From his small travel agency tucked away in an area of New York City known as Little Colombia, the "Godfather of Jackson Heights" does far more than make travel arrangements. Fernando Padrón is a social service fixer to many of the tens of thousands of Latino immigrants living in his neighborhood. Tax accountant, job hunter, fund-raiser, and missing persons detective are just some of his roles. Fernando also earned the title of Undertaker for the Mules after helping families repatriate the remains of the dozens who die every year smuggling drugs into New York when drug-filled capsules in their stomachs explode. The riveting experiences shared in this collection of connected stories are based on the author's life. In scenes at once fascinating, inspiring, and heartbreaking, Orlando Tobón reveals not only what it means to be an immigrant, but also what it means to be an American.
Orlando Tobón was an associate producer of and played himself in the Oscar-nominated film Maria Full of Grace. After Tobón came to the United States in 1968 at the age of seventeen with sixteen dollars in his pocket, he worked at a variety of jobs before earning a degree in accounting and starting Orlando Travel. He has been featured in The New York Times and Time magazine. He lives in Jackson Heights, where he continues to work out of his travel agency and aid immigrants.
Orlando Tobón llegó a los Estados Unidos a los diecisiete años de edad con un puñado de dólares en el bolsillo. Antes de licenciarse en contabilidad y establecer la agencia de viajes Orlando Travel, trabajó como mesero, cocinero, en fin, cualquier trabajo decente que lo ayudara a subsistir. Su vida ha sido objeto de diversos artículos en medios de comunicación como el diario The New York Times y la revista Time; también fue productor asociado de la reconocida película María Full of Grace en la cual se interpretó a sí mismo. Vive en Jackson Heights donde continúa ayudando a los inmigrantes desde su agencia de viajes.
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