So if you remember our intrepid young woman traveler woke up in Mexico to find the borders closed and now on her way home so to speak.
Little did she know the adventure that awaited her when she got on that plane in Dayton.
Emily dreamt of the day she got up early and took a quick shower before putting on what she thought was appropriate travel wear a sundress with strappy sandals and a big basket woven hat
Instead of waking up after being robbed and being abandoned by a "really good tour guide" per the AirBnB site Emily had planned to launch herself onto the Travel Bloggers scene as an expert complete with high grade videos and "real" experiences.
She was going to go places.
Maybe it was the numerous paid advertising blogging opportunities and part wanderlust that made Emily think she should make her signature start in Travel Blogging with a trip to Guadalajara, Mexico. She even did an outline of her posts and highlights that were easy to snapchat that would attract advertisers as recommended by the premier travel blogger advice column.
Emily blindly paid hundreds of dollars for her equipment a digital camera with wifi to easily upload photos and videos, a portable microphone with noise cancelling, and her beloved rose gold colored iMac laptop complete with video editing software programs.
She followed the fashionista life style bloggers and happily bought their recommendations from sandals to sunglasses her suitcase was packed with all the "so fetch" items.
Emily didn't know the most valuable experience or clothes she would be so gratiful for was seeing her step-dad at the refugee center or the old levi shorts she wore with the iconic soda stamped t shirt with sensible yet oh so familiar keds shoes.
After being hustled thru the Mexico / Texas border in an ambulance Emily found herself abandoned again as the chaperone scurried away once the broken down bus crossed the border as Emily barely understood they had to cross into Texas because the California border was effectively broken literally blocked by stalled cars and the actual city of Tijuana under siege and general law being burdened by nearly an additional 2 Million tourist and International citizens cramming their way thru a 1 inch crack in the world.
Refugee centers set up neighbor to the actual Borders received over fifty thousand people daily processing them and moving them thru the countryside from hospitals to jails to airports depended solely on if they were considered harmless or harmful. The daily triage looked like out of a doomsday movie yet there was no actual act of doom just a maddening increase of incompetent politicians enacting ignorant rules of law.
Emily is considered lucky as she was told many times during her 24 hour stay in the first aid tent with several others in the same scenario as her. She called her mom when her stepdad answered the phone.
"What The HELL were you thinking?!" he seethed thru the phone as Emily tried to explain where she was and what happened.
"I don't want you upsetting your mother this way. I will come and get you, stay put" he angrily said on the phone.
He arrived at the Houston Airport then got a driver to take him to the border center where he saw the misery of humanity in full view that he actually caught himself holding his breath. He had never seen anything like it. He had the driver who spoke Spanish go to the information center but, he had no idea what he would learn as he sat in the car watching the scene unfold.
People were in cattle cars literal cattle cars set up as care centers or waiting areas as police and medical personnel went to and fro. Armed guards sat on either side of a chicken wire fence that made up the border. He reached for his wallet protectively on instinct as he sat in the locked car. His driver was speaking with a tall, wisp of a woman with a face that had been weathered by sand and sun. The driver shrugged and walked back to the car.
The driver explained that the father needed to identify Emily.
"I have to get out of the car?" he asked and the driver nodded.
"Shit" he said as he opened his door.
The heat of the day had started and the stench of human waste hit his nostrils first as he slammed shut the door and walked forward.
"Brett?! BRETT!" he heard Emily thru the fence. The center woman waved him over as he heard Emily run up. Emily who just over a week ago left their home with two suitcases and full of life was at best more than model thin now. Her skin was splotchy from illness and sunburn carrying only a few pieces of cloth and her passport. He barely recognized her as she was quickly processed by the center and suddenly on the other side of the fence.
They didn't hug or shake hands they just greeted each other as if in shock to see one another.
Suddenly, he heard his name again being yelled out by a male voice hoarse from the surroundings.
He didn't want to look but instinctual did at the familiarity of the voice. It was of all people his golf tournament teammate, Sean and his wife next to him. They were just as thin as Emily and just as worn if not worse. They walked up to the fence and explained their plight as Brett figured out what actually had been happening he was coming to the realization. A dozen or so had planned a golf getaway to Mexico and were trapped on the otherside of the border like Emily. They were caged like animals without enough infrastructure as it was broken down by the influx of humanity. Brett gave his best impression of someone who could do something but he couldn't do more than gather Emily up and take her home for now.
Emily sat in silence most of the trip home waiting for Brett's wrath to unleash on her instead he sat in equally if not stilled silence at the horror he saw and heard about. Shocked he simply made sure Emily cleaned up before she saw her mother and they both unspoken acknowledged their kinship over the event.
Emily was now safe at home...for now.
* Thanks to Unsplash for the photos that sometimes told the story
** Remember all the names are fake this is a work of fiction
*** yeah...its over for now....