Category Archives: Snapshots

Random things about us

Travel Day: Expect the Unexpected

Our motto for this trip is as follows: expect the unexpected.

After the seven of us gathered at the American Airlines counter at 4:30 AM (eastern), we ran into our first unexpected. As Dr. Latham was attempting to check us in, we were informed that our flight to Dallas would most likely be delayed, meaning we would miss our connection to San Antonio. From here, we had two options:

  1. Wait until tomorrow night to fly out since all later flights to San Antonio were full
  2.  Fly to Dallas and take our chances, even if it meant driving the seven hours from Dallas to Falfurrias.

We did not want to wait until tomorrow and miss a full day in Falfurrias, so we took our chance with our first flight to Dallas. Thankfully, our flight wasn’t delayed by much because they were able to swap planes instead of wait for maintenance, and we made it to Dallas with enough time for me to spill two coffees and still make our connection (which was delayed due to weather).

The five of us and Eleanor at the airport
The five of us and Eleanor at the airport

The flight went smoothly, and we landed in San Antonio only a little behind schedule. We picked up our slightly wet checked luggage and went to get our rental car. Here was unexpected number two: somehow we had seven reservations for minivans — I guess they thought we needed one per person! This was quickly resolved, we packed the van with room to spare, and headed to Torchy’s Tacos.

The Trailer Park and Tipsy Chick tacos from Torchy's.
The Trailer Park and Tipsy Chick tacos from Torchy’s.

I had heard Dr. Latham and others mention Torchy’s before, but was waiting to see the hype for myself. And let me tell you, the hype was well deserved! I had two of the best tacos of my life, and with full bellies we began the drive to Falfurrias.

With Dr. Latham at the wheel, the rest of us were free to nap as we pleased, and we definitely did. As we got closer to Falfurrias, we noticed the difference in the landscape from Indianapolis — mesquite trees, cacti, and dense brush replaced the greenery we see on a typical day. We reached town, checked into our motel, and rested for a few minutes before heading to our third unexpected: the madness that is H.E.B.

As a native midwesterner, I had never been to an H.E.B. before today, and I expected something akin to any local grocery store. I was sorely mistaken. It seemed that H.E.B. was the place to be on this dreary Wednesday night. We wove through the crowd to get snacks and food for lunches, and once again packed into the van to head to the motel.

Before heading to Whataburger for dinner — another first for me — we had our planning meeting, running into what I will call the True Unexpected: our plan for tomorrow when we reach Sacred Heart cemetery. Collaborating with Texas State University, there are a few areas of interest to which we may be assigned to explore. We were unable to extend our plans past breakfast at 7, to Sacred Heart by 8. Our team will take each day in stride and continue to expect the unexpected.

~Sidney

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

1285 miles from Home

Our travel day was a little longer than expected. But after two delayed flights and a long, wet drive south on Highway 281, the UIndy team made it to our destination in Falfurrias, TX. Please check back daily to learn more about our work and follow our progress.

HWY 281 South
HWY 281 South
Welcome to Falfurrias
Welcome to Falfurrias

 

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

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

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share