Photo: Chess Ocampo/Shutterstock

La Caminata: Mexico's Immigrant Immersion Tour

by Julie Schwietert Aug 21, 2009
The town of Alberto, Mexico offers tourists the chance to be an immigrant for a night.

Rio has slum tours. New York City has an “underbelly” tour .

So why shouldn’t Alberto, Mexico have an immigrant immersion tour?

For 100 pesos, tourists can join the Caminata Nocturna, or “La Caminata,” a four hour night hike led by guides intended to simulate the experience of migrating by foot from Mexico to the U.S. The tour involves trekking through dark, treacherous terrain, including dry, rocky hills spotted with cactus, and being regularly insulted by the guides, who act as smugglers.

The threat of immigration catching you is simulated, but the risks of injury and overexertion are real.

“La Caminata is an homage to migrants,” say the organizers, “and is intended to make us conscious about the risks people take to fulfill the ‘American Dream.'”

It has also helped turn the community away from the brink of disaster, according to a recently released documentary about La Caminata. Alberto, according to one of the tour organizers interviewed in the film, had lost the majority of its young and middle aged people to migration; the community had become a ghost town. Economically, Alberto was on the verge of collapse.

But then they came up with the idea of La Caminata.

Over the past five years, La Caminata has not only helped bring much needed income into the community, it’s also lured back some of its citizens who migrated for better work opportunities.

Participating tourists interviewed in the documentary admitted the trek was challenging and frightening, but agreed that they came away with a more profound respect for people who feel compelled to migrate, and a deeper understanding of the kinds of challenges they face.

You can watch the trailer here.

Community Connection:

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