How to become one with your car

International Border Points

In September 1990, an unusual traffic sign appeared alongside the highways around San Diego, California. It warned drivers that undocumented people, crossing the border from Mexico, might dash across the freeway in pursuit of a better life. But illegal immigrants don’t just dodge cars – they hide in them, too. Curling around the engine, turning dashboards into capsule hotels and disguising themselves as seats, creative migrants have found many ways to sneak across international borders.

81_immigrants_illus1Choosing The Right People Carrier:
It’s important to choose the right vehicle for the long journey ahead: the large trunk, wide dashboard, big seats and sizable hood make the GMC Safari van ideal. Befriend a mechanic and persuade him to customize your secondhand van. With a little creativity, this eight-seater can pass a checkpoint completely full, but looking totally empty.

81_immigrants_illus3The Hot seat

Open the hood. Behind the engine, battery, fan and the shock absorbers, you’ll find a sheet of fabric dividing the engine compartment. Remove this sheet, and make more space by cutting directly into the van’s bulkhead – the part of the chassis that keeps heat, dust and bad smells away from the driver. Pad this space with a lot of blankets.

Position: rest your head against the outer edge of the engine compartment, holding both hands to your chest. Keeping your torso straight, bend 90 degrees at your hips and raise your knees up to your elbows with your legs together.

Breathing Control: holding this position under intense heat can be agonizing. Bring to mind all the good memories that you have, breathe slowly and try not to take in big gasps of air. This will keep your heart rate calm and stop you inhaling toxic gases.

81_immigrants_illus4The Driving seat

With the help of an assistant, slide two metal levers into the spaces at each end of the dashboard, count to three and pull hard. The dashboard will come out. Remove the radio, ventilation, speedometer, odometer, RPM gauge, fuel gauge and the inside of the glove compartment. Leave only the lights plugged in. After the person is inside stick the dashboard back on with extra-strong glue.

Postion: this position is only to be attempted by someone between 1.5 and 1.6m tall. Keep your head in the space where the glove compartment used to be, with your legs raised and slightly bent.

Breathing Control: slow breathing will help prevent cramps. The driver will provide ventilation before and after border checkpoints by opening the glove compartment.

81_immigrants_illus5The Seat seat

Remove the seat cover. Throw away the entire seat except the base fixed to the floor of the van. Weld a curved steel bar with two armrests to the base. Sit the passenger on it, tie his arms to the armrests and his feet to the base underneath him. Cover him in padding to get the correct shape, then sew the cover back on.

Position: there’s an element of torture to this position as you must keep your head and back totally straight, with your arms out at 90 degrees from your sides, and your legs curled under you, resting on your toes.

Breathing control: maintaining a gentle and regular breathing rate will help you hold your position and stop you panicking as the last stitch seals you inside the cover.


From the pages of COLORS #82 - Shit.