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Eternal Spring Stories

The Power of the Mustache

GUATEMALA | Tuesday, 26 May 2015 | Views [286] | Comments [1] | Scholarship Entry

“Move over, señoras y señores! Go on, lady - move to the back please, there’s plenty of space!”

The driver’s assistant is rearranging the passengers on the already packed bus to make room for more. After a few months in Guatemala, this feels like a natural process. I dutifully squeeze between a corpulent lady with 2 kids, a dog and a basket of tortillas and, to the other side, an older Mayan gentleman with a large machete strapped to his side, on a seat that should really only fit two schoolchildren. It’s a tight fit but the ride is not very long. The dry season is in full swing and the air smells of… well, tortillas. I can see volcanoes in the distance as bouncy reggaeton music is playing over the speakers; who could possibly complain?

I’m on my way to visit Maximon, a quirky deity of confusing origins residing in, among other locations, the small temple of a town called San Andrés Itzapa. This laid-back god has a particular taste for tobacco, alcohol and cash. He is known to accept the aforementioned offerings in exchange for his help with a variety of prayers.

“Thank you for my new scooter”, “Thank you for helping my cousin arrive safely in the US” - elaborate plaques cover the walls of the temple. I’m thrilled to see that Maximon’s power must obviously be quite remarkable.

I walk to the altar and find a swanky, mustached, wooden fellow with a lit cigar between his stiff lips. Fiery prayers of his believers are accompanied by the consumption of booze, splashed occasionally at his feet. I nip to the shop next door to purchase a bottle of the popular local spirit, Quezalteca. The shop is full of unidentifiable religious trinkets so I decide to ask Eduardo, the owner, if there’s anything else I should acquire. He produces a tiny bottle of smelly potion and instructs me to buy a bundle of weeds from the elderly woman sitting nearby. He explains that I can use it for cleansing my soul, so that my wishes are granted. The suggestion is far too tempting to pass on.

“I’m here to ask for a husband” - I joke to the floridly-dressed lady - “Do you think Maximon can help me?”
“Oh yes he can child, you just have to believe in his power.”

I pay her for the bundle and, back in the temple, cover it in the magic potion which I then sprinkle all over myself, just as I see the other followers doing. Their smiles affirm that I’ve done the ritual correctly; I finish my prayers and we share a celebratory swig of Quezalteca...

Now to wait for my husband.

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship



I hope you find him..... ♥

  thebluegnu Jun 6, 2015 7:54 PM

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