As a young girl in Nicaragua, all you hear is, “Los estados son muy bonitos y hay muchas oportunidades para trabajar y salir adelante.” Comalapa, the village you grew up in, the smallest town there is in Nicaragua, cars barely passing by; everyone knows everybody. The house your parents built from the ground with mango and jocote trees surrounding it. The touch of the grape-sized fruit, mamoncillo, once you bite on the shell with your teeth and it easily opens and you just enjoy. The frijoles and freshly made quesillos, the cuajada, everything just exploded with flavor, the milk from the cow still warm. Being one out of twelve kids, three of your siblings already making their lives out there where you aspire to be. Seeing them becoming so financially stable and living their best lives just makes it so tempting to just go.
Mi linda Nicaragua cuanto te adoro pero tengo que seguir mis sueños.
Guatemala, unbearable heat, sun hitting your skin, slowly melting you and making you feel like you can’t breathe at times, beach just across the block filled with people during Semana Santa, when people gathering from many different places in Guatemala just to enjoy the weather and the cold ocean water. Sure, Milton G. had the life in Champerico, being able to go where he wanted when he wanted, helping his father collect the milk from the udders of the many cows they had. But he knew there was more. He had this motivation, and that was his mother. Throughout his youth, this woman who he so vividly remembered, this sweet caring mother of seven, the one that made him who he is up to this day, was thousands of miles away with his older sisters who kept convincing him that it’d be better if he was with them and telling him that the jobs over there were so much easier than the ones in Guatemala. He was a teenager. Who wouldn’t want to be with their mother, your nurturer? It was in his nature to be with her no matter what happened. He just needed his mother’s love.
Border, Border, Border
You’re in my mind, you’re in my mind
Preventing families from being together
Borders—in my mind, you intimidate me
I am not able to be myself because of you
The pain you have brought me and my family
It’s not fair
We are all human
What is the difference
Between me and an upper-class person
I am just looked at wrongly
Others are not
Border, you do not protect
It’s a shame to think that
This society is such a wreck
Every day I am targeted
Fifteen, naive, “Quiero ser aprobada para la visa.” Eventually, she convinced her mother to take her to Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, Chontales. This teenage girl who had high hopes, going into the Office of National Services, looking at all the faces that surrounded her, the sight of her mother with a glimmer in her eyes. Terrified of what might happen, the first step Raquel took into that office would eventually be the last. After filling out tremendous amounts of paperwork, they went home on a three-hour bus ride, smelling the tajadas that people made, watching the people selling Coca-Cola in small bags with a straw, the men hanging onto the bus for dear life just to get somewhere. The bus was always full, but women and children always got seats. Raquel was just happy to at least try and pursue the American Dream. Eventually, about three weeks later, some mail came in and there it was: “Visa para Raquel Miranda.” She cried the moment she saw her name. It was just astonishing to imagine herself going there. The next day, her mother bought her a one-way ticket to San Francisco, and that was that. She packed her bags, got on that plane knowing her siblings were waiting for her on the other side, and imagined the possibilities for her future.
To read the rest of this piece, pick up a copy of We All Belong, available in our store.