Gregorio Mendez, Tabasco, Mexico -
A desperate journey
On an unusually dreary day in a dot-sized town in southern Mexico, the beast roared through, opened its jaws and swallowed the man who tried to tame it.A gasp went up from the little shacks and stores that hug the railroad tracks like laundry on a line, and grandmothers rushed out from back rooms with rags to fashion a makeshift tourniquet. But when they saw the nature of the poor fellow's injuries — a crushed leg, a split torso — they abandoned their scraps and murmured their prayers instead.
Clusters of schoolgirls in crimson uniforms huddled at the scene, covering their mouths with slender, sun-browned fingers, and a few walked north to peek at the black boot that poked up from the weeds like a death notice; only the very curious ventured farther to look for the small piece of shinbone rumored to have lodged itself in the grass after the train ate the man's leg and the rushing wind blew bits of it into the engine yard. It was odd, seeing a pink Puma cap there, too, and trying to imagine the young Guatemalan who just a few moments ago had been wearing it — a man who now bumped along in a small, white ambulance on his way to the capital, where it was hoped a team of doctors would be able to save him.
The schoolgirls were joined by their mothers in the housedresses they wore for making tortillas, and by men in soiled work pants the color of the fields. Little boys peeked out from their sisters' skirts, and a 12-year-old girl, who on normal days practiced her marching-band steps on the crossties, stood motionless.Lo irónico, said the town's residents — accomplished medical examiners after years of such calamities. The irony was that Celestino Hernandez, 19, might have survived were it not for the machete he carried for protection. When he slipped from the train, he fell on his sword.
"It is impossible not to cry — sometimes I don't go to the window anymore, because I don't want to see