Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Since we got here

Since our arrival at Wisconsin, we have spent a few nights with some family out in Wautoma. On the first night there, we had a local farmer bring a fresh deer to the camp. They eat his crops, so he has a permit to shoot them off season. I held it while they dressed it and cut it up. Usually, the single guys will take take all the deer they can get in order to save money on groceries. Families don't usually eat deer because the moms are squeamish about eating Bambi. We ate deer the following night.

Our second day in Wautoma, we went to find out our job prospects in Rice Lake via the Wisconsin job center. We were back and forth on deciding to either stay there to work or head to Rice Lake as we originally intended. We got some good "intelligence" about our prospects up in Rice Lake, so we chose to bring my wife to Oshkosh for Migrant Headstart training. We are reasonably certain that we can find work for my mother in Rice Lake. While here in Oshkosh, a teacher assistant decided not to participate in the program for Rice Lake, so I got the job. It means that I will have to take classes to become a certified daycare provider. This means that I'll also have to come back next summer to participate in the program. My wife and I eventually want to open a daycare center, so it's not a bad deal in the long-run. We also visited some of my relatives in Plainfield.

Yesterday, after I was informed I got the job and we made arrangements to house our family here at UW-Oshkosh, we went to Wautoma to get our stuff. Wouldn't you know it? We went through a severe thunderstorm and tornado watch. For a while at the camp, we were concerned about some clouds that were hanging too low for comfort. There was a heavy downpour and some hail. Things cleared up and we came back to Oshkosh with our stuff.

This morning, we went to the first day of training. Today is also my daughter's birthday. We will celebrate this weeked. We'll be done next weekend. The kids, who have never left Texas except to go to Reynosa are loving it up here. The days are nice and the nights are cool. I understand that Rice Lake is about 5 degrees cooler than where we are now. I can't wait.

Once we arrive there, it is likely that we will share housing expenses with another family. In other posts I will tell you about some ways that migrant families manage their cashflow to make the trip worthwhile.

One thing that I want to impress upon you is the sense of community there is amongst migrants. In many cases, extended families travel to the same areas. With the limited availability of good Mexican people up here, migrants marry other migrants from unrelated families. Thus, the population forms a sort of nomadic village of sorts where word gets around. On the downside, gossip gets around quickly. On the upside, the social network also helps migrants find work for each other. It really is nice to see migrants look out for each other in that respect.

There are also those families, like my dad's side, who have stayed put. Most migrants in the Wautoma area who have gone there for years know my grandmother Luz. She has always visited camps to teach the Cathechism classes to kids. There are social services workers who have made lifelong careers of helping migrants. People like this know almost all the families and they all know these people.

I don't want to paint the picture that migrants are all a bunch of noble rustics working in pastoral settings. There are scoundrels who make their way up here knowing that employers need workers and are willing to pay good money. These scoundrels earn a paycheck and steal whatever they can get away with. Overall, most migrants are here to work hard at an honest living and go home. Still, some people come here knowing that they will get paid well, but have little intention of earning their living.

There is so much to be said. I have started writing about this in my written journal to help me sort through the experience and information I am gathering. Right now, the whole thing is disjointed as I have only today had a chance to connect to the Internet (thanks to UW). There is also the whole desire to spend time with my kids. They are liking the dorm experience. My daughter is now thinking about college; I'm so proud.


Gene Espinoza said...


Writer said...

Thanks. Even though I'll earn less than I wanted, I decided to take the teacher assistant job so that I could spend weekends with the family. It turns out that Rice Lake is a good outdoors area in the summer. I'll let my daughter know your wishes.

Anonymous said...


I've been remiss in keeping up with current events for the last 3 months due to a busy workload. So, now that my schedule has slowed down I was looking forward to catching up on all my old favorites. I have to say I was surprised to find that you all were leaving Texas. But the more posts I read, the more I can appreciate what you and your wife are doing.

Your family is on the adventure called Life. I applaud your bravado and venturing into the unknown to do what is best for the ones you love.

Take care.

Anonymous said...

This is Victoria from The Monitor newspaper. I spent last summer in the same area of Wisconsin and I think I know Luz. I met her at the Spanish service at the Wautoma church. Its such a beautiful and interesting area... weren't you born in wild rose? Anyways, have a great summer. The Valley.. it's still hot - victoria

Writer said...

Thanks for reading, Jennifer. I'm going to be interviewing people about their experiences soon. I look forward to your Morning Brewcasts. You and your sister are funny.

Victoria, you probably did meet my grandmother. I was, indeed, born in Wild Rose. I really enjoyed your articles on migrants. Perhaps we'll see you up here again.

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