By Luis Hernández
It’s 2 am in Arriaga, Chiapas. The ground is hard, though blankets or bags are handy to make it feel softer. The silver linings of warm cities are warm nights, so people don’t need to cover from the cold. One thing less to care about.
“Time to wake up. Get ready people, we are leaving soon, hurry up.”
This is their new routine: waking up early to avoid the heat later, young men begging for money, strollers on the highway, blisters in the soles. Normality for them is to stand in line to get food, to clean their bodies whenever is possible, to discard dirty clothes for donated ones, to rely on other people’s help, but overall, to walk, a lot, more than 40kms per day. Some trailers and pickup trucks let them ride with them and that’s one of the most valuable aid they can get since being on the road is what drains more energy.
How did the old routine use to be? According to talks and interviews, their lives had (and still have) uncertainty, threats, protection fees from sicarios, lack of opportunities, low salaries, fear of the government, fear of death. Living in fear every moment without any hope or sign that this is going to change and that there’s nothing you can do about it.
Photo: Carolyn Van Houten
Is this new routine worth it? That I cannot respond. I’m not part of them. I’ve decided to join them to better understand what is happening with this huge phenomenon that is getting the attention of the world, the so-called migrant caravan. One thing I can say, they are willing to risk everything they have, which is very little, in hopes of a better life. A life where you can go out of home and not being kidnapped.
Not all of them have hope, though. Some of them are tired, hurt, ill, pregnant, afraid. They feel like, in the middle of nowhere, there are two options; whether keep going until the body and the mind allow it and aim for the best, or give up and accept being deported back to their countries, straight to jail. Yet, those who lack hope have the caravan; people that take care of you and help you without knowing who you are. Collectivity is powerful, and it’s still growing. At least they have something to stick to.
Photo: Eduardo Miranda
This is not the first caravan and it won’t be the last. Their goal is to cross the US border to look for asylum or work ultimately, but it sounds like a crazy endeavor, with no passports, no money, nothing. Many people would say that going out of their countries like this is irresponsible and stupid. Others would criticize them because they think they could try to do something back home to improve their lives. They believe there’s a way to do it. They believe that in Honduras there are conditions for everyone to work more and have a better life. They believe that they are poor because they’re not making enough effort to overcome the situation. Unfortunately, for the marchers, all these arguments are not true.
Photo: Eduardo Miranda
How can you know when you’re not there? This exodus is hard to understand when you don’t know the context; when you haven’t been tired, hurt, and afraid. Think about it this way: if you have never been in love, how would you describe heartbreak?
You can follow Luis Hernández and his project here: @nomad.cook
More stories about migration, here:
Why Is The Media So Interested In The Migrant Caravan Headed To The US?
8 Things You’re Getting Completely Wrong About Central America’s Migration Crisis
This Is Why I’m Not Surprised We Have A Humanitarian Crisis In The US