Author: Miguel Roura

Photo Illustration

Toque de Chicharra

Naked, standing in a puddle of water, my hands were cuffed behind my back, and the redhead again asked where I got the weed. Once more, I lied. Behind me, he inched closer and spread my legs with a kick from his boot. Pain exploded from my balls to my brain, zapped through my eyes and singed the ends of my hair. Dressed in khaki pants and plaid shirt, the Guadalajara city cop carefully handled the electric wand, stepped over the wet floor, and with sadistic sarcasm repeated the question. “You want another hit of the chicharra? On the city streets of Guadalajara, local tokers taught me to associate the chicharra – the cicada – with ‘catching a buzz’ and getting high; taco vendors served these insects fried. That instant the incisive sound and sensation of the cattle prod was added to my personal vocabulary. With that, I broke. I took the police to the apartment of a university student I’d met at a wedding named Marco, with whom I’d smoked a joint. *  * …

Story Illustration

Un Mitote Mas

One Saturday in the summer of 1970, I boarded a Tres Estrellas bus and headed south, down the International Highway taking me on my first in depth exploration of Mexico. I was part of a group of one-hundred-and-fifty Chicano students who rented apartments at La Plaza Tlatelolco while attending classes at UNAM – La Universidad Autónoma de Mexico. I came searching for an identity, encouraged by my Chicano graduate student teachers at UCLA who nurtured me through the first two years, and by my mother’s prodding that I learn the truth about the land of my ancestors. I remember my high school teacher and mentor, Sal Castro, telling us: “Your people founded highly sophisticated civilizations on this continent, centuries before the European stepped on this land.” So this afternoon with this group of young enthusiastic men and women, I loaded my baggage on a coach that took us from Tijuana to Tenochtitlan. That first day of travel started off full of excitement as we jockeyed for a seat next to someone with whom to share …