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New political awareness from the coolest archaeologist in the Southwest

Our departure from the surreal hospitality from our hosts Marty, Ralph, his two sisters and our home in El Paso was difficult, yet exciting to begin the next leg of our journey. We met up with Angel Peña and a few of his friends who help him run a local nonprofit; Nuestra Tierra, which focuses on giving a platform for overlooked communities to voice their concerns on land conservation. We explored natural hot springs along the Gila river and took in his extensive knowledge on archaeology, even finding thousand year old ceramic shards within a fifteen minute walk of our campsite. Throughout our time spent with Angel, I pestered him with questions about how he got into the political lobbyist scheme of things and what allowed him to become influential enough to casually have a zoom call with secretary of interior Deb Holland on the Friday afternoon we were first introduced to him. His answer to my insistent questions was always along the lines of “being authentic, making friends, community, and telling personally lived stories to evoke change.” Initially I was dissatisfied with his response, clearly looking for a step by step process to becoming an agent of change and creating political connections. It wasn’t until I really got to know Angel, and the passionate realness he brings to a group, that I began to understand how one can accomplish so much with just authentic stories and persistent relationships. I’ve had this idea (often portrayed by the media) of politics being this extremely formal, corporate, and unempathetic environment in which authenticity is the last trait I’d expect to see. My conversations with Angel (who ran for congress in 2018) helped broaden my view on politicians and gave me some hope for my future in a Gen Z run world. Anyways now we are at an RV Ranch in Tucson, roughly an hour out from my oldest sister’s favorite ostrich farm. We spent the day hiking along a commonly travelled migrant trail outside of Arivaca AZ with Sara Vasquez (a volunteer from the humanitarian aid camp and organization “No More Deaths”.) We passed multiple objects left by passing migrants (a jacket, water canister, catholic shrine, and a nutrient refill station), this experience helped us to physically see how difficult the path to freedom is for these immigrants. The trail was barely existent, covered in thorns, rocks, and steep slopes. Additionally migrants normally are traversing these trails in the dark and without proper gear or rest. On another note, I’m psyched to explore the rest of Tucson in the following days (along with Nogales tomorrow) and compare/contrast the border communities of Texas vs. Arizona. Lastly, Willow is standing over my shoulder and I’m instructed to write that she is mildly cool. #doit4karen 🙂