Thursday, December 27, 2012

Going to Nogales

Tucson/Nogales Trip - 5 days ahead

"Don't go across by yourself," says Louise.  "You could get kidnapped.  Sold into sex slavery."

I didn't think going to Nogales was such a big deal.  After all, I've been to India, Paraguay, and the neighborhood in Los Angeles near Florence and Normandie where the 1992 riots started.

But Louise tells me that Arlynne's co-worker's brother was kidnapped from Nogales and forced to work for a drug cartel.  Two years later his body was dumped on the front lawn of his house.

She puts me in touch with friends from Green Valley -Sahuarita Samaritans, Mike Casey and Shura Wallin. 

Mike plugs me into a 6-day a week search schedule, where teams of four volunteers drive around back roads near the border to offer water, food, and medical aid to people trying to cross the Sonoran Desert into the US.

Shura conducts a weekly trip to Nogales to introduce people to El Comedor, the place where newly deported people can eat and figure out where to do from there.  It's run by nuns and Jesuits.  I will miss the trip, always on Tuesdays, but she offers to take me on Thursday. 

I wonder why she's willing to make an extra trip for one stray tourist, but I accept gratefully. 

My usual pattern of traveling first, then learning about the area after I arrive, has been made worse in this case by the Christmas rush and by a case of bronchitis that veered close to pneumonia, but I hope that by next Tuesday I can drive to Tucson.

Finally getting on the internet, I learn that the major groups helping immigrants are:

No More Deaths


Tucson Samaritans and Green Valley/Sahuarita Samaritans

It turns out I should have been making reservations for these border trips 2-3 months ago.  It's like taking a trek in the Himalayas or getting a campsite and hike into the Grand Canyon.  You don't just show up and do it yourself--you reserve to go with a group way ahead of time.

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