Since I knew I was going to travel to Tijuana, I immediately realized that it was going to be a not so easy adventure because for a long time I had been thinking on what would it feel to be standing against the border.I could not imagine being so close and looking at another country which happened to be my home for almost the first 16 years of my life; it was scary to imagine it.
I arrived to Tijuana International Airport on Wednesday just a minute before mid night; an incredible host-friend was waiting for me. That night as we drove along the border, I was super tire that I did not even realize that we were driving along the wall. I was going to be part of a conference that was going to take place the next day at Colegio de la Frontera Norte, so as soon as we arrived to his house we went off to bed.
The next day I spent all day at the conference which was about post elections. I have to admit that I had very low expectations of this conference but to my surprise it came pretty great, everybody in the panels knew exactly all that was going on and had been going since many years with the border and the deportations.
After the conference all I did was eat dinner and off to bed for the next day. On Friday morning, I was part of a rally that ODA helped organize with Robert Vivar and other organizations. It was a good experience to be at the San Ysidro crossing area to hold signs and inform drivers about the situation that as deportees/returnees we live on this side. After this event I was part of another conference again in Colegio de la Frontera Norte. This conference was actually pretty great to since I had the opportunity besides moderating an interesting panel to meet a group of young activist people from The University of San Diego. It was a nice feeling to hear their stories and how they perceive the entire issue that has been going on for years with immigrants.
Once the conference was over, some great friends and I went to dinner but this was the first time I was going to walk along Playas de Tijuana. As I started walking I got lost in the beauty and a lot of you know that I am obsessed with the SEA, so as I immediately saw the sun setting down I was astonished with it, my mind flew away until the moment I turned to my right and there it was; the moment I had been preparing for months and years. The MURO was there, going thru the sea and making a division on it.
Tears started draining down my face; I could not believe I was standing there in front of it. I immediately thought of my mother when she crossed it carrying me at age 2, I thought on the millions of people that have crossed it for year, that have died, I thought on the many tears, hopes, sweat and fear that people experienced as they crossed it. I thought about my family and all the families that are NOW separated by this militarized border. I thought of the divisions and pain this wall causes to humanity. As I approached it, I went up and touched it, I put my face in between the bars and was able to see on the other side, knowing that it was my other home; I was behind bars, looking up at the sky and the sea which was the same one from this side too. It seemed too lonely, the waves on that side did not come up roaring, the birds did not seem to fly and there was no air and only silence. I never thought it would have affected me this way.
The next day on Saturday I woke up very early and went walking along the sea shore and ended at the wall again, but this time I was on my own. This time I was determine to be against the bars, and as I was watching border patrols drink coffee and just standing there, suddenly a really strong energy empowered me to keep fighting so this wall can go down one day. The anger of being on one side and seeing my other home but not being able to just cross it was a feeling of anger, that I like to transform in empowerment and more commitment.
That same day I went out to dinner, and to disconnect from my tight agenda. I had a great time with some great friends who besides laughing, drinking and spending a good time they took me around the Centro Historico, the border but from another angle and to the Zona Norte. As I grew up I knew about the Zona Norte and as many people this particular area of Tijuana is known as a dangerous place where a lot of the women that are kidnapped get taken to prostitute etc. As we walked thru those streets, I was able to live and feel the energies. There is a lot of diversity among the Centro Historico. ( I will write more on a specific place I really loved.)
On Sunday, which was my last day in Tijuana I was able to go to the Bi national service that takes place every week at Friendship Park, families go for a couple of hours to meet and talk thru the wall. Families from all over The United States and Mexico travel to this place just to have the opportunity to see their relatives and pinky touch feel each other. As I observed I would see a lot of the family laughing, talking, having a great time and others were quite, talking in a very low voice, others I could tell they were crying. It is the most dehumanizing thing I could feel at that moment.
I have to admit that I learned a lot from all the experiences and it has helped me to be able to see this militarized border so I can be even more committed and empowered to keep doing what I am doing in collaboration with a lot of others.
The image of the wall and those families leaning against the wall from both side will stay with me in the difficult moments as a reminder of why and what I am fighting for despite all the difficulties.