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True Stories by Steve Keely
Hobo Memoirs

Golden Eagle

Hopped Mexican freights the past week with Mexican trampas and Honduran illegals who sneak in dirty droves across Central America and freight through Mexico to their dream of America freedom and dollars.

Twenty per train that we’ve been on. They descend ladders from grain car tops when the trains stop in pueblos, and fan to pound doors for water and food. Great people -- smart yet drawn with hunger... like the American Depression.

At a major rail junction in Surfacta, Mexico, we met the ostensible village idiot, a Honduran contact who greases the underground railroad. Then freighted with a new group through the spectacular Copper Canyon in the first car behind locos for heat, and nearly asphyxiated in 88 tunnels.

Arrived black and safely, Latin like me, in Chihuahua. We disembarked from a freight car bumper with four Hondurans on the fly to avoid yard security. Then Diesel and I beat a way alone to the border where, lacking coyotes two days ago, we were nabbed wading dead center in the Rio Grande into Texas by the Border Patrol. Illegal entry, certainly.

They detained us into the night as Diesel provided financial advice -- anything you can hold in your hand, seniors -- the earth, gold, houses, because the bottom soon will fall out of this paper world . The patrol treated us cordially and with humor. At midnight, I couldn’t get Diesel off the phone with his newly wed, so after ample warning I left him in some dusty pueblo with a blanket. He’s not the first bold adventurer to die on the cross of a young wife. His mind will clear and he’ll be glad for the chance to strive with little wherewithal beyond brilliant faculties, like the other illegals.

According to Border Patrol, 30,000 a day try to take the American border and 60 percent succeed. The unsuccessful ones try again and again. I decided to go to Central America and work my way from the start along the underground route.

Yesterday I sat in Sonora canyon, in a dry streambed next to a golden eagle. Started 30 feet away, then gradually decreased the distance until we sat 10 feet apart. Dark brown body, with lighter brown head that was wetted from fishing a nearby pool. He stood about 18 inches but was slouched, probably digesting, and didn't rustle a feather. Long down-curved beak, and talons black and one-inch long. nictitating membrane (I think). Blinked at me every couple minutes, and maybe he mused that he was the only golden in the world to sit 10 feet from a wingless biped in slippers.

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