Thursday, March 18, 2010


#4 Continuing with my some time theme of fragments, a brief comment on pilgrimages.These are common the world over and watching religious pilgrimages I am struck by how common it is for people to entertain long walks. One walk close to where I live covers a distance of perhaps 15 kilometers where the pilgrims must walk in the ditch at the side of the road. Nevertheless, hundreds of very ordinary people do this , sometimes in family groups or with friends. Some parents carry children on their shoulders or even push strollers (although these are very uncommon). They take on this duty early in the morning or after work. Some are enticed I am sure by the fiesta which is present in the town for pilgrims and visitors alike. Sometimes there will be a special mass for the pilgrims - at one event the pilgrims travel on bicycles and at another on horseback. One very special pilgrimage covers about 72 kilometers and many do this over several days, often camping by the side of the road at days end. Other will take the bus part way and then walk the remaining distance. At another there is a fiesta for the returning pilgrims who bring back religious images which appear to be in some way related to, or blessed by, the more important image in the distant town.

What continue to strike me as interesting is that these feats are given no status because of their exercise value, no certificates are awarded on completion, no names appear in the newspaper. That is, walking is not given a physical significance, rather it is the journey that is given religious significance. In the west, feats of walking or running are only given physical value or sometimes a social value for representing groups we would normally think unable to perform these feats (survivors of cancers, the elderly, etc.) for drawing attention to these people in our regular lives.

#5 A visit to the doctor

A visit to our Mexican doctors leaves two immediate impressions. First, there is no bank of patient files behind the receptionist whose major task appears to be acting as gatekeeper, collecting money and watching the soap operas. There are no patient files because information is always the property of the patient and the doctors themselves keep computer files. In Canada she would be busy making appointments, tracking down lab reports, making arrangements with specialists, attending to the enormous bank of files, and so on. The other, is the presence of images of the baby Jesus. In this waiting area there are three images. The largest is of Jesus dressed in white, carrying a doctors bag and seated in a chair. In the other he is dressed in a blue dress like garment and carrying a small basket. The third is a photo of an image dressed in white and again carrying a very small doctor’s bag. In addition there is a very small image of Guadalupe set again he photo. In Canada one might well find a religious image but I would think it quite uncommon.

Once in the office again you find a very small image of the baby Jesus seated in a chair. It is placed beside a souvenir from Alaska and amongst family photos. Almost hidden to the back of a shelf is a small wooden crucifixion cross. You know you are in good hands!

No comments:

Post a Comment