Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Illegal Immigant

We received a lesson today in caring for other human beings, no matter who they are.  Like most of our friends, we don’t care for illegal immigrants and the problems that they have caused in our country or the cost of having them here.  While staying here at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which is just a few miles from Mexico in southern Arizona, we have seen more US Border Patrol than ever before in our lives.

We have also seen the Blue Flags which indicate a water tank with a spigot that was placed by Humane Borders, Inc. to help the illegals if they are in need of water.  It is not to encourage them but to prevent unnecessary deaths.  We have talked to the local Rangers about the problem and were told that if we were to encounter anyone who appeared to be an illegal to let them know right away.

And that is just what happened to us.  We encountered an Illegal alien.  We certainly did not expect it to happen.  I assumed that an illegal would be on the outlook and would not come near us.  So, when it happened I was surprised and more than a bit apprehensive.

We took a tour today of part of the park on the Ajo Mountain Loop, a one way 20 mile dirt road through the park.  We stopped at each marker and enjoyed the views and learned about the ancient people who used to live here and about the geography and the wonderful plant life.

We were at about mile 17 and drove down into a ravine when I spotted someone sitting in the shade of a mesquite tree in the ravine.  Kirby didn’t see him until I yelled for him to stop and look!  There was a Mexican man wearing camos just lying there and asking for a medic.  What a sad and strange feeling to see someone in need and yet be worried for our own well-being.  I had visions of getting out of the truck in order to help him and being accosted by others who were hidden in the brush.  What a world we live in.  Forty years ago, I would have had no qualms about getting out of the truck and then helping him to safety.  But in this day and age, we knew that we could not do that.

Kirby tossed him a water bottle and a hunk of cheese that was left from our lunch and we told him we would get him help.  He indicated that his leg was injured and asked for a medic and for immigration.  It was hard to leave him there as we thought we were pretty much the only ones on the road.  As we left we saw the park tour van going in but it was a one way road and they would be 17 miles and about 2 hours from him.

It took us about 10-15 minutes to return to the Visitor Center at the campground where we went in and reported that we had indeed come across an illegal trying to sneak into the US.  They asked us to write a short report as they called the authorities.  After a few minutes recounting what we saw, we were leaving and saw our friend, Caleb arrive in his National Parks and Forests vehicle.  We had met Caleb, who is in law enforcement for the park, on our first day here on a referral from a friend who is his cousin.  We chatted for a couple of minutes and we told him what we had seen and then he was off to the rescue.

It was now out of our hands but I felt so emotionally engaged to the injured man.  Part of me wanted to cry.  I wanted to know about the person.  I wanted to know about his dream and why he was willing to risk his life to hike through this rugged desert.  Did he really know what he was doing when he crossed the border?  Was it hard on him to leave his family behind?  Were there others with him who helped him to the road and then went on?  So many unanswered questions.

We had to get fuel for our return to Yuma and the closest station was 20 miles north so we left Caleb headed there.  It probably took us about 50 minutes round trip.  When we returned, there in the parking lot of the Visitor Center were about four US Border Patrol cars and 6 or so men in uniform.  And there in the center was our Mexican immigrant.  I saw him standing and stretching as we drove by so I know he is OK.  I also know that he will be returned to Mexico and I wonder if he will try it again.  Is the dream so strong?  Is the risk worth it? 

It was interesting to me how I felt about the whole thing.  He was a person who was injured.  He needed help.  It was humane to help him even though I didn’t approve of what he was attempting to do.  How many each day are successful in entering our country illegally?  I could never work with these people as I know I would become much too emotionally attached to them.

Here are some pictures from our day on the loop.  This place is amazing!
I am very emotionally attached to this man!  Kirby and I have such fun together.

Thousands of years ago there were people living here and growing crops on the plain.

This was one of the larger Organ Pipe Cactus that we have seen.

There are many arches, most of them much smaller than this one. (do you see the little one above).  Bats love living in the many caves too!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Life in the Desert

We have been in Yuma, Arizona for three months now and are almost feeling like locals.  When you move around as often as we did last year three months staying put is a long time.  We have found our favorite grocery stores; we frequent Sam’s Club and we know what stores are at the mall.  We have made friends, been to parties, taken lots and lots of bike rides (there are no hills in Yuma!) and are getting to know the desert.

Our day to day life here is very easy and fun.  I really do love our bike rides.  We go for an hour or so and just wander all around the residential streets.  At first there was very little traffic but now we have noticed that at the height of the winter season, the streets are busy all the time.  I read that Yuma’s population doubles in the winter.  Many visitors come just for a couple of months or so.  January and February are probably the busiest.
Kirby and I enjoy each others company and often will sit around the fire and enjoy the evening together.

We have visited the Flea Markets a few times.  Some places would call them Swap Meets.  Whatever they are called, they are mostly stuff we don’t need but it is fun to go and look.  Last week we found a wonderful produce stand.  Yuma calls itself the winter agricultural center of the US with acres and acres of produce growing in the winter.  So we were pleased to find some reasonably price high quality fresh veggies.  And as a bonus, on the weekends they sell fresh local made tamales!  We picked up half a dozen last weekend and they were great!

And speaking of tamales, a few weeks ago I was able to go to the Somerton Tamale Festival.  Kirby had a cold and didn’t feel up to going so I went with my sister and her husband (who live just down the street).  It was awesome!  If you like tamales, you would be in heaven at this place. There were 40 tamale vender booths.  So – that means to try them all you would have to eat at least 40 tamales!  I tried two or three, found a winner and bought some to bring home.  It is really an event not to be missed if you are in the Yuma area in December.

Remember back when we were in Utah and had that blow-out?  We finally had our repair work completed and don’t have to feel embarrassed by the way we look.  CJ’s in Yuma did a great, efficient job in not much time at all.  We were there about eight in the morning and dropped off our “home”.  Then we spent the day having a great breakfast a Mimi’s CafĂ©, visiting some Yuma parks, walking along the Colorado River and doing some shopping.  Around three we picked up our “home” and went home!  It didn’t even hurt too much.
The Colorado River

Winter seems to be the best season of all for sunrises and sunsets.  I am still in awe the desert sky.  Most days we have pure sunshine but sometimes at sunrise or sunset there are just enough clouds to give a gift of color.  And the stars at night!  Ah!  This has to be the best place of all to spend the winter!