We left Tucson at 6 a.m. – eight of us in two Humane Borders trucks, headed west toward Ajo and finally, Organ Pipe National Monument.

Eleven hours later, after making the rounds to several water stations, we returned to Tucson – sweaty, tired, and (for me, at least) with a greater understanding of just how vast, beautiful and unforgiving is the desert backdrop for all the border drama and politics often in the news.

At one water station, we hauled five-gallon jugs
from the truck parked on the dirt road by wheelbarrow and by hand over a rough trail about 1/2 mile up to the water station. We were out there maybe an hour – and that was enough for all of us. Being out there gave me a glimpse of how difficult it is for the migrants. Out here the rhetoric of immigration policy – what it is, what it should be, who benefits – just evaporates in the scorching sun. The desert doesn’t give a d—.

We saw Border Patrol all day long – in pickup trucks, in a Humvee at Organ Pipe, in a low-flying chopper over distant wash, with guns drawn at someone or something beside the road, and later, also beside the road, with a group of apprehended migrants.

We ate lunch at a restaurant at the border checkpoint at Lukeville. Here is a view of the 30 mile border fence – chain link, with another row of steel fencing beside it.

Thirty miles may seem like a big fence – but don’t be fooled. If you looked at the border on a map, you’d see that there is plenty of room to enter…but the desert gets even harsher out that direction.

Along the way I got to talk to Humane Borders’ Robin Hoover. In between jokes – R-rated jokes, Bible jokes, made-up jokes and puns – he told the stories that go along with this place and its recent history. Tragic deaths, rescues, Indian lore, confrontations, wild animals, crazy people who weren’t crazy at all…but the main character in most is the desert.

Here is my favorite joke from today, told by Robin: “What happens if you don’t pay your exorcist? You get repossessed!”