Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Date with the Virgen?

Filty. Take this picture and times it by a hundred. That's how the libre road looked for miles on the way from Guadalajara to Leon. Yup. It's manda time again. Every January, it's time for the Church. Where believers make their way, walking, jogging, carrying crosses, their children, from Mexico City, Leon, and other small towns, to the little town of San Juan de Los Lagos. A little church with the Virgen. These people had made mandas.... a promise to God that if He helps them out, cures their kids, gives them something... then they will make the journey by foot to come and see the Virgin. Thousands of people flock every January... some carrying crosses, their children; abuelitas with their walking cane and their nieto by their side to help them walk. For some, it's a good 18 straight walk through hills, rocks, etc.... For most, it's a good 3+ days. It's actually quite inspirational. These, mostly poor, faithful servants take a week off their work and devote their time to God. And the journey isn't without it's toll. Ambulances are on call. People pass out in the heat, muscles cramp, busses are needed to get people out. It's not an easy task.

While I appreciate and admire the faith that these people carry, I don't quite understand it. Maybe the mysteries of Mexico haven't quite unrolled themselves yet. Most of these people walk for opportunity. So that God can help them out a bit. Right? They take a week off work, some traveling a long distance take a month off, to see the Virgen... but they leave behind a week or so's pay, AND have to spend money for food, shelter, and gifts to leave behind. The cost is high for something not guaranteed. It saddens me. More is lost. And I feel like the poor, the sick, and the elderly are losing their chance to get ahead.

After the emotion wears off, and we're driving to Leon, I notice the MILES of trash covering the roads. A foot or so thick, those people who set up camp, leave all their trash behind. Not in a trash bag even. Out in the fields. And what sickens me are those people that see this as an opportunity. These people set up cheap, filthy stands, selling bottled water, food, etc.... They sell the product and when they've hoarded their money, they take off... leaving the miles of trash behind. Well, hell, it's not their mess... why should they clean it up?
Damn it. They make it. THey contributed. They made a profit. Shouldn't they bear some of the responsiblity? Nope, why should they? It's not their manda. And the walkers? They make this walk to better their lives.. but feel no shame in living in shit!!! Does this not go against the very idea?
Well, three days later, we did see some government workers clearing some of the mess. It irritated me nonetheless. The balance of religion and ethics. Or what would you call it? Old religion still has power over the old and uneducated. They don't understand the ideas of basic business, profit, and marketing. They open hole in the wall tienditas and don't put in light and wonder why they don't make enough to survive. Who is at fault? The simple minded man? The Church? The government? SOMETHING needs to change.

1 comment:

El Random Hero said...

Hmm... I totally see where your coming from and why you feel the way you do, one of the benefits of assimilating. Maybe I can help clarify things a little, from my experience traditions come over anything and everything. Making sacrifices like leaving work for a week or even a month at a time to pay homage to La Virgen is nothing in comparison to what they hope the to receive in return, but in reality it's more about the hope and the strength to make it another day because they need it. The kind of people that make these sacrifices aren't the type of people that dwell on material possessions because they're to poor to afford any real luxuries and because they're learned to live beyond the need of material possessions. For some people this is all they have ever know and some feel the need to redeem themselves because of things they have done in the past. I know that in Mexico city, there's people who crawl on their knees in agony and pain until they reach the church steps all bloodied. That's how powerful their commitment is to La Virgen and their way of living. It's hard to understand the old ways if you weren't around them. Hence the trash, making a sacred journey is more important to them than cleaning up after themselves. And of course where ever there is pain and suffering, they'll be vultures there to pray on them.

About Me

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I've been living in Mexico now for about a two years with my hubby and 2 kids. Not exactly by choice, but we're here nonetheless. Luckily, I live with quite a few of the accomodations that i was used to in the states. In spite of those convienences, we also have a water tank with asbestos, outdated electricity, massive amounts of dust, caterpillars that burn your skin, and thousands of windshield washers on every street corner. My kiddos and I are learning to speak spanish and adjust to life away from our family and friends in the States.


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