ENRIQUE'S JOURNEY | CHAPTER TWO BY SONIA NAZARIO, TIMES STAFF WRITER PHOTOGRAPHS BY DON BARTLETTI The day's work is done at Las Anonas, a rail-side hamlet of 36 families in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, when a field hand, Sirenio Gomez Fuentes, sees a startling sight: a battered and bleeding boy, naked except for his undershorts.
It is Enrique.
He limps forward on bare feet, stumbling one way, then another. His right shin is gashed. His upper lip is split. The left side of his face is swollen. He is crying.
Gomez hears him whisper, "Give me water, please."
The knot of apprehension in Sirenio Gomez melts into pity. He runs into his thatched hut, fills a cup and gives it to Enrique.
"Do you have a pair of pants?" Enrique asks.
Gomez dashes back inside and fetches some. There are holes in the crotch and the knees, but they will do. Then, with kindness, Gomez directs Enrique to Carlos Carrasco, the mayor of Las Anonas. Whatever has happened, maybe he can help.
Enrique hobbles down a dirt road into the heart of the little town. He encounters a man on a horse. Could he help him find the mayor?
"That's me," the man says. He stops and stares. "Did you fall from the train?"
Again, Enrique begins to cry.
Mayor Carrasco dismounts. He takes Enrique's arm and guides him to his home, next to the town church. "Mom!" he shouts. "There's a poor kid out here! He's all beaten up." Carrasco drags a wooden pew out of the church, pulls it into the shade of a tamarind tree and helps Enrique onto it.
Lesbia Sibaja, the mayor's mother, puts a pot of water on to boil and sprinkles in salt and herbs. She brings Enrique a bowl of hot broth, filled with bits of meat and potatoes.
He spoons the brown liquid into his mouth, careful not to touch his broken teeth. He cannot chew.
Townspeople come to see. They stand in a circle. "Is he alive?" asks Gloria Luis, a stout woman with long black hair. "Why don't you go home? Wouldn't that be better?"
"I am going to find my mom," Enrique says, quietly.
He is 17. It is March 24, 2000. Eleven years before, his mother had left home in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to work in the United States. She did not come back, and now he is riding freight trains up through Mexico to find her.
Gloria Luis looks at Enrique and thinks about her own children. She earns little; most people in Las Anonas make 30 pesos a day, roughly $3, working the fields. She digs into a pocket and presses 10 pesos into Enrique's hand.
Several other women open his hand, adding 5 or 10 pesos each.
Mayor Carrasco gives Enrique a shirt and shoes. He has cared for injured immigrants before. Some have died. Giving Enrique clothing will be futile, Carrasco thinks, if he can't find someone with a car who can get the boy to medical help.
A Beaten Boy Looks for Mercy in a Tiny Town
An entreaty at the tracks: 'I am going to find my mom'
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