I’ve entered the last remaining hundred acres of sabal palm forest ecosystem in the nation. Soon we will be cut off from it by Homeland’s Wall.
I walk a wooden boardwalk and marvel at the trees’ stature, the volume of their massive fronds clashing in the winds I’m sheltered from.
The river here, approaching freedom and the Gulf at Boca Chica, used to be a mile wide and up to 40-feet deep, a local conservationist tells me.
I can’t use any proper names here. You see, the clampdown is on. Both employees at the Audubon Sanctuary said they could not speak about the wall, could not tell me anything, in fact. Instead, one hands me a printout from the non-prof’s website. I can use this, I’m told.
Father Roy showed up at the end of this week’s No Wall walk to splash us with some sanctified Rio Grande water outside the historic La Lomita Chapel. A fine and welcome gesture — even if all the local convenience stores were out of Lone Star and we were reduced to mere Miller quaffers.
Today wraps up a week of marching for Valley residents and the Border Ambassadors joining organizer Jay Johnson-Castro for portions of the week-long 63-mile March 4 March 4 contra El Muro. The effort was an (successful) attempt to push the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border into the political debates.
When I set out a little over two weeks ago my dreams were of being lost in the suburbs, but my first night staying at a ranch north of La Jola changed all that. I walk to the window and look over a Yucatan-like scene. The sky is full of birds of every imaginable color and size, fantastical creatures. Feathers and sunshine swirl everywhere. Many more dreams like this and I may not leave.
The desk I have been given to work at is said to be my host’s great-grandfather’s. Another honor. Catarino Garza was a “journalist, revolutionary, and folk hero,” according to Handbook of Texas Online.
They wave me in. Put a beer in my hand. And feed me to the birds.
[River birding below Falcon Dam nets: Harris Hawk, Bald Eagle (2), Altamira Oriole, thrashers, Red-winged blackbirds, and the “usual birdseed suspects”: pidgeons and grackles. Oh, yeah, and a shotgun boat with a dozen river crossers dashing into the brush about 50 yards downstream. No, I did not chase them for a photo.]
I rolled into Laredo from the longest, darkest street I’ve hit yet. Coming down 83, you’re pulled a good 30 miles from the River. Crossing the Camino Columbia tollway (and almost as quickly, U.S. I-35), can be like spilling into a pinball field, falling into a land of giants.
The semis pull around all sides of you, as the billboards grow with the approach of Laredo/Nuevo Laredo — the only major border town that planted roots on the north side of the river and grew south. I’m here to screw up another video session and talk shop with a River badass, whose book, The Tecate Journals, was just published.