Tag Archives: New Mexico

We have a visual

Day one was pretty uneventful in the van. Nico and John drove to Raton, New Mexico which was 12 hours from Omaha. Almost the whole time all my fellow classmates were sleeping except for Matthew. We had a blast dancing and having a good time with John and Nico. It seemed like we had to stop every hour for someone to use the restroom so it seemed like we were on the road forever.

The landscape was pretty barren but it was cool seeing the difference from Nebraska to Raton. On day two I was in Carol’s car which was a treat. I found out that she has some pretty decent moves. Besides our High School Musical dance party there was a lot of sleeping but I really enjoyed the scenery. I was very surprised about how green it is here in Nogales. We passed some really quaint little towns and also had a really good lunch at a authentic Mexican restaurant.

Hatch, Arizona
Hatch, Arizona

When we were driving into Nogales I couldn’t help but stare out the window. I am not quite sure what I was feeling inside. I do not think I was sad or happy but the realization that we are finally here and about to start this amazing documentary had me speechless.

It is currently 5 AM Monday morning as I am writing this and we have a busy day planned ahead. At 8 AM we are already off to Mexico to visit a women’s shelter and to get a feel for that side of the border. Then in the afternoon we have a presentation from our main contact down here and we are also interviewing her later in the day. I am beyond excited that we are finally here.  As we constantly say on our walkie-talkies, “eagle one to eagle two… we have a visual.”

The Long and Winding Road

37 hours and 1,450 miles later, we’ve finally reached our destination in Nogales, Arizona. We’ve bunkered down in a guest house 15 minutes away from the border, where we’ll be staying for the next two weeks. Most of us, if not all of us, are pretty tired from our two-day long pilgrimage, and I can imagine we’ll all sleep well tonight. But despite the exhaustion, this has already been a great trip so far, and I’m looking forward to what else the rest of this journey has to offer.

Our car rides have been filled with friendly conversations of trying to get to know each other, singing and jamming out to different kinds of tunes, starring out the window to appreciate the constantly changing scenery, and many spread out moments of quiet nap time. Though, to be honest, gazing out the window and taking long dispersed naps is what took up most of my time. And everyone else’s, for the most part.

Several Backpack group members sitting on the wall behind our guest house in Nogales, Arizona
Several Backpack group members sitting on the wall behind our guest house in Nogales, Arizona

But it’s been great getting to know everyone that I’lll be around during this trip and making new friends. I know everyone here will be an amazing part of this trip and contribute so much to the final product of our documentary, whether it be through filming, interviewing, editing, etc. Even within the first few days of boot camp, everyone was able to show where their niche was and what they’re best at, so that will all easily translate into all the hard work we’ll be putting into this film.

As we drove through the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona, I began to think about the people who risk their lives just to make it to the United States. Many of these people walk hundreds of miles through hot, dry weather just to find a better life, no matter how long that will take them. Seeing and experiencing the hot desert landscapes of these southern states gave me a little bit of insight into what some of these migrants go through, but I know I will not be able to fully understand everything they have to go through. It will be quite the learning experience to get some perspective from the people we’ll be interviewing over the next couple of weeks.

Tomorrow we’ll already be traveling across the border to take a look around Nogales, Mexico and see where we’ll be going around during this trip, and will already be conducting our first interview. I’m more than excited to begin this learning experience, and can’t wait to do it with all the people I’ve gained as friends the past week.

Auto-Communing with Nature

There is this real contradiction on road trips.

I have felt incredibly close to the terrain while driving from Nebraska to Nogales:
I feel like I have seen Colorado and the mountains, that I could describe in great detail my surroundings when driving through Nebraska, and I honestly felt closer to nature when crossing into New Mexico than I have in a long time.

However, I only left the van to buy food or use the restroom. I was not in nature and really could only guess what my surroundings felt, smelt, and sounded like.

In fact, I am appreciating this refreshing terrain from a vehicle that is harming the exact environment I am in awe of. Continuing on this I am taking highways that sever this environment for effiencency.

In almost direct contrast to this I am simultaneously having historical pity for anyone who “went west” without a car, air conditioning, and roads.

This internal conflict is not necessarily a problem that needs a cohesive solution. Instead, it is simply something that I need to be aware of. That driving in a car is not a substitute for actually being somewhere. I saw a place for a split second as we sped by and that is it.

However, even after this realization that I have not been one with nature I do feel some sort of Jack Kerouac like communion with the road. This is what has been so special about this two day pilgrimage. When in a car there is no escape from the distance traveled. That two days ago we were really far away from where we are now both physically and in mental preparedness.

In a van\car, there is no escape from the reality that you are moving. I have found myself thinking instead of moving southwest, that we are moving forward. Forward to our new destination where the anticipation ends and the real work begins.

This truly plays into why I have felt so connected with the terrain. The terrain is a visual reminder that we are moving past the flat Nebraska corn fields, through the first glimpses of mountains in Colorado, to the dry environment of the southern United States. This adds to this concept of forward movement and pilgrimage. That we are giving ourself time during our travels to accept the distance driven and the experiences we will have within the next couple weeks. This road trip has been a meditation of sorts just being and watching in the car as we travel to Nogales and start our work.

Driving in the Van to Nogales

Halfway there

I’m looking forward to a lot of things on this trip that will take place over the next two weeks. We’ve learned an amazing amount of things in the classroom this past week, and I’m ready to put everything that we have learned into practice to make this documentary.  We’ve all had some great people, I.e. Nico Sandi, Carol Zuegner, an Dr. John O’Keefe, leading us in this journey and helping us learn everything we need to know.

After a long day of traveling, I can guess that most of us are already pretty tired from having to sit in two 12 passenger vans for 11 hours all day. With another 11 hours to go tomorrow, we’ll probably be just as tired once we reach our destination! But it will be more than worth it once we get to start working on the film and get to hear the stories of those we’ll be interviewing, More to come once we finally make it to Arizona!

Relaxing in our room in New Mexico after a long day of traveling
Relaxing in our room in New Mexico after being on the road for 11 hours.