Looking at el otro lado (the other side)

Illegal to buy from Mexicans at border in Big BendBig Bend National Park lies along the Rio Grande River in Texas. In the old days (pre 9/11), you could cross the river and walk right into Mexico, into a quaint town called Boquillas del Carmen.

The people of Boquillas thrived on all of the park’s tourist activity.

But then our government in all its infinite wisdom, decided that it wasn’t safe for us to mingle with the Mexicans, and outlawed this favorite activity of Big Bend tourists.

Boquillas Mexican Curios for sale in Big Bend

Today, Boquillas is dying a slow death. Each day, the locals risk arrest by crossing over to the park, placing their handmade trinkets for sale onto rocks where tourists gather, like at the hot springs.

Then the Mexicans run back over and sit all day long, underneath a canopy of shade, hoping something will sell. They were easy to spot along the banks of the river.

Jim soaks in Big Bend hot springs

Whenever we soaked in the springs, I felt like such a schmucky American. I kept wondering; why are some of us born into such better circumstances than others? Not that I’m complaining, but still. . .

I’m so fortunate that my grandparents came over from Mexico at a time when immigration was not the issue it is today. In this era, Mexicans will risk their lives just for a few dollars a day to feed their kids. My own family had it’s hardships in the early days, but I’m betting they weren’t quite on the same level as today’s.

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9 Responses to “Looking at el otro lado (the other side)”

  1. Eric Auckerman April 3, 2009 at 5:41 pm Reply

    Well, here’s your first problem Rene, “Then the Mexicans run back over and sit all day long, underneath a canopy of shade, hoping something will sell.”

    Now who ever made a living hoping for something to sell? I’ll tell you how much I’d sell if I sat under canopy all day…

    Anyway, I wouldn’t guilt yourself for our country’s affluence and I wouldn’t hold it in contempt either, mind you those same Mexicans who made those trinkets would love to have your set of issues with the United States, but after they get their citizenship, a job, kids in school, and a place to live if you get my drift?

    It’s easy to forget that America is work in progress. President Obama does pretty good job of articulating that message daily.

    But let’s talk about the Mexican people for a moment – I love ’em, bring ’em on in/over says I. I have come to believe that Mexican people are as hard working and honest as American people and quite possibly as Canadians .

    But as has been demonstrated repeatedly over history and today, humans get the government they settle for and the Mexican government is just not up to the job of economic development on the scale that Mexico needs; turns out the American government might have the same problem as well if things don’t turn around in the credit consumer sector as well.

    As the son of an immigrant who didn’t speak English when we got here and has done the best he can I would say this country isn’t so bad. I do think other countries enjoy a higher standard of living on average but overall this isn’t the worst place to be.

    We have our house cleaned by a crew of Mexicans and El Salvadorians who every two weeks. The woman who owns this service has put two of her children through college, she’s building a retirement home in Mexico on the coast and sends money every month to her mother and father for additional support, I would say the sacrifices she made to get here some years back have paid off. I would also add that there is no success in this world without sacrifice, think of your ancestors and the deprivations they must have experienced, the racism, the degrading jobs because of language barriers and so on. Well, that’s the American story no matter what anyone says. My mother cleaned houses when we got here and did what she had to until her English was enough to get her through nursing college and ultimately into real estate. It happens every day in this land of promise. I would offer that entreprenurial vitality tends to diminish over generations as the inheriting gets easier than the work but what can you do, that’s the world we live in. I’ll never forget when Joseph Campbell said, “you can’t save the world you can only save yourself and by doing so you begin to save the world.”

    The fence between our countries does loom dark and maybe that’s a shame but there’s another shame and one that Germany (where I’m from) manages as they best can – a guest worker program. Why shouldn’t those who are willing to work here and don’t have a criminal record (not sure how you monitor this) work for three or six or nine months and then return home with the spoils? I’m not one to draft legislation on a Blog but I just don’t understand why someone from Mexico should have to sneak in if they were willing to be tracked during their stay, say a once a month check in of sorts?

    Maybe a plan like this would be perceived as too easy to abuse, maybe, but folks dieing to reach this land (literally) is a heart breaker if you think about it, but the real problem is back in Mexico isn’t it? People go where the jobs are my mother used say to me over and over and as such I get the midnight runs under a dark moon.

    But ease if not lift your guilt over situations that run contrary to your contemporary values because if you were to tell those in your bloodline/ancestors that this country is a stinker cause of this and that they’d probably say, “what, we make all of these sacrifices to get here so you can tell us that?”

    The sting of the lash from my mother would be unrelenting…

    Enrico out!

    • Thanks Eric. I fully expected to have something snippy to say in rebuttal, but this time, I can’t think of one. Right on dude.

  2. I live in Canada, it’s funny that we have the Peace Arch on our border with the US and the southern border has a wall. We’re all people aren’t we. Most of us in Canada think that in November the US made a great decision and hope for the best. That wall is just too sad for me.

  3. Isn’t that going back in time and repeating history??..Did we not learn anything yet in this country?… O the great walls that have been built and torn down….(Germany for instance) It’s a funny thing, Once the people die off in those positions it will be a NEW world again!! I can see change happening so fast in so many areas. We need to embrace the good!!

  4. Totally agree….. what a blight on the American landscape..
    I actually heard a senator say he wants to “electricfy ” it.

  5. Oh that fence is such a ridiculous waste of money. You’d never know we’re in a horrible recession when you go near it, because of all of the construction activity going on. It’s horrible and ugly to look at, and it makes me nauseated to see where my tax dollars are going.

    A local in Del Rio Texas told us “Ayi, that fence! It’s so dumb! The Mexicans will always, always find a way over.”

    We have got to harass this president to stop funding that insane project!

    • AAAAAAAAH! Once again we are on “opposite sides of the fence” (You probably would’ve guessed that already) But what can I say that Eric did not say already? Well done.
      However, ( you knew I’d think of something) I will add that as a Southern California resident, teacher, and former welafare worker, I see the drain of ILLEGAL immigration on the economy. Healthcare, education and social services are provided at astronomical costs. In good times, this may be just a matter of not wanting to pay higher taxes, but in a recession it feels like a matter of self preservation. Yes, my family economically sound and will not lose our home if my lay-off comes to pass, but the general idea that the state is broke, and that illegal immigration has contributed to that, (even on a small scale) is a little hard for me to swallow right now.
      Anyway, I hope you are well and I really do hope we see you and Jim again soon.
      Love
      Renee

  6. The whole d— border fence needs to be torn down. Like yesterday. Or at least cut the funding so no more of it is built. To me it’s a symbol of everything this country is NOT.

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