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An Education

September 29, 2002
  • Chapter 1
Chapter 1

Enrique marks his 16th birthday. All he wants is his mother. One Sunday, he and his friend Jose put train-riding to the test. They leave for El Norte.

At first, no one notices. They take buses across Guatemala to the Mexican border.

"I have a mom in the U.S.," Enrique tells a guard.

"Go home," the man replies.

They slip past the guard and make their way 12 miles into Mexico to Tapachula. There they approach a freight train near the depot. But before they can reach the tracks, police stop them. The officers rob them, the boys say later, but then let them go--Jose first, Enrique afterward.

They find each other and another train. Now, for the first time, Enrique clambers aboard. The train crawls out of the Tapachula station. From here on, he thinks, nothing bad can happen.

They know nothing about riding the rails.

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