By Ellie Stone
They were burned nearly black, their lips huge and cracking, what paltry drool still available to them spuming from their mouths in a salty foam as they walked. Their hair was hard and stiffened by old sweat, standing in crowns from their scalps, old sweat because their bodies were no longer sweating. They were drunk from having their brains baked in the pan, they were seeing God and devils, and they were dizzy from drinking their own urine, the poisons clogging their systems.
This is Luis Alberto Urrea’s vivid description of the physical state of five Mexican immigrants emerging from the desert in his book The Devil’s Highway. Every year hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants cross the United States-Mexico border in hopes of achieving a safer and more financially stable life, but the risk to attain that goal is great. Compare this fatal journey to the annual pilgrimage of the wooden figurine of the Virgin of Zapopan, who flies safely in a jet from her home in Mexico to East Los Angeles. The stark contrast between the two journeys is startling but much can be learned from their comparison. Continue reading