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Javi’s Story. The Crossing

I run & raise my hands to keep the thorns from my face. Texas has lots of thorns!

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Prayer for immigrants by Pope Francis at Rio Grande River, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico-El Paso, Texas border, February 16, 2016. Screen grab from television broadcast.

Prayer for the immigrants by Pope Francis at Rio Grande River, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico-El Paso, Texas border, February 16, 2016. Screen grab from television broadcast.

Friday, November 9, 2012

About 5:00 AM, the coyote tells us to be ready because the area is clean. Two hours later, we get into two vans filled with 20 people each. It took us twenty minutes to get to the river. Some neumaticos (boats made of old tires) are waiting for us.

The river’s shore is cold and dark. The Rio Grande here near Reynosa, Mexico is as wide as a half of a soccer field. I am in the first group of the people to cross the river.

When we are almost to the United State shore, the police appear, but they don’t see us. However, we have to return to the other side to try again later.

In a couple of minutes, two helicopters with cops fly over us, so we get down from the neumatico and hide in big bushy trees. We stay in this place because we are waiting for the police to leave the area, but they aren’t going.

So, we are going to sleep here. The sky is dark, and I think it is going to rain. With alarm, I wonder if the river will rise to where we are stopped.

I did not eat anything today and am hungry. I try some red fruits growing around us. They are bitter, but I eat them anyway.

Oh no, the rain is beginning! God help me this night. It rained all night.

Lined by cacti and patroled by police, Rio Grande River looms as a forbidding crossing to Javi. Photo: Tony Carnes/A Journey through NYC religions

Lined by cacti and patrolled by police, Rio Grande River looms as a forbidding crossing to Javi. Photo: Tony Carnes/A Journey through NYC religions

 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

At 5:00 AM, the coyote awakes us to try to cross the river again. I am very wet. I get into the boat, and we cross most of the wide river. Then, ten feet from the shore, a piece of driftwood punctures el neumatico! The boat sinks, but the coyote takes my hand to help me to the shore.

I cannot believe it! I am on United States soil!

Smuggler boat laying in wait under trees in Mexico near Rio Grande River. Javi used an used tire raft to come across. Photo: Tony Carnes/A Journey through NYC religions

Smuggler boat laying under trees in Mexico near Rio Grande River. Javi's used tire raft collapsed on the way over to the United States. Photo: Tony Carnes/A Journey through NYC religions

 

I am waiting for everybody else, and then, we hear the siren of a patrol. We start to run. I run into a field filled with thorny trees. The thorns are one or two inches long, but I am wearing a jacket. While I am running, I raise my hands to keep the thorns from my face. I run with the others for almost 40 minutes, because I think that if I stop I will get lost in the middle of those sharp trees. Texas has lots of thorns!

Sun goes down, thorns wait for Javi at night on Texas border with Mexico. Photo: Tony Carnes/A Journey through NYC religions

Sun goes down, thorns await for Javi at night on Texas border with Mexico. Photo: Tony Carnes/A Journey through NYC religions

Finally, I and the others arrive at a highway where a truck is going to pick us up. I take the time waiting for the truck to extract the thorns out of my clothes. Then, the truck arrives.

When the truck arrives, we very quickly get in. Ten men including the driver get in the front, and in the back there are twelve more men laying down so the police cannot see them. I am hiding on the floor where the gas pedals are. I do not how the 22 people fit into this car.

We travel like this for about 40 minutes. The sun is hot and the car’s windows are closed. Everybody is crouching on top of each other, because if the police see a car with so many people they would stop us. The heat is choking me so that I can hardly breathe. I start crying because  I think that if the journey in the car lasts ten minutes more I will asphyxiate.  But finally, we arrived to another bodega.

I have passed seven days here with 60 other people, but at least this is an American house. It is  a big house owned by the Gulf Drug Cartel, with big bedrooms and curtains, carpet and a clean bathroom, and a washing machine so I can wash my clothes!

I am very tired and prepare for sleep. It is my first day in McAllen, Texas.

 

Next: what happens when we face “The Bug,” called El Mosco.

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