“The land of good life, and opportunity,” is what I often thought of when I would work in the green orchards that caused my hands to become rough-over the years from picking fruits for my alcoholic father on our 20 to 40 acre orchard farm in Akil, Yucatan. I am Alberto Muuk’ a 5’3 Mayan man from Akil, Yucatan. I left my home to help my family. I grew up with the desire of helping others.
I started farming with my father at 9 years old. I would work in the orchard fields for 10 to 11 hours during the weekends. During the weekdays, I would attend school in my hometown. The more I worked on the farm, the more the thought of moving to the U.S to help my family lingered more and more in my mind.
When I turned 19 years old, I had to make a decision of life in the U.S or an early death in my home county. The reason that made it hard leaving was not knowing if I would ever see my mama again. I traveled to the U.S without documentation it seemed like a different planet due to how far it was. I left in order to help my family with bills for the house and the land.
To start my 3,065 mile journey to the U.S, I had to stay in small hotel in Chihuahua, Mexico 1,733 miles from home, in a room with 20 to 30 people for two nights. I then had to walk through the scorching hot desert in the daytime and freezing cold at night. While I was walking, I thought of my eight siblings at home and the purpose of this journey. Looking all around me I could see 80 people from all generations of life; papa’s, mama’s, tia’s, tio’s, ninay’s, nino’s, and primos. Once, nearing the border our coyotes which were our guides to cross the border handed us over to “Cholos” (is a slang term for gangsters). The “Cholos” stole all of our valuables in exchange for our lives as they held us at gunpoint. There was a commotion I could hear, as three women were screaming out as they were being raped in front of us. I felt in my heart trauma and shock which left me paralyzed. When dealing with the “Cholos”, I have never felt that terrified in my life. Once we began our journey of walking through the cold desert, a pregnant women around 6 months broke her knee while walking. Two other men and myself carried her for 4 hours until crossing the Arizona border. When crossing over into the Arizona border, I was drained but like the others around me, the weariness of the long journey washed off of our faces with excitement believing in the false hopes that the worst was behind us when entering the country of opportunity, and I would be able to send some of it back to my family with my hard work. But I knew that my journey was not complete, I still had to reach San Francisco. I was able to lay down and rest in a hotel in Arizona, but once again I had to share a room with another 20 people; this time I stayed for a week. We would were only fed one meal of eggs a day, and had to share a bathroom. Finally, a buddy of mine that I greatly trusted that I sent money to before my journey so that it would not be stolen from the Cholos. I sent the money so that I would be released in San Francisco, California; a city known for being a sanctuary city since 1989. I had to ride in Aerostar van laying side by side by with 20 people for a 15 hour drive without any stops. I remember when I was dozing off in the car I could feel the car start to veer and hear screaming coming from the other passengers because the driver was starting to doze off too; he almost ran into a pole. We were lucky that the accident was minor because it could have been worse. I arrived into San Francisco on November 24, 2000, Thanksgiving day, so that our chances of being apprehended by the U.S authorities will be less variable.
I currently live in a sanctuary city in the greater East Bay where I am also employed. I also found the love of my life who I am happily married to. I am helping my family with the portion of the income I get from my job. I have built a two bedroom ranch home, with a wrap around porch, and orchard. My hope and plans for the future is to add on the to 3.5 acre land that I own in Baccalar Yucatan.
This story was written by Jamir Graham, a student in Palo Alto.