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Tecun Uman, Guatemala--Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico

I´m mildly exhausted today from the yesterday´s long travel day. Still woke up early, though, thanks to my new roommate, and fat friend, Domingo´s gas. I almost had a heart attack when he busted loose.

Anyway, the early bird gets the worm in these parts. 6am-8am is prime time for hondu to cross the Suchiate River into North America. When one talks about the Mexican border, naturally we think of South...Texas, California, etc. The southern border of Mexico is a forgotten border. It´s wild. I like wild. I find myself thinking about this border often, probably more often than what would be considered healthy.

Let me paint a picture, or you can just look at the photos I attached. The river is about 200 yards (600 feet or approximately .5 km) wide and it looks like chocolate milk. Or diarrhea. There is an International Bridge for people and goods to cross from Guatemala to Mexico and vice versa LEGALLY. There is minimal traffic on the bridge, however. Most people choose the more ¨adventurous¨ raft, which, as you might imagine, is ILLEGAL. Right under the respective noses of Guatemalan and Mexican officials, within spitting distance of the International Bridge, loads of rafts transport people, hondu (illegals), drugs and any type of contraband you can imagine. It´s quite an impressive operation. You jump on the raft, which is a huge inner tube with a wood plank in the middle to transport stuff. There are two chofers, one in the water that walks the raft until it gets too deep and another that stands above everyone like a gondola pilot. It´s like being in Venice, just different. The journey takes about 5 minutes. You disembark in another country and pay $1.25 for the illegal ride.

I approached the banks of the Guatemalan side of the river with caution. It was about 7AM, but regardless these areas attract all types of characters. Already impressive amounts of contraband were floating around. I did some reconnaissance and eventually found mis amigos, Gangsta and Sensitive Guy. They both have names now, Luis= Gangsta & Franklin= Sensitive Guy. They are from Honduras, or as we affectionately refer to them, HONDU.

Once again, like yesterday, mis amigos seemed lost. They were walking up and down the banks trying to figure out what to do. Although my goal is to remain an observer and document the journey of an illegal, I had to intervene. It was so frustrating watching the blind lead the blind. It felt weird again but I gave them the lay of the land or as we refer to it in these parts, how the water flows. Eventually I got Luis and Frankie to board a raft and we were off. We filmed, we made fun of each other anddiscussedssed plans. When we arrived in Mexico, I wished my new Hondu friends well and we agreed to meet at the beginning of the train line...about 6 hours a few days. I hope to see them again.

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