The Bull & The Wolf: Los Borrachos

I have been making friends with El Toro and El Lobo. They are the neighborhood inebriated revelers. Nearly every Saturday morning astoundingly early we find them in the street, already halfway through a plastic bottle of Mescal, tottering around with brooms, sweeping the streets and stopping to howl out greetings to everyone that passes by. “Hey, Bro!”, they call out to me in heavily accented english as I begin sweeping our patio. Both of them have spent time in the States. El Lobo had jobs in Denver and Colorado Springs as a roofer. For the last month or two they have been hiring themselves out to the convenience store named Abarrotes Danny (Danny’s Grocery), the junk-yard, and our next door neighbors, sweeping and cleaning the streets for food and money. One day I was using a push-broom to clean up our street and El Toro yelled, “Competition?!” He likes to banter with everyone, routinely crowing like a rooster with that quintessential Mariachi squawk. He offered to borrow my push-broom and clean my street; now I am one of his clients. We give El Lobo and El Toro food, Izzy Juice drinks, or buy them soda from Danny’s for their time. I let him use the broom frequently to continue his work around the block. Push-Boom

These are the cats that Juan does not want me talking with; he told me so again today. I know that it is good advice, but there is something about the way he says, “It makes me sad to see you talking with those guys. Avoid those guys. You cannot trust them. They can rob you or try to fight with you.” He is right, and I know it, but I cannot reconcile it in my heart, or my head. I think of Chad’s comment from Wide-Eyed. He said, “Minimize risk as much as possible, otherwise live. Just like the mountains I think.” And that is kind of how I feel about it all. When El Toro, El Lobo, and their sketchy side kicks are brazenly wasted, or high from huffing whatever they can find, I stay completely clear. I try not to even give them the chance to say ‘hola’. The mountains are not much different. Dangerous, inviting, lovely, mesmerizing, unpredictable;  but I do not want to stay away from them. I respect them. I know their danger but still I plunge into their granite cracks and snow filled couloirs. The truth is, I cannot live in this neighborhood and ignore the very people living in it; they are the alluring lifeblood of this community.

I have always been drawn to similar crowds from the streets. Spending significant time in East L.A., Skid Row, and in the heart of Mexico City not only added fuel to my addiction to this population, but it educated me in some alien way. I am from the rural lands: a country boy, almost a hick, and I was exposed to the wild way of the city. It left me with some hickey-country-hippie-townie way of thinking. I was branded by it. El Toro does not intimidate me, but almost inflicts my heart with pity. When I see him working so hard in the street I am laden with a deep sense of hope for him. Maybe, I think, today he will stay sober; this is his day… I am not naive, maybe a bit too graceful, but I understand his kinds’ dubious persistence. Even though they catcall her often when we walk by or if she is out in the patio, Misty will only smile, but never talks to them, interacts with them, or enables them space. We do not allow that risk. Like John commented in our previous post“- just promise the people here who love you both that you will not lose vigilance and that, though you will trust in God, you will also use the brains he gave you to the fullest. Please watch each other carefully. Also, keep the mop handy in case one of the lions gets away from the circus.”

There are Bulls and Wolves prowling and snorting their way around in every neighborhood in this world. Chances are, one is kicking up dust next door to you. We keep praying for our new neighborhood and watching for that day when something as simple as a push-broom can bring light and truth to the hopeless.

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8 Responses to “The Bull & The Wolf: Los Borrachos”

  1. “It left me with some hickey-country-hippie-townie way of thinking”
    It is a great way of thinking. I am totally on the same page haha. I am from a small town. Parents are environmental planners … but at the same time … kind of love the city. It is a good way to go about life. I get frustrated with christians that are like super hard-core conservative. Not that there is anything wrong with being conservative … but to the point where they don’t assosiate with people of lower status. Or people who are involved in less that acceptable (by a christian’s standards) When it gets to the point that people dont want to talk to other people because they judge them … that makes me so discusted. I was in el paso the other weekend. And a lady i was with was sititng with me. There was this other lady going through the check out and she had a Carlos Santana shirt on. She said “hm. santana.” and i replied with a “I like santana, he is an amazing guitarist and reminds me of growing up” and then the lady turned around and she had a pentagram on a necklace. It was at this point that our minds took two completely different roads. Mine went straight to “i would love to know her story. sit down and talk with her. Tell her about my life, listen to hers, and share god’s glory” and she said “Ah. a pentagram. you know what THAT means.” I got really frustrated at this woman’s overbearing judgement. How can Christians claim to love christ and live for him, when the are so judgemental? Jesus loved on everybody. EVERYBODY. we are called be like him. So why aren’t we? Drives me insane. Anyways. I like this blog. it made me happy. Keep reaching out to these people. 🙂 We really must hang out soon.

  2. / that is a killer picture in your banner.

  3. Great post!

  4. isaac Says:

    …”wise as serpents, gentle as doves.”

  5. Aimee Says:

    Hey ya’all! Man (and Woman) I’m proud of you both. To take the risks and be all that God is calling you to do. Don’t ever underestimate the power of God working in you and through you. I think somewhere in the bible, Jesus used to hang with people like you are describing. He wants us to be that light to that darkness, he wants us to expose the darkness with the second greatest commandment “love thy neighbor as thyself” even though it is quite uncomfortable. We northerners are way to comfortable in our cush life styles. When I was in lockdown in the prisons, mingling amongst the people that are lost,hurting,searching and some broken, God reminded me, “therefore by the grace of God go I”. There is hope in knowing that God has placed in each of us a gift that can make a difference in a person or a group of peoples life. So continue to fight the good fight and allow God to expose that Light that will change the world. Use that discernment that God has given you and depend on him in all things. God bless and keep you.

  6. Thanks so much, Aimee. This has been a wild season of learning and growing… kind of a learn-as-you-go thing. It is remarkable how God has used the desert to open up our minds and sharpen our perspective. We have never felt more alive or more challenged. Your encouragement is priceless.

  7. Kiery Says:

    You have come a long way since you wrote of these expeirences. El Turo is no longer around. You surely had a good influence on him, in your careful approach, and showed him a picture of God. You were right. That is the people of the neighborhood to whom you have been sent. You did well. Continue showing God’s heart to Palo Chino, just be cautious with the wolves and the bulls. God bless.

  8. […] Rest in peace, hermano. Posted in Life in JuarezTags: Ciudad Juarez, Colonia Palo Chino, El Toro, The Bull […]

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