Crossing The Border “Like A Phoenix”

When I was born, my dad said I wasn’t his daughter. He’d grab my feet when I was about 4 months old and throw me from one bed to another. Later my parents emigrated to another city and on the way during a drunken hangover he told my mom to give me away, and my mom said no. They continued on their way to Uruapan, (another city in) Michoacán.

He would humiliate me. He’d kick me out of the kitchen and tell my mom not to give me food. My mom would sneak me food without him knowing. He disparaged me in front of my cousins. When I was 12, he tried to rape me. He would beat me.

I finally got married. I came to the U.S. by walking 3 days through the mountains. I was 6 months pregnant. I had to run and keep up with the others. While running I fell, but I turned and landed on my back so as not to hurt my pregnancy. Finally, the “coyote” left us behind and my sister lost my 8-month-old son’s diaper bag which my husband Jesus Guízar had carried; so, we were without water or milk for my son.

“I’d come sitting down the mountains and we had to cross a river at 2 a.m. I felt as though it almost dragged me away. There were rattlesnakes. We listened to them, but God is great and helped us to come to this country.”

I have four children now. My daughter Myriam Zavalza finished college and has an excellent job. She struggled a lot to finish her studies as she both worked and studied. I have another successful daughter Paola Zaragoza and two excellent sons. God is great and there is no doubt that he who perseveres reaches (their goal).

My husband would drink his pee when we crossed the mountains because he had to carry my son Kevin and we no longer had water. He nearly became dehydrated because he was carrying our son. I had one child in my belly and he the other in his arms.


Storyteller Juana Alvarez Chavez wrote, “I’m Juana Chavez. I’m a housewife and am from Cotija, Michoacan, Mexico.

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