A Series of Unfortunate Events
Up again at 5 am. My efficiency in packing up a tent, sleeping bag and luggage has significantly increased! It is cold in the morning, so I wear long pants. However, I wear them over my shorts because in a couple of hours, the sun is up and beating down on me. We walk 10.6 miles and arrive at camp around noon.
My face is so dry I wonder if it’s fallen off. We’ve got no mirrors, but I’m sure someone will tell me if it disappears! Physically, I’m doing fine. I have no blisters, just tired feet. But I’m struggling mentally. I find it hard to focus on reading or even writing this down. Apart from the heat, there are some 60 other peoples around me -all clumped together under a tarp that provides shade. It really isn’t that hot when I’m under the shade. There’s usually a cooling breeze. I’ve decreased my verbal “statements” of how uncomfortable I feel. It’s mind over matter, but right now, I only know that dirty and sweat are over me.
Several unfortunate things happened this afternoon. One participant left as she was having a very difficult time, emotionally. The organizers told us that she had not expected it to be so challenging, so she decided it was best she left. Another participant had a seizure and had to be taken to the ER. We later learned that she has a history of epilepsy, and was well aware that this might happen. The organizers told us that she was being taken care of and would be fine. While this was going on, Jodi started throwing up! I was rather surprised as she’s acclimated to the desert weather, and was clearly not dehydrated. We’re guessing that a virus is going around – probably from the lack of sanitization before handling food. Jodi left for home, but we’re hoping that she’ll be able to return in a few days. Later on, we discovered that three participants were “missing.” We had been told never to leave our campsite, and so some of the leaders were alarmed and went out to search for the three men. Thankfully, they were just taking a walk (some folks have more energy than others!), but needless to say, some folks were not pleased.
In response to that, Margo, an attorney who accompanied us on the walk gave a very insightful talk about safety in the desert. She mentioned that there are lots of other people in the desert with us. At first glance, that does not seem believable. It seemed like we were the only ones, but Margo reminded us that the desert is huge. Apart from migrants, border patrol officers and the occasional visitors of the Refuge, there were also the bajadores who steal and hurt migrants. Typically, they are armed and not in a right state of mind. About 500 bajadores cross the border each year. Margo did not want to scare us, because as a group, we were safe. I have no strong fear for my life here in the desert, on the Migrant Trail. However, Margo reminded me that the desert is real, and it can be very unforgiving. And while it feels lonely, as if there is no one else besides ourselves, it is not. It is vast, and many inhabit the land.