There is a good article in the New York Times about Monica Lovato – a female boxer in Espanola, New Mexico. It’s a decent read, but it really doesn’t do the drug problem in Espanola justice.
Espanola has had problems for a long time now. It’s a small town about 30 minutes north of Santa fe and just east of Los Alamos. The first thing you notice on the drive in from the south is the Indian Casinos just minutes from the town. The first time I became aware of the drug problems there was about 6 or 7 years ago on a stop at one of the casinos. I was driving back from Los Alamos after a meeting I had with a candidate, and decided to pop in to throw away some money (ok, that wasn’t actually the intent, but that’s how gambling works for me).
On the way out, I stopped in the men’s room. As I reached for a paper towel, I noticed the large biohazard bucket for needle drops. There it was, just hanging out in the men’s room. I was tunned and amazed at the openness of that moment. I wondered why they would do that, then quickly realized the problem with having addicts leaving them in stalls or tossing them in the trash.
I haven’t thought much about that moment in the years since, but this story brought back the sense of desperation you feel in that part of New Mexico. Between the meth labs, addicts, and gamblers, there isn’t much there to offer hope. Maybe Monica can. I wish her luck.