This may be my last writing post for a bit. We leave for Acapulco Saturday morning and Ibis's sister and her son arrive here tomorrow. Our car died a couple days ago so there's a chance we'll be taking the bus there, joy. Figures nothing can go smoothly. Anyways, on to todays post.
I finished my first draft last weekend, as you all know, but I'm still struggling with what to call my main character. Not his name - that's Mateo - I mean, how do I label him? He's a Mexican trying to sneak across the border into the US and he encounters others in the same position along the way.
We've all heard derogatory terms for people who've already made it across, the most common being wetback. I'm not opposed to using a slang or offensive term, but that particular word doesn't apply in this situation. For most of the story he's still in Mexico. You could say he aspires to be a wetback, or a wannabe wetback as Ibis so graciously suggested, but again, that doesn't really fit.
I posted this question on Absolute Write and I'm hoping to get more input here. For those of you who already commented there, I apologize for the redundancy, but I have a couple readers here that aren't on AW.
Some people questioned whether I even need to label them. I think I do because it starts to get confusing without a specific term. At one point I have several groups hiding in the desert. One starts running, then the other group jumps up, and I feel like it's nothing but "this man" then "that man" and "the woman."
Here are the suggestions I've received so far:
a term Ibis heard in songs, etc, as a kid
yes, it means chicken, but is also spanglish for people being smuggled across
particularly around the Rio Grande and Rio Bravo area since the boats used to cross are called "pato"
not sure what this means; help from my spanish-speaking readers?
There were a few suggestions that would be something border control uses, not what the people in question would call themselves, but I'll include those, too:
short for mercancia or merchandise
Spanish for "wetback"
I'd prefer a Spanish term, but I'm open to suggestions. So far I'm leaning towards migrant, pollo, and brasero. I'd love to hear your thoughts.