The Devil's Highway Chapter 8 Summary
by Luis Alberto Urrea

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Chapter 8 Summary

Bad Step at Bluebird

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It is brutal walking for even the youngest and fittest walkers. The men grumble, but Mendez knows La Migra cannot catch them if they stay in the mountains and cliffs. They cannot be seen by air, and Border Patrol agents will not hike after them. So, they keep climbing.

Mendez is younger than all but one walker and keeps them marching. The Coyotes whistle as they walk so they do not have to talk or listen to the complaints. (This is the beginning of days of walking, and the pollos begin to “lose themselves,” forgetting any of the names and locations they might have heard.) Mendez leads them from his Coyote map of “landmarks etched with transient memory” without proper names.

They are headed to Bluebird Pass, twenty miles north of El Papalote, but there is no direct route to get there; on a map, this journey looks like the marks made by a giant protractor, curving in wide arcs miles from their destination. At Bluebird Pass, Mendez hopes to find the lights of Ajo at night and get back on a familiar track. At eleven thirty, everything changes. Mendez will later blame everything on the Border Patrol, the Border Patrol will claim Mendez is “making up stories,” and the survivors are clueless, though they remember being “scattered by light.” In any case, Mendez shouts “La Migra” when he sees approaching lights, and the pollos run. Mendez later claims they were followed by whoever lit them up before the vehicle drove away. Trying to catch or scatter walkers before they are arrested is a common practice. “Illuminating a group of thirty walkers, however, and then letting them go is not the practice of anyone with authority.”

The only certainty is that at eleven thirty at Bluebird Pass, lights panicked Mendez and his pollos followed him, many dropping bags, hats, and life-saving water. Mendez says the road...

(The entire section is 501 words.)