Friday, March 16, 2012

My Ethnography

La Placita Olvera
            Culture, has a different meaning among different people. To the Mexican population, it means tradition. They see, do, hear, eat, etc. many of the same things that one would see or hear about in a vacation down at Mexico. The day I went to La Placita Olvera, I felt like I was in a different world. The look, smell, and atmosphere were different than the one I constantly see in my neighborhood. Unlike my area, this place has a very unique look to it. The buildings have an antique look to them. The walls have that Mission look to them; just like those that one would see in Mexico. The floors seemed to be in bad conditions, mostly because they are made out of brick and cement. 
            As I walked by the vending aisles, the first thing I noticed was the different yet same‑looking booths that the vendors had. All of what was for sale looked Mexican related. Everywhere and everything I saw were Mexican related portraits (of historic presentations such as the classic Aztec man holding the woman in his arms), samples of Aztec calendars, flags, wrestling masks (like those worn in the famous Lucha Libre), candies, food, etc. What surprised me the most was the obsession that the people there have towards Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a famous traditional event that occurs around the same time that Halloween does. Rather than being scared of it, scared of death, they celebrate it by face-painting themselves death-related features.
            From an outsider’s perspective, I am quite shocked with what I witnessed that day. Not ever in my entire life, had I seen and smelled different Mexican food all at once. The variety of food descended from good-smelling to nasty-smelling. I was hungry at first, but disgusted later. My family is Mexican; however, some of the foods that I saw were new to me. The smell was not the same smell from my mother’s cooking. I guess that’s because I am not adapted to other Mexican cooking. The environment was surely a space full of grease. Many of the foods were overwhelmed with fattening ingredients. Take the tacos and burritos for example. Normally people talk about how good yet how unhealthy a taco or burrito is at Taco Bell or Del Taco. None of those compare to the once served at the placita. There, you get the real stuff. Not a fake American-traditional taco (with hard corn shells), but an actual one wrapped with a heated tortilla with an enormous amount of grease pouring down whenever someone takes a bite. Don’t let the food make your perspective change, though. This place despite of its small size has so much to discover.
            Yes, the environment has its ruins, but then again, each city does. Though it has a unique look to it, to some people (tourist for example) the environment still looks just like any other place in Los Angeles. The walls are fulfilled by graffiti. The floors are overwhelmed by severe cracks and bumps. A lot of the old buildings lack beauty; however, that isn’t an excuse for the people there. They see the beauty with or without fancy looking pavements or buildings. They see beauty through tradition such as mariachi or ranchera singing, Aztec dancing, and Mexican female dancing (where women wear those long fruity dresses).  This place is such a sacred place to these people. It is considered another Mexico; a mini Mexico if I should say. Here people can unite and sense what they consider home.

Videos of The Placita Olvera

Dia de los Muertos

Aztec Dancing

Mariachi Performers

Pictures of the Booths

Photos of the Buildings