Gary: Where else are we seeing signs of hope along the U.S.-Mexico border?
Kristy: In the person of Marcos Paredes, a lifelong borderlander of Yaqui and Mexican descent, who worked for the U.S. Park Service and Far-Flung Adventures, Inc. for over 30 years. Today, he is President of Rio Aviation, Inc. run out of Terlingua, Texas and helps facilitate many cross-border exchanges. He is committed to maintaining mutually beneficial relationships for Americans and Mexicans on both sides of the border.
Gary: Yes, we were fortunate to catch Marcos at the airport today and to visit him in his home. Here is a man who has floated down the Rio Grande, rode horses and mules in the surrounding canyons, and flown over every inch of the Big Bend. He has provided support to the Annunciation House in El Paso, and has even offered to provide them free flight support to help reunite refugee families whose members have been detained and separated. When we took a boat across the river and rode mules into Boquillas del Carmen, all the people we met knew Marcos well, remembering his holiday gifts from when they were kids.
Kristy: Yes—he has dressed up as a river-running Santa Claus for 18 years. When we were talking with our guide to Boquillas, “El Pidio,” it was evident that Marcos has had a huge positive impact on him and his community, successfully convincing the U.S. government to reopen its historic crossing there which had been closed after 9/11. Marcos’ focus on transborder community building and investing in children and families can be seen in a project he helps to facilitate, Voices From Both Sides, which hosts an annual celebration in the river itself at the old Lajitas Crossing. Each year on Mother’s Day, residents on both sides of the border come together to sing, eat, celebrate and be one. Check out the website for this movement. https://visitbigbend.com/voices-from-both-sides/
Gary: What Marcos is really asking us to do is to put ourselves in others’ shoes, and to go beyond the sound bites. Putting ourselves in others’ shoes is another theme that has emerged from our travels thus far—from gringos, indigenous persons, and norteños alike.
Kristy: That may at first seem hard for many of us to do, especially those of us who live far away from the border. But imagination and compassion can transport ourselves to be in closer solidarity.
Listen to the podcast https://tpr.org/post/fronteras-extra-voices-both-sides/
Written by: Gary Nabhan and Kristy Nabhan-Warren