Fun Without Borders

Frontiers, Violence, Immigration

The EcoAlberto recreation park in Mexico has everything to provide visitors with an unforgettable holiday experience: hot springs, hikes, boat rides and a staff of armed guards paid to chase guests around the park at night.

For only 20 bucks, visitors can participate in EcoAlberto's main attraction, the caminata nocturna, or night walk, to live for themselves the fun-filled moments that illegal Mexican immigrants experience when they cross the border to the US.

Complete with barbed wire, cramped underground concrete tunnels, cactus forests and hostile insects, the park does its best to recreate the ordeal truthfully. But the real treat of the show comes from the staff of about 80 people. Some hunt the tourists, dressed up as border patrol officials, while others lead them through the spiny bushes playing the role of coyotes – the smugglers who help immigrants cross the border for a fee.

Before the idea for the theme park came about, the population of El Alberto had been dwindling rapidly due to heavy emmigration flows that started in the 70s. Only 10 percent of the residents remained, while the rest had joined the 7 million other Mexicans living illegally in the United States. And though the park's organizers have been criticized of training the next generation of emigrants, they say their goal is to convince young Mexicans to stay. When the park's night walks started, many returned to share their expertise.

Blog post courtesy of Böbe Barsi

Photo by Austin Andrews