header icons

A Devastating Journey North for a Migrant from Honduras to the United States

I left Honduras with a plan of arriving in the United States.  When I got to Guatemala, that same day I crossed Guatemala, arriving at the border with Mexico. I crossed the river in a large inner tube of a tire of a tractor or car. After crossing the river, I arrived in Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico.

There the police told me that if I gave them $300 pesos, I could go on, and I paid them. I walked two days along the train tracks and arrived at a place where I found a shelter for immigrants.

I was there two days because I could not walk any more. My feet were destroyed. Two days later, a friend and I, in a moment of madness, together got on the train called The Beast. We were going along happily, when at midnight the train stopped at a place where four persons with machetes, sticks, and knives got on. They were villains and crooks. They came up to my friend, grabbed him, and as the train was starting, he resisted. I humbly sat there.

They told my friend: “Your money or your life!” I only heard my friend say, “I am coming on this trip begging and I only have $500 pesos and I cannot give them to you.” They grabbed him and I only heard painful cries. They threw him in between the train cars and his foot was trapped between them. I heard screams and they were cries of pain when my friend was hitting his head on the rails and the wood girders until finally I heard nothing.

The men came up to me and they grabbed me and held me. They told me, “Take out what you have and go on your way.” I told them, “I only have $1,000 pesos, I will give them to you if you will leave me in peace.

I gave the money to them. When they went on their way and I was alone, I went to see if my friend was alive. When I looked between the rods on the side of the train, I saw one of my friend’s tennis shoes, I picked it up and said, he is dead, because there were drops of blood between the train cars. I changed to another car because I didn’t want to go on there.

Now I was traveling alone and at 3:00 a.m. I arrived in Veracruz and the train stopped. There in Veracruz there was a change of trains. I went along without any problems to Mexico City. Upon arriving in Lecheria, I got off the train and started to beg for food. From there I want to hide along the bank of a river.

At about 4 a.m. a lot of people arrived to drink alcohol and take drugs and I heard it all. Soon I heard them begin to fight. There were some shots, and many went running. It began to rain, but I was too frightened to leave. When I did come out at 5:00 in the morning, I heard complaining from somebody, but I got out without problems. I arrived at the train tracks. The train was coming and I got on without any problem. But I was very wet. And thus I arrived at the next town, where there was a shelter for immigrants.

I went to Monterrey. There they gave me food and 450 pesos. I was waiting there for the train when the police caught me and arrested me for 24 hours and then set me free.

When I left the jail, I got on the train and arrived in Laredo at about 3:00 a.m.

I went to look for the river and came to the bridge of the train tracks. I was very frightened because I saw three men hanging by their feet from the bridge, bleeding. Then two men came out of the brush and they insulted me in a vulgar way. I ran and hid in an abandoned house. I didn’t feel comfortable and so I ran to the train. It was coming and I got on, and soon I was back in Monterrey. There I got on another train that went to Piedras Negras. It was so beautiful that I didn’t see any bad guys or police there.

I began to walk along the bank of the river. After about three miles, I crossed the river and then my calvary began again. I walked three days, going around the immigration check point and came to a train track. I walked to a bridge and ran into some immigration agents. I took off running.

A Rattlesnake

I had to hide and circle around until I found the train tracks further on. I walked along a gap near the track when I heard a rattle. I didn’t have time to get away, because a snake attacked me, nailing its fangs into the cloth of my jeans. Fortunately, I had on three pairs of jeans and tall boots, and so I was not bitten.

From there I walked on three days. When I arrived in San Antonio, I was giving thanks to God for being there. At the train station, I rested until midday, but I was too hungry. I walked to the bus station and started to beg. I got five dollars. When I asked one man for help, he asked me what I needed money for and I said, to buy a ticket to Houston. He said if that was the case, he would buy me a bus ticket to Houston – and he did that.

I arrived here at about three in the morning, hungry, with a cough, aching all over, and with a fever, and I started to look for something to eat.  I met a man who told me I was very ill and that I should go to Casa Juan Diego. When I told him I didn’t know where it was, he told me he would pay for a cab to take me. And so it was.

I arrived here at Casa Juan Diego, where they took me to their clinic for examination and now I am in treatment. My fever is gone, and little by little my cough is getting better….

Houston Catholic Worker, Vol. XXXIV, No. 5, November-December 2013.