Saturday, July 5, 2008

Week 4 - Raquel

Arivaca, Arizona. The epitome of smalltown, southwestern America. Population of about 1,000 people and probably twice as many livestock. Also my home for this past weekend of July 4-6.

My weekend in Arivaca began with a bang. Literally, as a fireworks show was part of our Fourth of July evening on one of town’s many ranches. Our DukeEngage group had traveled out to Arivaca in order to volunteer with the No More Deaths camp and drop Lucy off. Our invitation to a Fourth of July barbeque was a great surprise as it allowed for something familiar in the midst of the newness of this rural desert town. While I was unsure of what exactly to expect at a barbeque in the middle of ranch country, as I’m a vegetarian, I assumed that I’d consume a lot of mayonaise covered side dishes. As I waited in line for food, I surveyed my surroundings. They were far from what I expected of the desert. There were grassy plains surrounded by fences crafted from an array of materials. This was a far cry from the dry sun scorched wasteland I expected to see. As the line moved forward the available fare soon came into view. Just as I had conjectured there was an assortment of pasta and potato salads but there was also fruit and festive Fourth of July cupcakes. I filled my plate and then found a seat on the stone wall dividing the ranchowner’s sideyard from the horse pastures. The views from my perch on the wall were amazing and from my position I watched as the sky exploded with the vivid colors of sunset.

My views of the sky became increasingly more breathtaking as the fireworks show of the evening began. As fireworks exploded into the evening sky, the ranchowners horses began to stampede, due to the sensory overload caused by the fireworks. The view of the stampeding horses and fireworks was incredibly majestic and a great way for me to end my first evening in Arivaca.

During my second day at the No More Deaths camp, I went out with the group’s morning patrol in the desert. A desert patrol can include many different tasks but in my group’s case our goal was to carry water to a couple of No More Deaths many water drop points. I was incredibly nervous as we prepared to head out for our hike. I had no hiking experience up to that point and I was certain that hiking in the desert would be extremely taxing. As I walked along the unfriendly desert trails the weight of my backpack along with the two gallons of water made my shoulders burn intensely. I really wanted to leave one of my water jugs along the trail which we traveled on rather than carrying it to the final drop off point. It began to feel as though every pore on my body was releasing droplets of sweat which in turn became a network of rivulets streaming out of my skin and subsequently being trapped in the cloth of my shirt. After what felt like miles of this process of lugging water, sweating and rehydrating I saw a blue bin up ahead and given this encouragmant, began to increase my lagging stride. By the time we reached the bin in which we could leave our water, I was slightly out of breath and I worried about whether or not I would be able to continue this difficult work in the hours before we returned to camp.

As it would turn out I was able to succesfully complete the physically challenging task of dropping of water for the migrants. During our last couple of hikes I thought about the relatively coddled conditions which I trekked through the desert and contrasted that with that of the migrants who followed many of the same trails. The experience trully left me in wonder about the inner strength which is evidenced by the migrants who make intensely difficult and long treks through the desert.

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