header icons

How I Came from Honduras to Casa Juan Diego

I am a Honduran. I want to tell you all that for me it was hard to leave my home and my family. The saddest time was when I said goodbye to my mother. She was weeping, because she has an idea of how people suffer who decide to take this road.

I left Tegucigalpa at 2:15 p.m. and arrived at San Pedro Sula at 9:00 p.m. Then I took a bus to the Guatemalan border. I traveled all night, crossing Guatemala in one day, still without suffering. My suffering began when I stepped on Mexican soil.

When I arrived in Tapachula, Mexico. It was raining. We were waiting in a house until the rain would stop at about 7:30 p.m. when the police arrived. We were about thirty-five people, between Hondurans and Salvadorans. When the police arrived, we all ran and were drenched with water. That night we were very cold as we slept in some abandoned plots of land.

The next day we were waiting for the train; the train came by at 8:00 p.m. We realized that one the train there were all types–thieves, marijuana smokers. There my terror grew. We arrived at Tonalá about 3:00 a.m. We slept outside until 8 a.m. and went out to look for food. There we saw a police car; the police caught four people and I was one of them. We were sure they would deport us.

They took us out of the city, far away on the way to a mountain. There they let us out of the car and told us that with the condition that we give them money, they would take us back to where they picked us up. There were five policemen. We told them we had no money, because of our fear that they would take all of our money. They said that if we didn’t want to cooperate, they would take it by force, and they took out their pistols and told us to raise our hands. They took all the money we had, got in their car and abandoned us there in the middle of the mountain.

From there we walked all day, without money, without food and without water. In Tonalá we got on a train and continued our journey to the state of Oaxaca. There we became separated and I was alone in a small town. I met a Salvadoran there and we became friends. We waited two days until the train came. We took each train at midnight, waiting in the brush. Each time we took a train we were running, risking our lives with the possibility of slipping on the stairs, knowing that many have died or become invalids in falling from a train.

We arrived on a train in the state of Veracruz and immediately took another train. When we got off, my Salvadoran friend bought me food. We were there half a day chatting about all that had happened to each of us. Then the train was coming and we went to take it. We began the race behind the train to get up on it. I was ahead and he behind, and I succeeded in getting up the stairs of one of the cars. I went up as high as I could so that he could get on the same car. He tried once, but couldn’t make it and the train was picking up speed. In his desperation, he began to run in the opposite direction of the train and tried to grab the stairs of the third car, where I had already gotten on. I was able to see that he couldn’t catch hold of the stairs and he hit himself on the corner of the car and one leg slipped under the train and it was cut off.

I was so sad I wanted to cry. I didn’t get off because the train was already going very fast. I was able to see the blood, and my friend picking the blood up with his hands.

I arrived at another station where I took another train and arrived in Monterrey, where I stayed 16 days, five days trying to recuperate from exhaustion and the image that was fixed in my mind; the other days I worked making a fence. I made enough for my passage and went to the border, where Mexican Immigration stopped me. I didn’t tell them any lies in response to their questions. They decided to let me go and then I crossed the river in the night and took a train. U. S. Immigration caught me in Corpus Christi, Texas, and tossed me across the border to Reynosa.

I decided to look for a coyote to bring me to Houston, because I didn’t want to suffer any more. My mother sent me the money. Since I had nowhere to go in Houston, the coyote left me at a gas station after I paid him.

Asking people, I got the address of Casa Juan Diego, where they gave me a place to stay, food and work. I am very grateful now that I have a permanent job and above all, I give thanks to God, because if it were not for Him, I would not be alive.

Houston Catholic Worker, Vol. XXI, No. 9, December 2001.