kicking it with hugo hernandez
What a beautiful man Hugo Hernandez is. After working solo for four hours installing Aidan on his house, he stopped by to chat for a bit as I was packing up. He said he was just coming back from visiting family in Chihuahua State, Mexico. My first question was whether he had trouble coming back into the U.S.
Hugo said he likes to cross back and forth between New Mexico and Mexico. I forget the name of the small town in southern New Mexico where he goes over the border. He said that it was easier than he thought it would be getting back into the U.S. He told of a big machine with a huge mechanical arm sweeping over a line of vehicles looking for contraband. The machine is so sensitive he said that drivers are told to take their cigarettes with them as the exit their vehicles and to empty their ash trays. Otherwise, this will set the machine off and initiate a detailed search of the vehicle. The border guards also have dogs to sniff each vehicle passing over the border. I didn't ask but I assume Hugo is a citizen of the U.S. I was never really sure until today. When he spoke of the ease with which he reentered the U.S., he acknowledged that he didn't come back through Arizona. We agreed SB 1070 is a mean-spirited law.
His sister passed away recently. That was why he returned home to Mexico. He said Chihuahua is mountainous like Flagstaff but about 1000 feet higher. It's lush there. His corn field in Chihuahua is the size of 4 football fields (and I think he meant soccer pitches which are larger than football fields). He laughed at the size of the small cornfields on the rez. He told me of plans to pump water from the Moenkopi Wash nearby to the home he's building on the rez to irrigate the yard for grass. He plans to have only a small garden at his new home.
Hugo's wife is Navajo. I asked if he's ever taken his wife and children to Mexico. He said he has and when they get there, they don't want to leave. They find it so beautiful, they want to stay in Mexico. But then he told of the drug violence happening in his village and how people are afraid to come out of their houses in the afternoons as a lot of innocent people have been randomly shot while talking with someone they didn't know had a history with drug cartels. Yet, Hugo thinks things are improving.
When I asked him about the completion date for his house, he said he hopes to have it completed by Christmas of this year. That's a little over 2 months away. When I asked how long it's taken to get to this point, he answered 6 years but added he'd be further along had he not gotten ill this past year. I didn't ask what happened.
Meanwhile, I was thinking "...Dang, I'm going to get buffed in 2 months." O well. On a similar note, I'd planned to paste Ben drinking from his favorite cup on a trailer outside Tuba City tomorrow only to learn as I drove today by that it'd been hauled away. Note to self - the wheat pasting project is about letting go...
When I asked Hugo about pasting the roadside stand again and whether he plans to use it as he'd once indicated, he reiterated that he has no problem with me pasting the stand but added he doesn't plan to use it. He told me that the Arizona Department of Transportation plans to start work over the next year widening the road to make Highway 89 North a four lane highway from Flagstaff to the Utah border.
"What?!," I said thinking "how is it I don't know these things?"
A lot of roadside stands are going to be demolished. They were supposed to start the road widening project this past May but something happened, he said.
Hugo with one of his daughters
On my incredibly beautiful drive home, watching a harvest moon set in the west in my rearview mirror, I contemplated the odds of Hugo finishing his house in 2 months as ADOT begins demolishing bead stands.
Progress. It's like my dad used to say - "...Nothing says the same. Things either get better or worse. But they don't stay the same."