Friday, December 27, 2013

Southern Arizona's Autumn of Resistance Against The Border Patrol and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

(originally published at  Border Wars)

          The Dream 9 in Nogales, Sonora   (photographer unknown)
Protest in Nogales, Sonora and Arizona on
anniversary of murder of José Antonio Elena Rodriguez

While southern Arizona continues to be ground zero for the most extreme measures of border militarization today, it is also home to powerful nodes of civil resistance. On December 8, local residents from Arivaca and the surrounding area held their first protest at a Border Patrol checkpoint—one out of about a dozen located throughout the region. The protest focused on one of many concerns shared by all the residents: the disruption of the checkpoint to their daily lives. I documented the event in the video posted below.
Though powerful in its own right, the protest was only the latest in a series of recent, high-profile actions across southern Arizona, ranging from civil disobedience to solidarity vigils:
The Dream 9, a group of undocumented youth who grew up in the United States but eventually returned to Mexico, reentered the United States on September 30 in Nogales, AZ as part of a public protest to challenge the unjust immigration system. The youth were detained and later released to face future immigration proceedings.

In Tucson, on October 11, police arrested more than 20 activists after they locked themselves down to buses carrying chained undocumented immigrants on their way to Operation Streamline—an immigration court that hands out prison sentences for reentry into the United States. Border Patrol and police have arrested and pepper-sprayed other activists trying to block deportations of undocumented immigrants.
On October 10, family, friends, and solidarity activists held a binational march and vigil along the border wall to denounce the complete impunity of the Border Patrol agents who gunned down 16-year-old José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, a Mexican national killed as he walked down the street of his hometown Nogales, Sonora on October 10, 2012. José Antonio was the sixth Mexican citizen slain by the Border Patrol on Mexican soil since 2010.
Also in October, the 26-year-old southern Arizona resident Jill Lix posted a video that has since gone viral, showing her defying Border Patrol requests to search her car at a checkpoint. The video underscores the reality that has riled up so many in southern Arizona: not only the Border Patrol’s lack of professionalism, but also the nearly comical bungling of poorly trained agents facing someone who clearly knows her rights.
Stopping Operation Streamline in Tucson Oct. 11
(photo courtesy Blake Gentry)
Before we marched on the Border Patrol checkpoint located on Arivaca Road near Amado, AZ (about 30 miles north of Nogales), organizers informed us that the checkpoint had closed for the day in response to the protest—another small victory in southern Arizona’s autumn of resistance against the machinery of militarization and deportation.

Richard Boren is a freelance journalist based in the Arizona-Sonora borderlands. He blogs at The Hobo Dispatch (

In memory of José Antonio Elena Rodriguez and the
other innocent victims of the Border Patrol. 

 ( includes songs by Ted Warmbrand, Guardabarranco, and Victor Jara)

                                                      THE DEATH OF JOSE ANTONIO
                               AN OUTCRY FOR JUSTICE ON THE U.S.-MEXICO BORDER

Sunday, December 1, 2013

BLACK FRIDAY AT WALMART: Underpaid Workers Forced To Be Away From Their Families On Thanksgiving; Over 100 Arrested Outside Stores and Some Shoppers Brawl Inside

"Walmart employees and supporters protested in cities all across the country on Black Friday in opposition to Walmart’s low wages and poor treatment of workers. In some cases, protesters volunteered to engage in acts of civil disobedience and were arrested by police. Organizers expected 1,500 total protests in California, Alaska, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Minnesota, Illinois, Washington and Canada. In Secaucus, New Jersey, thirteen activists were arrested after sitting in the middle of the street to block traffic."
From The Nation, "Activists Are Arrested Protesting Walmart's Low Wages" by Allison Kilkenny, Nov. 29, 2013. To read the full article click on link below:
Activists Are Arrested Protesting Walmart's Low Wages

           Video of The Black Friday Protest At A Walmart in                                              Tucson, AZ organized by Jobs With Justice

   Video of Shoppers Resorting To Violence On 
Black Friday and Protests Around The Country

In 2008 a Walmart employee was killed by a consumer stampede on Black Friday, a tragic reminder of the dangers workers face even in a Walmart store. This report appeared on Democracy Now!

Friday, October 25, 2013

OCCUPY UNEDITED; The 4th and final installment of our series on the Occupy Movement on the second anniversary: Video and Photos from OCCUPY NEW ORLEANS, MEMPHIS, NASHVILLE, TUCSON, D.C. AND OCCUPY CONGRESS, RALEIGH, EL PASO, TAMPA, LITTLE ROCK.

Occupy Congress, Jan. 17, 2012 ; All photos and video by the Hobo Dispatch
After waves of protest in other parts of the world, it all kicked off in the U.S. on Sept. 17, 2013 with Occupy Wall Street, which became ground zero for the movement. This final installment is just to present all our remaining photos and video footage of Occupy encampments and events.  By pure luck was able to visit all these different encampments during a cross-country road trip in Dec. 2011 when I traveled from AZ to the east coast to visit family. At the end have included a link to what I consider to be a good reflection on Occupy which appeared in The Nation. As far as my own analysis of the Occupy movement's success or failure in what it set out to do I'll stick with a friend's quote: "If you're not sitting around on a couch, and actually out there doing something, you're OCCUPYING!"

OCCUPY NOLA--I spent 2 days in New Orleans in Dec. 2011, just before the camp's eviction. Occupy NOLA was a fascinating environment as the video shows, complete with its own square dance which a  few New Orleans Saints fans joined after the game.

DEC. 2011

Video also shows the Lorraine Motel (National Civil Rights Museum), and the lone occupier Jacqueline Smith who continues her decades long vigil outside the museum.

 DEC. 2011

I showed up here one evening and was given a tent site and a instant soup for supper. The following day I filmed a protest against the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court.

 OCCUPY TUCSON, Nov. 2011                                 Occupy Tucson ended up having three different encampments, three evictions, over 700 citations and arrests. Today they have an office in the Center For Global Justice and are still having general assemblies and protests.


Our most comprehensive video of Occupy activities, showing general assemblies, human mic., etc. and the Jan. 17, 2012 OCCUPY CONGRESS which attracted several thousand occupiers from all over the country. I camped with them in the freezing cold in Freedom Plaza for 4 days.                                                                            


For months they slept on the sidewalk in downtown Tampa enduring harassment and arrests, then they set up an encampment in a private park in West Tampa.

 Dec. 2011 

Occupy Austin slept on the steps of City Hall. Occupy Raleigh set up camp in a private space downtown.



Occupy Little Rock

An interesting camp beside the interstate with a geodesic dome, wood heat, solar panels, and meditation tent. A tornado alert took place the night I spent there and the Holiday Inn next door put everyone up for the night for free.


Breaking Up With Occupy; The Nation



Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Oct. 8--Tucson Police meet non-violent protesters

You couldn't write a more dramatic movie script: Sept. 30- Thirty young undocumented immigrants, who grew up in the U.S. but returned to Mexico, known as Dreamers, literally throwing themselves into the frying pan by crossing the border into the U.S. and right into detention to argue their right to live in the U.S.  Oct. 8-Activists in Tucson, AZ surround Border Patrol and police vehicles to halt the deportation of several friends who are undocumented---they get pepper sprayed and roughed up, but they get their friends freed on bond! Oct. 11- a group of activists chain themselves to buses hauling chained immigrants to the kangaroo court known as Operation Streamline in Tucson and others lock down in front of the court---over 20 are arrested but court proceedings are cancelled for the day!  The record pace of deportation in the U.S. is no longer business as usual.

Here's an article covering the events:

     OCT.11, 2013---Activists Shut Down Operation Streamline
Here's a new one for the HOBO DISPATCH media department--filming livestream on a computer and then editing a video from that.  The quality isn't so great, but we didn't even leave the couch to cover this great action.

We did attend this march in Nogales, Sonora, MX, and produced this video from our own footage. This is a follow-up to our Sept. 30 post and Action Alert. Please read that and take action.


The Border Patrol believe they are THE LAW ABOVE AND BELOW so living near the border subjects one to regular harassment which we just come to accept as part of life like the sun rising and setting. Like a recent family vacation where an unmarked Border Patrol vehicle followed us for a half hour before finally pulling us over. The the poorly trained agent questioned us for about 15 minutes about our citizenship, where we had been and we going, how long we had spent at the lake, if we cross the border regularly, etc. When he ran out of questions he just walked away. Border Patrol agents have trouble standing down. He never said "Go ahead, have a nice day" at the end. He had no reason to pull us over. My wife even joked she almost felt sorry for him and nearly told him he could arrest her just so he would have something to show for his efforts. 


This video shows the courageous efforts of Jill Lix, a 26-year-old resident of the Patagonia, AZ area, who refuses to be searched and detained in this video. The Border Patrol agents are clueless! A MUST VIEW!

Here's the article about Jill!



At this year's October fiestas in Magdalena de Kino, Sonora, I focused on filming those who walk to Magdalena as a spiritual commitment, including a large group of Tohono O'odham who walked for many days and nights.


Finally years ago I was privileged to take part in a wonderful movement against a nuclear dump in Sierra Blanca, TX, which was promoted by the state of Texas and then governor George W. Bush. The dump's location near the Rio Grande led to a large binational movement with thousands of Mexicans taking part. I produced this video for the 15th anniversary of the dump's defeat which occurred on Oct. 22, 1998.

Monday, September 30, 2013


  A follow-up to our June 1, 2013 post      

Shooting people in the back, beating to death a man pleading for mercy, killing a man enjoying his daughter's birthday at a family picnic, killing people for throwing rocks, denying prisoners food and water and other cruel treatment---a criminal gang at work? No, these are the actions of the U.S. Border Patrol, now the nation's largest, most poorly trained, most abusive, and most unaccountable police force. And many in Congress want to double the number of agents!
Taide Elena with portrait of grandson slain by Border Patrol, Nogales, Sonora. Credit: Josh Morgan, Tucson Weekly
One of the most recent atrocities committed by the Border Patrol was the shooting death of 16-year-old José Antonio Elena Rodriguez on Oct. 10, 2012 as he walked down the street in his hometown of Nogales, Mexico. Jose Antonio was shot at least 11 times, most in the back. As in all of these unjustified slayings by the Border Patrol (19 documented since 2010, 6 were slain in Mexico) no justice is given, no prosecutions, not even the names of guilty agents are released. But people like the courageous family of José Antonio are fighting back (see article link at end).  
Join the victims' families and border residents' struggle against the wall of impunity in these crimes committed in the name of border security. 
On October 10, 2013 (one year anniversary) the family of José Antonio and supporters will hold a rally and vigil at the border wall in Nogales.  Join the protest if you can, and take the following actions asap to hold the Border Patrol accountable for their actions and to halt the systematic abuse of border crossers and border residents.
1) Educate yourself and others! Watch the video below "The Death of José Antonio: An Outcry For Justice on the U.S.-Mexico Border." Show it in the classroom or organize an event (already several college professors are planning to show the video to their classes--write us for a dvd copy). Also  use the other videos and articles linked at the end. Let us know if you organize an event and how we can support that. We might be able to help line up a speaker, such as a family member of a victim. 
2) Contact members of Congress and the U.S. Justice Dept. Send this message (or write your own) to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder IN ADDITION TO calling in your message in on Oct. 10,  the one year anniversary of José Antonio's death:
I am outraged that the U.S. Dept. of Justice has failed to investigate the wave of killings and shootings by U.S. Border Patrol Agents of Mexican and U.S. citizens along the U.S.-Mexico border. Clearly most of the shootings are unjustified actions by poorly trained agents who need to be held accountable for their actions. The recent decisions by the Justice Department not to prosecute agents in the deaths of Carlos LaMadrid (a U.S. citizen killed on the U.S. side of the border wall) and Ramses Barron (killed on the Mexico side) are reprehensible. In the case of Barron's death the Justice Department stated it can do nothing since he died in Mexico and the Justice Department lacks jurisdiction in Mexico. This sends a message that the Mexican side of the border wall is a free-fire zone for Border Patrol agents. Six Mexican citizens have already been killed this way including one man at a family picnic. Oct. 10 completes one year with no justice in the case of José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, a 16 year-old Mexican youth who died in a hail of bullets from Border Patrol agents. An eyewitness stated José Antonio was just walking down the street. Video footage from the Border Patrol has never been released. The family of José Antonio deserves justice now!

Email Attorney General Eric Holder at:      
Write your members of Congress too! 
Use This Link To Write President Obama

On Oct. 10 call the U.S. Justice Department Public Comment Line   202-353-1555

3) Finally get involved with organizations in your area and state fighting for immigrant rights and opposing racist legislation and support and network with national organizations, such as the National Immigrant Youth Alliance ( which is behind the Dreamers movement.
For more information contact:
The Facebook Page for the Campaign for Justice For José Antonio (organizing the Oct. 10 protest, which begins at 5:30 p.m, with a great new video linked below)ña-Justicia-Para-Jose-Antonio-Ni-Una-Mas/349158795217224?ref=profile


On Oct. 10, 2012 José Antonio Elena Rodriguez was shot and killed by U.S. Border Patrol agents in Nogales, Sonora, MX. Six months later on April 10, 2013, a binational vigil was held in Nogales to protest the lack of justice in José Antonio's death.
La versión bilingue:
--The article, "A Grandmother Stronger Than The U.S.-Mexico Border Wall" describing the courageous struggle grandmother of José Antonio's grandmother, Taide Elena:
--An investigative report from the Nation Institute, "Over The Line; Why Are U.S. Border Patrol Agents Shooting Into Mexico and Killing Innocent Civilians?"  

--An excellent Fault Lines (Al Jazeera) documentary "Cross Border Killings"

Click on the links to watch these great videos!
New Video by The Campaign For Justice For José Antonio
Obama, Tear Down These Walls!

Finally read more about Border Patrol abuse of migrants in this 
report by Arizona based No More Deaths.
A Culture Of Cruelty

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tucson Action For Bradley Manning After 35 Year Sentence Handed Down on Aug. 21, 2013

A Nice Turnout In Tucson On a Sad Day For A Great Hero Who Exposed Terrible War Crimes,  Just Like Daniel Ellsberg Did During The Vietnam War.

Fresh recruits were training in front of the military recruitment headquarters during the protest. Let's hope Bradley Manning's courageous actions will prevent them from being ordered to commit war crimes.


Check out this short video of the action in Tucson.

The following is a transcript of the statement made by Pfc. Bradley Manning as read by David Coombs at a press conference on Wednesday Aug. 21, 2013 after Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

"The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We've been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we've had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based intentions [unclear], it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard Zinn once said, "There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people."

I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal."

Finally if you still have any doubt about whether Bradley Manning did the right thing, please spend 18 minutes to see this chilling footage from Iraq in 2007 released by WikiLeaks showing the U.S. military shooting civilians and journalists, and then opening fire on those who came to their rescue, and deciding against taking wounded children to a U.S. military hospital.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Tucson in the Streets: The Vibrant Struggle for Social Justice in Tucson, Arizona; Snapshots from 2012-13

Tucson has a monthly Peace Calendar packed with events and meetings. It is published by the Tucson Peace Center, which doesn't have a physical space, but does peace really need an office? Regular protests/vigils are held Wed.-Fri. (on some days more than one). There is a wide selection of things to do the rest of the week, with everything from discussing Marx to leaving water in the desert for desperate migrants (details at end).

Since 1981 a peace vigil has been held every Thursday in front of the Federal Building downtown.

Every Friday afternoon since 2001 the group Women In Black has held a vigil in Tucson.

Since the start of the Iraq invasion in 2003 a protest has been held every Wednesday morning outside the military recruitment offices in Tucson.

Tucson lies within the border zone where the U.S. constitution barely applies and the Border Patrol is the highest authority in the land. Groups like Derechos Humanos, No More Deaths, Border Action Network, and Tucson Samaritans hold regular vigils and protests such as this one on International Human Rights Day and a candlelight vigil every Thursday evening to remember migrants who die crossing the desert.

One of the most dramatic protests in Tucson in 2013 was the heroic action of Raúl Alcaráz Ochoa, a community organizer with the Southside Worker Center and Corazón de Tucson,  when he placed himself under a Border Patrol vehicle to try to prevent officials from detaining and deporting his friend René Meza Huertha, who had been stopped by Tucson police for a traffic violation. This protest calling for the release of Raúl and René happened the day Raúl was released from custody. 

The Nuclear Resister folks in Tucson hold regular protests outside Raytheon missile makers and Davis Monthan Air Force Base and in support of Bradley Manning, one of our nation's greatest heros.

On the labor front Tucson Jobs With Justice holds regular meetings and actions in support of organized labor and other social justice issues. Occupy Tucson is a vital partner of Jobs With Justice and it supports every other cause mentioned here.

And just for fun, I can't resist posting this promo/trailer I did for Jobs With Justice, Raiders of the Lost Ark style. I'll be glad to do one for your group, favorite cause, family, birthday party, pet, etc. (I charge much less than Hollywood too!)

Other groups that have a long-standing presence and history of struggle in Tucson include the Communist Party-USA, PanLeft (video production), Casa Maria (soup kitchen/Catholic Worker Community), Humane Borders (water stations for migrants), GUAMAP (Guatemala Acupuncture Project), Center For Biological Diversity, Sky Island Alliance, Marxist Discussion Group (they meet at the great coffee shop/bookstore Revolutionary Grounds), Salt of the Earth Labor College, the Alliance For Global Justice (AFGJ) which will be based along with several other organizations at the brand new Center For Global Justice, just across from the Gloo Factory, Tucson's great print shop for the peace movement. And of course don't miss the annual Peace Fair held every February.

Want more or interested in some other issue. You're bound to find it here. 
  Tucson Peace Calendar 

Friday, July 26, 2013

On Which Side Of The Border Wall Are People More Free? Profiles From Sonora, Mexico; Anais Nin's Reflections on Mexico (1947)

So many people in the U.S. are afraid to travel to Mexico. It's too dangerous, they conclude. Or could it be they have imprisoned themselves with this fear. Despite it's problems, Mexico is still a wonderful place to visit and most who do, and who stray from tourist hotels, will find some of the most hospitable, friendly, and fascinating people anywhere. This edition of the Hobo Dispatch is devoted to some of the great friends I've made in Sonora, Mexico. 


Eugenio and Olga Ruiz
Here's a good candidate for one of the freest men in Mexico,  Eugenio Ruiz, or Genio as most call him. He stays with his sister, Olga, most of the time now but he still likes to hit the road, traveling by foot. Genio and Olga are of indigenous roots and lived in the Pajarero culture of Sonora which is similar to the Gypsy lifesytle. They would travel in horse drawn wagons and set up camps outside towns, and do work or sell items. Genio made himself a little cart which he pulls along on his occasional trips.

In the video Genio talks about places he likes to visit, how he likes to travel to avoid "getting bored", how he picks up cans to earn money, that people give him food along the way, and that once  railroad workers gave him a lift. His sister Olga can be heard in the background.


From the "Diary of Anais Nin, Volume 5, 1947-55"  The writer Anais Nin wrote in her classic Diary about her love affair with Mexico, something that happens to many, myself included. But who could top her brilliant writing about Mexico. I won't attempt it. Enjoy.

Acapulco, Mexico  Winter (1947-48)

I am lying on a hammock, on the terrace of my room at the Hotel Mirador, the diary open on my knees, the sun shining on the diary, and I have no desire to write. The sun, the leaves, the shade, the warmth, are so alive that they lull the senses, calm the imagination. This is perfection. There is no need to portray, to preserve. It is eternal, it overwhelms you, it is complete.
Doña Olga in her kitchen in Imuris, Sonora

The natives have not yet learned from the white man his inventions for traveling away from the present, his scientific capacity for analyzing warmth into a chemical substance, for abstracting human beings into symbols. The white man has invented glasses which make objects too near or too far, cameras, telescopes, spyglasses, objects which put glass between living and vision. It is the image he seeks to possess, not the texture, the living warmth, the human closeness.

Doña Olga being interviewed with Maria Garcia of Tucson, AZ and her mother-in-law Elena. Doña Olga is shown selling medicinal plants which she gathers and sells.


Doña Olga's house in Imuris, Sonora
Here in Mexico they see only the present. The communion of eyes and smiles is elating. In New York
people seem intent on not seeing each other. Only children look with such unashamed curiosity. Poor white man, wandering and lost in his proud possession of a dimension in which bodies become invisible to the naked eye, as if staring were an immodest act. Here I feel incarnated and in full possession of my own body.

A new territory of pleasure. The green of the foliage is not like any other green; it is deeper, lacquered and moist. The leaves are heavier and fuller, the flowers bigger. They seem surcharged with sap, and more alive, as if they never have to close against the frost, or even a cold night. As if they have no need of sleep.

…Nature so powerful and drugging that it annihilates memory. People seem warmer and nearer, as the stars seem nearer nearer and the moon wamer.

Everardo and Victoriano: Two friends I've made while waiting to cross the border. They are vendors (Everardo sells hammocks and Victoriano sells gum and candy) who sell to those sitting in their cars in the long lines at the border crossing in Nogales, Sonora.


The first human being I see in the morning is the gardener. I can see him at work through the half-shut bamboo blinds. He is raking the pebbles and the sand, not as if he were eager to terminate the task, but as if raking pebbles and sand were a most pleasurable occupation and he wants to prolong the enjoyment. Now and then he stops to talk to a lonely little girl who skips rope and asks him questions which he answers patiently.

Festivities. Fiestas. Holidays. Bursts of color and joy. Collective celebrations. Rituals. Indian feasts and Catholic feasts. Any cause will do. Even the poor know how to dress up a town with colored paper cutouts which dance in the wind. What has happened to joy in America? The Americans in the hotel spend all their time drinking by the pool. The men go hunting flamingos, which they shoot for the pleasure of it. Or they fish for inedible mantarayas and weigh their spoils to win prizes.

Farm Day parade, Imuris, Sonora: Once I pulled into Imuris and found myself in the middle of their annual Farm Day (Dia del Rancho) parade with homemade floats carrying pigs, goats, etc, and folks celebrating rural life. 


Tonight I met a young man who hitchhiked all the way from Chicago and was picked up by the patron of the hotel and given secretarial work. His candor, bewilderment, and wonder at everything rejuvenates the most indifferent visitors already accustomed to the beauty.

The flow of beggars is endless. A few change their handicaps. When they tire of portraying blindness they appear with wooden legs, concealing their good legs under them. The genuine ones are terrifying, like nightmare figures: A child shriveled and shrunken, lying on a board with wheels which he pushes with his withered hands; an old woman so twisted that she resembles the roots of very ancient trees; many of them sightless, with festering sores in place of eyes. They all refused Dr. Hernandez’s help.  They want to remain part of the religious processions, the fireworks, the funerals, the weddings, band concerts, and the display of foreigners with their eccentric costumes.

But custom will not allow me to sit alone in a restaurant. Not Mexican custom. A man came and threw some money on my table, and sat down. The patron of the restaurant had to explain that foreign women went alone and it did not mean they were prostitutes.

Manuel Valdez, basket maker in Magdalena de Kino, Sonora: Manuel learned how to make baskets from his mentor Don Epigmenio. He is the only man still making baskets in Magdalena.


Dr. Hernandez comes to the hotel several times a day for the tourists. He carries his black doctor’s bag. He is my first friend here. After his visits he likes to sit on the terrace and talk a little and sip a drink.
He was written poetry, had a book published. He studied medicine in France. When he was first assigned to intern in Acupulco, he fought malaria, elephantiasis, and other tropical diseases. When his internship ended, he decided to stay on and practice.

He built a house on a protruding rock, extending out to the sea on the left of the Mirador, married and had children. But his wife hates Acapulco and is always going to Mexico City because there are no schools for their children in Acapulco.

Since more than half of his life is given to the poor of Acapulco, to dramas and tragedies of all kinds, he does not like tourists. “Because they live for pleasure only, because they pamper themselves, because half of their ills are imaginary. Most of the time they call me because they are frightened of foreign countries and foreign food.”

Manuel Sácuhi Mirasol, Cucurpe, Sonora: Don Manuel is one of the most fascinating people I've ever met, living on the land outside Cucurpe. He's a combination of his indigenous roots, Mexican farmer, and Marlboro Man. He lives most of the year in his rock cliff dwelling, spending the hot months under the stars by the river. If you don't understand Spanish scroll through the video to see his house, him making a lariat and keychains from cowhide, and taking a hike near his home.


Anais Nin visited Hatcher, a man from the U.S. who was living in Acapulco and who had married a woman from Mexico. Nin goes for a swim in the ocean by Hatcher's house,  and then has this profound reflection after returning to Hatcher's house.

Hatcher’s place was deep in the jungle on a hill overlooking the sea. On a small open space he had built a roof on posts, with only one wall in back. The cooking was done out of doors….They had their bedroom in the back, protected by curtains. Visitors slept in hammocks on the terrace.

When I came out of the sea, I felt reborn. I longed for this simplified life. Cooking over a wood fire, sleeping out of doors in a hammock, with only a Mexican blanket. I longed for naked feet in sandals, the freedom of the body in summer clothes, hair washed by the sea.

After a dinner of fish and black beans, Hatcher offered to show us the rest of his house. Behind the wall there was a storage room of which he was immensely proud. It was an enormous, as large as the house itself, with shelves reaching to the ceiling. There was in it every brand of canned food, medicines, tools, hunting guns, fishing equipment, garden tools, vitamins, seeds. He reveled in the completeness of it. “…..I felt immensely tired and depressed. I lay in my hammock pondering why I was so disappointed. I had imagined Hatcher free. I admired him as a man who had won independence from our culture and could live like a native, a simplified existence with few needs. And here he demonstrated complete dependence on complex and artificial products. America the mother and father had been transported into a supply shed, bottled and canned. He was not able to live here without possessions, with fresh fish and fruit in abundance, with cow’s milk and the products of hunting.

His fears made me question: was there no open road, simple, clear, unique? Could I live a new life here in Mexico, free of all that had wounded me in the past, and free of dependency?  Hatcher was not free of his bitterness about his first marriage, nor free of America. He was not free of the past.

Mexican Whitewash: Here's Manuel Valdez, the basket maker, and his brother José making white paint from lime and crushed prickly pear cactus.

Nin moved into a cottage overlooking the ocean
But several things happened in the little house. The tank on the roof which supplied water for the bath and for cooking would either run dry or overflow during the night. The insects I pursued with Flytox turned out to be scorpions, who liked to nest behind the straw mats. Rats came at night, ate the food, ran over my body and frightened me to death.

Then came time to leave.

The taxi driver who had sworn to come for me never came, and I had to drag my valise down the hill to take the bus. The day before at the beach I had witnessed cruelty toward a dog, who had fallen off a surfboard and was tottering on the beach, inflated with water, suffering, while the Mexicans lauged. I screamed at them and forced them to help the dog expel the water.

But when I left, the beauty was uppermost in my eyes. I could only remember the softness, the gold patina over everything, the  long, unthinking, memoryless days, days filled  with the scent of flowers, sunrises and sunsets to eclipse all the paintings of the world.

The return to New York was brutal. Grit, harshness, anger above all, the anger of the bus driver, the anger of the subway ticketman, the sullenness of the taxi drivers, the angry tone of newspapers, the anger on the radio, in the street, from the policeman, the doorman, the delivery boy, the shopkeepers. The mechanical service at cafeterias, unsmiling, not looking. No one looks at anyone. People are like numbers.

Link to read more from the Diary of Anais Nin

Diary of Anais Nin, Volume 5, 1947-1955