The author of a book entitled “Why North and not South?”
Years ago ,as I walked through the historic center of Mexico City, I suddenly came upon a group of men and women tourists with white skin, blue eyes and I approached one of the guides to ask him this:
“Where are these tourists from?”
He gave me a unique answer: “They are Americans.”
I continued thinking, asking myself questions. “Why did he tell me they were Americans? To make the case that we short brown chubby ones are not Americans? Or the people of color are not Americans? Are not all the people who are found on the American continents themselves Americans? Then who is the “American”?
Ever since I studied in secondary school from the 7th grade to the 9th, the professor explained to us that the world is divided into five continents- The Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia. They also say tha Antartica is another continent but this continent is not inhabited by human beings. Then they taught us that those from Europe are called Europeans, those from the Americas are called American, those from Asia are known as Asians, those from Africa are simply known as Africans and those from the continent of Australia are called Australians.
Through risks of destiny, I crossed the border of the United State of North America, walking through the desert with a mind simultaneously filled with fear and filled with illusions.
Upon boarding the bus headed toward the north of Mexico, I dozed and dreamed suddenly that it would not manage to cross the desert to reach my American dream, the companion seated next to me commented that he was traveling with the same purpose of reaching the famous “American dream”. I knew when he said this to me that he was Mexican, he was not so short but he was not light-skinned, then I asked myself a question: “Will he be an American?” like already I am infected, that everybody says that the only American is the man with white skin, blue eyes, and yellow hair who speaks English.
Until finally, I reached my destination, but on the road I saw that other light-skinned people who did not have yellow hair or colored eyes nor were they speaking English, “Well,” I said. “ Then these persons are not Americans but I reflected and I remembered that we are still in Mexico because we are Mexican and Mexico is still in the American continent, therefore “Will we also be considered “Americans?”
Fear was stalking me because on the news and from friends I always listened to stories of immigrants who were found dead in the desert or in the river. They are dragged by the river currents until they die of drowning. Also they are killed by assailants known as “cholos” for not handing over the little bit of money that they have hidden very well in their pockets or in other parts of their clothes. These “cholos” also exist in the desert where there are all these other risks of losing one's life, along with venemous snakes, hunger, thirst, heat and cold.
With this anxiety catching up to my illusions, I traveled two nights and two days in that desert, so dangerous, but the hunger, the need and the poverty are stronger so that this thought of dying is not as important.
Also I tricked my mind saying the “The American Dream” when my feet were full of blisters and when the moment arrived that I could walk no more, then I stopped to think. Perhaps this is a necessary sacrifice in order to become like those who are said to be the unique Americans, but walking in the group were also those from other American countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. I saw them as the equals of Mexicans with little unique changes in the accent of our language but all were understood since we all spoke Spanish.
Also we took stagnant water containing slime, dead animals of a very disagreeable odor with many insects and microorganisms at the risk of acquiring a strong stomach infection.
Some said they were going to fill their gallons of water in the pool and others declared they were going to fill their gallons in the lagoon but with that water one does not die of thirst. But when drinking it some jokers felt that it scraped their throats. But in the end, we crossed the desert without major problems, out of the twelve of us and our guide, no one was left in the desert.
Along the road we caught up with two groups with more people- among them men, women and children but on one afternoon we rested together approximately one hour, exchanging words with two people who said they had been walking four days, walking more slowly because they had women and children, and that they had finished all their food but they expressed optimism that while they could find water the food was not so important, also there were people from other countries of Central America.
At night, the guide decided to rest in a ravine where we would sleep four hours, some slept for one hour but I did not sleep any, because of the pain or better to say because of the ardor of my feet, it felt like intense burning, I only lay there and listened to the slipping of tiny rocks as another group passed by us. A short time later, another group arrived that wanted to sleep there also but a strong rain came upon us suddenly and made us walk in the dark, in the morning we passed another group and another and we don't know if they stayed or if they walked but in the evening our group arrived at the place where we were to be picked up.
We approached a small truck- I don't know what model, color or make because I am bad about recognizing vehicles and also it was at night, finally we arrived at a house where we found more people but no one was light-skinned. On the following day they transferred us to another house where, by the way, I saw there was one other person with yellow hair.
I ask myself- “Perhaps I am already in America or am I only imagining it?”
(Story to be continued next month.)