La Mancha is spanish for The Stain. It is the nickname for the communities of Southwood in the Southside of Richmond, Virginia where close to 90% of the population are Latino Immigrants.
Through photographs, short stories and audio clips I created a narrative about growing up in an environment as a foreigner while also interweaving my personal and family story, searching for a new way to approach and understand intersecting histories and the effect of environment on individual.
Lightning, A Flashback
1971: Chalatenango, El Salvador
The marbles repelled from each other like the branches of a lightning strike.
The beginning of the rainy season had marked the start of playing ‘chibolas’ for the kids of the town. If a mother or a brother were to be in need of a little one, they would know where to find the children, playing their lives away with small balls of colored glass.
A storm was brewing and a horseback father ordered his son with the same authority as the sky:
“You need to pick up your brother before the brook grows and school is let out.”
The little man complied with great joy. He dropped the marbles to grab upon the saddle and situated himself atop of their horse Relámpago.
The moist earth and broken stones jumped up from underneath the horse’s hooves with the same happiness as Roberto going to pick up his eldest brother.
Before he zipped through the brook, he stopped for a moment to imagine himself swimming with his friend. If only he remembered to wait for Julian, but he was too ecstatic to had done such a thing. Luckily, this time he remembered to leave with the saddle on because his father had brought over the horse.
Relámpago continued galloping, passing homes, falsos, corn and crop fields, dodging the cloud’s tear drops until they reached a town on a hill.
Roberto tied his friend to a post and stepped into the town store so he could already have purchased a Coca Cola and a French roll before his brother was in sight.
He started on the soda but made sure to hold off on the bread before he reached home, so everyone could see him riding in with the virtues of being a young expeditionist in hand.
When Fredy ran out from the schoolyard, Roberto assumed the position of passenger. He never resisted long, for his older brother was the insistent driver. After all, Fredy was always considered his idol.
It had already started pouring by the time they left and reached the narrow stream, now turned river. They had lost the race against time. Roberto was given the horse with the shortest legs and the river was going to be too tall for them to escape without submersion.
Thunder roared to the west and they both turned their heads, cracking their necks at the same time.
Without saying much, they tied Relámpago to a thick branch and hid their belongings, wrapped in a plastic bag, at the base of the tree. They took off their shirts and ran in for a swim in the river.
*Relámpago: m. Resplandor vivo e instantáneo producido entre dos nubes por una descarga eléctrica
*Falsos: m. Cercos ganaderos hecho de madera y alambre
*Chibolas: m. a game of marbles
Youth in "La Mancha"
2013: Southside Richmond, Virginia
The youngest ones drifted on the sidelines along with the kids who grew up detached to soccer.
When Luis brought over an abandoned kitten he found roaming around the complexes, select few decided they had played the game for too long and joined in on cradling the little wild cat on the bleachers.
It was nearly night out and all the streetlights throughout the neighborhood were on except the one hovering over the dusty soccer field.
It was the only light we needed to see each other’s faces or to hit the ball accurately enough to pass it to your teammate.
The game kept going.
2012: Sonora, Arizona
Four days and three nights ended two hours away from an American van in the promise land. If it weren’t for Chino, the patrols wouldn’t have found their tracks or the blood lying over the rocks.
It was only the night before that he fell behind, as expected. This time they hadn’t bothered to slow down for his sluggish walk and he certainly wasn’t going to mention it. He and his steel plated leg scraped across the desert until they all found themselves face first at the bottom of a dried out ravine.
The group of 22 travelers were furious to find a bloody-nosed Chino approaching after stalling their night trek so he could catch up. The annoyed guides, one 24 years old and the other 17 years old, decided to halt the journey and wait for the morning sun so the nose bleed could have some time to settle down.
They awoke before dawn and continued walking to meet the van and it’s drivers but before the day had reached it’s waist, their decision to wait for Chino’s nose proved to be a mistake, or maybe destiny for 16-year-old traveler, Wakím.
Within the first 10 minutes of noon, helicopters, ATVs, dogs, and men swarmed the group and Wakím scrambled to find a direction to run. As he caught view of anIronwood to hide under, one of the German shepherds caught sight of his leg and darted toward him.
They both charged toward the base of the same tree, but before Wakím could hide himself completely underneath the branches, the dog gripped the leg of his pants and tugged him out. He was set on not trying to run any further so he crawled out and sat, waiting for whatever came next.
Panting through its vest that read “USA,” the dog sat down next to him and waited for the officer. When the officer found the two together he exclaimed, “Good boy!” and tossed the dog a small container of water.
*Chino: m. Derogatory slang word for indigenous Mexicans resembeling Asian descent
*Ironwood : m. Rounded crown, low hanging evergreen native to the Sonoran Desert