Monday, April 1, 2013

From the Concrete Jungle to Desert Life

When I first heard that I would spend a semester in the desert I pictured vast open land with a few cacti along with perhaps some tumbleweeds mysteriously blowing through with the wind. Honestly, as a Queens girl, that is all I had seen on TV about the desert. And since staying in Tucson for a couple of weeks I realized that my conception of this desert had been completely wrong. 

To me, the desert is life. 

Here we have wildflowers, barrel cacti, chollas, prickly pear cacti, saguaros, mesquite, paloverde…  (and these are just some of the deserts plants I know, I am still learning the rest).

By day, hummingbirds and bees fly past you, lizards, and roadrunners scurry by you, snakes and scorpions rest nearby and a variety of birds are heard chirping their tunes. By night, the coyotes, jackrabbits, bobcats and javelinas come out to start their day. 

These new sounds at night were new for me. In Queens, I usually fell asleep to the sounds of cars and people obnoxiously passing through my block. But in Tucson, I was introduced to the calls of coyotes and javelinas. 

I remember that in my first days of Tucson I felt like I was on another planet, exploring and discovering (at least for me) exotic plants and animals. But ultimately, I began to respect and love this type of habitat.

From afar, I understood the construction of the border wall to be a political and sociological issue. But because I was not familiar with the desert region I did not immediately connect to how the construction of the border is an ecological problem as well.

As my peer Katherine described in the last post, Sky Island Alliance and Sierra Club Borderlands taught us how the construction of the border has already impacted desert life.

Unlike the dominant views of this current society, the land recognizes no borders. If you drive south from Tucson you see that for miles and miles the landscape is the same as the one in Northern Mexico. The only demarcation of difference is that you had to a pass a boundary line to get from one place to another. 

Currently, four senators of the Gang of Eight recently visited the border region in order to advocate for the further militarization of the border. It is so easy to approve an order like that if you do not value and respect this land and the life it sustains. 

Therefore, John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, Michael Bennet of Colorado and especially Chuck Schumer of New York go on a hike trail, perhaps camp for a day or two. This desert is more than you think. 

-Gaby Gomez 

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