Stacey asked me to do a voiceover for the first part of Jason Beaubien’s three-part report on the harrowing journey that Central American migrants make across Mexico, so they can then cross (illegally) into the United States to find family and work. I voiced the worker Hector Valdez, who is remarkably low-key about the prospect of being kidnapped by gangsters; he’s introduced at 2:00. And who’s that we hear near the end of segment? Stacey herself!
I’d dozed off on what the local media have dubbed “the Highway of Death.” I jerk awake and immediately feel for my backpack on the floor of the bus. My bag is still there.
The bus has come to a sudden stop and several young men are coming up the front stairs. A few weeks earlier, hijackers, allegedly from the Zetas cartel, had been boarding buses on this road, pulling off migrants, bashing their heads in with blunt instruments and dumping them in mass graves.
The young men are yelling and for a second I’m trying to make out what language it is. This often happens to me when I’m traveling. I wake up on an airplane, I look up from a cup of coffee in a restaurant and I have no idea where I am.
It’s Spanish. They’re speaking Spanish and they’re selling snacks. Everything is OK. I fumble in my pocket for some coins to buy one of the sandwiches wrapped in foil that they promise are very hot and very tasty.