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Participant Observation

As an Anthropology Major, I learned about the arty and science of participant observation. In a nutshell, it is what Kevin Costner’s character does in the movie “Dances With Wolves” to learn about and appreciate Lakota Sioux culture. I went into the city — Cuernavaca — with my son-in-law, Carlos, when he stopped ty and load building materials into the truck for his building projects. While waiting, I passed the time, employing my participant observation skills, within the parking lot and adjoining area.

First, I noticed an elderly man, pulling a cart, with folded cardboard cartons. He stopped at the loading area at the construction materials store, to collect empty boxes to fold, and add to his collection. No doubt, he would be taking the boxes to a recycle center to get cash. I mentioned this to Carlos and he mentioned his own experience bringing scrap metal to a recycling location and receiving a significant compensation. This made me think about the different roles recycling plays in different cultures.

Next, I noticed people crossing a pedestrian bridge across the adjoining highway. It looked like they were walking to work. A number of men and women were carrying infants. I was wondering if there may be childcare facilities at work. In Mexico, public pre-school is available for 3 year olds. Our grand-daughters started going to pre-school at 2 and really enjoy it, It made me realize that the U.S, is catching-up, gradually, in the arena of public pre-school.

Then, I noticed a truck, in the parking lot, with the sign “Churroceria Shalom.” Churros are delightful sweet-breads that are crunchy. on the outside, and soft on the inside. Usually they are cinnamon flavored, but some stores sell a variety and Anita went to one, in Mexico City that is well known and all they sell is Churros. This truck I saw must transport supplies for a store selling Kosher Churros. There is an interesting historical background on Jewish immigration, in Mexico. Significant numbers came from Europe (Russia, Poland, The Balkans, and the Middle East) in the 19th and 20th Centuries. There are also about 20,000 decedents of “Crypto-Jews”, who were among the early settlers in Mexico who were forced to hide their identities because of Spanish persecution.


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