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.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Well, I'm done running along the Arizona-Mexico border (for now at least).  As you may have noticed, I skipped a big section at the end here.  The reasons were many, and I don't feel the need to explain myself necessarily, but mostly I just didn't want to run along a somewhat busy, shoulder-less highway through the desert alone for another 3 or 4 days.  This is regrettable in a sense, but I feel that through BorderVenture I have accomplished what I set out to do- create some attention around border issues, gain personal insight, and to learn- without abusing myself for another three days (on a highway).

I walked and ran for about 10 miles down Highway 2 in Mexico west of Sonoyta before I decided to go back to Sonoyta and catch a bus to San Luis.  I finished the border run by running from San Luis to Yuma, AZ yesterday, approximately 26 miles all said and done.  I waited in a line for over an hour to cross the border into the U.S., surrounded by people crossing to go to work, some to school, some just for a day trip.  Apparently if you are in a vehicle, and depending on the time of day, you often wait in line for two hours to cross back into Arizona because of the much more strict inspection policies in place now.  It was a beautiful day, and by beautiful in Yuma I mean that there were storm clouds in the sky (and I even felt a few drops of rain!).  I'm not keen on road running (as you might surmise from the previous paragraph) but the familiarity of everything made the road, the vehicles, the houses, the stores, the sprawl, the hyperconsumerism all very welcome sights.  I kept my mind busy for a while practicing rolling my "rr's", which I'm apparently still awful at, with the familiar phrase "el burro sabe mas que tu," and the perhaps less familiar but classic, "mi perro tiene cajones grandes".  Despite some rather severe tightness and discomfort in my hips and pain in my feet, I found myself running with anything from a half-grin to a full-on stupid, giddy smile. 

Twice I laughed aloud extensively.  The first was upon seeing a Sonic, thinking about ordering a Cherry-Limeade to go, picturing myself stopping at every fast food place I saw the rest of the way into Yuma, and then laughing uncontrollable at myself and how ridiculous it was that the sight of a fast food restaurant made me so happy.   The second was just after I almost face-planted from tripping on my own shoelace (the sweet irony it would have been to sustain my most serious injury of the trip running on a sidewalk...) and I knelt down to retie my shoe in the grassy front lawn of an apartment complex.  It was so gloriously green, soft, forgiving, and familiar.  I had the impulse to take my shoes and socks completely off and just prance about for a while, but out of the want to just reach my destination I resisted and settled for a transition from kneeling and tying my shoe into a slow crawl on my hands and knees, kneading the grass with my fingers and laughing the whole way.  I can almost guarantee that YOU, the reader, right now, are taking grassy lawns for granted.  When you go outside next, appreciate that next grassy lawn you come upon for all of its luxuriousness. 

That's all to say that one of the things I've become most brutally aware of is how easy, comfortable, and complacent our lives are.  And how much we truly take for granted as we float along in our little boxes, mostly unaware and uncaring of what goes on outside of our daily lives.  Generally speaking, we rarely have to make difficult choices (real choices, I'm not talking about whether you should buy a new or used car, or whether you'll order a cappuccino or a latte), we are rarely faced with anything more than mild discomfort in our daily lives, and we can live pretty damn comfortably with even the most modest of wages. 

I have a lot to write about from BorderVenture- I've hardly talked about any of the experiences and the people I've met along the way, and I've done that somewhat intentionally.  And I'm going to continue to write about border issues, current events, etc long after I run out of things to say about the BorderVenture itself.  BorderVenture was my "grand gesture", my action, to draw attention to the issues, and in that I would say that it has been marginally successful so far.  I want to reach a bigger audience, and I will continue to work hard to do so.  And I plan to continue to use "adventures" as learning experiences and to draw attention to the issues.  I'm considering biking the 100 or so miles I skipped between San Luis and Sonoyta.  I'm also considering hiking the "Devil's Highway", an immigration corridor  that goes North between these two cities that is heavily used and notoriously deadly, in order to directly recount what an immigrant would experience when doing this.  Maybe try to do it on an immigrant's budget too.  Just a couple things I'm considering for now.  First I have to recover my car from Sasabe which will involve a somewhat extensive series of buses and shuttle vans through Northern Mexico.  I'll then drive back through Mexico starting in Nogales and ending once more in San Luis in order to thank those who helped me along the way, to recover some of the stashes I skipped (and ensure those I left them with that the Gringo Loco didn't die on the way), and then go home to Flagstaff.  This might take a couple days...  Hasta pronto!

Many thanks for your support, comments, advice, insights, criticism, and continued interest.  I hope that you'll continue reading-- even if it is less interesting now that my life is not in immediate peril (haha...)