“Well, that’s one more boatful of jobs we don’t have to give away.”
“It’s so ridiculous that America spends so much money chasing after boats of people who probably won’t make it anyway.”
“They need to figure out how to build a fence on the ocean so that we don’t have to deal with these kinds of things.”
Many other things were said. Many, many others.
I never did see the boat. I never approached the rail. I had no desire to fight the other passengers for a peek.
Until, that is, I talked to a crew member who told me a little more of the building story. He, and my friend Lilly, were the only ones who seemed to feel what I was feeling that day.
There were 21 people crammed in the small boat below. They had been on the sea for five days at that point. They were out of water. They were out of food. They were just drifting, hoping to land somewhere before they all perished. Hoping to be found before the elements finished them off.
A small vessel from our cruise liner launched and towed them to a door on the side of the ship where they were all given life jackets, food, and water while the coast guard made its way to our coordinates.
21 people were crammed in that boat.
We were on that same water during the same days they were. It was the fifth day of our cruise. It was the fifth day of their attempt to reach America. We were all still a very long ways away from land.
During that time, every person in our party had a giant suitcase filled to the brim of everyday things we couldn’t live without. Luxuries. Fresh clothing. Medicine. Much more.
During that time, every person on their boat had nothing but a small backpack or bag with every single item they would from there on possess.
During that time we had our own purses and backpacks, filled with things like iPads, and headphones, and books, and makeup, and cameras, and other splurges.
During that time, they had nothing more than those same backpacks, with whatever they still held; probably now empty because I’m guessing the brunt of what they brought was food and water.
During that time we were wishing we had affordable internet access so that we could Facebook and Instagram our adventures!
During that time, they were wishing they had water. And the ability to even raise their elbows without hitting a neighbor.
During that time, we were sneaking off for naps, enjoying our soft and cozy beds.
During that time, they were sitting. Always. For five days straight.
During that time, we were showering. We were using indoor plumbing as we floated in the middle of the sea.
During that time, they got no baths. They got no showers. And all 21 of those people still had to figure out how to eliminate their waste.
During that time, we stood laughing, feeling off-balance as the ocean rocked our cruise liner back and forth. You see, we kept passing through little thunderstorms, complete with lightning and rain and large waves.
During that time, they passed through those same thunderstorms. And those same waves. Surrounded by the same lightning and the same thunder.
21 of them.
21 people who were born, through no fault of their own, into near impossible situations.
21 people who simply weren’t as lucky as all of us.
21 people who felt that their situation was so destitute and so hopeless that they were willing to risk their very lives to try and start over somewhere… better.
21 people who almost starved to death and almost died of thirst to escape the lives they were born into.
21 people who knew that the only way they might ever truly provide for their families is to come to a place where people are allowed to work for the dream of that.
21 people who crammed themselves into a tiny, crappy boat, said a prayer, and launched into the open sea.