pearls around the neck • 109
go with a legal couple, we didn’t know who, that they got the kids through with false gringo birth
certificates and that they would give him back afterwards…
- And they gave the baby back…
Yes, I was lucky. They were nice people. When they handed him over to me, they had bathed and fed
- What? There are kids who…?
Who aren’t handed back, yes, and not just babies either, little boys and little girls, 5 or 6 years old.
And how are you ever going to get the kid back if you don’t know how and where to start, if you are
ignorant, and so clueless?
Around 7 pm, we were very close to Tijuana, in the suburbs, with a group of people we’d never seen
before. These neighborhoods are terrifying.
They gave us instructions and a guide, 22 years old or so, to lead us to San Ysidro. He helped us make
it through these gang and drug dealer-ridden neighborhoods. The guide paid the gangs for our safety.
After walking all night, in the dark, we reached a gas station in San Ysidro at 4 am.
There, everything went faster. We hid in the bathroom and quickly, two by two, we were called to go
hide in the tool chests that you see behind vans. That’s where they put us. All in a matter of minutes,
my husband, myself, and another couple. Crouching, with our head on our knees.
I cried the entire way. There was no air. Four hours later, we were in the United States, near Los
Angeles. The driver stopped and dropped us off by some place serving food. And my son was there too.
My baby, safe.
- How much does a smuggler cost?
At the time, it cost 500 dollars. Today it’s something like 5,000, with the risk of losing your life.
But I was glad. I looked at the lights, the city. I was happy. We stayed with an aunt for a week. I would
look at the lights every evening. Happy.
From there we went to San Jose, where my husband had a job. We lived in an apartment that we shared
with five other men. I was the only woman, with my baby. I stayed locked in, alone. Holy Mary mother
of God! I didn’t know where to go in that city. And my husband wouldn’t let me out; he’d bring me
food. I only went out to go to the bathroom. Until the day when…
- ‘Till the day when…?
A man who lived there broke the door down. He had seen me, he’d been observing me. He broke the
lock, forced the door open and came into my room, completely naked, with scissors. My baby was by
my side… We didn’t do anything (she cries)… I didn’t have a single friend, no one.
With my second pregnancy, my second son, I started going out. I went to a clinic for people with very
low income for my check-ups, I went there regularly. That’s how I got to know the neighborhood
better. But my husband didn’t let me go out. “Going in the streets is out of the question!” he said. He
put me under such pressure I started to be afraid. That’s how it started.
When my mother came to Los Angeles to see her grandchildren and the rest of the family, I told
my husband I was going there to see my mother, for her to meet my children. I was just going to go.
He came with me. He dropped everything and we went to Los Angeles. He even found a job in a
restaurant. But he was the same man: he chose my clothes for me, came with me to the hairdresser’s,
bought me shoes… everything… everything. I don’t know how I stood it all those years.