Category Archives: Snapshots

Random things about us

Day 4: Divide to Conquer

We started and ended our day with a “divide and conquer” plan of attack. In the morning, by splitting the team in half so that one could search while the other repaired water stations. At the end of the day, by tackling the grocery store run at breakneck speed before going to get food at one of the few restaurants still open until 10pm here.

Erica painting new barrels
Erica painting new barrels

Erica and I were on the water station repair team with Eddie.  After painting a handful of new barrels and running to Walmart for 100 gallon jugs of water (we had to ask for a pallet of cases), we loaded up the truck and headed out. After the huge accomplishment of the whole team building 13 stations on Monday, the three of us were pretty proud of ourselves for doing a route refurbishing and refilling 12 existing stations.  Although Eddie had checked it just last week, we still ended up putting out 30 jugs of water – which means the barrels are well placed to be seen and used by migrants. Since most of the barrels were put on the route almost 5 years ago, we also spent a lot of time updating them: replacing barrels, cracked lids and dried out ropes, and stabilizing them with T-posts while taking down old flag poles for repair back at the STHRC.

Tuesday has been both the hottest and longest day we’ve had yet, starting with our alarms going off at 5:30 am. Wednesday, predicted to be even hotter, will start bright and early at 5am so we can get out on the ranch and continue searching as soon as there’s enough light.

Day 4!
Day 4!

You can tell we’re halfway through the trip and starting to feel it, in the quietness at mealtimes and in the car as everyone conserves their energy and thoughts. For me, the mental strain is almost as strong as the physical – but while my body can be replenished fairly rapidly with food, water, and shade, being hyper-alert and mentally active for such long periods of time leaves me snatching moments of peace and quiet when I can find them to just “be”, without trying to remember all the things I feel like I keep losing track of, or constantly watching the brush for signs of human presence.

Two more days of work, and then a day of travel.  Though it will be tough, I have no doubts our energy and sheer tenacity of will will carry us through these last few days.  Wish us luck!

Rachel

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Day 3: Deep in the heart of Texas, the UIndy 500

cows
Cows everywhere!

Another day in Falfurrias has passed us by and what a productive one it’s been! We started at the human rights center this morning to meet up with Eddie and discuss the day’s activities. Today was the day we would be going on to the Ranch to build all of the water stations that we fundraised for. We packed up all of the supplies we needed, headed out to the ranch, and was first met with a lot of cows! We saw them throughout the day everywhere we went, and while they were curious they kept their distance.

 

 

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The team setting up a flag indicating a water station location

 

We then began building our first water station from scratch. It was slow going at first, but with each station we became more proficient and became comfortable with our individual roles during the process. After about six water stations we headed back to the human rights center to eat lunch and gather more supplies. We wasted no time getting back on the ranch and right back to work,  timing how fast we could build a water station as if we were part of a pit crew in our own version of the Indy 500.

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Deputy Don stuck “Deep in the heart of Texas”

The second half of the day brought us to a section of the ranch that was too sandy for our vehicle, so Rachel and myself traveled with Eddie and Don in their trucks to put up a water station there while the rest of the crew searched another area. Setting up the water station went well but when we tried to leave Don’s truck got stuck in the loose sand! It took a bit of team work, some digging, a lot of sticks, and a tow strap but we were finally able to move out of the sand and back to the rest of our team.

 

 

 

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Happy with our recoveries!

We then all loaded up in the trucks and drove to a less sandy area to set up our final water station. By the end of the day, we surpassed our goal of setting up ten water stations reaching a total of thirteen! We were also so excited to leave the Ranch with our arms full of bones from cow skeletons we found throughout the day.

Today we were able to experience a little bit of everything: we built water stations in the ever-present Texas heat, searched through sections of sandy soil, dealt with spiders, bees, chiggers, and ticks, and we saw, identified and collected quite a few (cow) bones. We are so proud of all we were able to achieve, but the reason for our work here has not been lost on us. The water stations we built today may save lives. The searches we conduct may help bring loved ones back to their families. Did we put in a lot of work today? Absolutely, but our work here is not finished. We’ve reached one goal but we’re only just getting started.

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UIndy Beyond Borders team Day 3

Angela

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Buses, Planes, and Automobiles… and some sun, too!

We gathered at the American Airlines counter at the Indianapolis International Airport this morning at ~6am excited for our trip to the Texas Borderlands! I am not a light packer so I arrived at the airport with some anxiety that my suitcase would be over 50 lbs. I walked into the airport and saw Erica, Angela, and Rachel standing there with their suitcases looking much less full than mine! Just another indication that I need to work on my packing skills. Anyway, my suitcase ended up only being 33 lbs, which I was pleasantly surprised by and very relieved!

Our group ready for our tri to Texas!
Our group ready for our trip to Texas!

We quickly checked our bags, went through security at a relatively rapid pace, and then headed to the coffee shop to fuel ourselves for our full day of travel. We had two flights, one from Indy to the Dallas Fort-Worth airport and a second from DFW to San Antonio. Both flights went extremely smoothly with no delays. That was certainly welcome! After arriving in San Antonio, we headed to the rental car place. We got our van and played a quick game of Jenga trying to fit our full suitcases in the back of the van. After we were loaded up, we went to lunch at Moses Roses in San Antonio, just down the street from the Alamo, which was our next stop. Moses Roses was delicious! Several of us ordered some type of Brisket, and everyone seemed to enjoy their meals. After lunch, we walked around the Alamo. It is a beautiful place with so many cacti and palm trees. Of course we had to stop to take some pictures with the awesome plants along the way!

A quick picture in front of a beautiful Prickly Pear Cactus!
A quick picture in front of a beautiful Prickly Pear Cactus!

After walking around the Alamo, we walked through part of the River Walk. We saw lots of tour boats, which had beautiful designs on them. The River Walk has many beautiful waterfalls as well, and lots of palm trees and cacti!

It was a beautiful day on the river!
It was a beautiful day on the river!

The Alamo and River Walk allowed us some time in the sun and heat and after the River Walk, we were all ready for a cool drink. We headed to our van to make the ~3hr drive to Falfurrias, Texas and made a stop along the way for some water and a bathroom break. It was so neat to drive along Highway 281, which runs all the way from Canada to Brownsville, TX, which is just a shot away from the Mexico border.

Hwy 281 Sign
Hwy 281 Sign

The drive went very smoothly and the scenery was beautiful along the way!

It was a beautiful drive down Hwy 281.
It was a beautiful drive down Hwy 281.

We arrived at our hotel at about 6:30pm and unpacked the van. We then took a quick trip to HEB to gather items needed for our lunches for the next couple of days. I love HEB and so I definitely enjoyed our shopping trip. After HEB, we grabbed some delicious tacos from the gas station next to our hotel. I have heard about these gas station tacos from Leann, Erica, and Jessica before and was very excited to try them! They lived up to all my expectations and were definitely delicious!

After a full day of travel, I think we all feel like Eleanor!

Sweet Eleanor, asleep in her stroller!
Sweet Eleanor, asleep in her stroller!

Tomorrow marks the first day of our work here in Falfurrias, Texas and I think it is safe to say we are all so excited for the work to begin!

Haley

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