When I first saw a dark brown line spread across the horizon, I thought that it couldn’t be real. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. Surely, this can’t be real.

But I was wrong.

The USA/Mexico border near Arivaca, Arizona

I am Canadian, but I am very involved with politics, which means that I’ve been following the USA’s presidential race since it started. Now, I’ve got a lot to say about Donald Trump, but I don’t want to date my time talking about him. I do — however — have to mention that when he first proposed to build a wall between the US and Mexico, I laughed. I laughed. I thought that statement was humorous, that it could never be something that would happen. But I was wrong, I was so wrong. The wall isn’t something that has been proposed this year. It’s real. Since 1990, it’s been real. It’s around 3,200 kilometers, with the rest of the border covered by a “virtual wall”: cameras, sensors, radars and other technology constantly guarding it.

While we were on a facilitation training camp, around 25 participants and I went to go see this wall — pardon me — “fence.” You see, border patrol get’s very angry when you call it a wall. They insist it is a fence because you can see through it.

But as I walked along the border, I did not feel like it was a fence. I felt trapped, I felt unwanted, like there was no way out — and I was on the other side. I saw houses on the other side of the wall, thinking about what they must face every day, seeing a constant reminder that makes them feel utterly unwanted.

A little perspective

I kept walking. I saw these strange streaks along each and every pole. I had no idea what they were until I asked one of my facilitators. When I found out what they were, I felt my heart skip a beat. They were scuff marks. Scuff marks left by shoes as people slid down the pole. I thought to myself how desperate those people must have been to escape the life they had from Central America or Mexico, to risk everything and enter America, knowing that they would get caught (there’s a ⅖ chance that they would not get caught by border patrol).


And then I saw a strange marking etched into one of the rusted poles that make up the wall. It looked like the letters “F” and “P” were attached together. I don’t know who wrote it, I don’t know why, but it must have been there for a reason. That image will always, always be burned in my eyes.


Sometimes, wandering takes you to places you’ve never been. In this case, it took me to new places inside myself. I will never forget what I’ve learned while I was in the Borderlands, and I will keep on speaking out about what I’ve learned.




abbey-campbellAbbey Campbell is a small town Nova Scotian girl just starting out in university, studying in Political Studies. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she can be seen speaking out about mental health and social justice. And if she’s not doing any of those, she’s probably thinking about her past travels and about the wonderful people she’s met through different volunteer and leadership trips. If you ever talk about Star Wars or elephants, she may or may not start shaking and crying with excitement.

4 Replies to “Borderlands: Wandering the USA/Mexico Border”

  1. Wow. This is such a powerful article. I wasn’t aware there was actually a wall…pardon me “fence”…America is the Land of the Free. How are we supposed to stick with that claim if so many people are willing to allow their fear cloud their love?

    1. Keep on speaking out. Unite together in love and passion, fight for justice. It’s hard, without a doubt, but even little actions go a long way. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, it shows how much you care. Keep on being authentically you!

  2. Not entirely sure what direction this article is a taking, or what it’s emphasizing. If it’s opposing the idea of security along the American-Mexican border, the author should be reminded about the disgusting amount of human trafficking that goes on from BOTH sides, forcing victims into free labour/ the sex trade. This isn’t something taking down (or building onto for that matter) a wall can fix. It comes down to difficult social policy.

    1. I know full well about the tragic and disgusting issues that are happening on BOTH sides of the border, and how the drug cartel makes the situation more difficult. This article is merely an expression of my emotions as I walked along the border and some background on it and its issues. I’m not giving a solution nor am I opposing the idea of security.

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