Hannah meets the desert

Hannah was shocked today. The desert was alive and green. August is monsoon season and the flowers, the thick clouds and the fire ants were all out in force. I know enough about the AZ desert to know that it is not just sand and camels – but I was not prepared for all the greenery, the thickets of mesquite trees.

First we went to the border. It isn’t much. A station, some wire, guards behind glass. But on all sides it is surrounded by the wide open spaces. From there we went to walk a trail that migrants take crossing el frontero. The path is rocky, uneven and prickly. Our hiking crew was led by Ed, followed by Debbi, me, and my 84 year old aunt Sophie and Uncle Bill.

I mention my aunt and uncle’s ages here because someone would have to tell you or you wouldn’t believe it. They celebrate every day with new learning and experiences and are my heros. Ed led us on a hike along a trail through a wild life preserve and pathway to the US from the border. The border guards are evident in broncos and hummers. They patrol on horses and leave ATV tracks skidding through the washes. I felt like a criminal just walking in a national park.

Every story has two sides, of course. The migrants come here looking for a better life, as migrants have moved for all of history. But today they leave behind mounds of plastic trash, old clothes and backpacks. The litter is overwhelming, dumped on public lands and the lands of ranchers who feel overwhelmed and threatened by the increased foot traffic.

From there we went to a No More Death outpost and met the friendly, dedicated crew manning the station where I collected images and stories. Their mission is to provide relief to migrants in crisis.

Lastly, we visited with two of Debbi’s artist colleagues who are working on a sculpture installation that is magnificent. No pictures of that as it has yet to be unveiled, but see the picture of some of the haunting, incredibly detailed dolls my Debbi made to honor those who have died in the desert.

I am too tired tonight to continue writing, but I have pages filled with notes. Hannah had a big day today.

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