Our Stories, Our Lives

Originally published on “Into the Fields,” a blog about my time as an intern through Student Action with Farmworkers.

We visited the camp at which Juan worked. A recording of Banda music with loud horns was playing. People were talking. Juan said that there was too much noise at the camp. So we drove away from it.

We stopped in the parking lot of Juan’s farm’s packing plant and offices, but Juan said that he was afraid of us being questioned for being in the parking lot so late at night.

So, we talked instead on the bleachers at Pelion Park, a place that Juan did not know, but which Pedro found by GPS.

While we spoke, the light dimmed, and the background noise of birds changed to insects and barking dogs. We started by talking about family, which for Juan was important. He came to the U.S. to earn money so that his family could have a better life.

He said that if he had a choice, he would live in Mexico, because there people celebrated more. The theme of “distracción” as he called it (which in English would better be translated as “diversion” than distraction) came up repeatedly, as did the theme of time.

For Juan, the pace of work in the fields seemed far faster than the pace of work in construction, a field in which he also had experience. I thought of the workers I had seen picking corn and throwing it on a conveyor belt at the fastest pace possible. Some people think country life is slower paced than city life, but that’s not always true.

Juan did not feel like sharing any jokes that field workers use to pass the time, because he said that it was easy to forget them when concentrating on other things.  He mentioned that had now gone 5 years without drinking or smoking, because of work. He knew quitting was better for him, but it made him sadder about life. He later said that sports worked just as well as drugs and alcohol for those who do them.

“Yo soy una persona muy tímida” he said at the end of the interview, meaning “I’m a very shy person.”  He talked in a calm, quiet voice, and sometimes stuttered before coming to a particular point. However, he seemed eager to share his thoughts on life. “Te voy a decir una cosa” he said repeatedly,  “I’ll tell you one thing.”

The documentary of Juan’s life is not yet online. You can see some other SAF interns’ documentary projects here.

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