Ramón “Tianguis” Pérez walks eight kilometers from his village carrying “a small, vinyl suitcase that holds one change of clothes” and “a mountain of goodbyes.” He is seeking out the highway on a voyage that will curl through Mexico and across the Rio Grande. After three bus rides and a swim across the Rio Grande, Tianguis finds himself jammed in the trunk of the car next to two other men traveling the dusty roads of South Texas. The trunk has no ventilation, save a hole where a stereo speaker once hung, a hole through which Tianguis can see the blue sky and the refracted, light green of the Migra patrol car.
This is the original Spanish version of Pérez’s celebrated first work, Diary of an Undocumented Immigrant, the story, in his own words, of his odyssey through an endless trail of menial jobs and indignities, told with humor and optimism. Through gritty and unrelenting images, the incisive prose offers the reader an authentic history of the United States, the history of the immigration of the working class. Numerous social scientists have documented this struggle, but they neglect the personal stories of sweat, toil and tears of real people.
Diario de un mojado is the very personal account of an illegal worker and the people he meets, all struggling to carve a life out of the unwelcoming land of the free. Tianguis writes, immigrating “was a matter of following the tradition of the village. One could even say that we’re a village of wetbacks.” Here, that “village of wetbacks” is given a voice.