If Eddie Vedder Were the Vegetable Man: In Search of a Curandero in the Yucatan — By Jennifer Shipp
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If Eddie Vedder Were the Vegetable Man: In Search of a Curandero in the Yucatan — By Jennifer Shipp

Enrique left Cuba because of communism. He came here for better opportunities. He is not remotely strange. He didn’t shake any rattling objects at Lydian or blow smoke on her. Sadly, there was no chanting. But according to some residents of Progreso, Enrique is a curandero. A witch. Maybe I missed a crucial piece of evidence that he dabbles in the dark arts, but the portly fellow we spoke to who wore a polo shirt and khakis looked pretty normal to me.

IMG_2543
Lydian, melting in the scorching hot sun, waiting for Jean from the Crazy Monkey as he called “Dickey” to find out where the curandero in Progreso was located.

This man, who was at least rumored to be a curandero was not at all what I expected, but I like to be surprised, so that’s okay. Yesterday, Lydian and I went out in search of traditional healers in Progreso. She was still getting over a cough and sinus congestion and we decided it might be interesting to try a faith healer instead of going to the doctor. Our search ended the day before at the Crazy Monkey, where we’d met an expat who was fluent in Spanish and English and had enough connections (theoretically) to find us a resident curandero in town. His wife took us to the little stall at a nearby mall advertising Esotericas. She told us the owner was a “brujo”. Today, we returned to find out what witches look like in Mexico.

Enrique’s modest and organized booth was located inside of a mall filled on each side with rows of garage stalls. He had shelves with candles portraying the virgin Mary on both sides of his booth and little religious “trading” cards in the glass case up front.

Estan taroto?”  I asked him about the little cards, hoping perhaps that he’d at least do something remotely occult for us.

No.”  He smiled reaching into the glass case. “Son archangeles y santos…” He pulled a couple of cards out and laid them on top for us to see.

When asked what he could do for Lydian and her tos (cough), he told us to put Vaporub on her feet and drink some manzanilla tea. Nothing too weird about that.

Curandero
Enrique Claro shows us his wares in his tiny booth (#108) at the big orange mall in Progreso.

When we lingered for a few moments as he was closing the garage door to his booth, he told us that he used to be a famous musician in Cuba (see the video below) but left due to the communist regime. He told me to look him up on YouTube, (“Enrique Claro” he scrawled on a little notepad, ripped it off, and gave it to me) and I found a documentary (in Spanish, of course) and a few other videos of him singing and playing the guitar along the beach with busty Latina women.

It was like meeting Bono selling sunglasses on the street in some small nowhere town in Africa, I suppose. Or Chris Cornell working in a fruiteria. Fame is relative. The people of Cuba would envy us for our encounter with one of the mortal gods in their universe, but to us, he was just a regular guy selling candles.

Related Posts:

Temazcal Opening Ritual in Guanajuato, Mexico (video)

The Search for Indigenous Healers in Mexico — By Jennifer Shipp

First World Bodies: Third World Furnishings in the Yucatan — By Jennifer Shipp

New Year’s Eve in Progreso, Yucatan — By Jennifer Shipp

Visit During the Off-Season If You Can…and Wander — By Jennifer Shipp

Like We Never Left: Progreso, Mexico– By Jennifer Shipp

Going South: In Search of Enlightenment or at Least a Good Story — By Jennifer Shipp

Curandero, Enrique Claro
Enrique took a moment to pose for a photo before shutting up his shop for the afternoon.

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