Wednesday, 1 April 2009



The other reason that Marie and I went to Otavalo - besides the market - was that we'd read in the guidebook that there was a town just outside of Otavalo that was home to quite a few Shamans. The book didn't say much else besides that. So I wasn't too sure of what to expect when we got there the day after we went to the big market. We took a taxi to the little town that was only about 10 min away, that sat at the base of the giant mountain peak that jutted up into the clouds. The driver dropped us off in the center of the tiny, quiet town to the casual looks from some of the local Indigineous folk sitting around the square selling fruit, or sitting in their doorways. We started walking up what looked to be the main cobbled stoned street of the town, just lookin', as the guide book had mentioned that some of the Shamans advertised on the side of their houses. We'd only walked about two blocks when we saw a sign hanging above the door of a home that looked vaguely mediciney and Shamanistic. There was a young woman standing outside the door and an older man sitting down inside the darkened doorway. They both glanced at us as we passed by. I stopped after a few feet of passing the door, turned and asked the woman, "Shaman?". "Si. Si." She said as she pointed to the old man, and we turned and followed him into the small house through what looked to be a sort of waiting area and into a tiny box of a back room where there was an altar in the corner and two benches along the walls. A table stood in front of the one of the benches that had his Shamanistic setup of candles, small statues of various sorts, rocks - Shamanistic things... and he motioned for us to sit down, gave us each a candle and told us to rub them over our bodies then blow our energy or spirits onto them - all of this in Spanish, but we got the idea. Then he lit our candles, lit himself a cigarette and blew the smoke of the cigarette onto the candles. And the candles spoke to him. The candles told him all about us. He sat there blowing smoke onto them, then listening to their tales. Then he told us what the candles said. But it was all in Spanish and difficult for us to understand. But we gathered that my heart used be hard, and that it was softening. And he seemed to indicate that me Marie were good together as he put his index fingers together and smiled at us a lot and said "bien ano" or something like that. And when he was done with our candle reading he asked us if we wanted a "cleaning", which we did, and he asked us to remove our clothes down to our underwear - no bra for Marie. We stood on a couple of straw rugs and he proceeded to spit Ecuadorian moonshine all over us, rub us down with eggs, spit on the eggs the set them in the corner, blow fire on us by holding our candles up in front of us, then spitting the moonshine all over us. He whacked us with poison ivy all over our bodies and had us jump on it. He knighted us with spears and yelled at the spirits to go away. Then he spit perfume all over us. He had us spit on our eggs in the corner of the room, and he burned them, the poison ivy and the spirits in the corner. All this over the course of about an hour. Then he told to us to put our clothes back on, hugged us and smiled and told us not to wash for two days. And we went on our way smelling like perfume and moonshine, welted up from the poison ivy, feeling alive. It was far and away the coolest thing that I've ever done.


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