Crossing the border

My experiences with the border patrol and U.S. Customs have not been per say traumatic, but they have impacted me in a way that I am nervous around them. I am a US citizen. They can do absolutely nothing to me and yet I get anxious in their presence. One specific experience that still haunts me to this day is one time I crossed walking with my dad. The custom started asking me a lot of questions. They interrogated and intimidated me as much as they could. My dad just stood there and saw what was happening. The custom asked me who I stayed with, what their status was and where I lived. He just kept throwing questions at me. At one point he let us go. I was really nervous after that because I was scared I would jeopardize the lives of my family members if I said something wrong. Since then, I am really nervous every time I cross the border. I have never crossed as the driver, always the passenger while crossing in a car.

Crossing by walking makes me really nervous because of that interrogation I went through. I have crossed while being drunk believe it or not. Most of my friends including me were underage at the time so we had to go to Nogales Sonora, México if we wanted to go out and drink. One time, my friends and I went to have dinner and had a drink or two. The last drink I ordered came a little late and my friends already wanted to go. They didn’t pressure me or anything, but I ended up drinking way too fast and it got me tipsy. I was laughing at everything. My other friend was pretty tipsy as well so we looked like idiots. If it wasn’t for one of my friends being a responsible designated driver, I am not sure we would have been safe. My friend told me to act normal because we were going to cross the border. I kept laughing and walking weird while saying, “act normal! ACT NORMAL! AcT nOrMaL.” When we were in line I had an inner fight with myself to keep it together, but my drunk self had too much control by this time. When the custom gave me the rude sign with his hand to go with him I was feeling dizzy. I grabbed on to the desk pretty tightly and leaned forward to look him in the eyes. My friend later told me that I almost put my chichis in his face. He asked me where I was going and I said, “Tucson” and in my head, I was like, “no dumbass! You are going to Rio Rico.” Then the custom asked me, “what was the reason for your visit?…visiting family?” I was like “mhm” I was not about to say, “no we actually came to drink because we are underage so we went to the club that is just a couple of blocks away.” So all I could enunciate was mhm. My friend still laughs at me for saying that. At some point he gave me my passport back with a concerned look on his face, debating whether or not he should let me go. Our designated driver was the last to cross and she told us that the custom asked her if she was with my friend and I and when she said yes, he told her to take care of us. The fact that I am so nervous when crossing prevents me from going to visit my friends and family more often.

Glossary:

Chichis: boobs

Pictures by Nick Oza. Imported from the article “Washington lawmakers stuck on border security panel” by Dan Nowicki, The Arizona Republic. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/04/border-security-watchdog-panel/1961555/

 

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Broken English

Spanish is the language of my heart.
English is the language of my brain.
You see,
En español el sentimiento se siente en cada palabra.
El amor y el romance sale natural.
In english business words come and go like the waters that struggle to travel the rivers of Arizona.
They are used in school, work and meetings.
Cuando hablo en español, colores salen de mi boca.
Mis manos se mueven como si bailara.
When I speak English, my brain calculates each and every word so I don’t mispronounce anything.
So they don’t notice,
My broken English.
My accent is hard to hide, because mi corazón is strong and testarudo como buen corazón latino.

Beware of my home

I have lived in the Sonoran Desert for all my life. Even though I moved so much when I was little, I still lived in this desert. The only place where you can witness majestic Sahuaros. It may be a desert, but don’t be fooled. It is filled with unique flora and fauna. This desert, if you are not careful, can consume you and leave no trace. I’ve been cared for by the mountains that surround the towns of Sonora, Mexico, and Tucson, Arizona. These same mountains watched me grow up. The plants and animals can be deadly, so respect them.  It is a beautiful place with the most perfect sunsets. The heat during the day is no joke, while the cold at night should not be underestimated either. Enjoy the view of this dangerously beautiful place I call home. cacti_cactuses_sunset_124663_3840x2400

Source: https://wallpaperscraft.com/download/cacti_cactuses_sunset_124663/3840×2160

Yo soy Damaris

A female take on the poem “Yo soy Joaquin” by Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales.

 

Yo soy Damaris,

soy a quien conquistaron y quien conquistó

desde antes de la llegada de los españoles,

hasta esto que llamamos hoy.

Soy Azteca!

Olmeca!

Maya!

Pero también soy parte de Hernán Cortés,

“La malinche”

Sí, soy la que dicen que se vendió,

Pero al contrario…fui vendida.

Tengo sangre azul y piel morena,

Mestiza hasta los dientes.

Yo soy dueña de todo y de nada,

Robé tierras y me las robaron.

Yo soy Damaris.

Soy católica,

Me enseñaron de santos mientras me violaban.

Ví a mi país frustrado con la corona,

Grité viva México!

pero mi voz fue ignorada, por oír la voz de Dolores.

Yo soy Damaris!

alimenté a los revolucionarios.

Soy soldadera,

“la coronela”

Pero mi voz fue ignorada, por oír la voz de Zapata.

Yo soy la tierra!

Me regalaron a los gringos.

Me han dividido a su conveniencia,

con excusas de falta de dinero, guerras

Y para dejar libre al cobarde de Santa Anna.

Poco a poco se fueron mis tíos, primos y hermanos,

En busca del sueño americano.

Cada vez se hiban más hombres al norte por trabajo.

Luego nos fuimos las mujeres.

Yo siempre he sido pobre

Pero

De gran orgullo…

Me llevaron al norte con promesas de una mejor vida

Pero

los weros nos tratan como a los perros,

Para darnos una miseria.

First, Uncle Sam opened the door for us to come,

Now he says that the economy is bad because of us.

We started to act like the gringos,

pero

our culture will never be forgotten.

Two Worlds

When I’ve felt that I most belonged was when we were at my nana‘s house in the winter holidays. Especially on Christmas eve which is the big day for us. We are used to open presents at 12:00am instead of Christmas day in the morning. With the smell of tamales welcoming you when you get in. The house is always full of guests that you have to kiss in the cheek because if you don’t you are going to get yelled at, at the least. I remember that one time as I was trying to finally finish saying hi to everybody and my grandma asked, “Que vas a comer mija?”. There were tamales of three kinds: meat, corn and “sweet”. There was also turkey (made by nana Matilde of course, with tons of butter which makes it the best).

My nana and tata live in a little town in Sonora, Mexico called Imuris. My nana is like the patriarch of the family. She has been like another mother for me since I was born. We fight so much but I think that is how we are, not just me and her but my whole family. We fight but we love each other and help each other every time. My tata Ramon has been like a father to me, and he is the man I love and respect the most in the whole world. I don’t know what I would do without them.

There is this unwritten rule that you should not speak English if there is someone who does not understand. Which is 90% of the family so that rule is for my sister, some cousins and myself. To me, that is not a problem because I feel more comfortable speaking Spanish but my sister sometimes forgets about that rule and gets yelled at or gets called gringa.

There were always different groups; the man drinking and talking outside not caring how cold it was. Everyone listening to banda and corridos by my tio‘s car stereo. In my nana’s house, there is a porch where we are used to hanging out when we do carne asadas and when the weather is good. Which in Imuris is any day. The women are always either preparing, serving or eating food inside, the ones that just sit and eat become the main topic when it was mitote time because they did not help at all. It does not really matter if they did. There is a dining area but for some reason, we always hang out in the kitchen and eat in the barra on different types of bancos my nana has accumulated for years.

Most of the kids play at my grandmother’s room with their phones or watching TV. No one is ever supposed to be in that room except for my sister and me because we are the consentidas, but my nana is always too busy in the kitchen to kick them out. The younger women including myself usually talk in the living room. The living room is a pretty good size to fit eight people but some sit on the sides of the couches so more people fit. We don’t speak often with each other throughout the year, some don’t like each other and some even have conflicts with each other but hey…it’s the holidays lets chill.

When I have felt the least I belonged was at a thanksgiving we went to with my dad’s family a couple years ago. My parents got divorced when I was 9 years old so I do not really spend time with my dad’s family. Nor did I when they were together, to begin with. They had the typical foods people eat in a Thanksgiving but they also had some fancy dishes that I had never seen before. I could not find myself comfortable anywhere but by my mom’s side. My cousins (which I don’t talk to at all) were dancing to EDM music. At that time I did not hear that music (I do now), they wanted me to dance with them but I felt out of place and found myself wanting to go with my mom’s family since they were having a party as well.

I do know some of the people that were there but most of them are still strangers to me. I did like what they were doing but I missed the traditions of my mom’s family. The house was really nice, with a balcony you can access from the dining area. It had a spectacular view of the desert since it was way North of Tucson where there are only a few houses every two mountains. Okay maybe I exaggerated but that’s not the point. They had the Christmas tree surrounded by huge presents and they took a lot of space of the living room. I did not feel envy but I felt I was in the wrong place. My cousins were really dressed up and I was dressed really casually. Which made me feel more uncomfortable.

I don’t think there is anything wrong about how the house was or how they were dressed up. It was just so different from my traditions and how I grew up that I felt like an outsider. The house of my nana is really humble in comparison to that house. Also, as I said before my family fights a lot. I think it makes us real. These family that apparently is my family too seemed really fake, not only because it was the holidays but they were just cold and did not really show emotion on anything. Maybe my mom’s family is more dramatic but I mean we are Mexicans so, that’s part of being Mexican. Which makes it ironic because my dad’s family is Mexican as well but, the huge difference is that they have more American traditions.

This visit got me out of my comfort zone and made me appreciate my mom’s family and my customs. My true identity is a Mexican who was lucky to have the opportunity of being born in the United States to have more opportunities. My culture has a lot of different traditions and foods. My family is really far from being perfect but I can certainly know the love and respect we share is real.

 

Glossary:

Nana: Grandmother.

“Que vas a comer mija?”: “What are you going to eat dear?”

Tata: Grandfather.

Gringa: Female U.S foreigner (usually used to insult someone).

Banda: Group, Band that plays Mexican music.

Tio: Uncle.

Carne asada: Barbecue.

Mitote: Chat.

Barra: Kitchen bar.

Bancos: Kitchen stools.

Consentidas: Spoiled.

 

My names

My first name is Damaris. My middle name is Karely. As Karely I was bullied. A lot of bad happened as Karely, but I feel at home as Karely. My family and old friends call me Karely. I smell home cooked meals as Karely. It is a name I don’t introduce myself as anymore. As Damaris, I have a lot of good memories from Pueblo. It is the only name I have on Facebook. I don’t like people that knew me as Karely calling me Damaris and vice versa. They may be just names but they hold memories by who call me by them. Now My nicknames, that is another story.

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