The final phase

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Having spent two weeks in Texas, leaving San Antonio was both exciting and daunting. Exciting because I sense that I’m going to finish what I’ve started here and I’m excited about that as well as just being done. Being on the road this long has been exciting but it’s taken its toll on me. I am tired and long for being in my own bed in my own house and in familiar surroundings. Seeing so many friends and family members in the last couple of weeks has been really good. Meeting new people and hearing their stories continues to energize and inspire me. I’m not tired of that. I do feel that though my mind, eyes, heart and soul have been opened by all that I have seen, witnessed and experienced, I have to acknowledge that there’s so much I still don’t know, so many people I didn’t get to speak with, so many times when the urge and decision to move resulted in me missing out on something important. I have to come to terms with the limits of this.

From July-December 2007 I’ll be biking across the U.S. This experience will be the basis for book that follows José Martí’s 1891 call in “Our America” for a distinctively American culture, one that embraces rather than denies, the dynamic and organic relationship between place, language, and experience that shapes the American continent. In the blog I’ll document the exchanges I have with people about the Latinoization of the U.S. as well as my own life experiences and thoughts.

Though I can practically see the end goal (I’ve bought a ticket home for Dec. 19th from Oakland, one month from today), I also have to bear in mind that the ride from here to there is no cakewalk. If nothing else, my little accident in San Antonio should serve to remind me that I have to keep my guard up. Crossing the beautiful but barren hill country across Central and West Texas demands that I plan each day carefully because places to rest and refuel are few and far between. My plan is to reach El Paso by Saturday. If today was any indication, I’ll manage the hills just fine. As I get closer to El Paso, I’ll cross some mountain ranges. It’s been a while since I’ve driven this road, so I cannot recall if the road goes through or around the mountains, though I do remember the entry into the city is very steep.

Riding this road brings back childhood memories of “backwards” rural towns where Mexicans were not welcome and were confronted with a Jim Crow small-town culture as harsh as existed anywhere else in the South. But I also know that reality has changed. Mexicans now exist in substantially larger numbers in these small towns; social, cultural, economic, and political inroads have been made. Though I suspect that this hasn’t necessarily translated into real power or a progressive social order based on equity and respect, one could reasonably say that the quality and character of life is different, less tense, more bicultural if not multiethnic.

As I approach El Paso and continue traveling westward, I will have an opportunity to contrast border life with that along the Lower Rio Grande Valley. I look forward to sharing these observations with you.

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