"Bird trapped in a Cage"
Rafael Serrano, Mexico
Interviewed by Connie Serrano
" It's like when a new movie comes out, everyone wants to go see it to see if it's true because if they tell you what the movie's about, they can lie to you or you might have a different opinion so you rather go see for yourself."
So when you come here it's like you're a bird, a wild bird that falls into a cage. The bird knows that it's going to have food and a roof and they don't have to do anything just be in the cage. He just needs to worry about staying in the cage trapped. We're just like the bird when we come here. We come to stay trapped in the cage.
I came from Tepic, Nayarit. It's a portal in San Blas in the state of Nayarit, Mexico. It's like in the coast. Oh! Well [the people I lived with] was my mom and my dad, that was two and my brothers... it was about 8 all together [including me]. Look, early in the morning around 7, I had to go to the neighbors well to get water every morning until like 8 then go give it to my mom so she could have enough water the whole day to do her chores. Some of my brothers had to clean the patio and others had to feed the animals. Then we had to go to school and when we came back, we had to help my dad in the fields to coltivate products like chile, cucumbers, mango, you know things that would grow in the coast. Then we would go home to eat dinner, do our homework and go to sleep to do the same things the next day. [We would do this] since we were little kids up until we were older. [I liked to] lay down in the macha (bed made out of straw) and just relax. [I remember that] my dad had a horse named el Indio (the Indian) and when ever my dad let me borrow him, I would go out with and just cruise around with him. I got to feed him and he was never bad with me. He was a great horse that I could trust.
I was born and raised in Mexico so I don't really know the language and I'm not that good at it but I can speak it and sort of understand it but I can't go to school to learn more because I don't have time and who's going to work to pay the bills for everything. Who has to do all that, I do or else we wouldn't have money for all of that. I currently work at a waste disposal from 4 in the morning until like noon or 1 in the afternoon, depending on the day. In the afternoon, I have my own gardening service so I'm also a gardener. Umm... (pause), our traditions were like in birthdays [we would have] piñatas, las aguas frescas (fruit water) and posole (mexican soup) in Christmas, basically the mexican food. November 20th was like a festival and September 15 was Independence day and then on February 24th they celebrate, until this day, the establishment of the town that's why on February 24 they celebrate it as the establishment and the day of the Flag. [I miss] the house that I grew up in and my parents, my mom and dad. I miss being with them. I haven't been with them for Christmas in a long time, as much as I want to, I can't. I really want to see them and spend time with them but hopefully I'll get to do that soon.
It was my decision [to come] because everyone used to say that oh America is very pretty and it's a better life than Mexico but really, it's not. People tell you about 10 or 15% of the truth and everything else is a lie. To tell you the truth, you have to work more, like it or not to get more. In this country, you can get what every you want. Just like it's hard here, it's hard over there, only difference is that you get more here if you work hard. [When you come] it's not easy [when you first get here] because you're coming to a new adventure. You don't know the traditions or the language or if people are going to give you work. You basically don't really know where you're going and it's hard to be far from your home. You don't know who's going to offer you a tortilla (corn flour)! Everything is so different and it's hard [to adjust]. Why do you think I lost my hair (laughs). Too much stress! Here you have to go by the clock, running back and forth everyday and in Mexico it's so calm. You can work when ever you want and do what ever you want when ever you feel like it. [I felt] strange [when I first got here] because everything is different like the taste of the foods. Also the different smell of perfumes because in Mexico we don't use any type of perfumes or fancy things like lotion because one, it's expensive and two, I lived in a ranch type of town. Everything here is perfumed. The languages here are different. All the languages of the world are here and you get surprised. You don't hear all these different languages over there in the little town that I'm from and that's why it's so different. Mexico and the United States are like two different worlds. Basically just by telling you that when it rains here, it's hot over there and vice versa.
[When I came here] I took the bus to Tijuana and from there I navigated a little to cross over here. Here I saw new people, new morals, new faces, new everything. [All I did was] just look from side to side to see who would give me a job or food, "hospitality," because you don't know anyone and no one knows you. But when I came, your uncle was already here so I began to live with him. The hardest part is when you go look for a job and they ask you " What can you do?" or "Do you speak English" what are you suppose to say? You don't know the language or the jobs around here. Even the easiest jobs you think are hard because you don't have experience. Would you believe all the struggles that I've had! Just by telling you that I got bald because this doesn't run in the family. My dad and my brothers aren't bald so I know that it doesn't run in the family. So I've been through a lot of struggles. As people say, you struggle to learn. I've learned a lot of things that I couldn't learn in Mexico like how to drive a semi-truck because in Mexico, we didn't even have a bike! (laughs). It's still hard because while the government keeps changing the laws, it's going to get harder for us Mexicans. The laws are making the situation worse. Yeah! [Sometimes] I wish that I could of stayed but no [I wouldn't go back] only because I have you guys (children) and you guys were born here but basically just coming here, I do regret it.
[I don't like it here] first of all because of all the laws, requirements, codes, etc.... they're too much stress! The only thing that I like is that in this " rich country," you get a lot of credits. If you work, you get credits like money to get what ever you want. If you want a house you can have it, if you want a car you can have it and not in Mexico. You can work and work but not get that much credit back. I really want to go back because I would feel at home. The people over there speak my language and not here. Here I don't feel like I'm at home because not everyone speaks my language and they think that just because of our accent and looks, they consider us illegal just by looking at us. Right away, they judge you. Yeah [I wish I would of waited to come] because you already lived your life over there so you have nothing to lose over here but if you worked over there as much as you worked here, you would probably have a lot there too. I came here young because of what people said that it was really beautiful over here, that it was like dream. It's like when a new movie comes out, everyone wants to go see it to see if what other people say is true because if someone tells you what the movie's about, they can lie to you or you might have a different opinion so you rather go see for yourself. But at the moment, [the risks I took] were worth it because first I got here then I brought your mom and you guys (children) were born here. So I guess it was worth it and that's my major reason. I feel that it's worth it when I look at you guys (children).
Well yeah [I would want to go back] because it's different over there. One works in the fields and with the animals because it's the farm you know what I mean. I think that over there, you actually have time to think and not here because you can stop and think for a second and get yelled at. Time is going and that type of life is really stressful. Over there, you can really live it up and enjoy it. So if I had to choose between this life or the life in Mexico, I would choose the life in Mexico.