Guadalajara: Encounter at Walmart

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Shoppers look for bargains, and encounter interesting people, at the Walmart Super Center on Avenida México.

 
 
 

As I park my Walmart shopping cart, and begin to lift out my purchases, I glance up and see a man with a yarmulke perched on his head. Peeking out from beneath his shirt are the fringes of a tallith.
 
“Huh,” I say to myself. “A Jew in Guadalajara.”
 
I grasp my heavily laden shopping bags to begin the arduous journey back to my apartment.
 
Near the entrance to the mall is a pay-station for the parking lot. There’s the man in the yarmulke, putting coins in the machine.
 
¿Habla usted inglés?” I ask.
 
“Yes, of course,” he replies.
 
In a brief conversation of less than five minutes, I discover that there is a synagogue nearby, although it is somewhat difficult to find, and not at all open to strangers such as I, dropping in for Friday prayers.
 
I also discover that the man with whom I am speaking is a mashgiach, certifying meat as kosher from slaughterhouses in Guadalajara, meat that will be exported to the United States.
 
“I’m sorry, but I can’t stay any longer,” the mashgiach says. “I have an appointment.” With a wave of his hand, he walks quickly to his parked car.
 
Although my bags are heavy, I lift them with a light heart, for in speaking with the mashgiach, I have discovered a new side of Guadalajara: It’s one of the world’s great crossroads, where you can meet just about anyone from anywhere.
 
Which someone from somewhere will I meet tomorrow?
 
 

Little brown sparrow,
you have found a resting place
after your long flight.

 

Text and photo © 2017 by Mark M. Redfearn, all rights reserved

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