by Alan Armstrong
In the 1980’s, I was on an Alan Armstrong Adventure in Mexico prowling around the mountains and volcanoes in Nayarit state with a Mexican I’d met at the Elk Mountain Farms ‘Budweiser’ hop farm in Porthill, Idaho.
He invited me to come see him in Tuxpan, Nayarit, when he was home but never thought I’d actually ever show up. So, when I staggered up to his door one hot, dusty afternoon he almost shot through the roof with surprise and joy! “Carrumba cabron! Vamos a la cantina para celebrar!”
So, off to the cantina to celebrate!
I had just spent two days riding buses, hitching, walking and bumming rides in the back of trucks. One I shared with 45 gallons of slopping gasoline. The fumes were one thing but the driver was chain-smoking and flicking his ashes out the window!
I was dead beat but what the heck! You only live once! Now or never! Ride the wave! You’re only young once! Viva Mexico!
As it happened, word got out and about a dozen thirsty and familiar faces showed-up and we had a Porthill Roy’s Place reuion happening.
One thing lead to another and next week was spent exploring ranchos, boot factories, mezcal stills, a wedding, a boat trip to Mezcaltilan, the legendary home of the Aztecs, Indian carvings, volcano lakes, crocodile farms and generally running myself well beyond exhausted.
Of course I kept myself hydrated, constantly….with copious amounts of Pacifico and ate…..occasionally, to the point that I developed a tropical sickness called ‘aire’ that almost killed me. They took me to two doctors and they said I’d better get to a curandera( healer) quick or I’d die!
So, Santos and Bernal carried me to a curandera that crushed some ether seeds and made some oil that she put into capsules she gave to me and said to take three a day….or I would die.
I was flat on my back. Could barely breathe. Ached everywhere terribly. Within 15 min. of taking the first capsule, I could hear and feel bubbles popping in my head. And I could taste ether. The searing, nerve-splitting pain in my back was now moving around my body and shrinking. This is totally out-there. Within two days I was on my feet but it took a month to fully shake the cobwebs.
That was my first experience with the magic a curandera but not the last because in the 90’s when we couldn’t have children and western medicine couldn’t help us, our Mexican sister-in-love, Estella insisted we go to a curandera, we jumped at the chance and bingo, we have two kids. Both were made possible by Dona Maria de Paseo Las Palmas. No chickens lost their heads. No spooky, bat filled caves. Just massage, herbs….and faith.
That is but one of the many reasons I love Mexico.