Photo Essay

The Life of the Border - La Vida de la Frontera

Antelope Wells, New Mexico.  1 mile from the border

From September 2006 to December 2006 I traveled from the Gulf of

Mexico to the Pacific Ocean keeping to one distinct criteria, follow

as close to the USA/ Mexico border as possible the whole time. Hopping

back and forth over this line over those four months was something I

felt I had to do to make up my own mind about what this division meant

to me. About 95 percent of the photographs made on this journey were

made within 20 miles of the physical border. The other 5 percent were

made to illustrate how the border is somewhat arbitrary in the

relationship and history that the countries above and below this line


Through this journey I discovered many ways to define the USA/Mexico

border. The main arteries between the two countries are the border

towns and cities. These places have been around for ages and at one

point in time they were whole, with no divisions. Now they are places

divided by fences, walls, barbed wire, the Rio Grande and in some

parts an imaginary line. This line is crossed constantly by people

looking for a better life for themselves and their families. Produce,

factory goods, and even people are dealt along this line. I was even

approached one day by a group curious to see if I wanted a job as a

driver delivering illegal aliens from one side of the border to the


Many who live North of the border fear it thanks to stories of

robbery, anguish and death. These were far from the truths that I

witnessed as I traveled along the border. Sure there are places where

I had to watch my back, but more often than not I was treated with

respect and friendship. Watching the fishermen and birds on either

side of the Rio Grande as it empties into the Gulf of Mexico at sunset

is an experience I will never forget. Traversing through the hills of

Tecate I was mesmerized by the distant sight of where I was standing melding into the mountains in Mexico, a

natural division that marks the difference between potential wealth

and abject poverty. Staring from one side to the other I considered

the decision so many Mexicans make, to leave their beloved homes and

communities and travel to a place that is at odds with their crossing,

yet they still come with enthusiasm and a wholeheartedness that is

hard to fathom.

The life and world of the border is a beautiful place, a dangerous

place, a barren place, a life-granting place all wrapped up in one

long jagged line.

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