The last three months travelling were an extraordinary concentrate of unique experiences and unforgettable encounters. This last month in Mexico could not be outdone, so I decided to spend it differently. A final exhausting trip from Guadalajara to Córdoba, Veracruz, to reach the final destination, in the middle of the Mexican sierra, Amatlan de los Reyes. Gruesome tales, stories and warnings took away my sleep and appetite for few days. Until the last moment I considered giving up, go back and do not dare so much. A mixture of sensations and apprehensions have pervaded my body, not a glimpse of serenity to face the journey. FEAR, simple as that. Waiting for me though, here in Amatlan de los Reyes, I found the warmest welcome from these incredible women that in Central and South america are known as Las Patronas. It is here, in this pueblito lost in the wilderness, which makes daily transit the beast, the freight train that crosses the country from South to North. The train of death, as they call it the migrants that every day defy fate, traveling on it without precautions, in the most varied weather conditions, facing hunger, thirst, assaults of pandillas (criminal gangs), migratory police, but above all tiredness and sleep. The dream, the hope and the desire for a better future in the US are so big to push these migrants to take risks beyond all reasonableness. They leave their country, their homes, their loved ones to embark on a journey that is more likely to lead to repatriation, with severe mutilations or as more often happens with death, that with the arrival at the destination. On the beast migrants are traveling for days, and the fear of losing their spot on board pushes them to attempt the impossible to stay on wagons and never go down, except when forced by migratory controls or gang assaults, to whom are easy prey to subtract all savings scraped together for the crossing. The only relief for these human beings in desperate escape is to meet along the way hearted people which such send of humanity as Las Patronas. Every day of the year, from 1995 to the present, here in Amatlan de los Reyes, this volunteer group of 12 women prepares fresh water bottles, cook rice, beans and tortillas for hundreds of faces and desperate souls that an average of 4 times per day are leaning from the wagons of the beast, on the railway leading to the North.The fate of each of these people is uncertain, none of those faces will be recognized tomorrow and it is unknown what will happen to them. But a freshly cooked meal is the most precious thing you can give to alleviate some suffering and give a chance to these men and women to arrive safely to their destination. A “gracias madre” and a “Dios las bendiga” are the reward and the engine of all this from the first day that for the first time Norma and Bernarda Romero gave their bread and milk to some hungry migrants that crossing their village on the rails. From that day, stand to listen to hear the arrival of the train is a daily habit, so is reaching the side of the railway and throw food and water to the migrants running on the train. Today I’m here with these examples of humanity and I feel very small. They give me to eat and sleep, they care if I ate enough and want to know what the Italians act in front of the migration issue in the Mediterranean. They worry about the sensibility of the institutions and the people of my country that is thousands of kilometres from here. They ask questions, they want to know everything about how people help these souls on the run . I don’t have a lot of good news for them, though thankfully Reggio Emilia, my hometown, has the golden reputation of being one step ahead of all the others on the subject. These days I sleep with boys fleeing from misery and guerrillas in Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala … I eat with them, wash the dishes with them, i share sanitaries with them, but above all I look at them in the eyes. The word immigrant has no meaning, is annoying. I see people exactly like me, most my same age. But it is impossible to put myself in their shoes. I’m trying, these days I will pretend to be one of them, with 3 minutes to call home waiting for their turn with the house phone, typing a number memorized by repeating it in mind a thousand times, away from everyone, no nothing, but thanking for a roof, a mattress and two hot meals a day. I’ll do the full of this experience with a promise to learn as much as possible.
Los sueños también viajan.