Section 3: Yuma to Nogales
It’s a slow process to exit town and we took our time to accomplish all our last minute chores. Like total amateurs we’d lost track of what day of the week we were on and screwed ourselves over by leaving the logistics to a Saturday, not a great day for contacting government offices. Doh! We’ll have to call them from the trail on Monday when their offices reopen.
We also needed to contact several people and organizations in the sections ahead, both to obtain necessary permits and to build relationships. We are in the middle of the process of getting permission to walk through the Tohono O’odham Nation. The nation is divided into two districts along the border: Gu Vo to the west, and Chukut Kuk to the east. Right before we were about to leave, we received news that Gu Vo has denied our request due to liability.
The two girls issue? We assumed they did not want to be responsible if something were to go wrong in such a remote location.
Of course we understood their decision as they know best, but we were (and continue to be) heartbroken! We are holding out hope that Chukut Kuk District will give us a different answer.
To better understand the council’s decision we called Ofelia, a woman from Tohono O’odham and someone we have been in contact with for several months. She was at the council meeting where our proposal was discussed and she talked about the decision only briefly before transitioning into a conversation on the nuanced politics her nation is facing in relationship to the border. As we understood it, the border is growing increasingly militarized and Tohono O’odham has come under a lot of political pressure to assist with these efforts. Given that the border splits the nation in half between those on the US side and those on the Mexican side, there are varying degrees of support within the tribe to further militarize their borders. Thanks for speaking with us, Ofelia! Our next step is to figure out how to reroute around the Gu Vo district. Time to get creative.
It’s difficult to do in the face of all these logistical challenges but we eventually made it out of town and back to the outskirts of Yuma. We hiked a couple miles in the setting sun through a sleepy snowbird suburb filled with wide streets and Christmas lights. The edge of town abuts the Barry M. Goldwater Range and the start to El Camino Del Diablo, and we fill up on water and set up camp, ready to begin this intimidating section in the morning.