“Did you hear that the new Mexican president, Lopez Obrador, put the presidential plane, a Boeing Dreamliner, up for sale and prefers to travel like everybody else, by commercial, scheduled flights,” I asked Camp after Rosie set down our first pint.
“ I just hope he stays alive, driving his own Jetta to work, sometimes with his wife and just one security guy,” Camp said, obviously aware of the changes.
“He also gave up the presidential palace and opened it to the public, preferring to stay in his own house.”
“Of course all these folksy gestures do not solve Mexico’s problems with the cartels, the systemic corruption or the migrant flooding into Mexico from Central America,” Camp pointed out.
“It’s a total disgrace what’s happening to those few thousand souls stranded in Tijuana, barely surviving in tents, sleeping on the ground, hungry, sick and desperate,” I said.
“These are refugees, not migrants or immigrants. They’re fleeing unliveable situations in their homelands, fleeing because they have no alternative,” Camp agreed and then added: “Mostly women and kids from what I gather.”
“The real criminals are the ‘coyotes’ who promised them freedom and asylum in the US, fleeced them for all they had and then abandoned them. Human traffickers, no better then slave traders.”
“I would throw Trump into the same jail with the traffickers. It’s his self-serving, myopic and dehumanizing policies that broke the system. Not even his own border patrols know what to do.“
We sipped our pint in silence, looking out at the monochromatic world outside. Oblique shades of grey and the sun in hiding.
“What are your plans for Christmas?” I asked to change the subject.
“To sell a thousand books and have dinner with Muriel and Sophie who is home from Montreal. You know how it is, no rest for the small businessman. I have to open the store on Boxing day and deal with the returns and trade-ins, How about you? Any sunshine plans?”
“Clare is working right up to the 24th and we are looking at a couple of weeks in Patzcuaro, in central Mexico.”
“That’s not anywhere near the beach.”
“No, it sits at 2500m but it’s sunny and pleasant and we love the people, the food, the vistas and the culture,” I said. “It’s also where the story in my book takes place and maybe I can flog a few copies there.”
“Are you boys ready for another round,” Rosie asked and we both looked first at her then at our empty mugs.
“Say no more,” Rosie said.
“It’s been a crazy year,” I said. “The constant barrage of bad news is making us all feel helpless and depressed. We’ve gone from the Rohingya genocide to the Caravan migrant crisis, from bad to badder and worse, it seems,” I said.
“I’ve told you before my friend, the plights of this world are not yours alone to carry around on your shoulders. It’s at best a shared responsibility.”
“Yeah, I know all that but still, it troubles me when I see misery and suffering that could be avoided,” I said. “We’re all just different shapes and colours of light bulbs, powered by the same energy. I passed a dog walker today with half a dozen different mutts. They’re all dogs, all the same but different. They all got along.”
“As long as they’re fed and disciplined,” Camp had to say. “I get your point. We’re all humans, but some of us are more privileged and luckier than others, depending of where you’re born. It’s not the same being born in Switzerland or in Gaza, not the same being born rich or poor. Here are my three rules for the day: Make your wife laugh at least once a day, cherish your friends and neighbours and keep your door and mind open.”
“I’ll do all that and still feel inadequate. I still think I should do more.”
“Do more of what?” Rosie asked while setting down our drinks.
“Well, do more for people, the world I guess,” I said, feeling a bit foolish.
“That’s great. You can start right here. I need another apartment since my landlord is selling the house. I hear you have a cottage that sits empty in the winter.”
“Oh, yeah but… let me think about it,” I stammered.
Rosie laughed. “Just kidding, I’m fine, I just wanted to show you that thinking and doing are two very different things.”
“She got you there,” Camp said, raising his glass in a salute.