A visit to a curandera
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 23:03
I don’t believe in magic. I don’t believe in mystics or fortune tellers, tarot cards or crystal balls, love lines or life lines, and the only horoscope I’ve ever listened to read, “Do not operate heavy machinery today.”
Despite this, when I got sick in Ecuador and my Spanish teacher suggested a curandera—a medicine woman—I went. I rarely say no to a new experience.
Meeting the old woman was anticlimactic. She was a compact version of a larger woman—rectangular and powerful—sitting on a bucket and eating a banana.
She didn’t bother with niceties, hardly cracked smile before she started working—pushing her muscular hands up my arms and down my legs and arranging my energy so she could read it.
Next she pulled out a bundle of branches covered in little aromatic leaves. Menthol filled my nostrils as she bashed me with them repeatedly—right arm, left arm, right arm, left arm. To the people around me this was an everyday sight, but I sat there bewildered and amused, with no idea what would happen next.
Then came the diagnostic egg. She traced the outline of my body with the brown oval while whispering inaudibly to transfer any bad energy I might be carrying into the egg. Then she prayed over the egg and cracked it into a wooden bowl.
Apprehension appeared on her face; I got worried. She swirled the egg around and said, “Todo bien.” The egg gave me a clean bill of health.
I let out a sigh of relief and smiled at the curandera. She took a giant swig from a bottle of clear liquid with green floaters. Her cheeks ballooned and she puckered her lips. I closed my eyes and clenched my mouth.
As I sat in the dark, I wondered: Do the tiny particles of saliva and mint flying at my face have some deeper meaning, or did I just pay some woman to spit all over me?
Then I thought, “Crap, I should’ve waited one more day to do laundry.” Where was the horoscope to tell me that?
I left the curandera with a feeling of lightness, and desire to wash my face. It was interesting, and I had a great story.