There I was in a bus on my way to Matamoros, Tamaulipas from Guadalajara, Jalisco. It was a winter night, just days after having celebrated Christmas in my house, in Mexico, it was December 27, 1995. I remember a movie playing on the bus, don’t remember which one as I was too busy with my thoughts, watching the hilly scenery outside the window. The trip lasted about 12 hours and by the time we arrived at the city of Matamoros, it was about 7:00 AM in the morning. I was tired and hungry.
One backpack and about $800 pesos is what I had on me. It is probably the lightest I have traveled since. The $800 pesos was one full month’s worth of my salary working as a courier for a travel agency in Guadalajara, Mexico. At the time, I was contributing to my family’s income and didn’t have much left for savings; the $800 pesos were a risky investment in a dream for a better pay in the United States so I could contribute more to my family. This was also my first time traveling alone, and while I was a bit nervous about it, I felt excitement at the same time.
My family was having a rough time financially back in Guadalajara, and it was about to get worse; my younger brothers were going to go to college soon and I knew the money we had was barely covering our living expenses. The last thing I wanted was for my brother Alejandro, to skip college for lack of money to cover expenses such as school fees, books, etc…Alejandro was a senior in high school, and I felt like we were running out of time. My other two younger brothers, Juan Carlos and Sergio, were still a few years away from finishing high school.
The reason we were struggling financially was due to my dad’s alcoholism, which brought all sorts of bad fortune to our family. Prior to becoming an alcoholic, my dad owned his own business and our family was doing good. I never really understood why or how he became an alcoholic, all I know is that he had a few bad experiences with business partners which made him very upset. I was too little to understand, all I know is that it took just a few years for him to lose his business, his partners, his reputation, and eventually the jobs he was able to get after losing his business. This whole thing just worsened his addiction to alcohol.
The sun had just raised and it was a cold morning in Matamoros, a city in the northern state of Tamaulipas which borders with the United States. I got out of the bus and sprinted to exit the bus station, I have been told to do this to avoid the Coyotes surrounding the bus station. The Coyotes are people known to look for individuals and families wanting to cross the border illegally and offer to help them cross the border in exchange for large amounts of cash. They are known to take advantage of immigrants and can be very dangerous.
Across from the bus station were a few food stands, I walked towards it blending in with the rest of the crowd, I didn’t look like a traveler as I was just carrying a backpack and nothing else. I am not going to lie, I felt insecure and anxious, I could swear everyone was looking at me as if everyone wanted to get something from me. It was my paranoia due to the circumstances. After eating two barbacoa tacos and a refresco (Mexican soda) from the food stand, my next task was to walk around to find a coin-operated phone booth to call my sister and let her know I had arrived in Matamoros.
My oldest sister was already living in the United States, she had moved there after getting married to his long-time boyfriend whose family had acquired legal immigration status in the United States. The plan was to go live with her and my brother-in-law for a while, find a job to help my family, and then return to Guadalajara to continue with my studies. That was the plan.
The above is an excerpt from a script for the first chapter of An Undocumented Immigrant Story.
A book with a story about an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who later became a U.S. citizen, a software engineer, and an entrepreneur.
I’ll keep sharing pieces of my book as I continue writing it. It is my immigration story. Please help me bring this story into a book to share it with many people by joining my free newsletter to learn about progress on this book. Thanks!