Mexico’s melting pot. Part I

In my previous post, I was promising a tour across a sunday market in Mexico City, a melting pot of cultures, religions and beliefs.

We’ll set out at the edge of a park, which on a sunday is superimposed by stalls and booths selling anything and everything a tourist from other parts of the world may want to buy.

There are two things a tourist must not forget about at a Mexican market.

First, everything is transient. Things sold there have no practical value. Scorpions in resin do not scare away evil forces or cockroaches regularis homeus. The dead insects are just symbols of you passing money over to a Mexican peddler at a sunday market. So, do not try to find something you need. Maximising value will not help you in outsmarting Death. And Mexicans are notoriously light-hearted about it.

These death scuptures will meet you at market squares to remind you NOT to be frugal.

The second thing to remember is pickpockets.

Macho-looking policemen believe their posturing numbs the hands of thieves and sets them straight.

On a closer inspection, policemen seem to be more interested in mini-skirted girls who speak excited French, reserved German, and loud English than in people standing behind you when you take your wallet out to pay for the dead scorpion.

Having done your scorpion shopping, you are given a chance to melt into Mayan or Aztec cultures. Your choice. When Aztecs or Mayas won over a “foreign” tribe, they would incorporate gods of the losing side into their own pantheon. This is why the number of gods in their cultures was constantly increasing, and I just wonder what they were doing with the inevitable doubles. Like, two gods responsible for the sun rise. Did they make them work in shifts?

Today, Mayan and Aztec performances get mixed up with attributes of the 21st century.

This Aztec chieftain with a mobile phone in place of a holy mascot can’t be serious about carving someone’s heart out, but I wish I knew what kind of body lotion he’d been using.

No one can stay serious about the Mayan apocalypse when you get to know a Mayan man in glasses, who is a university lecturer in math Mon thru Fri.

Look back, and you are confronted by a baroque church watching the performance through its wrought-iron fence.

The church knows the “Indians” are devout Christians, and though it may frown at their pagan dances, it is happy they’d be there, inside, for the next mess.

It looks less favourably at the local Goths (you can’t be seriously gothic after 35):

..but if it helps to sell gothic paraphernalia and then pay the Church its dues. So it can’t be a mortal sin, right?

Tomorrow, we’ll get inside the church that sits at the other end of the square, and get to know how Christianity had to absorb local beliefs and rituals to be accepted by people.

Stay tuned, I will be back after a short commercial break for work )

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