disclaimer or something

A mummy-hand holding, (former) biker gang affiliating, hippie influenced semi crunchy granola mom's ramblings and reminisings on an off-kilter life

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

broken fences broken lives

I recently travelled through El Paso, Texas, a town that reminds me of Vegas without the casinos. Its dusty, full of ghetto strip malls and broken promises. But...it is more than that. A quick look into the city's history tells me the borders of New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico have changed boundaries many times. As I looked at the brightly lit border fence from my hotel window, scaring the landscape like the Great Wall, I couldn't help but think how the citizens of Ciudad Juarez, just feet away, must feel. To look at a place I might find less than appealing as a beacon of hope, a place with less violence and poverty. Separated by a tightly guarded and ugly wall. Families separated, like the Berlin Wall, all because eugenicists wanted to eradicate the darker, feeble minded stock from the United States.

We left El Paso and entered the desolate expanse of West Texas, almost as empty as Alaska....no gas for a hundred miles. Coyotes (people, not canines) help illegal persons cross the border and often leave them to die, the elements and vast expanses taking their lives.

We gassed up in Fort Hancock, a homeless-looking man asked if we would kindly buy him something to eat. I was fascinated by the changing borders of the area, the culture (something like 75% of El Paso people speak Spanish as their primary language) and the history, that I had googled the few outposts of West Texas. I found out that Fort Hancock featured a gap in the border fence, often unmanned, and before the border patrol road block. I guess it was kind of an unwritten acceptance to allow a piece of open border and exchange. Somehow, the violence of Juarez rarely spilled the border, the open fence being kind of a peaceful spot, considering. I then found out the Mexican towns nearest Fort Hancock were far more deadly than Juarez; in one month in 2010, the area (with about 18,000 people) had 45 recorded murders. The scene looked just like No Country for Old Men, but the man didn't seem quite as scary.

The man asking for a meal really strikes me as the poster child for the entire situation. If a picture could speak a thousand words....he wears a military green trenchcoat, wrinkled and dusty. He huddles inside it, the thin, worn fabric not much against the howlin dust storm and near freezing temperatures. His pants are not a discernable color, his boots worn. I can't tell if he is hispanic or white; he looks like a photo from the Dust Bowl or from the coal mining children, full of blemishes and days old dirt. His wrinkles cut deep, his skin leathery. His accent is a mesh of Mexican and American, like I often hear in California. He stands out yet blends into the dusty worn down buildings, cracked asphalt, scraggly trees and tumbleweeds bending in the wind. This is a rough yet poetic time and place. This man is destitute, somehow victim of the changing borders, open and closed fences, policy, corruption, hope, dreams, and violence that plays a unique tune for the area. I don't know his story, but yet it still resonates with me, so much that I am wanting to paint the scene Isaw, to forever etch his story, whatever it is, in history. So here is my sketch, it is a mereetch) to say, you, whoever you are, are important. Your struggles are real and unique yet far too common. I don't know the solution, or even the story, but I remember you. 

< a href="http://yeahwrite.me/challenge-155/"><img src="http://yeahwrite.me/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/challenge155.png"></a>


  1. The whole Mexican-American border situation and the politics surrounding are so fascinating. I like how you humanized it in this post. Especially for those of us who are far away from it, geographically speaking, it's all to easy to make the issue purely theoretical and forget the people.

  2. So many times I feel this way "I don't know the solution, or even the story, but I remember you." Wow. Isn't that the truth. I do wonder what happened to get someone somewhere. For good or for bad. Wonderfully written picture of him.

  3. It's good to remember, when everyone else wants to forget.

  4. I love the way you wrote this!
    Great blog post!