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Espimir is Spanish for ¨To Spit¨... [Sep. 11th, 2006|11:38 am]
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...And that is precisely what a curandera (female shaman) did two nights ago. We traveled up to Otavalo and its surrounding pueblos, and Marlene was blessed. Apparently, an evil spirit had been living inside of her and causing bad luck, so she needed the spirit removed. This involved being rubbed down with eggs, bread, cologne, and herbs. Also, having cologne spit onto her entire body and having fire balls blown at her.

Please picture with me a small, fiesty Mexican girl standing with feet straddled over a bed of glowing coals, each foot resting on a woven corn husk mat. Now picture her reaction as she stands, in underwear only, while an old women speed drags a cigarette and blows smoke rings at her, proceeding afterwards to blow entire balls of fire (with the aid of alcohol) near her bare skin in an effort to scare away any malevolent spirits. Now picture her expression the first time cologne gets spat into her face... and hair... and chest... and legs... and arms... and then is spat onto bundles of herbs which she is then beaten lightly with.

After Marlene´s evil spirit problems were cured, the curandera blessed all of us by having us cup our hands, which she held one by one as she -espimir-ed cologne into our faces, which was followed by pouring violet water into our hands and having us run it through our faces and hair. We were then told not to bathe for a day. My hair was greasy and I smelled like a cologne with the delightful name of ¨horse water¨, but at least no evil spirits were invading my headmeats.


But I´m getting ahead of myself. Before going to see the Shaman we stopped at a touristy lake place where I got to pet a llama (dont worry mom, I brought the hand sanitizer). Then we went off to a housing collective where an old indigenous woman showed us how llama fur was traditionally spun into yarn, and a young man showed us the traditional weaving technique for using said yarn. It apparently takes 8 hours to get about six inches of cloth from this technique, if you are making an intricate design, and he has made afghans for a couple of high end hotels which end up costing about 400 dollars each.

Also in the housing section was a giant fenced in area of guinea pigs, called Cúy here. Cúy is a delicacy, and also often used in shaman work to detect what is the cause of suffering in a person -- the cúy is held by the shaman and rubbed over the person´s entire body, during which the animal dies of shock. It is then carved open and the entrails are examined to figure out what´s what. Thankfully, our curandera prefers using candles, and only resorts to cúy in exreme cases.

We stayed at a gorgeous hostal (sounds like an oxymoron, I know) run entirely by indigenous people, and before dinner Rachel, Ali, Kathleen and I started performing as a makeshift a capella group out on the steps of the restaurant. The little indigenous girls sat on benches near us and listened until it was time for them to get changed to dance -- a group of 5 children performed three or four dances for us during dinner, and then hawked their scarves and bracelets. My wrists are very bedangled at the moment. Dinner was excellent with the exception of expecting a small glass cup to hold juice, when in fact it was warm whisky with raspberries. Some of our group got very, very tipsy. And this was BEFORE visiting the curandera.

The next morning, we headed out to the animal market in Otavalo. Hundreds of pigs, sheep, and cows paced in pens while waiting to be bought and sold. Old toothless grannies came up and begged us for money. Stray dogs are everywhere.

After the animal market, we headed out to breakfast in downtown Otavalo, and from there went straight out into the artesania market. Bags, sweaters, belts, jewelry, art, hammocks, bongs, pipes, purses, hair ties, hats, statues, yarn -- stall after stall in bright booming colors with shopkeeps who seem to decide we are instantly their friends. Bartering was incredibly fun and easy since I was in a group -- hooray for group discounts and the ability to withstand pressure and walk away, only to be called back with ESPERA! UN DOLAR MENOS! I earned good karma points by giving one of the toothless grannies fifty cents.

Our final stop was to a volcanic lake, with bubbles of gas still seeping up through the algae from cracks at the crater´s bottom. The lake is two kilometers deep and a dark, beautiful blue. Surrounding islands, formed by the volcano´s eruption, are covered in bright green foliage and bordered by flocks of black and brown ducks that peck at the algae. Because there is no sand in which to lay eggs, there are no fish... just rabbits and ducks and the like, a very small ecosystem.

Pictures soon.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: amelia_chan
2006-09-11 06:35 pm (UTC)

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I love you and I'm glad you're alive.
[User Picture]From: rebelbiologista
2006-09-13 04:37 pm (UTC)

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I love you too, and me too!
[User Picture]From: b1ackp1ague
2006-09-12 12:08 pm (UTC)

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sounds like you are living an amazing life, and now free of evil spirits! does this mean we can't hang out anymore? i hope not. that would make me very very sad and possibly more evil, which would make it even more impossible for us to hang out and then me more evil and then . . . you see where this is going. bad things, bad things. hang out wiht me!
hmm, other than that little demand for love and attention from my lenstar, i wish you well and everyone with you well. would you tell ali that i miss her? and katy too?
love you chica, love you.
[User Picture]From: rebelbiologista
2006-09-13 04:38 pm (UTC)

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Baby, we can always hang out. How is Greece?! SENDING YOU LOVE AND ATTENTION IN HEAPS AND BOUNDS. Ali is sitting right in front of me and she says hello to you, darlin. I will tell Katy hi at lunch.

loveloveloveloveloveLOVE to the 'Lanna.
[User Picture]From: ravox
2006-09-13 03:14 am (UTC)

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That sounds...like a rather interesting trip. Though the irony of the the shaman thing does not escape me, but I digress. The volcanic lake also sounds like good times....as do most of your adventrues :) Keep having them and keep on feedin 'em to us!
[User Picture]From: rebelbiologista
2006-09-13 04:39 pm (UTC)

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Yes... I am now cleansed of myself. Or something. And I will most definitely keep posting.
From: (Anonymous)
2006-09-13 01:46 pm (UTC)

See, the spit game was fun!

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Remember how grandma taught me the spit game and how I tried to teach it to you? We were just trying to "heal" you honey. Now reframe that terrifying childhood memory as one of love and caring. Good. I knew you could do it. All the rest of you readers out there, don't make me spit!
[User Picture]From: rebelbiologista
2006-09-13 04:40 pm (UTC)

Re: See, the spit game was fun!

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This comment made me laugh really really hard in the computer lab. I am sure I am getting strange looks. But it was totally worth it.

Love you mamsak.
From: (Anonymous)
2006-09-13 05:10 pm (UTC)

Re: See, the spit game was fun!

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Glad when I can make someone laugh out loud in a public place. Especially you. Smoochlas galore.
From: (Anonymous)
2006-09-15 01:31 pm (UTC)

Re: See, the spit game was fun!

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Still practice the spit game to this day. One of my many talents but my biggest one is loving you. And yes, I know I am the true favorite.
[User Picture]From: rebelbiologista
2006-09-15 08:35 pm (UTC)

Re: See, the spit game was fun!

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aw shucks...
From: (Anonymous)
2006-09-15 12:32 am (UTC)

Home! Immediately!!!!!

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O.K. no more adventures with shameless Shamanistas or fondling of llams. And no more allowing onself to be the victiom (or even victim) of der spritzing with cologne, no matter what they call it.

You are there to further your bilogista studies, no more, no less.

No more cultural adventures; they'll turn you into some kind of internationalist, a scientist without borders (as 'twere). You must become more patriotic and convince all whom you meet that we (Americans) mean only good in the world, regardless of out witless leadership. No more goth music either, and before I forget, no more acapella -- it's the devils own music. Meanwhile, the warm whiskey with raspberries is allowed (if only in small ladylike sips, sort of the way your grandfather snorts single malt). Git the pitcher???

Der G'Par what loves ya's.
[User Picture]From: rebelbiologista
2006-09-15 08:35 pm (UTC)

Re: Home! Immediately!!!!!

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you are the best grandpa ever. I love you beyond reason.
From: (Anonymous)
2006-10-17 12:43 am (UTC)

espimir

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not to split hairs with you, but espimir is, i would imagine, an ecuadorian term, rather than a "spanish" one. in cuba, for example, we say escupir, as far as i remember that's how they say it in spain as well.
[User Picture]From: rebelbiologista
2006-10-27 12:44 am (UTC)

Re: espimir

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I welcome corrections, and insight -- and now I have a new word in my vocabulary... so thanks!
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2007-02-11 12:55 pm (UTC)

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2007-03-29 04:03 pm (UTC)

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2007-03-29 06:08 pm (UTC)

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2008-04-15 03:58 pm (UTC)

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2008-06-28 07:07 am (UTC)

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2008-07-15 07:47 pm (UTC)

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2008-09-23 10:22 pm (UTC)

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