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A Letter From Mexico

By Jerry Davis


We have watched Juan evolve for almost 20 years, seen him mature from being a drinker, womanizer, and meanie, into a weekend drinker who is now content with his home life, who is more generous and faithful to his wife and no longer beats her.


One reason for the change is probably the 12 years he spent in Texas.


Juan is a horse whisperer, a genius who knows how to train horses to win races.


He cannot read or write, but he can read the mind of a horse as easily as we can read our names, knows how to speak horse-talk, how to urge his horse to be first over the line.


It is uncanny.


Recently he bet the farm on a race, bet every cent he had against two-to-one odds – and his horse won, won him $20,000 in a matter of seconds.


I say seconds because here the racetrack is a quarter of a mile long and the top speed of a quarter horse is over 50 miles per hour, or in other words, a quarter horse can run a quarter mile in about five seconds.


Only two horses run in a race and the track is straight, two parallel tracks separated by a fence, and people like Juan are apt to bet more than they can afford.


I attended one of these races, held out in the boondocks, hidden, so I had to ask directions several times to find it.


At the entrance I was asked to pop the trunk, and when asked why, was told that it was to check for firearms.


I thought that it was odd until I saw the tensions and anxiety at the end of each race when the bets were called in.


Some of those guys were so hyped up that anything could be possible.


But back to Juan. He decided to go to Texas, crossed the border illegally and found work training horses on a large ranch. His fellow workers were relatives.


They spent their free time watching TV and on weekends, drinking.


Juan called home every day, sometimes three or four times a day because he was the long-distance crew boss who was overseeing the construction of his new house.


This was a big step forward for Juan and his family who had lived with his dysfunctional in- laws for 20 miserable years.


There was money for a new truck, money for micheladas (a spicy Mexican beer cocktail made with tomato juice, lime juice and hot sauce.), money for horses, but never money for a place of their own until Juan went North.


Juan junior was part of the construction crew where he quickly discovered that he did not want to spend his life as a construction worker.


The house was built on a lot without a clear title, the stable is fancier than the house, but finally the family has its own place.


Because he could send TV’s, bikes, new sneakers, new down jackets and so forth home, the new house is stuffed with “stuff”.


I would guess that Juan’s wife owns 10 down jackets and 20 pairs of sneakers.

And after 12 years away Juan came home to his grown children, three grandchildren, and an apprehensive wife.


He now lives in his new house with a nice garden and elegant stable, and all is paid for, debt free.


Juan mellowed in Texas, and is settled into home life, training and racing his own horses, playing with his grandchildren, and receiving begging letters and calls from his old boss.


“Please, Juan. Come back.”


Recently his former employer sent him a convincing letter and false documentation to cross the border to come back to work on the ranch for a salary that is only a dream in Mexico.


Weakening, Juan took the bus up to Laredo where Immigration confiscated his fake papers and sent him back to Mexico with the threat of jail time if he ever tried to enter the U.S. again.

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The full story is in this week's edition of the newspaper. 

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