Jose sips his coffee and waits in the darkness of early morning for the arrival of his coworkers. The gas station in Calexico, California near the border crossing from Mexico is far from his home in the Salinas Valley, but maintaining year-round employment depends on relocating when the harvest ends further north.
Ignacio Torres left King City at 3:30 a.m. as usual. The 8o-mile commute had become routine, and Torres had no reason to expect today’s drive would be different from any other. He picked up his fellow CalVans passengers, who settled in for the winding 90-minute drive along Highway 198 between the Salinas and San Joaquin Valleys.
With fields ready to harvest, raspberry grower, Reiter Affiliated Industries, had difficulty finding workers able to make the 50-mile round trip from Santa Maria, where most of the area’s agricultural workers live. Enter CalVans and three volunteer drivers.