Northern Arizona University Common Read Discussion Questions:
All pictures were found at www.Enrique'sJourney.com
- Discuss Enrique’s relationship with his mother.
- Discuss the attitudes toward immigrants and immigration Lourdes and Enrique encounter in Honduras, Mexico, and the United States. Do those attitudes differ even within different parts of each country?
Chiapas is the next major point and is known as, "The Beast". This area is the most dangerous and known for bandits who will rob, murder, rape, etc. Enrique learns several things: Don't take the busses because they pass through immigration checkpoints. Never ride alone and don't trust anyone in an authority role. There are several days where no women aboard the train because it is simply too dangerous. The Grupo Beta, a government migrants rights group works hard here.
Veracruz, a city located nearly a third of the way up the length of Mexico, is where immigrants receive gifts! People are friendly and signal in warning of hostile police. People who live on the tracks offer food and clothing up to the migrants on the trains. Many participate in helping as a way to protest Mexico's policies against illegal immigration. Instead of trying to cross at night to avoid the immigration check points and la migra, immigrants hope to cross Veracruz during the day. The remarkable thing is that, "42.5 percent of Mexico's 100 million people live on $2 or less a day" (Pg. 105). Despite their extreme poverty, families have a generous spirit and through sweaters, tortillas, bread and bottles filled with lemonade, etc. The villagers of Veracruz believe in God's teaching, "When I saw you naked, I clothed you. When I saw you hungry, I gave you food".
In Mexico City, "crime is rampant [...] people are edgy and often hostile" (Pg. 126). The citizens of this area have experienced more negative behaviors from the migrants than positive and have nothing left towards immigrants except suspicion.
- Trace the different names given to the train. What does each name reveal about the journey?
El Tren Peregrino: The Pilgrim Train - At time the train is packed with migrants, all making a journey north. They have different experiences and expectations and are all traveling together for a new land of the unknown.
El Caballo de Hierro: The Iron Horse - To Enrique, the train is magical, strong, powerful, dedicated. It holds the weight and anxiety of the migrants on top. It will get him where he needs to go.
El Tren Devorador: The Train That Devours - The train itself has the ability to suck its riders under when they are trying to jump on. Many have lost arms, legs, hands and feet, or have faced death from the pull of the tracks. People also fall from the tops of the trains, sometimes being thrown off by street gangs.
- How do you feel when Maria Isabel leaves Honduras?