Monday, February 22, 2010

Balaceras, Bitching and Blah, Blah, Blah

UPDATE to my previous UPDATE - Today only 4 of my 33 students showed up for class.  Below is a noteworthy sign.  It says, ''Reynosa is a secure city.  Nothing will happen nor nothing will happen. Return to your normal life. We are a part of Tamaulipas (the state) and we are not going to mess with the citizens.  Signed by the C.D.G.''  (the Golf Cartel aka one of the gangs that is causing this mess).  I thought this was a joke.  But my coworker says it is probably not a joke because no one messes with the drug cartel and signs their name.  What the hell am I doing here especially since I have barely any students to teach?

If you don't like bitching, then you might as well quit reading now.  Lately it's not been fun to be in Reynosa.  OK, it's been less fun than the usual not so much fun.  Last Thursday at 11 AM one of the office ladies came to collect a student. I thought he must have a doctor appointment or something. Then I started hearing the loudspeaker calling student names.  Uh-oh!  That only happens at the end of the day when parents come to get their children.  I had just started grammar lessons when all of this started.  I stepped outside the door to ask what's going on when I was informed that parents are coming to get children because of a threat.  Long story short, by the end of the day I only had 2 students left. And the grammar lesson?  Yeah, right. On Friday only 4 of 33 showed up. The federal schools closed but not us. Supposedly there was a threat directed at students by the drug cartels if the soldiers didn't get out of town.  Other rumors involved a middle school and hostages being taken.  We never know what is the truth because NOTHING is reported in the newspaper or the television news.  In fact, the best news source is Twitter.  After a week of nervous waiting behind locked doors and keeping our heads low, nothing really happened. 

Next bitch is about McDonald's salads. Last night I went to the drive-up window at McDonalds to order an ensalada crispy. In the United States, you would get a salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, carrots and cheese topped with chicken.  And ranch dressing.  In Mexico, the salad includes wilty lettuce with a couple of sad tomatoes with a chintzy bit of chicken.  And no ranch dressing.  WTF?  I paid $50 pesos for that crap!  Now if I could only learn to effectively complain in Spanish. 

And the last blah, blah, blah has nothing to do with Reynosa or Mexico.  It's about my Mastercard.  Last November the fraud department called me wanting to know if I charged like $700 to Home Depot in Florida. No, I did not.  At that point it goes to fraud investigations and the credit card is cancelled. They sent me a new card.  I've rarely used the old card in Mexico but I decided I will no longer use the Mastercard in Mexico in case someone is stealing my information.  I get the new card and everything is going along swimmingly when I get another phone call last Thursday wanting to know if I charged like $700 to Home Depot in Florida.  Double WTF?  The same amount from the same store but on my new card.  My card is in my possession and no one else has access to it.  Again, they cancel it to issue me a new one.  And I never, ever used this last one in Mexico. Ever.  But today tops all.  In the middle of class time, the fraud investigator calls me and tells me he has put my new card on hold.  Then he proceeds to treat me like the criminal.  He told me I would have to send picture ID's of everyone in my household.  Uh, that would be ME. He said someone I know has used the card. He tells me that I've been issued a new card 5 times in the past year and that raised a red flag.  I have not been issued a new card 5 times in the past  year so I don't know how he is getting his information. When I questioned him about this he refused to answer me. When I asked what is his name and ID, he refused to supply.  In final frustration, I asked to speak to his supervisor and he refused that and hung up on me.  So now I am thinking, FRAUD, FRAUD!!   When I got home, I called Mastercard and was put through to the fraud department.  Yes, some dickhead named Don did call me from their fraud department that morning.  I put in a formal complaint about him and told them I refuse to deal with him so they better transfer the case to another investigator.  I was promised a supervisor would call me.  Stay tuned for updates. 

UPDATE:  Only 9 of 16 students showed up for the morning class and 12 of 17 for the afternoon class.  Another gun battle last night. This afternoon my students were being pulled out of classes because supposedly 2 university students and 3 teachers have been kidnapped.  As always we only hear rumors.  When will the madness all end?


  1. I laughed out loud at my desk when you gracefully switched over from drug cartels to the ensalada crispy. I'm glad everything's ok at your school.

    Don from Mastercard doesn't seem like a very stand-up guy! If he works in the fraud dept, shouldn't he kind of understand what sketchy behavior looks like? Just a thought.

    Saludos desde Cancun!

  2. Yeah, they go together kind of like oil and water. But I made excellent use of alliteration with all the B's in bitchin', balaceras and blahs.

  3. not to burst your bubble or add to the drama... but ask your mastercard guy where exactly you are calling. There is a mastercard office here in GDL and they hire ANYONE who pretty much speaks english...AND THEY LIE AND TELL YOU YOU"RE CALLING SOMEWHERE ELSE.(a few clients work there.) so you never know, you could be giving all your personal information to a deported felon. (not that I have anything against deported felons.... but then again, not all are great.) confidential my ass.

  4. Good point! After the rude dude hung up on me yesterday, I called the 800 number on back of my card. The lady who took my call wanted to call me back to verify information. I refused and told her that I didn't trust anyone to give out information if she called me back. I hope I wasn't calling GDL. I don't think so because the people I was dealing with were native English speakers. I got an email from someone I know in Slovakia said he had the same problem with Mastercard. He was charged about $700 at a Home Depot in Brooklyn, NY. Sounds familiar?

  5. OMG - can you say scary shit? I do read up on the cartels as much as I can, and I really/truly hope they don't start targeting schools. Or maybe they have, and it's not being reported? Stay safe. I know I may sound ridiculous, but seriously... that shit is scary!

    McDonalds here sucks. First, the sauce is awful, second, all their veggies are wilted. All of them. BLAH is right.

    Mastercard - Don Juan sucks! At least it's a card from the US. My suegros cards were stolen a few years ago and they had to pay every penny back. It was awful. My cards were stolen at the same time and I had to pay nada. House was broken into while we were away.

  6. About balaceras, I personally would get armed, at least at home. I know it's not really legal in Mexico but almost all our neighbors have a gun in possession for protection.

    FORGET the American brands here, they SUCK! McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Domino's, Starbucks, etc. They are here only to sell the brand name, not to provide a good product at a competitive price. I wait to enjoy them when I visit the US.

  7. I think I need to flee from this balacera ridden town. I am looking for a new teaching position. I hope to be able to stand it until the end of the school year. I am very attached to my students. I do like Little Caesars pizza. It's not the very best pizza in the world like Ginos in Chicago, but it's good enough and cheap enough. I had to laugh about someone's post (don't remember who) about no coffee at Starbucks.

  8. You have Little Caesars? Lucky you!

    Be careful and try to sort out the rumors from the facts. Stay safe!

    If you decide to move, Cancun is pretty awesome!! :)