Wednesday, February 5, 2014

O Frabjous Day

Woke to a nicely cool, slightly damp morning (compared to the past two months in Phoenix!).  Walked to the end of the park to view sunrise over the lettuce fields and found this gentleman walking in the distance.  He reminded me of a French farmer for some reason (must be the hat).

Two fields away a cluster of trees hosted a cacophony of birdsong and everywhere doves cooed.

Morning over the lettuce fields.
Yesterday we drove to Yuma from Dateland and despite a couple of wrong turns, ended up in California quite suddenly, where we found a campground—the McCoy Mobile Home Park in Winterhaven, tucked between lettuce fields near the Colorado River in what is apparently part of Imperial Valley.

I wanted to see the border of Mexico.  In Yuma, Mexico is both south and west.  Here is where the Gila River joins the Colorado River and for a brief spate, the Colorado is the Mexican/United States border.

The famous border fence on the west side of the farm fields. 
But one cannot really get to the western border, except on dirt roads and (my guess is) private property.  From even a slightly elevated vantage point, one can look over into Mexico. In our explorations, we found miles and miles of farm fields.

This is agricultural country, much to my surprise, and the fields were filled with workers picking lettuce.  It was packed in boxes as it was picked and loaded immediately onto semi-trucks.  Fresh.

The fields are unlike Iowa fields, because the crops are all short ones.  Lettuce, cauliflower, arugula, other greens I didn’t recognize from the car window. Everywhere one sees old school buses faded yellow or now-faded white, with porta-Johns on a trailer behind.  These are the agricultural transports.  They make a circuit picking up workers in the morning, and take them home at night.  It is hard, back-breaking work for little pay. 

Ninety percent of the world’s winter lettuce is produced here in the Yuma area.  Workers live locally, or travel here in the season to work, or are bused across the border daily.  

Curious to at least see Mexico, we ended up driving 20 miles south to the border town of San Luis.  There I got pictures of the border and the famous fence.  

The park butts up against the border fence.  Here you see foot traffic crossing into Mexico.

Here you see the border at San Luis, Arizona, adjacent to Friendship Park. 

The border fence extending across the southern edge of Arizona at San Luis. This picture was taken facing west.

Close up of the fence

The street that run parallel to the fence. 
In light of the conflicts of recent years, I think that Friendship Park is ironically named! Although I did not see any open signs of hostility--everyone was friendly, there were no obvious guards, etc.  (Certainly not like my visit to Ecuador, where seriously armed police were everywhere!)

I admit I know very little about migrant workers or border disputes, but I was glad to get even a glimpse today of the work being done and the monumental place the border holds in the consciousness of those who live nearby.

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