Sunday, July 26, 2009

Memorial to the Unknown Wetback

Today was one of those days that started with a 6AM wakeup call from a woman saying she was standing outside the house watching the spare cat struggle to claw his way back inside, segued into a throbbing disco soundtrack from a roadrace that was starting and finishing up the hill from us (which lasted four hours), and ended with the dog deciding that the contents of the cats' litter box might have nutritional value. We're blaming the solar eclipse and that strange new spot on Jupiter.

So it seemed an excellent day for a road trip, and we pretty much chose the tiny municipality of Huimilpan at random. We've mentioned this before, but it's always amazing how little you have to drive outside Querétaro - like maybe 20 miles - before you hit really rural cowboy territory. Huimilpan is a town we always see referred to as "hard hit" by migration. About 20% of the town's population is in the US at any one time, which we can assume to equal more than half the working-age men. So important is work in El Norte that in the middle of the town's central plaza they've erected an eight-foot statue of a baseball cap-and-backpack wearing mojado. The sculpture has no plaque or description. If you live in that area, you don't need one.

As far as the "hard hit" part goes, though, it's kind of hard to tell from an afternoon day trip. (Stephanie Elizondo Griest's Mexican Enough has a pretty good chapter on Huimilpan, if you're interested in something deeper than a blog post.) But the must-have status symbol for anyone who's been to the US is a ginormous pickup truck with US plates, tricked out with what dealers call the "complete option package." (This is a common thing in the Sierra and probably most of Mexico - many towns have a "truck parade" around Easter time when everyone comes back to see their families.) This has the effect of making Huimilpan look just insanely prosperous - we think we can say without appearing to brag that we earn a lot more in a good year than the average illegal immigrant day laborer, and we found ourselves feeling terribly self-conscious about our piece of crap used car.

But then - with the caveat that, you know, who are we to say how a guy should spend his money - we can't help thinking there may be a better way for migrant worker to spend 30 grand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They are like mobile savings accounts, lots of migrant workers bring them back to sell before crossing back to los eeuu. And they can fit tons of things they are bringing home to family.