Separation Sorrows

along the watchtower

It was about ten years ago and my first trip to Marfa. I wasn’t there for Judd’s concrete boxes, likely hadn’t been tipped to Judd’s genius at the time. I was down for some Border Patrol meeting, the substance of which has long escaped me, distanced as I am by thousands of news items and feature assignments.

Fences were going up in a nearby border state at the time and I couldn’t help but ask: Were there any plans to build a fence here in Big Bend? The room erupted in laughter.

Considering the terrain, it seemed unthinkable — ridiculous.

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Arise marchers

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.

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Dreams and Desks

catarino’s deskWhen 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.

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Retirement Sport

stockley and flores

Like the archetypal Irish beat cop patroling the New York City boroughs with a rolled up newspaper, John Stockley’s father rode up and down the river protecting U.S. cattle herds as a tick inspector half a century ago. He didn’t carry a gun, telling those who asked simply, “I can ride faster without one.”

(Wise words. When I get to some active smuggling sites beneath Laredo, I’ll come to see that minding one’s business and not playing with guns leads to longer, happier lives here.)

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Shaving Del Rio

new friends

I’ve been in Del Rio three times and never seen downtown. I’ve driven along the strip mall lanes of highways 90 and 277 and wondered. This time I enter with purpose, I want a coffee shop and wireless. It’s deadline day for my first installment of Muro. And it is Sunday.

While I didn’t quite catch on about what day it was until after I made a U-turn for a federal office, thinking I could pick up a copy of Homeland Security’s Draft Environmental Assessment for the Del Rio Sector, I did manage to find downtown. I liked it. I drove a few extra blocks just to make sure then started to hedge some right angles to coast back in for another look.

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mundo on horseI wasn’t sure how welcome we were on this land down the river from Neely’s Crossing, site of Homeland Security’s planned 4.6-mile fence in the middle of nowhere. Bill insisted everything was fine as this hombre padded through an arroyo and up to where we were inspecting the graves of three Buffalo Soldiers killed in the ongoing struggle to displace the Apache from West Texas in the late 1800’s.

Turned out he was more angry about fence plans that could find their way down to this remote site just outside a series of sacred Indian hot springs.

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