work out in the end, its just the between that is giving me anxiety.

March 10, 2010
10:52 am
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Lanigirl
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Chelonia,

I just want to wish you well. I'm so glad you took your safety seriously. Getting rid of your pets isn't an option.

I don't want to offer any advice or cliches because I get that all the time being unemployed and it doesn't seem to help me feel better about the situation.

March 10, 2010
10:58 am
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darkeyes
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CHELONIA!!! things will work out in the end just need to find the best options at this time for you and your pets!!!wishing you well & glad your safe!!!maybe settle someway for awhile until you find your way again.. sending hugs and love your way....

March 10, 2010
10:58 am
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darkeyes
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CHELONIA!!! things will work out in the end just need to find the best options at this time for you and your pets!!!wishing you well & glad your safe!!!maybe settle someway for awhile until you find your way again.. sending hugs and love your way....

March 10, 2010
12:13 pm
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Tumbleweed8
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(((Chelonia))) I hope everything works out for you real soon. Love, TW

March 10, 2010
12:26 pm
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sdesigns
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Chelonia: I don't know who your employer is but if it is the gov't- doesn't the govt/ your employer have direction for you? I can't imagine having to decide whether to work amidst the cartels and risk your life like that. Seems like someone should have last say on that plus the responsibility/ liability for putting you in harms way. Those cartels are not something to be taken lightly, they are brutal savages.

March 10, 2010
10:28 pm
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chelonia mydas
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Thanks for the support Lani, Darkeyes, Tumbles and Sdesigns it is really appreciated.

I am the one who is responsible for the plan on what to do becuase I oversee the station. I have to answer to the regional manager and he will have a say too, but he expects me to be the main one making the decisions here. We work for a non-profit but get grant $$ from the govt and other sources. With the economy the way it is the funding is really low right now and there just isn't the means to provide additional housing to what I have been given in Mexico.

The area the station is in has been within Cartel territory for decades but so far (knock on wood) there has never been any incidents, only the occasional suspecious person/vehicle sighting. There are not many places to protect/research this type of habitat that is not touched by the issues this country faces as a whole. Its just part of the job. If I weren't here I would be probably be in another country with as many dangers/issues. Its just especially volitile right now. I'm confident it will pass and will decide what to do depending on who wins this and the type of presence they create in the area. So far under CDG they didn't do much to folks who just stayed out of their business. The Zetas on the other hand were the killers/assassins/violent enforcers for the CDGs and are now breaking away from them. Thus the current cartel war.

I'm hoping the CDG and Zetas kill enough of eachother that the Mexican military has a fighting chance to lessen the smuggling in this area for a while. Unfortunately as long as there is a market for it, there will be some type of cartel or smuggling ring in this area. Its all about the geography, thats what makes it great for smuggling and for saving/studying wildlife and habitat. I knew and accepted that when I took this job.

March 10, 2010
10:56 pm
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onlyboringontheoutside
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Wow. I hope it stays as boring as possible!

March 11, 2010
10:36 am
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Lanigirl
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Chelonia,

Such a waste of life and resources. I had taught adults and many that came from Mexico miss their home but had noted that they came here to get away from the escalating drug wars.

You are in my thoughts.

March 23, 2010
2:25 pm
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chelonia mydas
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I'm still in Texas, found a temp job while my other is on hold for now. The research station I manage has become a refuge camp for people fleeing a border town that is suppose to face a lot of voilence this week. One of the maintenance workers for the station has family in that town and asked me if they could stay there. When others from that town found out about it, they asked if they could go too. So this week there will be about 30 people staying there. So my fears of it being taken by the cartels haven't happened, thank goodness.

I'm still so undecided about returning. It is a great job for me, except for the fact that it is along a smuggling route. Hopefully it will settle down soon.

March 23, 2010
9:50 pm
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Anonymous
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Hello Chelonia Mydas:

I am sorry you are in limbo. Not a very comforting place to be.

I enjoy reading about your adventures 🙂 but think you must be assured of security first and foremost, whatever you decide.

So very sad for the people of Mexico 🙁 I hope it settles soon too.

Moon & Stars

March 23, 2010
9:53 pm
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BAREFOOTGIRL
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What is happening down there?

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