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Calipatria Essay

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From a bird's eye view, Calipatria is a small area completely dwarfed by the surrounding patchwork of desert and agricultural fields. Upon entering the town, people are overwhelmed by the smell clouding their nostrils. Thousands of cows, a sea of black and white, are there to greet visitors. The bovine stench is followed by silos and train tracks before leading into town. Those precise tracks form the dividing line in town.
On the East Side, shoes string through cables and graffiti color the walls. Dramatic cautionary tales circulate around school. Do not wear a certain color at night. Be careful if there is a car driving too slow. Avoid uttering certain phrases. And at night when gunshots ring out, only one thought circulates around my head.
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It is ridiculous that it is only iron in the ground that divides my people. There is a deeper division between riches and poverty, riches that fly high above my head. Helicopters’ chopping blades at night carry locally mined gold.
Not all aircrafts carry priceless treasures. The military also buzz around this area. I have witnessed training exercises where people parachute from planes and one can feel the distant bombs tremble through the earth. Unofficial recruiting starts early, with school-funded student groups suiting up to perform military exercises in parades. Flashy gun twirling and clean cut uniforms were in my life since middle school. Soon the old dress uniforms of middle school cadets were replaced by high school fatigues. For these students, joining the army is far too easy of a choice.
When we graduate, too many people choose to become a soldier or soldier on in the fields. It is simple to think that there’s no other option, but I am not a soldier. I saw the results of this backbreaking labor, of a life stuck in between these two choices. The broken spirit, the calloused hands forced into a claw, the people too young to have aches plaguing the rest of their lives all drove my
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