Natalie Scenters-Zapico

Border Crossing Simulation

            For 250 pesos, or 12.00 USD, you can experience a simulation
             of a border crossing in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo, México.

The chairos from Mexico City travel by bus for an hour,
arrive at Parque EcoAlberto. They’ve come to walk all night
in the desert in the middle of México to simulate a border
crossing. They bring jugs filled with water & pose for selfies.

The journalists expose la caminata
nocturna, not as a training ground for crossing
the border, one thousand miles away from here,
but as a piece of performance art.

The desert here is no desert at all & I think of how I could cut a
thick-barreled cactus open & eat it.
In Chihuahua I’ve never seen thick-barreled cacti, only the thin long
threads of ocotillo that don’t carry much water.

Part of the simulation is not knowing your coyote’s real name. Part
of the simulation is knowing your group could leave you behind.
Part of the simulation is knowing that if you are left behind, a
pickup truck will take you back to your hotel.

Through caves, through brush, through needles
we form a line by holding on to a stranger’s backpack. In the dark live
rounds are fired. I duck & people laugh knowing a bullet will never
wound them.

When you wade across the river you only have to worry about
swimming if a current pulls you under, not the red glare of night
vision goggles, flood lights, & guns that would kill you without ever
asking your name.

In the simulation, only two people make it to the other side without
getting stopped by actors portraying la migra or narcos.
All are brought back in pickup trucks to return to their hotels for
cups of atole. It’s three in the morning, a girl laughs.

We sing mexicanos al grito de guerra. I walk back
to my room, turn on the light, & the flying ants won’t stop swarming.
It is so dark & I have so much water left in my jug. My teeth full of

grit from the atole.