This time I'm stumbling at 6:15am, Suzy has a date with Sky Harbor airport at 10:00, Nick has one shortly after that. The airport gets around. I sleep in the back of the truck as Suzy throws it down the mountain toward Phoenix, the truck is still full of dust from yesterday's back roads, the campershell is leaking with today's storm. Red mud is seeping into the blankets. I sleep like someone forgotten. Then were there. Airports are chaos factories, I'm all bad breath and slam hangover, Suz is saying goodbye, I'm forgetting what I mean to say. She's gone into the teeming strangers. Bye Suz. See you soon.
Then Nick is driving, the Niflers are insisting that I wake up more quickly, Liz is laughing from the back seat and offering no help whatsoever. Nick is talking shit about Tempe, not stopping until we pull into some almost anonymous Mexican joint for breakfast. Vegetarian options? Beans. Liz and I opt to go to the natural café. Nick wishes he did.
Then another goodbye, one that will last even longer. Nick is off to Francia to fish with old men and lead the Nifler invasion of France. I refuse to explain.
It rained last night. Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico were all slick looking and gazing at each other with shy eyes, as if they were about to go to some Spanglish prom. All barbwire and high heels.
"I want to stop and talk to some Minutemen," I tell Liz just before it's too late. We stop at a lawnchair-commando post off of 92.
He looks like you'd expect, binoculars and sunflower seed-spittle. He is from Oregon. Came down for a few days to "help out." Is looking for men in the hills. Hasn't seen any. Knows all of the soundbytes by heart. He asks what I think. "I'm from Sierra Vista," I tell him, almost from my heart, "it's pretty interesting watching all of you show up all of a sudden where I grew up.
"Do illegals walk near your house?"
"Ever have any problems with them?"
"Huh. Hey, the ACLU camp is set up just over there if ya wanna go and talk to them."
"Thanks" I don't know what else to add. Take care? No, not exactly. Have a good day? He seems like the kind of person that has good days at the expense of others.
We walk back down the highway, over a arroyo being diligently watched by a California flag. The ACLU camp is a white car with about 4 people sitting on the trunk or in chairs near the trunk. More interesting is the interview being conducted just a few feet away by a group of three men and a tape recorder. They're interviewing a man sitting in a camouflage military-style jeep, he's replete with aviator glasses and full gear. As I walk up he is saying "I'm a first generation, tu sabe..." The elusive chicano Minuteman... I wish I had heard more.
The journalist conducting the interview is Enrique Morones Careaga, of the San Diego-based organization Ángeles de la Frontera, which he describes as "the exact opposite of the Minutemen, we put water in the desert to keep migrants from dying." With him are two men from Tijuana, who I begin to speak to as the jeep roars off and Enrique moves to talk to the ACLU volunteers.
Turns out this is noneother than Ray Ybarra, whose appeal for volunteers I quoted in my first Minuteman post. It's great to meet him, and he is more articulate in speaking of the project than I am. He mentions that the real danger is Minuteman volunteers trying to "out-chingon each other." Well said. I really hope he will be writing about his experiences after his time on the border.
Turns out that Enrique is headed to the volleyball game as well, he asks for directions and I offer to have him follow us.
Cumbia down the highway, déjà vu pulling onto dirt roads. "VOLLEYBALL->" the sign says, in the rearview I notice it's scrawled on the back of an old "VOTE NO PROP 200" sign. Right on.
We all pile in a shuttle and run down the border road to where the wall drops away. There's a giant news truck from KVOA Channel 4, the NBC affiliate out of Tucson. It takes up most of the road and seems to be an issue for the organizers.
They've turned the net the other way.
We were all expecting the net to be parallel with the border line, but turns out each team is half-n-half. We all agree that it was a great idea.
I'm out of the car, smiling, there are so many more people here than the poetry reading, especially Mexicans. Familiar smiling faces: Rocío, Isabel, Paul, Emilie, Kat, Chris, etc. etc. The game is going full-tilt and they start setting up a second net to deal with the crowd.
The greatest thing to see is all of the conversations happening across the line and the children climbing all over the metal border, laughing.
Thanks to Liz for the photos and coming along in the first place. 11 hours in the car...
The volleyball game has received much more attention than the previous events, and I'm told that there were over 300 people at last weekend's "Lifting up the Border," the binational / bilingual mass.
- The April 26 cover story of the local paper, the Sierra Vista Herald.
- April 25 story by the Arizona Republic.
The last "April Unity Event" is this Saturday, April 30. It is a unity march and party in Naco at 2:30pm. If you would like to come with me, please let me know. I will be leaving Friday afternoon and returning to Flagstaff by Noon on Sunday. You'll have a place to stay, all I ask is help with the gas money.