First, the big news. The matter of the local violence has more or less been settled; at least for the time being. After the big shootout at Los Cruces (the crossroads on the northeast side of town) a couple of months back, it seems we finally have a winner. The rival bad guys (Nueva Generacion, ‘New Generation’) – that’s the cartel in nearby Jalisco – prevailed over the local cartel here in Michoacan and the Cabelleros Templarios (‘Templar Cowboys’) are now history.

This is big news. Bad guys killing bad guys has literally hurt lots and lots of local businesses. This little city has about come to a standstill over the last several months. The Mercado (among many other business sectors) has suffered greatly. Little tiendas that were used to making several hundred pesos a day have been reduced to making a mere fraction of that. Watching this beautiful Mercado go from full to sometimes empty has been heartbreaking to watch. And the difference has been parents going from being able to pay their kids tuition to just living hand to mouth. From prosperity to poverty.

In the law enforcement community it has long been known that it was easier to keep an eye on and manage one criminal organization than to try and wage war on several. So who exactly brokered this new peace? Or is the new peace just the aftermath of one huge shootout to where attrition finally won the day?

Let’s look at what we’ve been told. If it is in fact true that there is a consortium (police, bad guys and vigilantes) all managing the checkpoint at Los Cruces then that would suggest that law enforcement at some level finally made a decision. And the result at last is peace.

Now the townspeople and business owners are waiting to see if another shoe is going to drop or if this is the real deal and the local situation will roll back to pre-2006; before President Calderon declared war on the Michoacan cartel.

There is lots of great minor news. For instance, I finally found the best place in the Mercado to buy avocados. No mean feat considering dozens of places sell them and prices and quality varies by the season. I ran into my friend, Pancho yesterday while he was shopping for his cantina and I had just wrapped up lunch. He knows everybody so I asked him where to buy avocados. He walked me over to a place and introduced me and he said they’d do me right. So today, I bought 2 beautiful avocados for half the price that I had been paying everywhere else.

I like value for my money. I am certainly not going to get pissy with anyone over a peso or two but by the same token I don’t want to get taken for a fool just because my skin is a tad lighter than everyone else. Shopping wise, I’ve pretty much got everything else sorted out but this avocado thing has been nagging at me for these last few months and I am glad that I finally put the problem to bed.

I bought some butter for the first time since I’ve been in Mexico and I was quite overjoyed that it didn’t come in sticks or in packages. I got a half-kilo of cheese and asked for some butter and the woman pulled out a huge blob of butter wrapped in wax paper and asked me how much I wanted. I told her just a little but still ended up with close to a pound. I love this peso economy and abundance of fresh food. I essentially got 2 combined pounds of handmade dairy products for 30 pesos or about $2.40.

Pelon’s tiny dog – inappropriately named ‘Rin Tin Tin’ – is barking [again]. And I am thankful that he and his wife, Tere only let the little bastard out on the roof twice a day. For the life of me I cannot understand how one animal can carry so much rage in such a tiny little package. Unfortunately he is just big enough to lean up and look down onto the street. Everyone walking down the street is a stranger to him, so I can only assume that it is this lack of familiar order that drives him to such fits of indignant outrage.

It is 80 degrees. The sun is shining. There is a nice breeze. All the upper windows and doors are open. I went for a nice run this morning powered up on pinole and fresh fruit juice. I got books to read (thanks Sarah) and cocktail hour is a mere 2.5 hours away. Dinner is going to be pasta in a caper butter sauce with chilies, avocado and fresh basil.

Could life possibly be any better?