Yep. Bernard is in town once again. But this time he is not only descending for tacos, but actually back in Mexico for good, after many years of living in NYC.
Which makes me very happy indeed. So as part of my own personal celebration, I am reposting a blog entry I wrote in Feb 2010 about a VBS.tv episode that Bernardo and I did together.
(Y bienvenido seÃ±or!)
Some months ago, I got a call from Bernardo Loyola–senior editor at VBS, (plus DP, occasional producer, also director and now a dear friend who brings gifts in the form of chocolates with truffle oil and sea salt when he comes to visit Mexico City).
He had just read an article of mine that was published in Vice Magazine, which started off describing a certain amusement park in a certain indigenous town:
(“There is a certain amusement park in Alberto Town, in the Mexican state of Hidalgo. It is run by hÃ±ahÃ±u Indians. There, instead of the usual merry-go-round or what not, amusement takes a different turn: one can pretend for a couple of hours to be an illegal immigrant trying to get across the border. You will be chased for 18 kilometers; there will be shots, barbed-wire fences, cactuses, sirens, shouting, running for cover and even a theatrical death or two:Â all for 25 bucks a head. It is a simulacrum of the â€œtorturous travails of a ‘mojado’ crossing the border, with educational objectivesâ€, the organizers have explained several times. Non withstanding its educational and entertainment value â€œfor the whole family, sometimes people even bring babies, like in real lifeâ€, the amusement park has been criticized by some as so-called training grounds for people who are truly planning to get across the border; by others for treating lightly the terrifying ordeal that real immigrants go through, in search for something a lot more basic than the American dream: just plain old food on the table and a roof over their families heads.
The idea for the theme parkâ€”even if it is in central Mexico, far from the real border– was not gratuitous. The townâ€™s number of inhabitants dwindled to a little over two hundred (compared to an average of two thousand in former years) because their population started immigrating to the USA. So a council was formed and they decided upon a strategy: to gather stories of people who have been there and done that, all while reviving an ecological park and guaranteeing steady income for their townsmen so they would no longer feel the need to cross the border; only pretend to everyday.Â Almost 80 towns-people work there, don their police uniforms or become masked coyotes for the tourists as soon as the sun comes down, so they can imagine what the real thing is like.”)
So, yes, Bernardo had read this, and was calling from New York with a proposal: that we travel together to Alberto and do a 30 minute documentary for VBS.
And so we did. WeÂ ran in the dark for a few hours, huddled beneath the bushes, Â hopped on ‘Border Patrol’ trucks with wailing sirens, heard stories of real crossings, and all the time our feelings verged madly between enjoying the surreality of it all and quietly pondering the complex socialÂ scenario at our northern border–so palpably visible in this small town–, mulling over questions with no easy answers. Bernardo, Rodrigo Teie (who assisted us with an additional camera) and I where in a thoughtful mood on our drive back to Mexico City.
No easy answers, no. But creative ones in Alberto: that, for sure.
Click, click click to see the short VBS documentary.