Hello, back home! We began our eventful day with a morning 30 minute walk from our home away from home, our hostel! From our hostel, we traveled to the historic site Chicano Park. Chicano Park has a profound history, as it is an important landmark for Chicano citizens in San Diego. The Chicano community in San Diego had fought for decades for this park to open for their community, and to celebrate how far they’d come as well as their culture as a whole. Numerous artists from the Chicano community began designing and painting murals on the bridge pillars located in the park. As we walked around the park, each mural displayed incredibly inspiring stories, including murals dedicated to migrants who had been killed during their attempts to cross the border, Aztlán history, prominent individuals to the Chicano movement, etc. Our host Alex took gracious time in explaining individual murals, allowing us time to ponder and reflect on the history of the murals. Following our visit to Chicano Park, we visited the VFW of San Diego, as an introduction to the experiences of deported veterans. Our morning concluded with a long line to one of the oldest and tastiest Mexican restaurants in San Diego: Las Cuatro Milpas, in which the food (specifically the tacos) brought tears to our eyes.
After food that put many of us into a sleepy coma, we started our navigation to Seaport Village. Sitting by the marina, we were able to contemplate our earlier experiences in small groups while exploring an area of San Diego we had not seen. This was followed by our circle time where we discussed “borders” that exist in our lives, as well as the concept of how we examined uncomfortable zones. After a journey back to the hostel, we further explored our connections within the group before welcoming our hosts Maria and Alex for some takeout. This dinner completely shifted many of our preconceived notions of deportation. Maria and Alex granted us the experience of talking to their friend Mario, a deported veteran who lived in the US his entire life, yet was forced to Mexico where he had no family or form of communication with the home language. This opened our eyes to all of the possibilities of deportation, and enhanced our anticipation to see the border and desert where these stories take place. Maria told us about her work and the incredible life she has lived. The best word I can think of to describe her is inspiring, because again, we were literally brought to tears over all she has accomplished. This created a real turning point in our trip, enhancing the reality of everything we are learning about. Next up: a good night’s sleep.