El Fomentador

Alive and well in Mexico…

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Waldo’s Mart

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Do you want to have a little fun with this whole “global” economy thing? I suggest taking a walk up and down the aisles at “Waldo’s Dollar Mart”, (available in selected Mexican cities.) Just try not to go there on Friday night or Saturday afternoon, the place is always packed on the weekends. It is really a “13 pesos” store. Everything in the place is 13 pesos, actually a little more than a dollar right now (and when I think about it, that is probably a result of the NASA photos - free space and planets photosglobal economy too!)

If you don’t have a Waldo’s in you city, don’t worry, I’ll be bringing you the details of just what kind of products they have there. And believe me, they have stuff from the four corners of the globe, even though, technically, the globe is rounded. And we’ll look at what 13 pesos will and will not buy today. (In other words, just how much cheap labor, producing cheap products, does this weary old world really need to keep spinnin’ ’round?

One example that I find particularly interesting is canned cream-style corn imported from China. It kind of reminds me of the old joke about selling refrigerators to Eskimos. In case you are wondering, no, I have never eaten cream-style corn from China–my doctor said I should cut back on my lead intake.

If you have been to a Waldo’s Mart share your favorite Waldo’s story.

Santisima Muerte, Holy Death, Batman!

The Catholic Church has condemned Santa Muerte as devil worship. Ok, you are in Waldos, you have to pick-up a few items, you don’t have much time; just remember to grab a veladora (a candle) with Santisima Muerte (Holy Death) on it. This popular “Saint” is not recognized by the Catholic Church, which condemns it as Devil worship. The image has been adopted as the saint of many organized crime groups in Mexico, and as Forrest Gump would say, “…and that’s all I have to say about that.”

The images of “Holy Death” don’t do  much for Mexico’s image. And won’t do anything  to help “smite” your enemies, so “forgetaboutit”

Waldos has candles with all of the regular Saints. They accept prayers for health, wealth, happiness, family, love, success, safety; you know, all of the things humans have been sniveling about forever. The idea that all of those blessings can be conjured up from a religious icon explains a lot about human history–that doesn’t necessarily excuse it but it helps explain it.

So I have a Saint Micheal (San Miguel) candle and one of the Virgen Guadalupe, always popular here in Mexico. Each of the candles comes in a tall glass holder and has a self-adhesive plastic sleeve wrapped around the glass. The plastic sleeve is printed with a picture of the particular Saint, and has a prayer designed to invoke the favor of the Saint. The prayers are provided in both Spanish and English. The popularity of the Saints has moved north along with migrants from Latin America.

When I saw the Muerte candle and read the prayer, I had to buy one–I’ll be honest though, I’m hesitant to light it. Even though I don’t believe in it, really, the words of the prayer seem kind of scary, very old Testament, or Islamic, or Voo-Doo! Let’s take a look at the prayer, first in Spanish and then in an English translation:

Oracion a la Santisima Muerte

Note: I have removed the words to the prayer in support of the Mexican federal government. For a more complete explanation please see below.  That doesn’t sound so bad, if you don’t speak Spanish, kind of like when they used to do the Mass in Latin, lots of interesting words, and when it is read by a good speaker it seems somehow appropriate. Sort of like any religious mumbo-jumbo.

Here is the English version, remember this icon is not recognized as a Saint by the church, but may represent a blending of ancient religious beliefs in Mexico with the, relatively, recently introduced, (400 years), Catholic faith.

Prayer to Holy Death

As I mentioned above I have removed the words of the prayer to this “saint” because I think it is counter-productive to encourage people to connect with senseless superstitions. Frankly, the interest in this subject works against establishing Mexico and a free and modern nation.

Whew! Notice they don’t include an “Amen”, I’ll do that: AMEN, brother. I could have used a prayer like that in High School–then Mr. Olsen would have been sorry he gave me a “D” on the cribbage board I made in wood shop. But really this sounds too powerful for poor old Mr. Olsen–besides he was driving a Rambler Marlin at the time, I’m not sure I would have wanted to take everything he had. And to be honest, my cribbage board was pretty bad, but it was functional.

Maybe I would be willing to try it out on Dick Cheney, but I just have a hard time imagining Dickey-boy being humbled before anyone–who knows, maybe Cheney has been praying to Holy Death for the last eight years! This is a little bit off the topic but one of my favorite political quotes comes from the late US President Lyndon Johnson who said, “Never tell a feller to “go to Hell”, unless you’re prepared to send him there.” As I said it all seems very “old testament” to me, you know the whole “vengeful God thing”. But I think if you throw in a cup of chicken blood, a pin cushion doll, and some fortune-telling bones it quickly becomes hoo-doo Voo-Doo. I feel compelled to add, “Kids, don’t try this at home.”

Hey, I am off to Waldos, there is a story around every corner, maybe I’ll see you there!

Why I took out the words to the prayer…

Okay, time for a brief update. When I wrote this post it was just as a joke, really, I had never seen anything so strange–I mean “Holy Death”, it is ridiculous,  Holy Toledo. So then it suddenly became the most popular post on the blog, way more than twice as visited as the next closest.  I was in Waldos a couple of weeks ago and noticed that they had three shelves of S.M. candles and none of the regular saints.

Last week I was there and they didn’t have any of the S.M. candles. I talked to the manager, he seemed like a bright young guy, and I’m  not sure, but he either said they had sold them all or they were not going to sell them anymore. If Waldos made the decision to stop selling them I congratulate them. If they are just waiting for a new shipment I will be back to this page.

I had read last week that the government was taking down tributes to Santisima Muerte in and around Nuevo Laredo. I know there are freedom of speech and religion issues–but in this case I think we will all be better off with a freedom from religion issue. But I mean the words that are prayed to this non-saint are just stupid and negative, so I don’t want to encourage it in any way.

So I am sorry if you visit this site and are disappointed, but indulge me for a moment and allow me to quote from the novella “My Life” by Anton Chekov. In this passage he is talking about the residents of his city in Czarist Russia about the time of the turn of the 19th century:

“…and I could not understand what these sixty thousand people lived for, what they read the gospel for, why they prayed, why they read books and magazines. What good had they gained from all that had been said and written hitherto if they were still possessed by the same spiritual darkness and hatred of liberty, as they were a hundred and three hundred years ago?…So these sixty thousand people have been reading and hearing of truth, of justice, of mercy, of freedom for generations, and yet from morning till night, till the day of their death, they are lying, and tormenting each other, and they fear liberty and hate it as a deadly foe.”

Okay so the quote doesn’t fit my point exactly, but I just like the quote. I have more to write about the “new improved” Waldo’s mart (afterall this is their tenth anniversary, so Woo, hoo!) but for now if you feel the need to pray to someone for something just try the Lord’s Prayer, it covers everything you may need, is about life not death, and doesn’t ask for harm to come to another person. Adios.

One Response

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