Guillermo: “When I first came here in 1999, I had a girlfriend in Mexico. We were dating for a year. I wanted to marry her and I could only get the money for a proper wedding if I worked in the states. I left without telling her because I knew if I told her, she wouldn’t want me to make the trip. Also, it all happened very fast and I didn’t really have time to tell her.
The moms in Mexico are very different and the guy doesn’t meet the parents until he is ready to ask for the daughter’s hand in marriage. After I had been in the states for a few months, I tried to call Mariana and get in touch with her, but that was before cell phones so it was hard.”
Mariana: “When Guillermo disappeared, I thought he had found someone else. There was a phone call at my Grandma’s house and then later at my mom’s house, but I wasn’t home. My mom was asking who it was that was trying to get ahold of me and I told her that I honestly had no idea who it was. He got in touch with my cousin and my cousin came by and said, ‘Come to my house tomorrow afternoon at 4.’ I told my mom and my grandma that I was going to pick up some things at my cousin’s house because I couldn’t tell them about a boyfriend or give them any hints that I was taking a phone call from a guy. I picked up the phone and he told me that he was in the states. I told him: “Not even God told me where you were!” He told me he wanted to talk to my mom and that he went to the US to get some money together so that we can get married. I said, ‘Are you serious?!’ and he said, ‘Of course.’
Then, I had to work up the courage to tell my mom that Guillermo wanted to talk to her. We made a plan that he was going to call a certain phone booth by a store in the center of town. So, my sister and I just told my mom that we wanted to take a walk with her and buy her some elotes. We didn’t tell her the real reason. While we were walking to the park, my sister tapped me on the arm and told me, ‘Tell her!’ I told her: ‘Wait just a minute-why don’t you tell her?!’ She said, ‘the phone is going to ring any minute, you have to tell her!’
Finally, I told her that sometimes we come here because a guy who went to the US calls me and we’ve been talking. We were talking before he left, but now he wants to talk to you to ask your permission. She said, ‘But why does he want to talk to me?’ Then I said, ‘he wants to talk to you so that you know.’ She said ‘Ah, okay’, but really she kept dragging her feet and saying what could he possibly say to me? She figured it out, but like we said, the moms in Mexico are different. It was kind of a big deal.”
Guillermo: “When I finally talked to Mariana’s mom, she said: ‘Well, if you two have already decided, go for it. Thank you for telling me and talking to me. We’ll be here waiting for you when you come back.’ After I got permission from her mom, we started talking on the phone every third day or so. I was able to go back April 10, 2002. We got married on May 10th and I came back in June. Mariana tried to come with me, but it didn’t work out. I was in the US for a year without her and then I went back for her a year later and we were able to come together.
Mariana: “Our first son, Ricardo, was born here in 2004. About a year later, I was pregnant with our second child. Guillermo was working all the time and it was hard with a young child and another one on the way. So, we made the decision for me to return to Mexico and to have our baby in Mexico in order to have family support. It was hard being away from Guillermo again, but I needed support and we didn’t see any other solution.
William was born there in 2005 and I was there with my two kids for a couple years. I wanted to be back with Guillermo and the kids were too little to come. I came alone in 2007 and the boys stayed with my mom. So, we were together for several more years here, but without our two oldest boys. Leaving them behind was hard especially since Guillermo only knew William over the phone so we decided we had to find a way for both of the boys to come back. So, I went back to Mexico and looked for a way for William to come here.
When I was home for those 4 months, I told Guillermo: ‘With the little bit of money that you send, I swear to you that my legs shake with fear… that someone is going to take William away from me. It was dangerous. Sometimes I didn’t even want to leave the house.
There was an opportunity to come to the states with a friend of ours, but I wasn’t going to leave my son again. My mom offered to take care of him, but I did not want to leave without him. The friend that was organizing the trip here said that William was old enough to come with.
It was a hard trip. It normally takes a few days, but we were in the desert for 8 days. There was a moment where we almost didn’t have any water left, but because God was so good, we finally got to a trailer on the other side of the border and I was able to call Guillermo.”
Guillermo: “It was 11 at night when the phone rang and I answered because I was waiting on that call. 8 days without knowing anything.
When they finally arrived, I was so happy to see them. Halloween came a few days later and I bought some vampire teeth and dressed him up and we bought candy. I was super happy.
We have had two more kids since then and we are happy. Even my mom in Mexico is happy despite the fact that she doesn’t get to see her grandkids. She says they are getting a much better education here than they ever could in Mexico.
We don’t have specific plans to go back. I told my current boss, maybe 5 years. It’s hard. My dad told me, ‘Promise me that when I get sick, you are going to come back.’ I said, ‘But oh Dad, I don’t know.’ and he goes ‘No, promise me that you are going to come back when it is necessary.’
I have two little ones here still and they need to go to school. Maybe when the youngest are 15 or 16, we can go back because they’d be able to hold their own and take care of themselves. I have land and fields of cane sugar that eventually I have to get back to. The intention of staying here for awhile is to give a better future for my children. In Mexico, there is no chance of getting a good job without an education. When we lived in Mexico, we had no money to pay for an education, but now my kids have a good education. They could be a bilingual teacher in Mexico and that’s a good job.
My kids have goals; they talk about how they want to study. One says he wants to be a soccer player, another wants to be a veterinarian. So, I tell them: work hard here and put your heart into it. There is so much offered by the schools here and there is nothing like that in Mexico.
The best part about being here is having a good job and a good economy and being able to be with our kids. However, the thing that we want the most is to be able to get the right work visa so that we can get a proper drivers license and stay here and be able to go and visit our parents every few years. Being away from family is just hard, but both of our parents say the same thing: ‘Why would you come back here with things as they are? Think about your kids, your boys.’
I have my wife, my kids and I can be 80% happy here, honestly. I feel good about what I have here with the family whose farm I have been working on. I am content and really grateful to them. When I leave this farm, it is only to go back to Mexico. I don’t have any need to look for another job here in the states. Even when people have told me that they’d pay me more, I tell them I am fine. My bosses treat me well.
I can never forget my roots; my family, my land, my childhood running outside, walking to buy anything. It is hard being away from my family of course, but after time, one gets used to things. Plus, you also realize that you can’t have everything in life. It’s hard for us to accept, but it’s the truth. Yes, I’d like to be close to my parents, but you have to adapt. You miss your home and it’s not the same, but I can give my kids the best life here.”