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The Wind Doesn’t Need a Passport

The Wind Doesn’t Need a Passport: Stories from the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Tyche Hendricks
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pp9mv
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  • Book Info
    The Wind Doesn’t Need a Passport
    Book Description:

    Award-winning journalist Tyche Hendricks has explored the U.S.-Mexico borderlands by car and by foot, on horseback, and in the back of a pickup truck. She has shared meals with border residents, listened to their stories, and visited their homes, churches, hospitals, farms, and jails. In this dazzling portrait of one of the least understood and most debated regions in the country, Hendricks introduces us to the ordinary Americans and Mexicans who live there—cowboys and Indians, factory workers and physicians, naturalists and nuns. A new picture of the borderlands emerges, and we find that this region is not the dividing line so often imagined by Americans, but is a common ground alive with the energy of cultural exchange and international commerce, burdened with too-rapid growth and binational conflict, and underlain with a deep sense of history.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94550-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. MAP OF THE U.S.-MEXICO BORDERLANDS
    (pp. x-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)

    The green-brown water of the Rio Grande swirls and eddies as it flows eastward past the overhanging trees on the shore at Los Ebanos, Texas, site of the last hand-pulled ferry crossing on the U.S.-Mexico border. The steel barge, tethered to a system of cables and pulleys, plies the river from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day. The ferry’s deck can accommodate three cars, a dozen pedestrians, and a few stocky men in feed store caps and dusty blue jeans who grasp a rope spanning the river and pull rhythmically, leaning their bodies into the work. On the thirty-ninth...

  5. ONE Elsa: “We want to hold our kids close forever”
    (pp. 14-30)

    The thunk and slap of a volleyball game echoed through the junior high school gymnasium in Elsa, Texas. Sweat streaming from her forehead and a long dark ponytail flopping on her shoulders, Maribel Saenz connected with the ball, setting it up for a teammate who spiked it over the net. With a whoop of glee, the seventeen-year-old led her fellows in a brief victory dance. But the game eventually went to the other team, led by Mari’s sister, Carolina, a lanky fifteen-year-old and the strongest player on the court.

    The relative cool of the gym was a welcome respite from...

  6. TWO McAllen/Reynosa: “Most people here work in the maquiladoras”
    (pp. 31-53)

    A family of giraffes strutted across the fifty-two-inch television screen in Char Taylor’s living room. Outside the air was hot and sultry—the bank thermometer in downtown McAllen, Texas, read 103 degrees at 10:00 a.m. In Taylor’s subdivision, a few miles west, the turquoise swimming pool sparkled invitingly. Her five-year-old niece Chloe, visiting from Taylor’s hometown in Kansas, begged to swim. But the sun was too strong. Better to wait for evening, Taylor said. So the pair stayed indoors, where air conditioning kept the five-bedroom house pleasant. Chloe arranged her Beanie Babies on the couch while Taylor folded laundry and...

  7. THREE Hachita: “A fence is only as good as its weakest point”
    (pp. 54-78)

    Lawrence hurt shifted from foot to foot, dancing like a boxer. He advanced on a group of calves and mother cows and set them trotting into the corral’s sorting alley. Then he pulled back—patient, intent, his arms loose at his sides. Inside his dusty leather work boots, he bounced lightly on the balls of his feet.

    Beyond him, the khaki-colored grassland of southwestern New Mexico stretched toward the Mexican border. The wiry forty-six-year-old Hurt was part of the third generation of a ranching family, and he knew the terrain intimately. Though the wide landscape appeared almost untouched, Hurt knew,...

  8. FOUR Nogales/Nogales: “If they get sick here, we care for them”
    (pp. 79-97)

    Making his rounds through the hospital general, in the growing border city of Nogales, Sonora, internist Enrique Contreras stopped beside a bed where a stout nurse was bathing a badly injured patient with a washcloth. The patient, Hugo Llanos, a twenty-year-old peasant from Oaxaca, had spent a week in this public hospital, drifting in and out of consciousness, after being transferred by ambulance from St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. Border Patrol agents had found his body crumpled near some railroad tracks in Arizona, his hands and face smashed and bleeding, and guessed that he had jumped or fallen from a...

  9. FIVE Sells: “O’odham first and American or Mexican second”
    (pp. 98-120)

    Driving the red clay roads of the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation, Harriet Toro passed an adobe house with a fence of dried ocotillo stalks and jounced over a cattle guard set into a wire fence that marked the border with Mexico. Toro was heading south from the tribal headquarters in the town of Sells, Arizona, to pay a visit to an O’odham man just over the border in northern Sonora.

    This place—which today is the borderlands—was home to the Tohono O’odham, or Desert People, long before the international boundary was scrawled across it in 1853. Over thousands of...

  10. SIX Mexicali: “The wind doesn’t need a passport”
    (pp. 121-144)

    A pair of fortresslike power plants looms on the empty desert plain outside Mexicali, just a few miles south of the U.S. border. On a calm September morning, three men tromped around the perimeter of one of the plants. They peered through the chain-link and barbed-wire fence and took note of a sharp chlorine smell where water from the plant’s cooling towers burbled out of a concrete drainage pipe into a discharge canal shaded by tamarisk and bulrushes.

    Two of the three—brawny men in cowboy boots—were Imperial County air pollution agents, who had driven by pickup truck from...

  11. SEVEN Jacumba: “The border is a sham”
    (pp. 145-166)

    Britt craig backed his old brown van gingerly off the dirt road and parked under a piñon tree in the dry, rocky hills of eastern San Diego County. As he waited for night to fall, he made camp in this clearing on a ridge, a scant quarter mile from the Mexican border. He opened the van’s rear door, and his two portly black cats, Janie and Homegirl, hopped out to explore the lay of the land.

    Craig, fifty-six, a decorated Vietnam veteran, had driven 2,500 miles from St. Augustine, Florida, to join a little band of Minuteman volunteers patrolling the...

  12. EIGHT Tijuana: “A constant drumbeat of killings”
    (pp. 167-190)

    On a tijuana side street, just steps from the rusting steel border fence, two dozen preschoolers ate a lunch of spaghetti and milk one December day at the Mother Antonia Child Care Center for the families of police officers. After their teachers cleared the little tables and wiped the small hands clean, the children erupted in squeals of excitement: the Christmasposadawas about to begin.

    A clown twisted long balloons into the shapes of butterflies and dachshunds. His wife painted tiger stripes and whiskers on the children’s faces. And a teacher passed a basket of colorfulcascarones, blown eggs...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 191-204)

    The stories of people who live in the borderlands reveal the complexity of the place and the myriad connections that link families, friends, coworkers, and counterparts across the international frontier. Those linkages are not always individual relationships. Sometimes they are reflections of the way that lives on either side are shaped by larger, binational forces, whether the quantity of water released across the border in an ancient riverbed, the transmission of infectious diseases in adjacent urban centers, or the border’s ceaseless commerce in manufactured goods, agricultural products, labor, and intellectual capital.

    From the everyday experiences of people who call the...

  14. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 205-208)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 209-230)
  16. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 231-236)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 237-248)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 249-249)