Ax a Silly Question

Aug. 22, 2005 4:51 p.m.

I was looking for a word that meant "boss." Alfredo suggested one that meant "commandant," then one that meant "dictator," but neither was appealing. Then Oscar, the driver, who was carefully rolling cable, looked at me and said, "Yo soy el tiviri tavara."

Alfredo laughed.

"What does it mean?" I asked.

"I am the one who chops the wood."

Perfect. I repeated it, then wrote it on the cover of my notebook for easy reference. Our next stop was a security firm in Mexico City where they put a chip in your arm that can be used to identify you if you are kidnapped. There was a policeman out front. He was looking hard at Alfredo and me with our gear. I walked right up to him, looked him in the face, and said slowly and clearly, "I am the one who chops the wood."

His face broke into a smile. I saluted him and he returned the salute.

E-mail Harrigan

I’d rather read your blog than 99% of the other “news” that’s out there. Keep it up!

— Patrick

Hi Steve,

I really enjoy reading your notes. My 76-year-old Mom sent me envelope last week, taped over the flap, of course. And I remember visiting her Mom in an old, warm apartment in Hollywood that had a Murphy bed. We thought Grandma was eccentric – she bought my sisters fishnet tights in the 70’s & took us out on public transportation - the bus. Thanks for taking me there again, Steve.

Stay safe,


I admire you so much for what you are doing and the story you are trying to uncover but it almost seems to be an impossible situation. We pray for your safety and admire your courage.



Thanks for the great reporting about the ongoing troubles here on the US/Mexican border. We live just south of Laredo, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley. We are extremely pleased that someone is finally exposing this corrupt and dangerous area to the rest of our nation.

Keep up the good work!

Harlingen, Texas