The End of the Road
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LOS CORRALES, Mexico -- The Mexican border is dotted with tiny towns at the end of the road, where Mexico meets the fence and there are no legal crossings. The dots on the maps have names. El Gato, the cat. Las Palmas, the palms. We drove over a rutted gravel road to reach Los Corrales, the corrals, just to see what is there.
Just two families are left in Los Corrales. More ranch than town, it is poor and quiet and beautiful, sitting on a rise above a desert valley. Blanca Romero greets us. She lives in a one-room adobe house with her son and husband, beside a creaking windmill and a rattlesnake skeleton dangling from a tree.
Years ago, this was the crossing where cowboys from a dozen big ranches in Mexico brought their cattle to sell to the Americans. “It was a lively spot,” Blanca said. She has spent her whole life here. As she speaks, her toddler son plays with ants in the dirt yard. Her husband is off working cattle.
Blanca points to the border fence a few hundred yards away. “That is new,” she said. The metal wall is oxidizing and has turned a pretty rusty red. She points to the old bunkhouse, abandoned. “And that is old.”
Nearby are the ruins of the Mexican customs station, where the government took its cut, the crumbling walls now marked with graffiti drawn with bits of charcoal from the camp fires migrants lit to cook a can of beans or warm the night air. The writing is mostly names and dates. The coroners in Arizona have recorded 86 migrant deaths this year in the Tucson sector, mostly from dehydration and exposure.
“We don’t see too many travelers because my husband doesn’t let them use the trail,” she said. Mostly the migrants cross closer to Naco, a border town 15 miles to the east, where the plaza is filled with polleros, the smugglers, who whistle and call out to newcomers, “Taxi? taxi?”
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