Sandra and Jose came to America by way of the desert crossing that divided Northern Mexico to the United States. The risks they faced were many. They knew of the many stories of immigrants who crossed this devil’s road who died of thirst, or heat stroke, or just plain exhaustion, but the drive to be free, to live in a land of plenty, to be re-united to their families on the other side who already made it and were awaiting their arrival. This is the story of a few, the proud, the next generation of Mexican American who loved the idea of living in America so much they were living to risk death to get there, and what they faced, when they finally got to the other side, to the land of the free, the land of plenty, the land of liberty and equality.
Andy and his wife Jean lived in Dallas, Texas, and were driving ON DOWN THE ROAD, and saw a sign that the old businesses at the local shopping center were changing hands with a rather large Hispanic grocery store chain, called Terry’s Market Place. It was going to be an entirely Mexican ran and owned establishment, and on the corner, where what once used to be a familiar five and dime, Mott’s, would soon be replaced with a Mexican pool hall and bar. There once was a Fast Photo fast developing structure at the end of that shopping center, that is now replaced by the Taqueria Restaurant.
The local corner drug store called, E.K.Card Drug, moved away from it’s familiar corner of the shopping center where Terry’s Market Place now existed, and across the street, where Capital’s Barbecue, and Fine Cuts Barber Shop and Al Kramer’s Auto all once stood since before the ’60s, moved across the street where all these other long lived establishments were and leveled that entire block and created a new E.K.Card Drug , and a new Maybe Bank of the Metro-Plex relocated and replacing it’s older version that once stood on the corner of Hemp hill road and Well Annoys Avenue. Across the street what used to be called the Hemp hill – Well Annoys Shopping Center was what Andy referred to as Crap Hill Sick noise Mexican parking lot of Texas. Andy hated the Mexicans running off the whites and taking over. They were taking over most of what once was his stomping grounds.
Now, due to poverty and his own mental depression, Andy hardly went out on walks what with all the drunk drivers throwing beer bottles all over the streets, and the many huge stray dogs all over the place, the only place or places he and his wife Jean went to, in their cars were the Chunkanville and Tarlington areas to shop in a Sim’s Club and the Elliot & son’s super markets, the Moon Beams coffee shops and the many libraries, especially the central library, a 150 story structure that housed a copy of every book known to man, and the tallest structure on the planet. Andy was also fond of it’s 30 level underground parking garage, and what kept it from falling into the earth was beyond his comprehension. It was hard to get a parking place on L2, or even L7, unless you had a placard. And Andy and Jean did. So L2 at 11:AM Sundays was where they were practically every week of the year. That’s 52 visits a year to the central library.
Jose saw that his wife Sandra was getting tired and he had 2 gallon size containers of water and several pounds of dried fruit and nuts. They would have to stop for the night. Tomorrow, they had a 20 mile journey across Hell’s Point, a desert and early morning would start at a temperature not less than 80 degrees and would peek at a temperature around 100 plus degrees. They both had bandanas and scarfs and a big hat to protect them against much of the sun. He even had the chance to get them each a pair of sun glasses to make looking out across the desert more tolerable.
But, nothing had prepared them for the real pain and torture of the sun and the sand and the nearly 50 miles they had already walked, and even though the last leg of the journey would end just beyond the other side of Hell’s Point, it would prove the most challenging part of their journey and the most dangerous experience in their lives thus far. The sun finally set down and the winds began to shift. When the stars came into view and the two of them lay on their backs about to sleep for what would only be a 3 hour sleep, the perfect calm of a starry night seemed almost too much to believe.
Jose told his wife he loved her and that they would make it and that after midnight, when they began once more to walk towards their final destination, they would be leaving a world of poverty and one of corruption and hopelessness and enter a land where future held promise for his wife and their child on the way. As he stroked Sandra’s face and kissed her, they laid down to sleep and did not wake up until the next sunrise. This was not what Jose had planned. This would mean that they would be half way across the desert when the sun was at it’s highest point and the temperature would be almost unbearable.
The walk over the second 10 miles on foot, across this land of God’s forsaken might be too dangerous for them both. Jose woke up his wife and she realized what had happened. The only thing we have in our favor, she thought, was having had a good night sleep so she thought the extra energy they both needed to get across the desert would enable them to succeed in getting across it.
Or would the heat be too much?
There were some clouds in the morning sky, but they often would be gone in just a few hours. It wasn’t possible to determine ahead of time whether clouds would stay and grow darker or blow over and disappear in just a few hours, but that would play a crucial role in the temperature over the desolate grounds they now were walking upon, taking them both to whatever fate God would allow.
There was plenty of evidence of past failures, abandoned possessions, even the bones of animals that were probably pets of others venturing to the land of the free.
As the sun began to rise higher in the sky like an eternal torch that represented both the giver and the taker of life they had made progress.
Once more they both paused to have a little drink of water, tepid to the point of almost nauseating. “I know we can make it Sandra. If others have made it in the past then we too should be able to make it as well.” Sandra just smiled for a moment at Jose and continued to walk forward into what seemed to be an endless nothingness, a place on Earth that seemed uninhabitable.
The clouds above were holding and darkening. This, thought Jose, was a good sign, for at least there was some likelihood the sun’s heat might be blocked by them.
An occasional buzzard flew overhead to find what ever fresh dead animal remains might be nearby. That thought haunted Jose the most. He grew angry as he so realized the bird was completely adapted to this harsh environment and the in that respect was superior to man under these stark circumstances.
They were way beyond the point of no return. Jose figured his wife might loose the baby if she were to become too weak from all of this harsh exposure. He prayed to God for strength as they marched forward, blindly, into the desert with only one thought in mind, arriving at their destination, alive.