I expected the fallen bridge to make for a boring several weeks here at the shelter. But instead, migrants come walking or in bus to make it here. Because they are convinced that the train leaves from here. Further south, the information was unclear and they were sure that once they arrived in Tierra Blanca, past the bridge problem, they would find a train to go north.
So we repeat to incoming migrants, “There are no trains going north.” But few believe us. They come exhausted from walking, enter our shelter, take a shower, and say “we have to leave now to catch the train.” I throw up my hands and say “!No hay trenes! Take a nap, rest up for the journey ahead of you. There are no trains going north.”
Yet they hear the locomotives shifting around on the tracks or the train going to the Port of Veracruz and insist that they have to go catch the train. They say “Nos dijeron que esta noche va a salir a Orizaba” (they told us that tonight its leaving for Orizaba). The ubiquitous they. They said last night that the train was leaving for Orizaba. And the night before. And the night before. And it never left. Because there are no trains going north.
We have called migrant shelters along the tracks further north. We have called the women who give out food as the train passes. We have called the train company itself. And they all say there are no trains.
But the train is such a part of a migrant’s life that they cannot accept that it is not running. There is a strange reliance on this piece of machinery that convinces migrants that in spite of all of the evidence it must be functioning. It is reliance out of desperation. They used what money they had to take the bus to Tierra Blanca. And now they find themselves here with no money to continue and fear that the bus will lead to more checkpoints where police ask for a bribe of 500 or 1000 pesos to not turn them in to migration. They can’t keep travelling this way. They must take the train.
But there are no trains.
Migrants will not believe us because they cannot see another way. They cannot see how the journey is possible without trains. They cannot see how their biggest support and biggest threat is suddenly not running. They say, “But I believe that God will help me on the journey. There must be trains.” I respond, “I believe that God is with you on the journey. But that does not mean there will be trains.”
I repeat all of the evidence we have that says there are no trains. And migrants stream to the tracks to await the train.
What in our own lives do we depend on so much that we cannot imagine our journey without it? That we think God has put in our lives and because of that it will always be there? What if suddenly it was not? What if suddenly there were no trains? Can we accept that it might be gone and God might still exist?