i absolutely do not have the energy to recall everything important in detail. brain dump from the past couple weeks follows.
a desert patrol
jimmy mcphearson, our camp coordinator for the week: seventy years old, hikes better than i do. grew up in alabama, demonstrated through the civil rights movement, was in jail with martin luther king jr and thirty years later moved to a state that hesitated to celebrate him, saw the beatles live and michael jordan play at UNC, sanctuary movement leader, “one day, jimmy, there will be a historic event you haven’t been part of.” calls his girlfriend his “partner” like all the progressive mid-twenties people i know and wears shirts with various pictures of wildlife.
blind as a bat, too. we went for a hike and it started raining near-immediately and didn’t stop. we kept missing trails because he can’t see and i have glasses but when it’s raining it’s like driving without windshield wipers and our laminated map got soaked and everything important on it dripped away and we ended up on the wrong side of a lake surrounded by cliffs and i don’t swim and he doesn’t rock-climb so we just kept trying to get around it, wondering how the heck we got there in the first place.
it was really miserable, we were four miles away where we were supposed to be half an hour before our pick-up time and our phone was almost dead and my boots were squish-squishing as i stomped in circles, probably, cursing the GPS. it worked out though. panicked text messages saved us. the roads were ridiculous and we fish-tailed all the way home, despite four-wheel drive.
another desert patrol
this one was with two people from the bay area (do people from the bay area every stop talking about how they’re from the bay area and berklee and communal living? holy shit) who had really expensive hiking boots and rain jackets and backpacks. we led them to waypoint 00000. there is a shrine there for a salvadoran girl whose body was found by a no more deaths volunteer. people who come always get all sad and say it’s a moving experience and a centralizing experience and a life-orienting experience to be exactly right there, exactly where this girl died.
i’m not really into tokenism. when i walk, i wonder what people that weren’t 14-year-old girls died or almost died or wish they had died in less dramatic spots than a wash, feet in a puddle of water. when i’m in the city, i am never far from the desert or the village or the sweatshop where people are laboring so hard just to get by. i guess i’m not a visual person. it confuses and frustrates me when people are more affected by things they can see, because that means they are less affected by things they cannot or don’t or choose not to.
it started monsooning mid-patrol and the wash filled up really fast. we walked through it to get there and we had to scale the slippery walls to get out. the shrine is cemented down. i guess sometimes it’s underwater.
deathly as the desert may be, i do love being living existing outside all the time and seeing all sorts of wildlife. I’ve seen two kit foxes! And a GILA MONSTER:
I only caught the tail end of it (pun intended) on camera, but I watched it lurching around for a while before I discovered it was camera shy.
I also got a love-bite from one of these:
Giant Sonoran Centipede.
I cannot imagine a scarier bug. SRSLY. This thing crawled all over my neck and shoulder while I was sleeping on a rock and I thought, “hm, maybe it’s a bee. Oh, it’s big. Maybe it’s a lizard. Oh, ouch, that kind of stings.” So I had someone inspect me cause I didn’t want to move in case I scared it into stinging me more and the person who was supposed to be our non-panicking-in-emergencies-medical-expert looked at me, eyes got wide and SCREAMED and ran away yelling something about a giant centipede. Way to not escalate the situation, appointed medical person. Naturally, I also screamed and luckily it fell off and scurried away instead of latching onto me and injecting it’s poison. I have never, ever, EVER panicked so much over something that much smaller than me. It didn’t occur to me to take a picture. I got this one from the internet.
THIS picture, though, I took myself:
As you all know by now, I absolutely hate flies. This mantis, hunting and chomping away on a cooler, picking them off like, well, flies, is my new best friend:
it’s amazing what you can do with a four-year-old point and shoot, innit?
when the moon is full, more people cross. this past week, we’ve had a steady stream of people wander into camp in various conditions. Miguel was with a group of 52 (52!!) when a border patrol helicopter flew close to the ground, scattering their group. this happens very often. it is done on purpose. the scattering of groups hopefully leads to apprehension, but also leads to small groups of people without guides getting lost in that place where everything even the trees are spiky and riverbeds home to ten different kinds of rattlesnake are the most welcoming bed there is. He had been living in Sacramento eight years.
Two guys came in, I forget their names, there are so many names, interrupted our dinner, said they were with a group of fifteen or so, and could they have some dry shoes and socks, womens size seven, a few sweaters, maybe some tortillas and childrens stomach medicine? They didn’t have time to talk or eat because they had to get back before people started to worry.
Gilberto limped in with another guy and a kid, couldn’t have been more than twelve or thirteen. Their group of 25 got heliscattered and mostly-caught, too. They were lost and cold and wet. It has been raining every day. Monsoons in the desert make blustery nights for people who sleep in cars and experience the rattling of drops on the roof and blistery feet for those who walk through the night. Ernesto already had bad knees before he tripped down a steep path. We didn’t have any knee wraps left.
I need a break from this but there are no breaks. I came into town even though I was only fluent spanish speaker at camp. I’m only back for two days. I know I should spend them resting, but this is my vacation. Regardless of the fact that it will inevitably be a long, hot day, I am always inspired by people who care enough to show their support.