On day five we were taken to tour the city of Xela. We walked its main streets, witnessed central part and their two-century-old stone bridge, and got to shop at the local market named ‘’La Democracia’’, which is over six blocks large.
Following our tour of the city, we attended a presentation on Immigration, given by our host Jenny. The presentation was followed up by two immigrants speaking about their experiences in the US.
The immigration seemed to be very resourceful to those that are not as familiar with the topic. Although I am not an expert on the topic, much of the information has been shared with me before, such as the economic and social impacts of the immigration phenomenon. On the other hand, although I have heard several immigrant testimonies already, hearing both our guests was still impactful. One of our guests talked bout how he passed out in the desert because he ran out of food and water for six days, and he was left there by the group he was traveling with; he told how he was just waiting to be eaten, and instead returned to consciousness and turned himself into the authorities in order to be given food, water, and shelter. Our second guest explained mainly how the transportation system to the US for immigrants (i.e. ‘’los coyotes’’), has changed over the last decade, and how the system now takes even more advantage of poor immigrants.
In the evening we watched a documentary on immigration that dealt with the relationship between reform wars in various central American countries and how those wars, caused and promulgated by the US, caused Latino immigration. What stood out the most about the video was the interesting history of the wars, most mostly one quote: ‘’if Americans knew the story behind the Latino diaspora, mainly the wars the US government started that caused Latinos to flee, not immigrate, Americans would understand that the ‘problem’’ of immigration started because of them’’.
At night we visited a local café with local cumbia-rock music. The band had all of the Grinnellians dancing and trying to find ways to bring them to Latin American Festival. Best night so far!!!!!
p.s. Strangely, we the receptionist at our hotel is a girl that will be going to Grinnell next year, and we ran into a first year who is living here for the break. CRAZY RIGHT!?!