Baby It’s Cold Outside: Especially Walking in the Sonoran Desert in Sandals

By on November 13, 2011

La Frontera: The Border

Migrant journeys in the desert
by Peg Bowden for

Baby, It’s Cold Outside….pop song, Frank Loesser, 1936

•November 12, 2011 • 1 Comment

I woke up last night to a surprise cold snap in the desert. The frost was indeed on the pumpkin, and it was 28 degrees this morning. My thoughts are with the migrants traveling by moonlight in the desert. I make a quick sweep of our closet and grab a fleece vest and some jackets that I rarely wear. Today I go to the comedor and I will bring these warm things to our neighbors to the south. Walking the mile across the US border to our Mexican destination, my breath is frosty and the wind stings my nose. How can anyone survive these temperatures exposed to the elements of the Sonoran desert?


Virgin in the snow


Our van arrives and there is a flurry of activity as we begin unloading the clothes, the shoes, the medical supplies. An orange cat scurries up to the car door like a greeting valet. Shura, a Samaritan veteran and founder of our activist group, leaps out and reaches into her pocket where she retrieves a can of cat food. What??!! Cat food?? It seems she has been feeding and nurturing this kitty off and on for quite a while. The cat keeps the mouse population at bay at the comedor, and actually looks quite sleek and shiny as Shura kneels on the sidewalk to feed the critter. The migrants all look on in mild astonishment. Americans are such a weird bunch.


Shura and the migrant kitty



We are surrounded by these travelers, many shivering in the cold morning air. Thankfully we have piles of jackets and blankets and clean socks. I look down at their worn huaraches and sandals, and am glad we have a good stash of tennis shoes to distribute.

And then I smell what is going on in the kitchen. My eyes tear up as I inhale the aromas. Lorena, the kitchen queen, is making salsa. Muy picante salsa. There are bushels of tomatoes and a big sack of dried red chiles. The recipe is simple: cook down the tomatoes, add the chiles, maybe a little salt and sugar, and that’s it. Throw the concoction into a blender and serve. Just watching Lorena prepare this Mexican staple warms me up. The colors, the aromas, and the heat it creates on the simple Mexican dishes will make a strong man break into a sweat.


It’s salsa time

After a breakfast of fresh tortillas, eggs, beans and fresh dynamite salsa, there is much chatter and sharing of stories and trials of the day. Who needs bus tickets home, who needs shoes and socks to ward off the frigid temperatures, and who needs first aid for injuries sustained last night crossing our desert in this inclement weather? And who needs comforting as they try to cope with separation from family and friends after time in a US detention center.


Comedor clean-up

So baby, it’s cold outside. But with Lorena’s salsa, my migrant compadres will warm up from the inside out. Guaranteed. One young man sits down on the sidewalk and strokes the migrant kitty who has feasted on some pretty fancy cat food. Things are gonna be OK.

About Everybody Eats News