Translated by Fulano from an article in El Mexicano.
TIJUANA – Leaving behind their two little daughters and with many dreams in tow, César and his wife, Araceli, left their home in Chalco, Mexico State, to go to Tijuana where they would find a “coyote” to take them to California.
The goal was simple: cross into the United States, get work, stabilize and then look for a way to bring their two daughters, four and five years old. With luck, they could get a work permit.
That is what they had imagined, but the journey for which César Leonardez Hernández and Araceli Morales Santos paid 30,000 pesos (US$2,100), which they had borrowed, did not have a happy ending.
Upon arriving at the Central Bus Station in Tijuana, César talked with a “coyote,” who told him he could not pick them up, but he was going to send a “relative.”
After a wait, a person approached them. He told them to get into a pick-up to be taken to the United States. The agreement was that they were going to cross at the border station, “we did not have to cross over the hills, it was going to be at the border.”
The trip was several hours. The couple remained calm, as their cousin had made a deal with the “coyote” for the place and time when they would meet him.
The pick-up stopped, it was around 1AM. They were told they had arrived, that they were in the United States and that their cousin would be told to come get them when the sun came up.
They took their few belongings from the pick-up and the “coyote” left at high speed.
Uncertainty overcame them, and so they decided to ask a person they found on the road where they were.
“In the town of San Vicente, in Ensenada,” was the response, “is that in Mexico?,” they asked with dismay. When they heard a yes, their plans were dashed, collapsed.
“It is the feeling of impotence, to want to scream, to do something,” said César with a tone of resignation.
“We could do nothing, we were left penniless, without even telephone numbers, with nothing.”
Araceli recollected that they had to walk to Ensenada and from there to Tijuana. Sometimes on the road they found people who gave the a “ride,” water and tortillas, but their pilgrimage appeared to be endless.
“We walked for a day and a half, with no food, with nothing, we had to walk, and walked at night,” said César, and so they huddled on some hill.
The temperature dropped a lot at night and early morning hours. While Araceli slept, César kept a watch. He was afraid they would again be crime victims.
The failed American dream
After long hours of walking and walking, they returned again to Tijuana. They went directly to the Central Bus Station, although with no money to take a bus home.
They stayed there for four days, as if they were passengers, sitting on the benches, thinking of what to do, of whom to turn to.
While there they saw people with bags from the Municipal Department of Family Services, so they approached them and asked how they could get help.
It was in this way that they contacted personnel from the Mejora Programa, of the municipal government, to whom the told their sad story.
The person responsible for Mejora Programa, Rosario Lozada Romero, made the effort to get the young couple bus tickets, and last night they started their trip home.
Lozada Romero said that both of them were in deteriorating condition, as they slept in the hills, walked for long hours and had not eaten enough.
They were taken to a shelter, given clean clothing, food for the trip, and they were accompanied until the end of their episode, with a warning to spread the information among their relatives and friends that “the American dream no longer exists.”
In fact, after what César, 27 and Araclei, 20, have gone through, they swore that they have no thoughts to try that again.
In spite of their bitter experience, they recognized the solidarity of the people they found along the way, who showed compassion for their situation and gave them a glass of water.
César’s objective is to recover from this bitter pill and work to pay back the 30,000 pesos they gave to the “coyote.”
César, who is a construction worker, now values what he had in own land, “it’s better there, more or less.”
According to his itinerary, late Thursday afternoon they will be at home and the nightmare will be over.