|Marcos, Boo! (the jack russel) and Paco (the Africanized Chihuahua)|
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Angels in the (Mexican and Zulu) Mafia
EveryONE seems to hate on “criminals” (throughout human history, I might add), and thoughtlessly throws the adjective around. Therefore, let’s start by looking at the multiple definitions of “criminal.”
1. of the nature of or involving crime. (Note: Crimes are directly relative to the date and status quo, and are often subject to change. For example, at one time in US history, people of different races could not defecate on the same indoor plumbing equipment—WTF?!!!)
2. guilty of crime. (As we ALL KNOW, some “crimes du jour” are EVIL. You know, like the CRIME of being JEWISH back in Nazi Germany during the early 1940’s?)
3. Law. of or pertaining to crime or its punishment: a criminal proceeding. (Proceeding where, may I ask?)
4. senseless; foolish: It's criminal to waste so much good food. (*When you can put it in a “doggie-bag” and give it to the next hungry person you see!)
5. exorbitant; grossly overpriced: They charge absolutely criminal prices. (REALLY, what is NOT exorbitantly over-priced nowadays?! Does this mean every aspect, every level of our health care system IS criminal?! Things that make you go hmmm…)
a person guilty or convicted of a crime. (We have already established crime is relative. Let’s not forget that JESUS was a criminal to the Romans—and oh, what about Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Stephen Biko, Nelson Mandela, and Aung San Suu Kyi?! THEY were all “tried” as “criminals” and even went to prison—Stephen Biko never even made it out of prison!)
And as far as I know, most people associate the Mafia with “organized crime”, basically, employed criminals, no? And therefore, they must be BAD because they are criminals, right? Well, in MY experience, there are ANGELS in the MAFIA!
The Zulu Mafia (a.k.a., Operation: Who Let the Dogs Out?)
When our dogs (Boo! And Paco) were DOG-napped in rural Kwa Zulu Natal (*because I did not have any children they could kid-nap!), the ONLY people who would help me were the Zulu Mafia. At first, I went to the police.
“Ohhh, poor umlungu! Somebody take your little dogs? Boo hoo! Look around. We have car-jackings, robberies, rapes, murders, and corruptions to investigate! We have no time for looking for dogs.” --Hlabisa Department of Police (NOTE: The local police were correct. They did have A LOT of work and little resources—but it STILL infuriated me!)
EveryONE I approached from the nearest veterinarian (over 70 km away!) to local Game Park officials, neighbors, security guards, peers and colleagues, NO ONE seemed capable, much less concerned, in helping me safely locate my dogs alive OR dead. I was furious! One afternoon while distributing home-based care medicines and supplies, I overheard some of our caregivers (28 Zulu Grandmothers and 4 Grandfathers!) talking about a local high school teacher rumored to be part of the “Mafia”.
“The Mafia is in Hlabisa?! WHY in the world would the Mafia come to Hlabisa? We aren’t even on Google maps,” I was bewildered.
“Yes, the Zulu Mafia,” One of the elderly staff quipped.
“What do you call the Zulu Mafia?” I further enquired.
“The Zulu Mafia, of course.” She replied with exasperation.
“REALLY original, guys! I mean you name your entire tribe Zulu, then you SPEAK Zulu, half the population shares the surname Zulu, you live in Kwa ZULU Natal…really, you guys couldn’t come up with ANYTHING a little more original than ‘Zulu Mafia’?!” *They rolled their eyes in response, while I immediately set off for the high school.
In the past, I procured a lot of donated educational materials; school supplies for both teachers and students; started a co-ed volleyball league (*apparently, this was a historic event, the first time Zulu boys and girls EVER played organized sports TOGETHER); started “Friends of the Youth” peer youth education and outreach counselors; organized football (soccer) clinics; orchestrated a local women’s sewing group and a leatherworks co-op (local income generation projects) to make cheaper school uniforms and shoes for the students; and then some—basically, I had a lot of leverage with the school, so when I asked Sqoks (not his real name for OBVIOUS reasons and yes, it has a “click” in it) for some assistance getting my dogs back, he responded nonchalantly, “But of course.”
“You asked the Zulu Mafia to find the dogs?! Are you INSANE?!” Marcos did not approve one bit.
Two mornings later, Sqoks and three of his intimidating “colleagues” showed up at my doorstep, “We KNOW who has the dogs. It is one of the ambulance drivers.”
“What?!” my disbelief. “Who, where…why…HOW?!!!”
“We don’t have time, we are going NOW to get them,” Sqoks and his men started to leave when Marcos jumped out of the bedroom (where I assumed he was hiding), “I am going too!” (Marcos whispered to me on his way out, “So nothing violent happens!”) The Zulu Mafia gleefully barked, “Who let the dogs out?” all the way to their vehicle.
As told by Marcos:
Sqoks and his “crew” drove Marcos to one of our most rural “bush” clinics in Hlabisa district. Apparently the WIFE of the ambulance driver (who “stole” our dogs) worked in clinic administration. Marcos said as soon as the vehicle pulled up to the clinic and people recognized Sqoks and his crew, the long line of patients immediately dispersed, as well as most clinic staff. The wife, working in her office, was easy to identify because as soon as she recognized the Zulu Mafia and the foreign doctor (Marcos), she started sobbing and asking for forgiveness. The Mafia ordered her into the vehicle, “Take us to your home NOW!”
The dogs were found, tied up, in her backyard. While Marcos comforted and collected the dogs, the Zulu Mafia smoked cigarettes and gave menacing looks to the wife, the neighbors peeking out their hut windows and the ever-present livestock, “No ONE touch THIS doctor’s dogs.”
The Mexican Mafia
During the epic “Smuggling Marcos from Africa to America--via Central America-- and on a Shoe-string (and without rafts!) not-so-clandestino Smuggling Adventure”, Marcos and I got “stuck” in a MAYAN mountain-village in Guatemala (Xela, to be exact!) for almost 3 weeks, trying to figure out how to get Marcos (ILLEGALLY) into Mexico. By the time we left Guatemala, every single person in that village KNEW we were trying to get into Mexico AND were trying to help us. Finally, we were introduced to the Mexican Mafia.
Tea with the Mexican Mafia
KITCHEN in a typical MEXICAN HOUSE– DAY
MEXICAN MAFIA, MARCOS and KELLY sip tea while discussing how to get MARCOS past MEXICAN BORDER PATROL at the Tapachula border crossing. *Of course, I am not going to TELL you just how we did it! But it clearly worked!
LIVE your bliss,
The Goofy Guru