We all know that illegal immigration and immigrants' plight in crossing the border is no joking matter. That's why I was absolutely horrified to learn about the Caminata Nocturna, a theme park that, for $18, provides visitors with a simulated experience of illegal border crossing complete with fake immigration officials and border patrol agents. Um, WTF?!
The Caminata takes place in El Alberto, Mexico during a four-hour, 7.5 mile Saturday night hike, in which participants must run and hide in the dark as local residents act as guides, smugglers, or patrol officials. As can be seen in the video below, tourists must climb under fences, conceal themselves from flashlights, and run through trees and bushes all to feel just like an on-the-run undocumented immigrant would. The question is WHY?
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"Most people come out of curiosity. We tell them that we don't want it to be an adventure but a way to raise consciousness," one of the guides says in Spanish in the clip. "The idea is to put them into this situation to truly experience what a migrant experiences."
Okay, I don't buy it. How is this incredibly offensive, bizarre "ride" supposed to raise awareness? If anything, it's exploiting the issue, turning what is a serious and heartbreaking matter for many into a theme park attraction. And the fact that it's being run in Mexico by the very people who are right at the heart of it all almost makes matters worse--after all, we, of all people, should know better than to use a controversial, dangerous, and often fatal real-life experience for entertainment purposes.
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There is only ONE reason why I'm not demanding that the Caminata be shut down right now: employment. Apparently, approximately one-eighth of El Alberto is employed there and the locals use the attraction, which has garnered thousands of visitors since its opening in 2004, to keep their city afloat--which I sympathize with and can kinda understand. Hey, everyone needs a job!
At the end of the day, however, I still just don't agree with the way in which they are going about increasing their tourism. Their simulated "experience" hits way too close to home for many in the Latino community and I don't think anyone should be banking off of it.
Below, check out 6 more bizarre park themes and tell us what you think of them and the Caminata in the comments below:
mage via Jaime Meltzer