Suyapa Vásquez, a ‘catracha’ trailer driver in Texas, USA

Austin, Texas.- Measuring only 5.3 feet (1.62 meters), she is a woman who takes arms by her hand.

Coming from a humble family from Campo Amapa, El Progreso Yoro, and unlike the traditional Latin house wives in the United States, Suyapa Vásquez gets up every day at 3 am to drive on the roads of the USA with her trailer ‘La Campeña’.

suyapa 2

She always admired the actress Rosa Gloria Chagoyán  in the Mexican film ‘Lola la Trailera’, without imagining that today she would be part of that 2% of women who drive heavy vehicles in the state of Texas and have a CDL-type driver’s license (only trusted to people who drive weighing more than 10,000 pounds).

Ruta5 had the privilege of interviewing this ‘Catracha’ in Del Valle, Texas. Here is our interview:

R5: When did you leave Honduras?

22 years ago. 

R5: What can you tell us about your beginnings in this country?

It was not easy, it was very hard. I focused on taking care of my family, especially my children and my mother. I had to learn how to distribute my time well. It was complicated when the children got sick, when I had to take them to their soccer,  basketball or tutoring classes.

R5: What other activities did you do before driving trailers?

I cooked food to distribute at buildings in Austin, Texas. During that time I carried 5 lunch boxes. It was absorbing most of my time which led me to neglect passing time with my children. However, they were my lungs because when my oldest son turned 15, he grabbed a lunch box to help me make extra money.

R5: How long have you been driving your truck, and about how many trips do you make daily?

Sometimes I make up to four trips since my destinations are about an hour away. I have been working with my truck for 3 years. 

R5: How difficult can life be in this country?

I think it depends on how you see it, because if you work hard you will succeed. 

R5: Being away from your country, what has been your biggest struggle?

When my dad passed away because unfortunately I couldn’t be there. 

R5: Why is your truck named ‘La Campeña’?

Since I lived in Honduras, I have been selling bread, making tamales, doing everything for myself. So my truck is called ‘La Campeña’ because I started at the fields. All the equipment is mine, many have to rent truck equipment or work as drivers in a company. But thank God since I got my licenses, I worked hard enough to buy my own equipment, even if that meant waking up at 3 am to sell food and going to school at 3 pm. 

R5: How has the adaptation and camaraderie been in this environment of truck drivers?

Like everything else, it was difficult when I started. However, I had only been living here for two years when I started driving the truck, now I’m working for two ‘hard trucking’ companies. Sometimes I only sleep four hours, sometimes six, but  I guess everyone gets used to sleeping light. 

R5: Where has been the farthest place you traveled with your truck? 

Kansas City (almost 800 miles). 

R5: How is your English going so far?

I only speak Spanish, however, not speaking English has not been a limitation to me. 

R5: What do you miss most from Honduras?

My people and my friends. 

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