June 2, 2019
Mexico City, Mexico
Feeling part of a gang
1 of 2
*To hear more about Daniel listen to the playlist above
Claudia: First things first, this is Claudia and I am interviewing Danielel 14 and way before we start, I just want to say thank you for coming out here and talking with us and with me. I know that sometimes talking about these things and sharing these stories can be a little painful and bring about emotions that you don't really want to feel or relive, but it's important to know your story and to really help people understand the realities of migration and the human side of it. I think that this is really awesome that you've been talking to us and telling us this because it's really going to be helpful.
Daniel: Well, it's my pleasure, Claudia. [inaudible 00:00:39] is a lot better now. If I were to come and maybe tell you my story about three, four years ago I probably wouldn't have been able to. Right now, emotions, they’re not mixed anymore. I pretty much know what's going on, know where I stand and know my options. Once you got all that stuff cleared out, your story just becomes a story and not a feeling anymore. My story is like, I'm pretty sure more like any young guy that was born in the States without a... Well, even the 90s, the 90s I think it was the toughest year for the United States when it comes down to gang members.
Daniel: When I was young, living in Illinois, nothing but gang members all around, people getting shot all the time, people getting beat up all the time so that's how it was when he was young. When I realized that's not the one life I... That even though to me wasn't as bad as the world seemed like it is. It was still not legal. It was still against the law. When you're a gang member, you can't look left, you can't look right, you can't say this. You can’t be mad. They block you from all kinds of emotions. The only emotion for you to have with the law, it's you want to change and you're going to do right and be a right citizen. Sometimes you're just young and you don't know what you're doing. You just don't realize it till you grow.
Daniel: Unfortunately, I didn't realize it till I was here in Mexico. I got here to Mexico, I had two kids over there in Georgia when I was 18. By the time I was 18, people tried to kill me about two or three times by the time I was 18. Plenty of my cousins got shot, plenty of my friends got killed right in front of me, across the street. All this stuff is basically all I lived till I was 18.
Claudia: You were born in the States?
Daniel: I was born in Mexico.
Claudia: You were born in Mexico, and so why did your family leave?
Daniel: Well, we left because my mom was a single mom and my dad, I don't know, he had residential at that time, I think. I don't know how he works, but he would come to the United States, work for six months and back and forth. He's done this since before we were born. He's still doing it now. I don't know if he became a US citizen. I know he was arrested and I don't know if he ever became a US citizen. At one point my mom would just take care of my grandparents, well, my dad's parents. At one point she just got tired of it and decided to go to the States and she took us to the States without following my dad. She went to the States but not to follow my dad to look for work.
Daniel: And then she saved some money and then she took us to the States after a year that she was saving money, then she took us to the States. That's how we got there. It was four of us, the youngest one out of four, I think it was one or two years old. I can't recall. I was the oldest one, I was seven, eight. Something like that.
Claudia: Do you remember your first day?
Daniel: In the States? Well, no. I have a lot of memories about the States, but not my first day. To this day, I remember the first time I crossed on the bus, I was seven or eight like I said, that I remember. Then at the State I remember the school I got to, I think it was _____ School. I remember the school, the kids and stuff like that, but not specific dates. No.
Claudia: Is there any teacher or friend or someone from school that you remember?
Daniel: No, not really. When I was in school, I wasn't too friendly. When I first started being friendly, that's when I started knowing gang members. Before that I was like, people didn't like me, things like that. I was the shortest one, the little one, the ugly one or things like that until I became friends, started making friends and it started really with girl friends. I started being friends with girls that were gang members and that's how it started. To me it was like, "I'm bored all the time and now I'm having fun with guys and girls up and down." One thing led to another.
Claudia: Tell me more about involvement in gangs and that sort of thing.
Daniel: Well, I never really liked the idea of gangs, it was more like something mandatory for any Hispanic, even white people and black kids were trying to be gang members with Mexicans. But Mexicans were like... Everybody knows Mexicans are violent and they like to fight. They don't take no for answers, it's here and everywhere. It was like that. Most of the gang members who I met, like I said, it was for fun. It was always for fun until things started getting serious and when things started getting serious, I did not like it.
Daniel: The first time I recall becoming a gang member, I've always hang around gang members all my life, but when I had just turned 13, I got kicked out of some school in ___________, which I know a lot of gang members there, but I wouldn't affiliate with them. I just knew them. I just dressed like them, looked like them, act like them, but that was it. I would still go home from home to school. When I came back to _____, because I went to _______, came back to ____ when I was 13, I came back with the friends I grew up with before I went to ______ and all the friends that I grew up with now, they were all gang members from the same gang.
Daniel: I just showed up to a house and they're all just getting drugged up, doing paint, and I don't know what kind of other drugs they were doing. I got there and they took me to their crew and when I got to the crew, there was 20 people there, half of the people they know me. The person that took me there was one of my cousins. I got there to the crew and I started realizing, I know a lot of guys there, are guys that I grew up with. Anyway, I walked to the crew and this guy runs up to me with a knife. He's like, "You don't belong here, ..you're stupid." I heard some other guy scream out, "Hey, that's my boy, Daniel. Nobody touches Daniel." I looked up and I'm like, "Johnny." His name was Johnny.
Daniel: I'm like, "What's up, Johnny, what are you doing here?" He's like, "I don't know man, you know what I’m saying?" I'm like, "What do you mean?" He's like, "This and that." I’m like, "Man, you sound dumb. What are you talking about? What are you doing? Look at you." And he's like, "No, Daniel, life has changed, blah blah blah." I'm like, "I don't know what you're talking about, man. I dress like you, I look like you, but I don't get you." He’s like, "No, this and that. You want to click it?" I’m like, "Yeah, I’ll click in." Like nothing. I clicked in. The next thing I know, I'm with them up and down.
Daniel: I realized what kind of life they're having, which was nothing but drugs, getting in fights, getting locked up, being rebels to their family, to their mom. You don't say, everybody's like this and I disagreed. I would always disagree. I always tell them, "You're wrong and you could do better. Hey, don't do that." They didn't like that. They wouldn't like me giving them the contradictory all the time. They wanted people to be around...You know what I'm saying? And I would be like, "I'm not scared, I’ll fight you, I’ll fight you, I'll fight them, I'll fight whoever, it don't matter, but I just don't like your mentality. It's just dead. I don't see it. I don't see the purpose."
Daniel: I got fed up with them and like I said, they were always getting in jail, always getting in trouble and it was just not something I agree with. I got fed up with them and I'm like, "Hey, you know what? I don’t like your game." They're like, "What do you mean, Daniel? Why are you always saying this dumb things?" And I'll be like, "It's just that I'm tired of you guys. All you guys do is talk about the same thing. You don't ever have a different conversation. I don't see a future in what you're doing. I don't care what is your reason, I just don't see it. I don't get you, man. Because I recalled you when I knew you before, you're not the same guy. I don't want to be part of your game."
Daniel: He said, "Well, you've been talking too much, I’m going to put you in the group and we're going to beat your head." I’m like, "Bring it, man. No, get me out of here. I told you I don't like your life." They put me in a group of about 20 guys, started beating me up. Well, anyways, I thought all that was funny. To me, I would just keep thinking, "Well, I'm not going to be like you. I don't care how many times you beat me; I still don't want to be like you." I started doing that, I do not want beef, so they started beating me up. The leader at the time was... What was his name? Dofo, Alonzo, I can’t remember anything. Anyways, he's like, "No, once you're a gang member you’re a gang member for life, blah blah blah."
Daniel: I’m just laughing at him. He pulls off a knife at me and comes towards my stomach. When he did this, the people that knew me when we were young for one second, they knew, they understood me for one sec and they jumped. Everybody's jumping, "No, nobody touches him. Anybody touches Daniel, the gang is over right now and we will kill each other right now if you touch Daniel." Everybody started jumping. "Yeah, I'm with Daniel and I'm with Daniel." I'm getting kicked out of the clique and the group is... I don't know what they did, they got a bond that second and I think that is the memory why I came back to be their friend.
Daniel: Not because I wanted to be in the gang, because for the first time I was like, "Man, these people got my back." Even though I turned my back against them, they still have my back. That's what it was like. Next day we showed up to school and I will see all my friends be like, "No Daniel, we can't give you the handshake anymore blah blah." It got to me, it hit me and I was like, "You know what I can’t be without you guys can I just click back in?" They clicked me back in the next day in school. Then after that, I never changed. I still told the all the gang members I've built all my life because all I did was gang members over there. Even to this day I have to deal with it here in Mexico.
Daniel: If you could ________, "Who are the gang members?" It’s big time. Half of them have killed somebody. I'm still dealing with this all the time, except that when I got here to Mexico, to me, it was a new beginning, a new beginning that I couldn't find in the States because no matter where I went in the State, it was the same thing. No matter how bad I wanted to say, "This is not the life I want." It was the life that I had and there was no way around it. Then you meet some people that don't accept a no for an answer and they're violent and it becomes not only you, your family, your kids. It becomes a big thing. Not only you have the gang members as your enemies, you have the cops as your enemies. It becomes a big, big mess.
Daniel: I got here to Mexico, I got here to Teletech. When I started working here at Teletech I’m like the ripe gang member for everybody at Teletech. I had tattoos in my neck, I covered them up, on my hands, everywhere. It was a big beef, and I was like, "You know what? I don't care about this. The only reason..." That's the only reason I never came to Teletech because I knew about how Teletech was. That would be the main reason why I never came to Teletech, or I would never get involved in people coming from the States. I would get involved in people in Mexico, the works in Mexico, the way Mexicans live. I would never want to come here. It got to the point where we're dealing so much the jobs in Mexico but they weren't making the cut.
Daniel: They weren't doing it, I was stressing, I was struggling, I was getting all messed up. I decided, I'm like, "It's been five years and I haven't liked one thing about Mexico except that I'm married, I got two kids now." One kid and the other one is my wife. And I was like, "Well, I'm going to try Teletech." How am I going? How am I getting a flight? I was like, "I know I'm just block in there and I'm going to get in a fight. I don't even know why I'm going." I showed up anyways and when I showed up, I don't know if it was God or what it was, I got along with everybody even though they knew who I was.
Daniel: There was a lot of problems sometimes it was catching you up in the bathroom, catching you around the corner, pulling out knives around the building, telling you you're this, you're that. At the same time, I had guys from their end that got to know me and they were willing to get in between those issues. I worked with Teletech for about a year having these conflictions and then I got fired and I decided to clear my tattoos. That's when I put tattoos over my tattoos and came back to Teletech and from then I have not had a gang problem. Probably since I was a little kid, the only time I didn't have to worry about gangs was since I covered my tattoos for about a year, year and a half. And it's never been my choice.
Daniel: It's never been something I wanted. At one time, the one time that I was by my own friends over there, they tried to beat me so many times, they pulled knives on me so many times, here. No, not here in the States.
Claudia: In the States.
Daniel: Right here, it was something like that, but it never got to that point, and it will be always because of the same reasons. I would never understand them. Even though I would stay with them, I would still always not understand them. I'll always be like, "You're doing wrong guy. You're doing wrong, you shouldn't be doing that. Why are you doing? Get a job. Fucking lazy ass." Things like that. I'd be like, "Get your ass up, man. Stop fucking crying. If you don't want this life, do something about it." Cops will come around, they want to run and I be like, "Why are you running? Talk to the guy, say what's up. Why are you running? Because the first thing you do when you run, is they’re going to run after you. Come on."
Daniel: I always do that. Well, I never had a real chance to bond with cops till I got to Georgia. When I got to Georgia, I bought a birth certificate and a social security from another guy. I walk at the police station and I became that guy. When I became that guy, I no longer had to worry about the law because now I'm legal. I got to bond with the law and I got to made a lot of friends with police officers. That's the only reason why probably I'm not still in prison. Once I got to bond with them, it was different.
Claudia: Okay, got you. Tell me first, did you ever partake in any of the gang activities whatever, that sort of thing, and fighting?
Daniel: Yes, of course. Of course. All the time. This is the thing, when it would be something like that, I would always... I made a lot of enemies, my friends a lot because I think when two guys fight, they talk a conversation, even though they don't say anything. At the end of the fight, usually there's talking, nice talk and a lot of them became my friends, a lot of them after a fight, after whatever and say whatever, meet again. I had a lot of friends that were my enemies, a lot and through conflicts we became friends with a lot of them. That was always because I think it was because the mentality that I had, like I said, I never agreed with it. It was life. It is how it is, couldn't do it.
Daniel: I've seen a lot of fights. They used to make groups that sometimes whenever it would get to me, one of my friends would get hurt. Then you would feel like you have to do something about it. There'll be times where you will have to just go do something, fight people or whatever. One time, we would go look for people, for crews, you would find crews over there, 20 people, 30 gang members in one spot. They will go a lot to dance floors and things like that. We would go there, groups together, 30 of us. We'd go on cars back to back. We get there. Once we would get there, I used to love the fighting.
Daniel: I'd be like, "Yeah, fight him. Let him know you're better than him. Fight him. That's it. Fight him. That's it. Just fight him. Let him get up. Let him know that you beat him. That's it." But they wouldn't do this. They would want to crash them, destroy them, leave them dead on the floor and things like that. Cracked head opens, people shaking, tweaking, things like that. Every time I would notice something like that, I will never agree. One time we went to the dance floor and saw some guys, we would send in bait. We would send one guy into the dance floor representing his colors to start up something and they will chase them out of course, but you will walk out thinking you're 10 and we're 30 outside waiting on you.
Daniel: You see what I'm saying? We would do that, and they started doing this. I would go with them, at first it was fun. Like I said, when it was just regular fights, it was fun, but when they started bringing guns, bats and things like that, I would just think it was too much. They come out, they didn't know we're waiting for them. As soon as they notice we're waiting for them they started running everywhere. They caught up one guy, he tried to jump over a fence, they caught him up, dragged him down, and they started hitting him bad with bats on the head, crashing on, destroying him. I was just watching and they wanted me to hit him so I wouldn't do it.
Daniel: I’m like, "Why would I hit him? He's taken already, man. What are you doing hitting him with a bat on his head while he's unconscious? Come on, what do you want?" Anyway, he's like, "No, Daniel, you always been this way and this ain't your life. I don't know what you do with us, blah blah blah." When this happened, his wife comes running, the guy looks like he's dead. Comes running and she's like, "No, leave him alone. Blah blah." She's crying. I notice she's pregnant. She had a big belly and the guy that I was arguing with already wanted to hit her with a bat. I'm like, "Hey, if you hit her with a bat, I'm hitting you with a bat” and everybody surround me.
Daniel: All the guys are like, "Daniel, why are you always like that, man? You need to calm down. This is the life we live in." And I'd be like, "No, I'm not going to agree with that, man. I can't agree with that. I cannot agree with it." I said," If you hit her, I'm hitting you." They didn't hit her, they left her alone and we moved on. I didn't let the guys do that to her. Everybody, it don't matter is what gang you’re around being with in the States, they know who I am. They know that I will say no to the majority of the things they do. They know me for these things. But yeah, that's one of the things I've seen over there.
Claudia: The story that has to do with the police officer, is it in Mexico or in the States?
Daniel: Well, everything had to be over there before I got deported. Right here in Mexico, I've never really dealt with the law. Like I said, when I got here, it was like a new beginning for me. To me it was like a new beginning, different decisions, people didn't know me.
Claudia: Alright. I guess tell me the story about the police officer and also just leading up to how you got back to Mexico.
Daniel: Well, the first time that I got back here to Mexico, it was, the police officer had just pulled me over. Well, he pulled two or three guys over. The reason why he pulled us over is probably because they were gang members also. I didn't know the police officer. I think they knew him. He pulled us over and he wanted to search the car and I wouldn't let him. I told him, "No, you're not going to search the car." And he didn't search the car. Well, he pulls him over again a week later and tells me that, "I know who you are. You're illegal. I'm just waiting for you to turn 18 and I deport you." He did that.
Daniel: When I was 18, on my birthday, he went and picked me up at my house with order of arrest and he deported me. That's how that happened. He put me in a prison, well, not a prison in a cell of 30 guys and most of them had already done something. A couple of them would tell you stories where they stabbed so many people, blah, blah, people without teeth all tatted up. Just people that you can tell they lived it big time and I was the youngest one in there. The cop, I think he did that on purpose. He scared me, I signed the paper and that's how I came over. If I would’ve fought that at that time, well, I was US citizen by culture. I didn't know that at the time. If I had known, I would have fought it.
Daniel: I didn't, I signed and I came here to Mexico. That was the first time I got deported. The second time I got deported, well, I got here to Mexico, I turned around US citizen and I'm back over there in the States, within a week after I got deported. That's when I went to Georgia. When I got to Georgia, same thing. I'm bald headed, tatts, the way I walk, the way I dress, all them things. I started working again like I've always worked. I've always worked, I never not worked since I was 16, I've never not worked, I always worked. I was working, at that time, I was a machine operator for _____ products in ____, Georgia.
Daniel: Well, anyways at that time I had to stay over late at night, we had to fix some things with the machine so I stayed late at night and I didn't live too far from there, so I decided to walk home. The way I was walking home, I seen a white girl, regular white girl, and she's like, "Hey, you, you're so cute. Blah blah." She starts talking to me so I start talking to her and we're just chilling there talking. Next thing you know, I got cops everywhere. Pom pom pom. Cops everywhere. "Hit the floor." And I'm like, "I'm not going to the floor." They’re like, "You better go to the floor." I'm like, "I'm not going to the floor. If you want to arrest me, you better walk over and put the handcuffs on me because I'm not going to the floor."
Daniel: They walked over, they arrested me, they took me to jail and the girl walked off. She just walked off. Anyways, I get there and the sheriff tells me, he says, "Well, you know why I arrested you?" And I'm like, "No." He says, "The girl you were with is my niece." I like, "I didn't know, I just met her right now. I've just seen her." He's like, "Well that's my niece, and I just wanted to let you know. Don't bring that bullshit about me being racist, blah, blah, blah." He says, "Because I'm not." He wasn't and he said, "But that was my niece and I don't like the way you look." He said, "If I cannot find something wrong with you right now, you will be released in 48 hours." And I was a smart aleck, I was like, "Well, you got 72 hours according to the law."
Daniel: I was a smart aleck. He's like, "Well, yeah. You're right. I got 72 hours." He said. I was just smart. He said, "Well, in 72 hours...." He says, "If I cannot find something wrong with you, I'm going to release you. But if I can, I guarantee you I'm not going to release you." 72 hours, they realized that I had just got deported a couple months before that and they deported me again. That was my second deportation. That deportation, well, I did the same thing. I got to Mexico, I turned around and I'm back in Georgia, but in ____, Georgia, no longer in ____. That's when my mom told me.
Daniel: She's like, "Well, why don't you do the same thing everybody's doing? Go buy you a birth certificate, a social security card, walk into the police station and that's it." That's what I did. From then, from when I was 18 till I was 27, in the eyes of the law, I was legal. Even though in Georgia I was always fighting, I was always doing things like this, I got a bond with the cops. Even though I was always fighting, to me, it was always just fights, nothing else. I was always getting involved in the pool tournaments, bowling tournaments, basketball tournaments, whatever, everything I could be involved with. Since it was the town, it was nothing like ____ all the cops were like [snaps], they knew everything right away.
Daniel: They knew you, they knew about your family right away. They started like, I was always in the... people call me Capo over there. People's always in their mouth. It was new to them. Mexicans being everywhere. It was new to them. It was Georgia country, Ku Klux Klan, it was different, you know what I'm saying? It wasn't as common for them to have Mexicans not being scared. It was weird for them. I passed that by, for around, and people stopped being scared. People would just be calm and around people be everywhere. Mexicans everywhere, white girls with Mexicans everywhere. I got to bond with everybody. I was always cool with all the cops. Every time I get in a fight, they let me go.
Daniel: Every time I was drunk, they let me go. They'd just be like, "It's you again Dan..." They called me Robert, because I bought ID for somebody else. "It's you again, Robert." I'm like, "Yeah, whatever." And they'd be like, "Hey, go home." They never locked me up, never. I got into a lot of the fights. They would never lock me up, they always let me go. The time they locked me up, it was because like I said, I had a license, that night I went to Walmart and I didn't bring my license with me and I got pulled over by a cop I didn't know. This was the highway patrol. I knew everybody, all the cops there. I got confident. I knew they weren't going to take me to jail.
Daniel: I went into Walmart and for reasons got lucky, the highway patrol was passing by, he pulls me over, he didn’t know me, takes me to jail. They fingerprint me and they identify that I was two people. Even though the cop there, that took me in. He's like, "Robert." I'm like, "What?" He says, "You're not Robert." I'm like, "Why do you say that?" He says, "You’re Daniel, you're Danielel." I’m like, Yeah. What are you going to do?" He says, "Look, I know you for a minute already." He says, "I like you a lot, I’m going to let you go. Get your stuff, go home." He said, "But you're already in the system." He says, "The way the system works now, federal will get involved in double identities. There's nothing I could do."
Daniel: He says, "You got 30 days to leave Georgia or at least move somewhere else, because now they're going to come get you." I was like, "Okay." I was going to move. I packed up my expedition, we put the U-Haul at the back, boom, we're moving. On the way, the U-Haul started weaving, started taking me off the road. So we turned back around. We came back to Georgia and when we got to Georgia, my mom's house had got flooded. When we got there, her whole trailer was flooded. Since it was wood, sheet rock, everything was just damaged. The floor, the walls, everything was damaged. I was like, “That's my work. That's what I do.”
Daniel: I was like, "Okay, you know what? I'm just trying to fix your house before I leave." I started off in the bathroom, we're talking about the whole trailer got flooded, everything. Everything was damaged. I started off with the bathroom, it took me about three weeks to get her house all taken care of. When I was about to get done, I was like two or three days from getting done, that's when the cops came over. That's when the federal showed up to my house. They showed up to my house, hitting the door, pointing guns, blah, blah, they’re on the trees, in the bushes, everywhere, they’re everywhere.
Daniel: That's when actually everything got serious because that's when they gave me a first felony reentry and the federal tried to give me my identity theft, and they tried to put me a [inaudible 00:27:55]. When I got locked up at that time, I acknowledged the system, how it worked, and I wouldn't go buy it because my brother had just got locked up and just because he was a gang member, he got locked in, he was doing 14 months, he ended up doing eight years. I was like, "Well, I'm not going to fall for that." I told them, I was like, "No. I'm not a gang member." He's like, "You're everywhere. I see your tatts, your record." I was like, "Yeah, in your mind, in your system, but I'm not going to fall for it."
Daniel: What they did is, since I wouldn't sign all those papers, it worked on my behalf, all that stuff helped me out. Since I already knew all the cops in Georgia, in ____, like I said, I knew lawyers, I knew judges, I knew a lot of people and they were like real friends. I even had cops that would go to my house, chill with me, drink a beer, just be there with their car, me and my kids for half an hour, we'll see each other at the laundry, bowling alley, playing pool. I know many cops personally. They sent a lawyer to try to help me out with this case, and the lawyer got there and he... I remember him to this day. With glasses, he had his hair all nappy, like a redneck, regular redneck.
Daniel: He gets there and he's like, "Danielel, I can't believe they got me out of the bed because of a Mexican." But I've only always understood the humor because whenever they call me Wetback, I would call him Cracker. Not a big deal. It's like... Anyway, this was normal for me. He got there, I'm like, "Yeah, what did they send you here for?" He's like, "Well, I'm surprised because everybody in _____, they're forcing me, they got me out of my bed to force me to fight your case because they do not want to see you in prison. It's just a surprise to me that you're Mexican and I'm doing this." Anyways, he did. He fought the case, he beat the case.
Daniel: I recall this day when I was in front of the judge, he's like, "Are you guilty or not guilty?" I'm like, "I'm guilty." And he's like, "Shut up." He looks at him and he's like, "Your honor..." He says, "...forgive this man. He don't know what he's talking about." He fought the case and he beat the case. He won the favor of the judge. They dropped the identity theft and only left me with a felony first reentry. I only did a year for that and then I came to Mexico. It was the first time I was actually in Mexico, literally in Mexico. I was 27 and I didn't like it at all. I hate it. It was something horrible. I remember when I was in the plane, all the other times I knew it was going to turn around, but this time I did prison time already.
Daniel: This time I know I got lucky, this time I understood the law now. This time I stayed without kids. In order for me to stop dreaming about my kids, it took me about three years to stop dreaming about them. It was pretty tough. I'm at the plane and I'm looking at this, I'm looking, leaving the States and I'm seeing where I'm going. When at first, it was real, when I started noticing this and I'm like, "I can't believe I'm going to stay here. I can't believe I'm going to stay." If I would've had somebody there to tell me to turn around that second, I would have done it again, but I didn't, I couldn't find nobody. I was just stressful. I was crying to myself, nobody was watching me, with my head bowed down.
Daniel: I was at the bus station and I was like, "I can't believe I'm doing this. I can't believe I'm here. I can't believe this." I couldn't believe it. Just with my head bowed down like this, and I started hearing birds. I started feeling something calming me down. I’m like, "What's calming me down?" Something calm me down. I started paying attention to my surrounding and I started acknowledging that it was birds. It was birds singing everywhere. I was like, " I never listened to this in the United States. Okay, I’m going to calm down." I calm down, made my decision, got my bus ticket and boom, I came from the borderline to _______.
Daniel: I'm telling you, at that time, I wasn’t even actually making good money in that time because I was working in a job in ______ and I was making like 4,000 a week, which wasn’t good, pesos, like $200, but it was more than enough for me at the time. I was sending my kids money in the States for the whole year of 2009, a little bit of 2010. All the money that I was making here, which was a little bit, I was able to send 150, every two weeks and things like that. It wasn’t a lot, but I was doing that because it was all right. Anyways, once that [place] shut down, everything... It was real hard. The family members that I got here, I started knowing who they were, I started disliking them and things like that.
Daniel: I started recalling when they would go to the United States and I would help them out and when I got here, they were just not... I didn't like them at all, a lot. These people were people that just see you down so they can laugh at you, trick you into... They have this thing, “no transa, no avanza” which means the one that don't gets the other guys, not every... It's weird. Mexicans here are weird. I started disliking these people. I started being away from their lifestyle. I started being more... Felt more lonely through the time, not having people here, not being able to bond, not understand their jokes, not liking their culture, the way they are. The culture is what they live before the history. Yeah, that's nice.
Daniel: The colors, they're artists, well, that's pretty, got beautiful sites. But the people themselves, it's like when I got to construction, I can be really good at basically all kinds of construction, machinery work, anything. They will see your talent and they will try to pull you down fast. Here, it's like you kiss butt, you can get up there. Even women, women are laying with all the supervisors here where they go, guys are kissing butt everywhere they go, anything the boss man says is funny and I'm not used to these things. In the United States we're a little more separate from each other. We could be quiet all day and it's not a big deal and in here, Mexicans, it's like if you don't tell them what they want to hear, they're trying to kick you out of the site.
Daniel: It's different. I started disliking the experiences in Mexico, I started getting worse and worse that it got to a point where I was thinking about maybe crossing the States again and that's when I make a decision to see if I wanted to try ________ because I heard they were paying okay. That's when I tried at ________ and ________ has been all right. It's been better since I started working at ________ here in Mexico. It's getting better.
Claudia: You've been back for?
Daniel: Here? Since 2012, seven years. After 2012, that's when I made my mind that I was not going to come back. That it was like, you know what, after this you have to just deal with it.
Claudia: You said that you're married now?
Daniel: Well, we are living together. I've been with her for... I think she's the reason why I stayed, because when I first got here, like I said, I wanted to... Literally I didn't want to stay. I knew I had to, but I didn't want to stay. I started trying to ignore everything and I started to go out more get drunk, try to make friends. I started trying to be involved in Mexico now. Well, it did, it worked. I was getting involved back and forth, girlfriends, guy friends, I started liking it, but at the same time I wasn't liking it because I knew I was leaving my kids behind. I knew that even though I had to stop thinking about them, I couldn't give them money, it was still a conflict.
Daniel: When I met this woman, I seen her, I went to talk to her and we started going out and I wasn’t thought that it was going to be serious and one day she got pregnant. She got pregnant, I think that gave me life again. I knew I was going to have a baby. After that, it was like, okay, let's get used to it. You know what I'm saying? After my baby was born, beautiful baby, to me, it was like, "Whatever you don't like about here, whatever your reason is, whatever, it's kid stuff, you have to just do it. You're not going to leave another kid here like you did in the states suffering." You leave a kid here in Mexico it's going to be worse because here is worse. There's no government support, there's no work and women get beat up all the time.
Daniel: Drugs are everywhere, people are in every corner just doing drugs like it's something normal, 24/7 every day. Years go by, nobody takes them to jail, it's normal. That's how Mexico is. Every corner is normal. You see people laying down on the floor dead, people, they just walk over them. They don't care. They just keep going. They get to work at eight, they don't care. I seen that many times so in that aspect, I don't think I'll ever get comfortable enough with that because to this day I still not okay by my wife just walking to school, taking my kids to school. You always have that worry, there's so much kidnapping going around, women-napping.
Daniel: This, here in Mexico is like every day, is every day. Mexico is pretty tough, but you just have to deal it, there's nothing you can do. You have to just deal with it and do the best of it. Like I said, I'm glad I'm in Teletech. I don't make as much as I want to to tell you the truth. I eat better and dress better, but I still don't have what I want. I can't afford a car. I can't afford my kids the best school. You know what I'm saying? It's still a little bit tough, but it's better. I'm glad Teleltech is here. Well, I'm glad I opened myself to a different world because not only Teletach, there's a lot of different sites here, they pay just about the same. It's okay.
Claudia: I’m glad to hear that it's going better now.
Daniel: Yeah, it's nice. Like I said, it's nice but yeah, the past is always hard. The past is always hard because when I grew up there, well, I was never with my mom and I grew up alone, four kids growing up alone, four guys. All my brothers are trouble makers. It's a little bit tough growing up like that, but once you're grown, you're grown. You know what I'm saying? You got to leave the past behind. You just got to live your life to the best of days.
Claudia: Is your mom and your siblings still in the US and your children?
Daniel: Yeah. They're still over there.
Claudia: What's that separation been like from all of them?
Daniel: Well, that's been real hard, especially with my kids. To this day, Facebook we could say gets to me. If I keep up with them, it gets to me, so I don't keep up with them. I don't have Facebook. I don't have WhatsApp because I don't want to. I did had it for a couple of years for my kids, but it got to the point where my kids, we'd have nothing to talk about. I'm always struggling, they're always doing something. It was different. They don't want to hear your struggles. You can't feed them with your struggles. They're having too much fun. They're at Burger King, they’re living the American life. They're not living what you’re living. It's like you don't have too many things in common.
Daniel: It got to the point when me and their mom spoke and they're like, "You know what? You just got to back off for them. They're still crying for you. It's been four years and they're still crying for you, you’re still crying for them, you have to let us live. You have to back off for a little bit." I was like, "Well, I'm going to try to. I'm going to try to back off." I decided to back off for a little bit, not call them every day and try to call them every month and that distance got farther. It just kept getting farther and farther throughout the years. I haven't spoke to them about a year now. When I was spoken to them last year, they didn't even want to talk to me anymore. They're like, "No. It's just that I don't even remember you anymore."
Claudia: How old are they?
Daniel: Right now, she's 15. She just turned 15 in December and my son turned 14 in November. This has been since 2009 so it's been 10 years. She was three and four when this first happened and they had seen me two times get deported and I recall my son, he'd be like me, "I’m going to kill the cops." That got me. When my son started being that, that got to me. I was like, "No. I don't want my son to grow up the way I grew up." That's actually what forced me to change, because I didn't want my son to have that life. That's what really made that change I guess. I started telling him, "No. I'm wrong, they're right. You can't live that way. You got to let that go." That's past.
Daniel: That's always going to be hard, talking about my kids is always going to be hard. That's just the way it is.
Claudia: This is more of a general question, but have you received any help since you've been permanently back in Mexico, either from the government or an organization like New Comienzos?
Daniel: No. Well, I haven't even looked for it, so I really don't know. I really don't know. I don't know if there is some help or not. This, I heard it because Adam was walking around over there and he just told me about it. He said, "200 bucks." I be like, "Hey, I need 200 bucks."
Claudia: Do you consider yourself Mexican or American?
Daniel: I think I consider myself American. I don't like Mexico. I don't like Mexicans. I've dealt with Ku Klux Klan, I've dealt with black people, it's just never been a problem.
Claudia: Tell me about the Ku Klux Klan.
Daniel: Well, the Ku Klux Klan is like... Well, over there in Georgia-
Claudia: Sorry. I know what they are, tell me about your experiences with them.
Daniel: Well, my experience with them was, they'll be on the trucks saying, "What's up red bag? What's up beaners." And things like that. A lot of people would be scared. I wouldn't be scared. I'd be like, "Get off the truck. What's up?" They’re different. They respect things like that. It's like here and anywhere in the world, anybody that puts his foot down or stands his ground is going to be respected. I'm not going to go with it all my life, you don't be calling me beaner all my life. You know what I mean? We're going to fight, but it got to the point, like I said, that bonds people, bonds guys I think. At one point I be like, "Let's fight. Yeah, let's fight."
Daniel: We'll get done fighting and they be like, "Hey, you want a beer?" And I be like, "Yeah, let's drink a beer."
Claudia: With the KKK people?
Daniel: Well, yeah. With the young guys more likely. Then you would meet a lot of KKK people, like go there in Georgia, a lot of the KKK people, they don't walk around like people see. Every now and then they have people, but it's not like they just are and they have their own things. You don't see it as often, and I would meet them. I would meet them, I would be at their houses, I've had a lot of white people friends and it was never a big deal. I think it was just more than culture. Everybody’s trying to be tough. Everybody needs a reason to be tough. They’re just there. It's not really something to me that ever got personal.
Claudia: Okay. Throughout the interview I've noticed that you referred to the Mexican people as them, as an othering?
Daniel: Yeah. I think so.
Claudia: There's a distance between you and them.
Daniel: I think so, yeah.
Claudia: Do you want to speak more on that?
Daniel: Well, I think it's more than culture more than anything. Mexicans are weird. They're real weird. I’ve heard them say jokes and they'll say a joke for a long time and nobody would laugh and then at the end of the joke they'll say something like “[Son of a bitch]” and everybody starts laughing and I’m like, "God almighty, I don't understand." Just because he talked about it... I don't get it. In the United States people don't talk about each other's mom because you're going to end up fighting. Here it's every day. Your mama, your mama, I'm like, "Dude, I'm going to get off the car."
Claudia: They’re like “[Fuck your mother]”
Daniel: Yeah, you hear that all the time. You know what I’m saying? I think it's more the culture and like I said, in the State, people don’t... I don't think they fight for money as much than here in Mexico and I think here in Mexico, everybody's trying to fight for money. I think it's like the "I know I'm going to take from you, so you probably want to take from me, so I'm always ready." This is something Mexicans are... It's not something I was familiar with because over there in the States I was raised like, "I got it. You got it. We got it." Here is different. I never really was able to really, mingle. I don't. I can't have a conversation in Spanish too long with somebody. Right away I don't want to be around for some reason.
Daniel: I don't know why. It's probably me. I don't know. Yeah, I do feel that this is between me and Mexicans.
Claudia: Speaking of moms, do you still speak with your mom?
Daniel: Yeah. With her, I call her all the time still. Well, I'm like her best friend. I've always been the shoulder she can lay on all the time. We're always in contact all the time. Me and my mom are always in contact. My brothers are always in contact still. A lot of family members from over there, they look for me. Like I said, about two months ago, one of my uncles came over from New York and he took me and all my family to Acapulco, paid everything. We were so close, there's still a little bit of touch. Of course there's been distances for a lot of different reasons. Like I said, we don't have as many common things to talk about or relate with, you know what I'm saying?
Daniel: That's probably why, but they still every now and then even though I don't say hi on Facebook, they'll be like, "Say hi to Daniel. His ugly ass don’t want to talk." [Laughs]. Things like that. They'll come over, they'll send me perfumes or the shoes or things like that, every now and then. I'm sure I'm still in their minds and they're still in mine, but different. It's like right now I haven't had a cell phone in about a year, year and a half. Why? Because I can go get me a 300-peso cell phone, but I don't want it. I don't want it. I just don't want it. Then also I don't need it, I don't go get it. That keeps me apart even more we can say, but I'm okay with it. I don't feel that thing where I want to know what they're doing or how they been, I don't.
Daniel: Then every time there's a bad story or a bad something, bad news are always going to get there quick. If there's something bad you're going to know. That's why I don't ever have that necessity to have a cell phone and things like that. Yeah, we still keep a little bit in touch with them. We still get along.
Claudia: We're nearing the end here.
Claudia: I know it's a lot.
Daniel: Well, you can take all the time you want. My supervisor's cool. I’m getting paid while I’m here. He's got me on payroll while I'm over here. I'm winning here and I'm winning over there. I told him, I was like, "Look, I'm going to go over there or all you got to do is give me 200 bucks." He's like, "Put yourself on coach, man, go get your 200."
Claudia: Yeah. If you could have stayed in the United States, what do you think you would have done?
Daniel: Well, I think I would've... Right now I think about staying in the States, I'll definitely stay with my kids. I would definitely have more money than I have now. I think I'll be good I think in... Yeah. I think I'd be better. I think I had my own stuff. When I got deported, I had three cars. I had a Chrysler Sebring, a Cadillac and I had an Expedition and a Tauro. So I had four cars when I got deported. I was making good money. I had my own place. I never had to live under my mom since I was 16. I always did good. I always had everything I needed and I had bank accounts for my daughter, for my son, for my wife, for me. I always had money. I never really... never cared.
Daniel: Do you know what, to tell you the truth when I was in the United States, I never cared about dressing fancy, wearing things nice, never cared about that. Like I said, I think over there we don't worry about money. In Mexico, that's all they worry about. It's like you're always trying to look better so people could think you have something even you don't, you know what I'm saying? You got a lot of shoes that are like 200 pesos and just they're new for about two weeks. For two weeks you feel like you've got something, then in about two weeks it's going to rip off and they're not going to work. But for two weeks everybody thinks you got something. See what I'm saying? Even though it was 200 pesos, $10.
Daniel: That's how it is here in Mexico and over in the States is not. I never worried about it. When I was over there, I was in Mexican sandals with my ragged shirt. I never really cared. Also, my nice car, I knew I had money, so I never cared. Here in Mexico it seems like I care more to look good, to have good things, probably because you don't have it. It's more in your mind. That's what I think. I don’t know. In the United States, like I said, my wife, my kids had their own room, toy room, sleeping room. We had a lot of space around the house. We had everything. She never had to work. My kids never had to worry about anything. It was good. As long as your family is good, you're good.
Daniel: If I would be in the States, I'm thinking I would have a lot of money, I think.
Claudia: Now that you're back in Mexico and you have been back, what do you think you'd like to do? What are your hopes and dreams basically?
Daniel: Here? Well, like I said, first, I was a little bit stubborn. I would think. I was thinking maybe if you work hard, you do hard, everything's going to be all right. I started and no, if you need a career, you need a paper. That's what I'm doing right now, I’m studying right now, I’m getting my studies here in Mexico and hopefully I could get a diploma or something, get an engineering or something different. Like I said, when I first got here at Teletech, I didn't even know how to keyboard. Like I said, I never cared about technology. I never needed it. I was always out in the street or not in the street, like at the corner street. The bowling alley, wherever, anywhere else, but not home. I never really cared about it.
Daniel: I never needed it. I never needed technology. No. Back at the time we had the beepers so we could have beepers. I never needed it. When I got here, I wasn't used to it. When I got to Teletech, I didn't even know what the key pads were. They gave me a training and I got better. I exceeded everybody in the class. I became Doctor Dish faster than a lot of ways and right now I'm back here. They took me in right away and I'm good. I got a nice supervisor, he lets me do whatever I want as long as I know what I'm doing. Right? You come to know what you're doing, you wake up knowing you’re going to work, you got something you got accomplish. You don't go to work to do nothing.
Daniel: Once he knows, I know what I'm here for and he gives you breaks, like right now. I told him, "Hey, look, I want to go." And he said, "Go, no problem." If it had been somebody else he would be like, "No, you can't even go to the bathroom." I've always been a hard worker no matter what kind of employment I get; I'm thinking I'm always going to try to do my best. This case, I didn't know what this was, I’m on top of my game now and I didn't know nothing about it. I was lost of technology. You get me out of cave, we got a... What do you call it? Evolutionary?
Daniel: Evolve, evolution, I don’t know, whatever. You have to get into 2019 and then you have to 2020. You got to keep going.
Claudia: Yeah, with the times.
Daniel: Exactly. You have to do it. Like I said, I don't have a need for technology, but I know about technology. I know how to work myself.
Claudia: Okay. First, before we get into the last set of questions, do you think that in the near future you'll go back to the United States?
Daniel: No, I don't think so, unless Donald Trump gives a break. Other than that, I don't think so. Illegally, I don't think so. I wouldn't dare to leave my daughter for six months without her dad. If they give me five years and I wouldn't be able to go through it. I wouldn't be able to. I'm not going to. No, I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't make that decision. If it's legal, yes. If it's illegal, no. I wouldn’t do it.
Claudia: These last few questions are more of a reflection kind of thing. There is a sentiment from a lot of migrants tied to this whole idea of being binational that says that you're neither here nor from there, and I was wondering what you think about that statement.
Daniel: No. I think I'm American. Yeah. [Laughs].
Daniel: But I'm just here, but I don't know. I don't feel that way. Like I said, a lot of people, they just want free things. They want easy things. I understand a lot of governments are tough all the way around the world. It's probably what most of migrants had to do. Like here, I think Mexico, that's what gets more people. I don’t think it's the poverty, I think it's the violence that gets people out of Mexico. I think that's what's it. I think if the governments would just be more like United States, you did something wrong and you're going in, no exceptions, no nothing. You're looking at me wrong. I'm taking you in. I think that's perfect.
Daniel: I think that's what every government needs to get. Simple, straight up because people, we don't listen. We want things easy way all the time and we don’t want to work for nothing. A lot of migrants, they just get to leave their country, I think is violence more than poverty because land, we got land, everybody can plant tomatoes, plant trees, plant whatever, you're going to eat. If you go to the towns, nearest towns where people don't have jobs, they're fat, they're eating good, they got all kinds of food, they got all kinds of fruits, all kinds of animals. They got food, but they don't feel safe. They're not going to let their daughter go out of their house.
Daniel: They're not going to let their kids go out of his house. You know what I'm saying? A lot of people do that. That's the reason they leave because of violence. That’s how I feel. I don’t know.
Claudia: I'm very interested in hearing your opinion on why young Mexican men in the United States turn into crime and gangs.
Daniel: I think it's loneliness more likely. They don't understand you're young, you're in a different country. It's like they're probably feeling the reverse thing I'm feeling. They’re in their country, they don't understand money yet, they don't understand duties yet, they just want to have fun and unfortunately fun leads you to the wrong place. They’re young, I think that's the only reason. They’re just young. Nothing you can do. Then, I don't know. I think everybody does that. Because even white people are like that. You get a lot of white people, they're involved in drugs, they’re... You see that all the time. I don't know. I think it's just people, man. I just think it's just people are just lonely. They're looking for God and God is not showing up.
Claudia: Oh my God. That's true. Yeah.
Daniel: That's what I think and I think it's everywhere. Praying and praying and no answers. I don't know. That's what I think. You grow up and you just got to leave that stuff behind, can’t blame nobody. You just got to all take responsibilities. Some people just take responsibility once they've done something they cannot regret anymore. It's the way it is. I think it's like that everywhere. Not only in the United States, I think it's like that everywhere. It's tough. God gotta show up.
Daniel: Yeah. No, he's there. He's been there for me a lot. I ain’t going to say he don't, because I think God is for everybody, but sometimes we just want more I guess. I don't know. He's been there for me. I can't say he don't. Like I said they were going to be 10 years the first time, he gave me one year, second time they were giving me five, I only did two. I think he's been there. My kids, they had that mentality when I was growing up, like I said, now they're grown and they're happy. So, I think God is there.
Claudia: So, what can the Mexican government do to help returning migrants reintegrate into Mexican society?
Daniel: I think what they can do is stop bringing so many people into the cities and allow them to work their lands safe. I think that will solve the problems in Mexico. Because a lot of the people that come from the towns to the cities because of that, because the violence is out there. You get into four or five trucks full of people with guns and drunks and drugged up and you see that every night, every night, every night and you heard that the neighbors, she just got raped and the other one got raped and the other one got raped. People start trying to look for protection. I'm thinking if they push away people from the city, take them back to their home lands, let them work. I’m thinking that will do it.
Claudia: And what can the United States government do to help Mexican deportees and the family that they leave behind?
Daniel: I don’t know. I don't think there's too much they can do. It's hard for them. I'm thinking it's hard for the government also. They can't tell what people are feeling they can just tell what they can see. If they see people dressing up, acting up, it's like a guy told me, he says, "You look like a duck, you quack like a duck, you might be a duck." It's a government, they can't say, "Look at the guy's feelings. Take care of his feelings." They're not going to do that. They can’t, they're not God. They don't know. All they can do is apply the law. It's all they can do. It's hard. I don't think problems in the world has to do with governments. I think they do, but it has to do more. Have you read the Bible?
Claudia: Yes. Some of it.
Daniel: I'm thinking just God got his own plan. I don't know.
Claudia: If you would have asked me six months ago, I would've said no, but I actually took a class.
Daniel: You took a class?
Daniel: Well, I’ve read the Bible like I said. I’ve had a lot of experience with God. He's been my best friend. I think he's there, he's got his own plan, not our plan. He's got his plan.
Claudia: Well, those were all the questions I had. To wrap this up, I want to give you the chance to tell me anything else that you want to add, anything that you felt that you may not have gotten across or anything that you want to add or clarify or whatever you want to say. Now's the moment to do it. Go ahead if you want to.
Daniel: Well, like I say, I don't know, maybe you would ask me this questions before, when you touch my kids, that's always going to get me. I can't help it. Even at the house, even... I got their picture on the wall. Every time I walk in the room it's hard. I can't help it, but everything else is just, we just have to grow up in this stage. You just have to grow up and you just have to make better decisions. There's no way around it. There's just that and you can't live your past and the future, or your present. You can't live it. You can't live the past in your present, you've got to live the present. That's it. I don't know. So many problems in the world, can't solve them, so I never really thought about it.
Daniel: I just try my best every day and that's it. There's nothing else I can do. I don't think there's nothing else any of us can do, unless you can... No, I don't think so. I don’t think even the president can do anything. I'm thinking if the president starts giving everybody money, everybody's just going to use it on drugs or misuse it or things like that. Sometimes money can turn you bad also. I don’t know. Life's hard. It's tough. I don't think we got the answers. I don't know. What do you think? You think there's an answer?
Claudia: No. It's crazy because I think Americans have a very, and everyone in gen...
Claudia: I don't know. You just want to help so many people and you want to do that as much as you can. And then, there's got to be a point where you realize that you can't help everyone.
Daniel: That's same mentality I have. Because like I said, I've been with a lot of Americans. And I've ate with a lot of Americans in their tables. And I've slept with a lot of Americans in their homes. Been in their parties. I was going to marry one or two white girls. I mean I've ate any... I don't know. Chicken patty. Whatever. Anything. You know what I'm saying? I can't think of all the food that I've ate over there. Like a sweet tea, cold tea, a chicken fried, whatever. It don't matter. Corn. Whatever. Everything. I've ate every kind of meal that you can think of. I've experienced the cities, the countries in the States.
Daniel: And I think there's a lot of good people in the States. Because let's say an American comes here to Mexico and does something wrong. Mexicans will stone him quick. They will burn him alive in front of everybody and have a party. You know what I am saying? And Americans are so, "You did something wrong, but I'm not going to take it. Apply the law." You see what I'm saying? So to me, that's why I say I'm American because I've lived for the Americans. Not because of the government, because I've lived for the Americans. Because I know how my people are, black people are, people that are in between and they're born in the States. I mean just living in the States, you're going to find people that are bad everywhere in the world. But I've definitely found more bad people here in Mexico in a month that I've found in the States all the time I lived there. So to me States is nice. United States is right. It's good. If there'll be a war, I'll go fight for United States.
Claudia: You can enlist.
Daniel: Enlist in the-
Claudia: Even if it's against Mexico, you're going.
Daniel: Even if it's against Mexicans, let's go.
Claudia: No. It's crazy because I feel like I came into this project... This is the second year that I've been doing it. And I came in thinking like, "Oh. Then people must hate the United States." And I was so blown away by the fact that people don't. People even if they've gotten deported are still so grateful to all of the experiences that they had and the people that they met.
Daniel: Yeah. Like I said, here in Mexico, I mean, when we first got here, they used to call us gabachos. They'll be like, "Gabachos.." Big, old, huge. They're everywhere. Why? Because we will speak English. Because we didn't like their jokes. Because we looked like them. Because we don't act like them. It got to the point where they're like, "Okay. So gabachos. Their not scared. They'll fight." So we get our respects, but we still don't know how to mingle. Because to this day, I've meet a lot of people that are born here and they're on their own. They don't mingle. They'll say what's up to somebody, but you're not going to hear them having a conversation with somebody because they cannot mingle. I don't think if we're going to be able to mingle. Then we're going to get old and we're not going to mingle. I don't know.
Daniel: But I see a lot of people that stays here. They can't mingle. They can't. They just get along with people that have the same history. But with Mexicans, they can't mingle. I don't know why. I don't think they'll ever... It was like when you tasted heaven. You're never going to forget heaven. And you still want to go to heaven.
Claudia: The United States is heaven?
Daniel: This is heaven. I'm talking about everything. Fruit, meat. I mean everything. Even Burger King don't taste the same here in Mexico. You go to a Pizza Hut. They take the cheese. They take the bacon. They take the pepperoni. You know what I'm saying? I mean you go to get one pizza and it have 10 slices of pepperoni. Next one has only got five. You get it out of there and the cheese is already wrinkling altogether because the pizza don't have enough cheese. I mean you see these in Mexico all the time. Nothing tastes the same. Burger King doesn't taste the same. McDonald's don't taste the same. Close enough, but you're always remembering. You're always remembering.
Claudia: What's your favorite American food?
Daniel: My favorite American food had to be barbecue chicken. Had to be.
Daniel: And chili cheese's okay. But barbecue chicken. And now, not just anybody. Like I said, I've been with a lot of people and some people don't know how to cook. And then, some people just wow. Some people just got a... Thanksgiving. Wow. I mean I don't think you could find somebody in Mexico that knows how to cook sweet ham. I don't think you could find one. I don't think you could find somebody in Mexico know how to make some chili beans. I don't think you can find one. It's a lot of things. Sweet tea. I mean there's so many things that you're not going to find in Mexico. Like I never ate so many guisados in my life, because I also was used to eating other food. To this day I miss it.
Daniel: My wife, when I first got here, she always be mad. She hates Americans. She hates when I speak English. She hates a lot of things. And we will go out. She'll be like, "Hey. Let's go get some chicken nuggets." This is funny, right? So we went to buy some chicken nuggets and she started heating up the tortillas. I'm like, "What are you doing?" She's like, "Heating up some tortillas." I'm like, "Why?." So they said, "We can eat the..." I'm like, "No. You eat this with ketchup." And she's like, "You crazy. You and your American life. And you're in Mexico now." And starts talking shit. And she sees me eating and she'll dip it. Okay.
Daniel: Now next week she's asking for the chicken nuggets. You see what I'm saying? Same thing with a lot of things. With pizza, man. It's like the first two, three pieces she's fighting and she's arguing. She's debating. She's just talking, "I don't want it." You know what? She gets her first bite. Next thing you know, she wants a slice. Next thing she's just asking for pizza. Next thing you know, she wants pizza every week. It's like I'm telling you. Once you start enjoying the good things in life or whatever, you start experiencing all those things. You're never going to want to go back. You're always want to keep living the life you're living. So it's good to be poor. But once they get you out of poor, you don't want to ever be poor again.
Daniel: It's tough.
Claudia: Especially when the world is so against you. Like we were saying before we began.
Daniel: Yeah. I'm telling you it's like... I remember when I first got here, I hear people be like, "They make a hundred and some pesos a day. They make 800 pesos a week." That is $40. I mean and you walk anywhere. You walk here everything is just the same price as in America. So nothing's cheaper. So you can afford it. And you're like, "How is your government adding these things up? I don't get it." But it's like that. And nothing changes. And when they give them a raise, they give them seven pesos raise. You know what I'm saying? It's like, "Oh my God. Why don't people start a fucking war or something? I don't get it." But people learn to mingle and they learn to live this way. And they will call beans frijolitos. They give all this extra word at the end so it could just sound better.
Daniel: But anyways when I first got here, I couldn't mingle with that. And I'd be like, "Man. Why are these people just.... They're mad, man." So I started enjoying them. And I started eating their food and I started realizing that, "Well, it's okay. They got seasoning. They got taste." So all of that counts when you're eating pork. But at one point another, my mind tells me, "Yes. It's okay to eat beans and rice every other day. But not every day." You, know? I want some meat, man. I want some chicken. I want some beef. I want some pork. I want to go to Burger King. I want to go bowling. If I'm bored, I don't want to just kick it outside my house. And I go spend some money. I want to go take my kids shopping, get some stuff, eat some things, try something else. Take them something. Money won't let you. It won't let you. You need money. And it's not letting you.
Daniel: But that's how it is. That's how it is for a lot of people. Thank God to me it’s not that way. The last couple of years. Thank God to me, I've struggled. Like I said, he's always helped me out. He's always helped me out. I've never been like the kind of person that, "Okay. You give me a hundred dollars. It's okay. I want 400." I've never been that way. It's like if I'm making a hundred, I want to make 200 next time. If I make 200, I will make 300 next time. And it's never enough. And if I could fill up a whole bank of my money and I'm not going to use it. That's good with me. I don't want it, but let's fill it up. Let's keep it there. And a lot of people are not like that. A lot of people are just like, "Okay. I'm good with 500 pesos." I don't know. But this is where we live. This is we had to live in.
Daniel: So what do you think? That's enough? How long we been here?
Claudia: I don't know. What do you think? We've been here over [crosstalk 00:08:58].
Daniel: Well, there's a lot of more stories. No. I think it's enough. Because I got to go back.
Claudia: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Daniel: Yeah. I think it's enough.
Claudia: Are you satisfied with what you said?
Daniel: Well, yeah. Like I said, I don't think there'll be enough time. There's so many stories. So many things I've seen. But sometimes when you think about them, you can't recall them.
Claudia: Yeah. That's true. No. I think this has been perfect. I think it's been very, very good.
Daniel: I hope so.