Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I'm waiting for Ms. Nowak's Wild Ride

Saw this on TV (BBC World News), found the printed story at Mary Baker Eddy's paper.

Sirens wail, and Rosa Estrada charges down a dirt path, down the side of a mud bank, then picks her way silently across the stinking, swampy earth.

"Get under the bushes!" someone barks in a whisper in the blackness of the night. "Immigration is coming!"

Twenty Mexicans scramble to the ground, crouching among thick branches and brambles....

[Rosa] is not on her way to "El Norte." About 700 miles from the US-Mexican border, she has paid $18 at a park in the central state of Hidalgo that offers a simulated experience of a migrant crossing.

Welcome to Mexico's take on adventure tourism, a five-hour trek that goes well past midnight. Residents pay to walk in mud past their ankles, balance on ledges – in pitch black – that drop steeply, and sprint across corn fields, kicking up dirt and rocks as they run from fake US border patrol officers dressed in camouflage.

The park was begun by the Hñahñu, an indigenous community in El Alberto that has been decimated by immigration to the US....

[T]he purpose is to pay homage to those who must leave Mexico to earn money for their families, and, above all, to generate more employment so the rest of the community can stay put....

Some 3,000 Mexicans...have paid for this tour, called the Caminata Nocturna, or Night Hike, since it began two-and-a-half years ago. Far from picking up tips on how to cross the desert, Trejo and a group of family and friends came out of curiosity: "Someone recommended it; they said it was fun."

Others, like Estrada, feel a certain empathy. She's been on this "tour" three times, and each time brings a new family member or friend. "We get so immersed in our lives that we forget how much other people suffer," says Estrada, from Mexico City, who came with eight family members this time, including her 12-year-old son. "I don't want this to just be fun for him. I want him to take home the message."

Just goes to show you can create a theme park for just about anything.


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