Our Crossing: The Not-So-Dangerous Journey


Even in a ferry the 14 kilometers seemed far.  Sitting on a soft, cushioned seat in the nearly-empty ferry, I tried to concentrate on the grey mist sprinkling the windows and not the way my stomach was sloshing along with the rolling waves of the ocean.  After waking up before five in the morning and passing through countless passport checkpoints, I am practically melting into the seat with exhaustion.  With the Spanish coastline fading behind us and the northern edge of Morocco barely visible through the fog ahead, I found myself feeling unmoored, on a transnational journey in which I could not call either nation my home.

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My surroundings and uncertainties made it easy to step into the mind of Murad, from Laila Lalami’s Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, who takes a transnational journey across the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco to Spain, the reverse of mine.  And although our motives for transnational travel are very different – Murad’s crossing emerges out of desperation and financial need, whereas mine is the result of abundance and economic blessing – our futures are both somewhat unknown.  Murad sets sail for Spain in the dead of night in a tiny, overcrowded boat, part of a “motley mix” of Moroccans who sold their rights for extraordinary sums, opting to leave their old lives behind to create new ones as illegal immigrants in Spain (Lalami, 2).  These individuals embark on their journey with perhaps only a faint idea of where they will lay their heads that night, facing perils such as drowning, detainment, and deportation.  They dream of a life of ease, comfort, and success in Spain.  But Lalami shows the repercussions of an idealized transnational imagination; the characters who make it to their destination fall prey to the gritty realities of their dangerous pursuit of hope.  So for now, instead of trying to imagine my future as an outsider in this new nation, I will let my apprehension pass over me like the strong Mediterranean breeze.


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