Stories For Liberation: I Will Walk To The End

(Painting/"Crossing Borders"/Gwynne Duncan)

How do young people even begin to process memories of being put in a “cooler” or crossing a river, only to look back to see a fellow traveler left behind? This short, poignant piece will be the closing story for the border crossing section of a new book created from this series. For more information about the publication of Brave Journeys, due to be released on March 15th, click here.

I Will Walk to the End

It all began in 2016 when my aunt asked if I wanted to come to the United States. It was hard for me to leave my family. Leaving my brother was the saddest thing because I couldn’t say goodbye to him. When my sister dropped me off with the person I’d be traveling with, my entire life flooded my head. But, I never imagined my life had been pretty.

I tried to drink some water so I wouldn’t cry when my sister left me in the hotel. That day, two other girls and I left for the border. We crossed the border of El Salvador, and in Guatemala we rested one night.

Then, we continued until reaching Guatemala border. There, we stayed three weeks, and while I was there I couldn’t communicate with my aunt. A week went by without calling her because I had no reception, but by the weekend, the man who was bringing us lent me his cell phone. That’s how I was able to talk with my aunt for about 15 minutes.

From there, we left for Mexico. One person took care of me along the way. I am grateful to her for taking care of me the whole time. There can be good people in the world that give everything for other people.

After we arrived in Mexico, we passed through all the towns there. When we came to the river we had to cross, one of people that was with me couldn’t pass because her sister hadn’t paid, and so she stayed behind. Only I, and the others with me, passed.

After we crossed the river, we walked an hour until two immigration men found us. They asked us for our identification, and I was nervous because they’d told me that immigration men were angry. But, they gave me chocolate cookies and apple juice. And then, they took us to the “cooler.”

That’s a very ugly and cold place. They give people hard sandwiches and a juice. That place is freezing and there’s only aluminum foil, and with that foil, people themselves cover up.

Once there, they call people to take their fingerprints and names. Then, they call the people to deport them back to their countries. I spent two days there. Of the people who came with me, some had already gone to the “dog house,” and others were in the cooler.

They took me out of the cooler and put me in the dog house and later, sent me to a home where I spent 17 days. In that home, I learned a lot about how people are.

And, on December 17, I arrived in New York. When I got here, I felt as if I were on vacation. But when I started high school, it was very difficult because I didn’t know how to speak English. But now, I can handle English a little better and understand more.