Statement of Purpose and Intent

On March 12th, 2011 I began a 400 mile trek along the Arizona-Mexico border from Agua Prieta to San Luis Rio Colorado, an adventure with a purpose I am calling BorderVenture.

Through BorderVenture I hope to raise awareness of border issues, expose exaggeration of border violence, combat the racial profiling, discrimination, and often outright racism that seems prevalent of late, and to record and recount personal stories of people living near or trying to cross the border. I will record my experiences and stories in this blog, and hope to have them further covered by supportive media, organizations, and other websites and blogs. I plan to aggressively publish my experiences through media outlets, interested groups, the Internet, and through whatever other avenues I am able. I will write tirelessly and advocate my findings to all who will listen, publish, and share them.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Some Reflections

I've obviously had some difficulties and encountered some significant obstacles so far.  I have also had the luxury of being able to bail out when things got rough, I've had the emotional support, advice, and input of many friends, colleagues, and generally experienced people, I have several hundred dollars of sophisticated technology, gear, and clothing, I'm an experienced outdoorsperson, and an athlete with the advantage of countless hours of training.  Yet despite all this, BorderVenture has been extremely challenging and has denied me twice now.  I think this should say something about those that migrate here, or attempt to do so, through the desert. 

The "gear" and clothing they have to complete their journey would be equivalent to someone giving you 20 dollars to go to Walmart and prepare for a 40 to 80 mile, multi-day journey through the Sonoran Desert.  They carry a couple children's school bags, sometimes just grocery bags, and I've even found a brief case in a desert canyon.  Any free hand carries a gallon jug of water.  Many bring canned tuna and other preserved meats.  The more knowledgeable ones bring an electrolyte drink too, often Pedialyte or other similar products.  Most of these people come from towns or cities, many have little experience hiking and surviving in the desert, and a lot of them aren't even necessarily in good shape.  As maybe you've seen from my experiences, it is almost impossible to carry enough water to last you for more than two days in the desert, and a migrant's journey is often much longer than this.  They need to refill their water jugs.  They don't have a fancy $100 water filter or iodine tablets to purify their water, they often end up drinking from cattle tanks and small desert pools- sources that will almost certainly make you sick if untreated. 

And we haven't even addressed the absolutely crushing uncertainty of the journey.  If you have a Coyote (human smuggler) or some other hired guide, you know that there is no way to know whether you will be abandoned in the middle of the desert or taken for all you're worth.  If you don't have a Coyote, you probably don't really know where you're going, and even with their guidance, there's still a great chance that you'll be spotted by Border Patrol, jailed for several months, and deported.  Either way, there is no guarantee that you'll even survive the attempt to cross the border lands, or that you'll ever see your family again.  And there is no bail-out option like I've had the luxury of- the journey is utterly committing, and the desert is starkly uncompromising.  But the risk is worth it, because there is promise of a better wage and a better life for you and your family on the other side. 

These people risk everything in this journey of unfathomable challenges,confronting immense adversity in an incredibly harsh landscape.  What they face goes eternities beyond what words like discomfort, pain, trial, sorrow, and tragedy are intended to describe.  The sheer determination, strength, and fortitude of these people should serve as a testament to the greatness humans are capable of.  Those that complete, or attempt to complete, this journey of Biblical proportions should be welcomed as heroes, for they have demonstrated that which is best in us- altruism, love, willpower, faith, courage, devotion to family, strength in the face of great adversity- the list goes on.  These people would be entrepreneurs, community leaders, pillars of our society.  Instead, when they finally arrive here in the United States, they are forced into a life of poverty, fear, discrimination, racism.  Something is wrong here.