Thursday, September 20, 2007

I've gone out to the construction site a few times over the past three months and just recently took some pictures. They've been working consistently for the past couple months on a 9a-3pm schedule M-F. So far a 150 ft wide road is being made that starts behind the water treatment plant and is almost fully functionally for about a mile. They are working on smoothing out that road and then extending it through Smuggler's Gulch by filling it in half way and then through Goat Canyon (not sure if they plan to fill that in or not) and the road will end at the Border Field State Park.
I got this information from several BP agents patrolling the region, asking the national guard and private companies working on the site, and deducing from what's been done so far.

Description of above video: This road starts behind the water treatment plant about 4 miles from the ocean. About a year ago this very wide road, was all native vegetation. Now it is one very wide dirt road that will be used by BP in order to move faster between the two fences. The second one is being rebuilt in some areas and extended in other areas where it was once prohibited by California environmental law to protect the Estuary Reserve unitl May of 2004 when a law passed that allows DHS to override ANY law for the purpose of building the triple fence.

They've put in two huge drainage systems on the west side and I'm worried that they are approaching a point of no return.

The secondary barrier that now ends where that road starts, will be extended along that road. I've also heard that they are planning to build a second road behind that and a third barrier behind that.

Smuggler's Gulch and all the vegetation along the way, include habitat for several endangered and native species. There are also many archeological sites that would be ruined with the construction of the road and later the fence. And, worst of all, the literal and symbolic creation of more division between people of the region. Make friends not fences!!

As you can see from the pics and video, they're progressing steadily toward smuggler's. I've gone out there on several ocasions over the last two weeks, but only took pics and video once. If you want to see more videos from different time periods over the last year, do a search on youtube, put in 'Watman'and the majority that show up will be my documentation (with company) over the past year of the progress. You can also look through posts on this blog for links to pics and video.

Pics and video (2 more videos below pics) from two weeks ago (I went out yesterday and they are still excavationg and making the road, but no progress westbound was noted from when these pics and video were taken 2 weeks ago, just more progress on the already existing portion). For more pics and descriptions of these and others, go to:

New drainage pipe
This is a second drainage system that was not there two months ago.

A lot of this vegetation has been around for centuries developing deep intricate root systems, only to be torn up in minutes by the construction.

This is where the smoothing out of the road hast got to so far. About 1/2 mile from smuggler's

In the same area where they are building the road and fence about 3 miles east of the ocean.

A crude clip of the entire site after the machines had quit for the day.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

This past weekend, I went out to the border both on Sat and Sun. Sat was a complete border day. I walked the five miles in the morning out the park to meet up with Teté and her high school classes. That was probably the cooles part of a day full of interesting and exciting ocurrences. We talked with José (my friend who takes care of the huge garden on the Mexican side) and figured out exactly where they are going to plant the garden. They got native plants donated and will have 8 teams of six students. Each team will build a square meter garden. The area chosen starts about ten feet west of the circle that connects the two countries and they will plant right up against the fence. The students were excited about it. It will be a competition to see who has the coolest looking garden. One of the girls saw a lizard and was chasing it around the whole time til she finally caught it and gave it a kiss. She was funny. On the way out to the border a ran accross a group called the San Diego Tracking Team. I chatted with them for a few mintues. They were out trying to find tracks of species that went under roads. They said they don't track humans, just animals. After spending the day at a couple spots near the border they were planning on going up to Rancho peñasquitos to find tracks of a certain kind of bird that goes under the freeway. They were pretty gung ho. Kinda cool. I also picked up several rocks on the way out and on the way back. Also, when I was about half way back, I decide to hike up smuggler's gulch and see if I could talk to anyone through the fence. On the way out to the mesa there was what appeared to be kind of like a swat team of border agents walking back out towards me. There were at least 12 of them, it was kind of intimidating to see them with all there weapons and combat gear. They walked by and asked where i was going. "Just going for a hike". One said "Ok be careful." Another said " Be careful of the Aiens. They throw rocks." "Don't get too close to the fence." My first thought was "what an idiot, what is he talking about?" But then I realized that aliens might have actually thrown rocks at him. Reminded me a little of the scenes I used to see on TV where Palestinians would through rocks at armed israeli forces. Anyway, I doub that happens too often, if at all. I tried to take their picture as they were walking away, but my camera phone was full and as soon as tried (it still made the clicking sound). I couple agents came running back to me and told me to erase it. I showed them it didn't work. "Why can't I take a picture." "It's not allowed." "It's a illegal?" "No, we just don't want you to do it. Have a nice day."

I hiked up the hill at the end of the gulch and sat near the fence for a bit where I had talked to people on other ocassions. I sat for a bout 15 minutes and made space for more pics on my phone while a border guard watche me from up top. No one showed up so I walked west into the construction site. They were building away. Moving dirt and making roads. Covering culverts up and grading a bit more. I really do wonder what they are doing out there. I can't figure it out.

On the way back, un señor from up to a hill on the mexican side waved to me. There were three amigos sitting around chatting and one waved to me to meet him down by the fence. His name was Luis and talked to him through a hole in the fence

He had just been deported the night before and was hungry and thristy. He couldn't leave the area of the fence because he didn't have an ID and the Mexican police through you in jail if you can't show them an idea "Te digo, ni dejan en el pais de uno". I've heard this before from friend I've met at the fence that you can't stray too far cause the police will get you and through you in jail for 36 hours. Another friend, Ceasr, lives under a bridge that is a drainage system under the fence and cant' got either direction because of the BP on the US side and the Mexican police on the other. He sneaks into town on the mexican side and works at a hamburger stand and then goes back to his spot at night. Anyway, he's another interesting story. I have vide of an interview with him I should post. I gave Luis 50 pesos that I had and he was complaining about wanting to talk to his wife in LA. I lent him my cell, but it didn't work. We were in a bad area i guess. When I first offered it to him he said "tu eres la migra o que?". He was wondering if he should trust me. He did though and asked me if he could have the phone. I told him no but later was kicking myself cause I could've let him take it up to the top of the hill and try and jsut bring it back. Anyway, his story was pretty similiar to others i've heard at the fence. Someone gets deported, leaving his wife and children in the US and he's lost at the fence. Pretty messed up, inhumane situation. I actually went back the next day (michelle was cool enough to drive me out there this time so I didn't have to walk the whole way) and lent him my phone again. It worked this time and he talked to his family for a while. I'm not sure, but I think he tried to cross in on Sun night. Hope he made it.

After the visit with Luis on Sat, I went back down and started toward my house. I swung in behind the water treatment plant and asked an army guy exactly what they are building/working on there. "We're just making roads. Roads for BP." "What's the plan, is ther going to be another wall? How long will the roads be?" "I don't know the plans, I'm just a peon. Just an engineer." Well, I obviously wasn't getting anything out of him. I wonder who knows and would be willing ot share. Somebody reading this blog? Anybody?

Well, like I said, I went back out on Sun with MIchelle. We had a couple more run-ins with the border agents. They were polite, but warned us against aliens throwing rocks again. I wonder if thats a new protocol to say that. One of them said it's not illegal to be close to the fence, but we shouldn't stay there too long. it's always a different story, but overall, they are usually ok with me roaming around out there. Luis spent the night sat at the fence in the mountains. It was cold on Sat night. MIchelle and I walked up to the construction site again and I was talking about how it would've been a good idea to bring blankets when "ta da" there was a thick warm army blanket righ in our path. I went back over there and there was a guy about to cross. I asked him if they needed any blankets "No, gracias" he said hurriedly, but still polite. I just draped the blanket and a sweatshirt I found over the fence and we hiked back down.

I was grateful Michelle came down to drive me out on Sun, cause i was too tired to hike all the way back out there after walking a total of about 15 miles on Sat. Gracias michelle.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Feb 18th Border Wall-k Recap

For lots more Pics of the day, go to

The day started out bright and early with Jay Johnson Castro, Sarah, Michelle, and I driving to the starting point in Otay by 7:20am. Jeffrey met us there. Jay, Jeffrey, and I started the Wall-k at about 7:45am. Jay started right away with stories of activism and tearing down walls of secrecy and abuse of the US gov't. From what we had seen on the Google satellite and what Border officials had warned us about, we thought this first portion of the trip was going to be a difficult hike and would take at least 4 hours. Instead, it turned out to be less than two hours with only some slow slopping hills on a groomed gravel road. We saw quite a few cottontails and a couple Burrowing Owls along the trek to San Ysidro port of entry. It felt a little like we were all just starting to get to know each other (J, Jeff, and I) when, all of the sudden, we saw the end of the trail. "Is that it…? Is that the San Ysidro port of entry already...? Nah, couldn't be." But, sure enough, about 1.5 hours into the wall-k we were only 20 minutes away. Michelle and Sarah, along with some attractive young film students, greeted us as we arrived there. We met Sarah and Michelle at the Plaza de Las Americas shopping center about 15 min down the road (wall-king) and sat and chatted and ate our snacks and water for about an hour.

We then continued on for another 2-3 miles along city streets to the meeting spot behind the water treatment plant on Dairy Mart Rd. and met with about 20 others. I got quite a few compliments and looks about my sign “Make Friends Not Fences/ Amigos sin front eras” on the way there. There were some media cameras at the meeting spot, Diego and Eileen, Richard and Aida, Paul, Enrique, Danni Morales, Vicente and others from the Marcha Migrante showed up.

We wall-ked right into the area of construction but were blocked off by a National Guard officer in a pickup truck. He wouldn't talk to us and just kept signaling that we go back. I recognized him from the last trip out and finally got him to talk a bit. I told him that we had forewarned BP and other officials of our plans, but he wasn't hearing it. He would not let us go through the area where the construction was happening, no matter what. We had Richard, a native to the area and an archeologist / paleontologist by profession. With his knowledge of the region and a little bit of guess work we started to skirt around the construction areas to find our way over the Mesa and down into Smuggler's Gulch. As we came up kind of a tough climb (a bit treacherous at times) up the Mesa there were two National Guard and two Border Patrol agents waiting for us. All dressed in full combat gear. The construction was right behind them. The National Guard was video taping us as we wall-ked up. "Do you know the best way to go down into Smuggler's Gulch while staying a safe distance from the construction?" I asked the National Guard guy with a camera in his hand. He didn't answer and just signaled me to wall-k away while still filming. We stopped there, I think kind of half expecting to get arrested or talked to or something, but the Guard and BP just stood there and looked at us. The BP talked back some when we greeted them and one, in Spanish, obviously Mexican. It was the first time I'd seen BP with bulletproof vests and helmets on. I guess we were pretty intimidating :-) with our make friends signs and peace flags. We continued to meander through the trails and every time we got close to the construction area, there was a truck with the same officer, putting down cones to make sure we didn't go into the area. Some in the group wanted to challenge him, but I didn't think it was worth it. Despite the construction being somewhat of a covert operation, I honestly think this particular officer was afraid someone would get hurt and was afraid he’d get in trouble or if we did. But then again, I don't really know what the complete motives were for sure for not letting us in.
Once we got around the construction, we went back against the fence and there were some people on the other side, just hanging out. We went up and tall-ked to them through the small holes in the fence. They all had different but similar stories. Most had been to this side before and were working and then got deported and are now trying to get back. Some, like the 63 year Jacinto, had left family in the US. Jacinto was trying to get back to his wife and 4 daughters in Michigan. We chatted with him more than anyone else. He was hungry and thirsty, so we gave him some snacks and agua. I’ve heard several stories like this in the past. It’s just not right. People are people and no one should have more or less of a right to work and see their family. We then continued on. Jay had already gone ahead to meet up with the media folks whom we had lost due to the extra climbing . Finally, we made it into Smuggler’s Gulch, where we were able to meet and talk with more amigos through the fence. The steep Mesas to the west were a bit intimidating, but I didn't think about it much "Vámonos amigos." As we climbed and descended two very steep Mesas, the same gentleman, Richard, who helped find the alternative trail to go around the construction earlier, was fascinating to wall-k with. He explained that some of the Quartz rocks were a billion years old! He also pointed out some rocks that had been made into tools. He said, this area where we found these rocks/tools, was an archeological site that will be ruined by the construction/filling in of the canyons. He also pointed out a WW1 bunker on the second to last Mesa before the park. Because he had so much experience on the trails, he was also able to point out things like a knitted shoe sock, that was used to hide tracks as people wall-ked in hopes of not getting caught by border patrol trackers as well as explaining that whenever we saw a comb (which we saw quite a few of) that was a spot where someone was caught and was asked to take anything sharp out of their pockets. Our support crew met up with us one more time about a mile from the beach.
One of the Wall-kers opted for the ride but the rest of us made it the last mile. Along the way we met up with some more amigos through the fence and one who lived in a drainage pipe that goes under the wall. Jeffrey traded his Marcha Migrante shirt for the black shirt that the amigo had on. Jeffrey's cool.

When we finally got to the beach there was quite a reception. Some congress people were being given a tour of the border by BP and DHS. There were 40-50 BP officials and police wandering around talking, 3-4 helicopters overhead, and two Border Patrol Boats in the ocean. It was quite a site. Three of the congress people came to the fence to talk to people through the fence. I was happy about that. I felt like they were kind of having a dignitary party about 30 feet from the fence while Mexicans looked on. When we got there, we kind of broke up their exclusive party and managed to get a few of them over to the fence. A congresswoman, I think from Michigan, came to the fence and asked what it is that Mexicans want her to do to help. One guy told her to arrest the minutemen and let us go to work and tell border patrol to stop turning the other cheek when minutemen beat us up. I asked Filner what he thought of the construction and he said “It’s a disgrace.”
Finally, I talked with my friend José who lives and works in the bathroom at the In_Site garden on the Tijuana side. We chatted for a while and I introduced him to some of my friends. He’s responsible for keeping the area up. He calls it his garden.

For more Pics, go to

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

DIRECTIONS TO BEACH AT THE US/MEXICO BORDER FENCE (scroll down for exact written directions!!)

Note - These directions are to go directly to park. If you want directions on how to get to the meeting point for the Border Wall-k, email for a copy of the flyer.

(scroll down for exact written directions!!)

Directions to US Side:

Take I5 to Dairy Mart Rd. Exit. Turn South/Southwest onto Dairy Mart Rd. Dairy Mart Road turns into Monument Rd. All together it's about a 3 mile drive from the I5 exit. (You will pass Smuggler's Gulch entrance just past Holister Road on your left off of Monument). If the park is closed to vehicles, it is still always open to foot, bicycle, and horses. You will come to a closed gate about 1.5 miles from the beach. There is a dirt parking lot there and you can walk/ride the rest of the way in.

Directions to Mexico Side:

If you are crossing the border, right after crossing get over to your far right lane and you will see a sign that says "Playas". Take that exit and follow the road along the border fence for about 3 miles. The road will turn South away from the fence and you'll see another sign that says "Playas" to the right. Take that exit and continue to follow the signs that say "Playas" (stay to your right). Finally, you will come to a stop light right next to a huge dirt parking lot that is for the Bull Ring "El Toreo". Turn right and go about 1/2 mile to the beach. Walk or drive north down the coastal Rd till you get to the fence. We'll be either at the park/garden at the end of that rd or down on the beach.

Monday, February 12, 2007

On Thursday, Suzanne and I walked through the construction area where they are building the fence through the Mesas. Walking with her gives me quite an appreciation for nature and the environment. The way she gets excited about certain types of plants and native bushes and called a rare bird "baby". One of the main things I learned was the deep roots that the native plants to the region have, both symbollically and literally. Most have been there for centuries and because they don't need much water, their root system is very extensive. This is also why it will cause so much erosion to uproot them. They are the glue that holds the hillsides intact. We found a root that looked bigger than most tree roots that i've seen and yet it came from a bush. "Trees are top heavy, the native bushes are bottom heavy." We walked among heavy machinery, bull dozers and others. We had a few run-ins with Border Agents and the national guard and they really didn't want us there but allowed us to take certain routes in order to get up to the heart of the grading. "You need to leave now" said one of the Border Agents. "Can I take my root?" said Suzanne refering to an 8-10 foot root that we found that she wanted to take along to show how something that took decades to grow was torn up in minutes.

Native plants I learned about:

Mojave Yucca

Baja Bird Bush.

Lemonade Berry bush.

Night Shade

To see the video go to and type in "watman feb" in the search. All four videos from the trip will come up.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Stop The Fence at the San Diego/ Tijuana Border!! The National Guard and private companies are constructing at the SD/TJ border as we speak!! Wall-k with us along the US/Mexican Border in the San Diego / Tijuana region in protest of the new Border Infastructure System.

Border Wall-k Feb. 18 th 7:30am to 5pm Along the San Diego / Tijuana Border

The Border Wall-k will follow two Week Marcha Migrante II ending in San Diego on the 17th.

Jay Castro, who did the original Border Wall-k in Texas 200 miles in 15 days in protest of the proposed fencing there and continues to do Wall-ks in Texas in protest of the Hutto Prison Camp, will be joining us for the wall-k and binational gathering at the end.

Wall-k to say no to the creation of more division and animosity between the people of the region!

Wall-k to say no to the degredation of one of the most ecologically sensitive areas in the world!

Wall-k to say no to actions that will lead to more deaths at the border!

Come out and wall-k the entire 14 mile stretch from Otay to the beach or join us along the way for a portion to voice your objection to the construcion of more barriers! Exact route details will be announced soon!

The division must stop now!!

We will arrive at the beach at 3:30pm for a Border Meetup with activists, environmentalists, and people from both sides of the fence to meet and greet each other through the fence and discuss what can be done to stop the fence construction.

Warning: This is a hike. It's not a difficult hike but it's more difficult than walking on all flat ground. Decent shoes and water are needed. We will march/hike rain or shine!
Make Friends Not Fences!!

For info on the Border Wall-k, contact Dan Watman at

For info on the Border Wall-k or the Marcha Migrante II contact Jay J. Johnson -, o r Enrique Morones

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Somebody Stop this construction! Get some real cameras out here now!

There are three sets of major grading I've seen since I started monitoring the border fence construction on Oct. 21st, 2006

Please check out the following links to see pics and video comparison: