One of the most heartening parts of this reporting trip is when we took a break from interviews. We had gone to a city outside of Tijuana to interview a woman who had been separated from her children. She was Mexican woman who had lived undocumented in the U.S., and who had been denied a Green Card when she went to apply, so she had to go through a year-long process to return.
She had been born near some of the best seafood on the coast, and she had missed out on it for years. But she had never tried an oyster, and so in a moment of joking in the middle of our afternoon, I handed her one and told her to swallow all in one go. She sprinkled salt on it, tipped it back into her mouth, and then grimaced deeply.
It’s these moments that I cherish when I’m interviewing someone who, from some reason, trusts me. She hated the oyster! But for a once, I had not come with any questions, just the assertion that I liked bivalve mollusks dunked in seawater. The laughter after she had cleared her mouth made our conversation far easier, and we returned to other issues.
There is no good reason to trust a reporter. But I imagine that if you can put someone at ease, then you have more of a right to ask about the status of their lives. And at least you can ask them if they had a chance to try what’s next on the menu.
The fresh octopus, the calamari, and the marlin were waiting for us on the marketplace shelves when we existed the restaurant. They seemed to me like crude portenders of our next meal.
Maya Averbuch, 2019 US-Mexico Border Fellow