Migrant Trail Walk #8

Saturday 5/30/09

My best night of rest in a week! Thank God for a couch and a swamp cooler. I woke up at 4:30 AM and beat the rush to use the (indoor) bathroom. After hooking up the gear trailer and getting it ready to be loaded by the logistics team, we discovered one of the walk organizers has a bad eye infection/irritation from getting sunscreen and/or dirt under her contacts. We unhook the Porta-Potty trailer so she can be taken to Tucson for proper medical care. Since we can’t be without toilets on the busy Ajo Way highway, we consider switching trailers but the Highlander van arrives just in time to solve the problem.

Mel and I (once again) take the gear trailer to our last (!) campsite and then return to the walk. It seems that each day has gotten hotter than the last although after our cool space last night, maybe it is all relative. We don’t carry a thermometer with us; I think it’d make us feel hotter- if that is possible.

We go ahead at the last water stop to set up the shade canopies and make side walls on them with tarps to screen out the blistering sun. This “campsite” belongs to the Bureau of Land Management – there seems to be little “management” as this site is the least pleasant for the entire week. We are set up by 11AM and the van and porta-potties arrive by 11:20 with the walkers about 10-15 minutes behind them. We are certainly ready for lunch today.

The hot sun beckons one to a siesta time. It feels too hot to exert oneself so we might as well adopt the south-of-the-border tradition. When the Humane Borders water truck arrives, Mark fills all our water containers and still has enough water left to allow some of our walkers to wash their hair.

A much larger group has joined us by suppertime. A group of students and professors from Duke University are in the area for the next two months for a “Duke Engage” program to learn about border/immigration issues. A Witness for Peace group from Portland, OR is here as well. Others who are part of the No More Deaths and Borderlinks have joined us as well. We have a great sing-along with a banjo and 3 or 4 guitars that ends just before our extended quiet time begins at 9PM. The song session closes with “Goodnight Irene” but before that there has been an eclectic combination of new and old songs - labor and marginalized groups getting the lion’s share.

I’m scheduled for the first shift (9-11PM) of night security watch but Tom, ever mindful of wanting his drivers to be fully alert for the next day asks my night watch partner, Dan, if I can leave early to be sure I get enough sleep. He readily agrees and I turn in after the first hour of the shift –leaving him to the swarms of a myriad variety of bugs which have swarmed to our lantern.

I’ve finally connected with a few folk I’ve met before: John Heid, the Christian Peacemaker Team/Catholic Worker I’ve known for years has rejoined us after walking the first day. Sister Lil and Betsy Lamb, two former Prisoners of Conscience from the School of the Americas vigils are also present. The energy is high with all these new (or returning) folk but you can see the difference between them and the 45+ of us who have been together all week – we are the ones saying, “One more day to go!”.

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