On being a tourist and my interaction with media


My friend and colleague Eden asks: Since you are not taking the usual tourist path across the west, are you seeing things you might like to return to someday? Are you paying attention to the daily news, or does the primitive feel and slow pace of the journey make news seem to live in another dimension?

I do think a lot of how different this trip would be if it were by car. The choices one makes are so delimited by the mode of transportation. I keep finding myself on the Oregon Trail and have to begrudgingly admire the fortitude of pioneers who would travel with no sense of what lay ahead. Some of the historical markers are pretty good about identifying relationships of cooperation, conflict and contestation over the land with native peoples once the settlers became to high in number and too greedy. others gloss this over. When I was getting my bike fixed in Twin Falls, I rented a zip car for a few hours because I wanted to see some local sites. One of these was the Minidonka Relocation center, a Japanese internment site in WWII. There was almost nothing there but ruins–but then again much of it was made of burlap tents. I also saw some young guys skydiving off a local bridge, Shoeshone falls, and I tried but could not find El Milagro, a housing project that serves as a migrant camp that is now owned by the Idaho Migrant Council. According to Humberto Fuentes, it used to be notorious when it was owned by local farmers for its mistreatment of migrants (horrific work conditions and pay, locking them up at night, etc.). The new name reflects the triumph of change on behalf of social justice advocates.

The beautiful and often barren and harsh landscape and the profane injustices of the past sometimes with positive changes sometimes mull around in my head and make me dizzy. Though my mind would like it all to be simple, I realize this is history in the making–what WE make of it, not as passive witnesses, but how we create and change the world for the better. Better for who and how? Well, those are the questions that really matter, aren’t they?

I do read the news fairly often, but it does all feel a bit surreal. I am paying particular attention to coverage on Latinas/os and Latina/o issues both locally and nationally. I clip and save because these provide the context for my journey for me. That may seem a bit self-centered, but these external touchstones produce internal maps for me to recall where I was when I heard this or that. Being in so much rural settings has made me really think about the margin and the center of daily life in interesting ways.