In all I was very excited and looking forward in starting this projects with DR. Rowe and my classmates before the semester even started, I had heard about his service learning class through Dr. Duke whom had invited Dr. Rowe to present to the class what the HCPCP was all about and the techniques that would be used. Being an Anthropology minor I was really excited and and looking forward and participating in this project. However little did I know the impact that this project has had and is still having (due to the fact that this particular project is still not complete) on the community of Hidalgo County.
In working on this project i have had first hand experience in data collection, which makes it very simple due to Kobotools being a website that is interactive with any smart phone or device that has WiFi or cellular data. In addition I was very fortunate to be working with the total station a couple of times as well as being the pole person that is used as the marker for the graves. the total station machine is part of the technology that is being used to map the cemetery in a way it is much slower because there is only a limited amount of people working on this machine that is used to map the graves. This spring semester was very fortunate because for some reason (hopefully but most likely due to global warming) for the most part we had fair weather, in the beginning the we had cool weather and towards the end the weather started to warm up. I was very pleased that the county of Hidalgo was very helpful and cooperative in their part by providing air conditioned restrooms and a ice chest of bottled water for us to hydrate,
in working with the HCPCP I have discovered that there are a vast number of graves with many different markers, unfortunately i had to witness some headstones/marker graves that were made out of PVC pipe with the epitaph written in stickers that are found on mailboxes for the mailman to deliver the bills. other graves were evident that they where made on site with cement with epitaph’s written with a stick, other headstones where made out of steel pipes, others where made with sheet metal, and many did not have a headstone at all, I have also noticed that a lot of the graves are from very early on dating from far back as the 1800’s and early 1900’s. This cemetery was originally opened in 1913 which makes me question why there are headstones dating back to the late 1800’s. It is just y opinion but it also sheds light as to why the County of Hidalgo has left this job for the university, because it is a burden that they personally they do not want to deal with, Yes the local government has helped with hydration and a place to maintain homeostasis, but I wonder because I do not know and did not bother to ask Dr. Rowe in which other ways the local government is doing to help this extensive workful project.
Furthermore in my firsthand experience in working on this project I have also become curious and more attentive to our Mexican/Hispanic culture because in working and putting effort unto this project I have noticed particular things that may be out of place. In the coming weeks in which I have been data collecting graves I have came across a technology that is probably not popular between you and me. What I am trying to explain is Witch craft or black magic. Personally after coming across one voodoo doll one day I have learned to be more attentive to my surroundings. in total I have come upon six voodoo dolls and 3 flask. all of these material have been found on, near, or around graves, the pattern was that all of the flask’s were buried next to the headstone. Unfortunately or fortunately a colleague of mine opened one of the flasks while I documented the findings on my cellular device. Inside the flask or mason jar, it was filled with sugar, cloves of garlic and seeds of Chile. Once all of the ingredients where taken out of the jar, out emerged a picture of a man, but before we can clearly take a look at he picture we had to untie the knot of a chain of paper clips that had been wrapped around the photo, once the paper clips where removed there was a photo of a middle aged man approximately in his late 40’s to early 50’s, the man was wearing a button up shirt, the man had a beer belly but his overall built was average and he also wore a dashing mustache. Later in the day towards the end of the class my classmate had mentioned how he had some knowledge on the occult and how this type of work was an “amarre” which translated to a “binding” in English, who ever had done this work on this deceased man was jealous of him or wishes that he/she most likely she wanted to be with the deceased man. Now when I saw fortunately i meant it because if we had not opened the mason jar we would not have figured out who had been buried there, because the marker had no name, on the picture was also some dates, and we are assuming that it was the date of his birth and death, however nothing is certain,
overall I am more than elated that I have participated in this project and I hope I am there when it is finally finished, I know this will certainly not be tomorrow, but I am glad that i participated and looking back I am proud to say to my offspring or grandchildren that I was part of Dr. Rowe’s students that helped map the HCPCP graves and helped reunited many families with their deceased loved ones.