We arrived last night in Ciudad Juarez at 7 30 pm their time, 6 30 pm California time. It was just starting to get dark when we arrived, but boy were we surprised! We have never seen land like this. Its desert. There was a random patch of pure sand, that had been blown into interesting lines for about a square mile, and then it went back to flat dry land. There were small, sharp, and short mountain ranges that popped up quite often. They looked really impressive coming out of perfectly flat land. There were also small ponds spread around. It was really dry, and always flat, except for the sudden mountains. Maybe they werent even mountains, but they sure looked like it from the airplane. They could have been miniature mountains, I suppose. The outskirts of the city has shack houses that dont look like they could keep people alive. There were quite a few of them, and we could see people moving around on the ground. It looked straight out of a picture of a third world country.
We met Ruben, the pastor we are staying with, at the airport. He was immediately very nice and made us feel much more comfortable. He took us to his house, and talked to us the whole way home about how we will be safe and what Juarez is like. He was really honest, and told us about all the danger, but made it clear that we will be fine. Ciudad Juarez does not look like you could ever be safe, though. Everyone we have seen looks dangerous. No locals go out at night, because they know of the danger. Only the dangerous ones go out at night. Its exactly like the pictures we have seen of poor Mexican cities. Its dirty, the buildings look weak and are covered in bars, and there are big colorful signs and adversitments everywhere. I cant tell if stores are open or abandoned. People sell things at every corner. There arent cross walks, so people are always running accross busy streets. I dont know what the Mexican driving laws are, but they are way different from the US. There is no way I could drive here. People do U turns in the weirdeest places, barely avoid hitting each other, swerve around everything, and who knows what else. I never have any idea whats going on when we are driving, because it is so wild. And the police officers! They are everywhere, with their huge guns! Truckloads of them drive through the city, and they are in front of stores, at parks, and on the street. Its incredicle how many they are, and how big and scary their guns are. We have never been anywhere like this, and we still cant even really understand what we are seeing. Its so new and foreign, when we are in the car we are just staring and trying to soak it in.
The house we are staying in is beautiful. It has a metal gating closing everything off about 20 feet before the house starts. Its on a small, quite street, but there is a busy street behind the this one. The family is really nice. Ruben, the father, Olivia, the mother, their 20 year old daughter, and one year old son live here. They have another daughter, who is 22, who comes on the weekends, so we will meet her soon. They have made us feel very comfortable and safe.
So far, everything is going much, much, much better than we ever expected. Its so reassuring!