It was in Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico and I was staying at a five-star hotel on the beach called Las Hadas (meaning the fairies). (“Bo Derek slept here” while filming 10.) I heard that in the morning there was a van leaving on a trip to the Magic Town (Pueblo Magico) of Comala, Colima so I signed up. In this case “magic” has nothing to do with Harry Potter, but is the designation Mexico has given several towns around the country that offer visitors a “magical” experience–by reason of their natural beauty, cultural riches or historical relevance.
The van left in the morning with me, an attractive actress from Hollywood, a PR woman from Miami and a reporter from Chicago. We toured the Manzanillo Bay, then headed out to the Magic Town. On the way we came to a small hill, la Loma de Fatima, where more “magic” had occurred. It seems that Volcan de Fuego (Fire Volcano), the active volcano that overlooks the town of Colima had once erupted, threatening to inundate the town and surrounds with lava. The people went to the top of this hill and prayed to Fatima. The lava miraculously stopped just short of the town, so the people erected a shrine to Fatima here.
Down the road we encountered yet more magic. We came to a place that is touted as an extra normal phenomenon where, by some inexplicable force, cars are pulled back up a hill. We stopped at the bottom of the hill, put the car in neutral and the car started to be pulled back up the hill (I would hate to take the magic out of anything by mentioning optical illusion).
We finally came to Comala, the Magic Town which was very beautiful. All the houses were painted white with tile roofs, and flowers were in full bloom. The church was at the end of the plaza as tradition dictated, and the town government building on the other end. Small shops and cafes lined the sides of the plaza. We were at a table overlooking the plaza, under the veranda, eating, drinking ponche (the traditional alcoholic fruit punch) and being serenaded — somewhat off-key — by a local harmonica troubadour when the driver mentioned that there was a nearby town that was known for its brujos. Brujo is the word used by Carlos Castaneda referring to his teacher, Don Juan. It can also be translated shaman, witch doctor, medicine man, etc. Hollywood and Miami both said enthusiastically, “Let’s go!” I agreed. Chicago said, “Oh well….” So we made another round of the small town, prepared to head for the brujo town, Suchitlan ( the place of flowers). Coincidence, not magic: as I started to take more photos of the magic town, my camera stopped working. I bought some new batteries — still didn’t work. For such emergencies, I always carry a spare, a small point-and-shoot camera. It didn’t work! Anyway, onward.
Suchitlan was another very attractive little town—flowers everywhere (as advertised), fruit trees in abundance, and many homes had coffee trees in the back yard. The area is known for its fine coffee. We came to a house where the driver thought one of the brujos lived. He went to the door and knocked. The brujo answered, but advised that he didn’t work on Fridays — “maybe try my neighbor.” We went to the next house, which looked like it might have been part of an old Spanish hacienda. This time we all went to the door (Hollywood actress in front). Vicente, the brujo, answered, attired in red crocodile cowboy boots, army fatigues, Hawaiian shirt and a camo army cap. Yes, he was free to do limpiezas (cleanings) today. It would cost 50 pesos each. Hollywood, Miami and I opted to do it. Chicago passed. Since the reporter from Chi opted out, he was sent by Vicente to the drugstore to buy some high octane alcohol. Meanwhile, the brujo told his story; his father had been a brujo and he, Vicente, had studied ‘brujeria’ at Templo del Sol in Mexico City.
The actress and the PR person went first while I waited outside under a large, ancient tree. When my turn came, Vicente asked me to stand perfectly still while he poured the alcohol in a ring around me. He lit a match to the liquid and flames sprang up all around me. I had to keep all extremities close to my body to avoid the smell of barbecued meat–mine! As the flames leaped around me, the brujo reached in and pulled invisible nasties out of me. “Now you are clean. Take care of yourself and stay that way,” he said.
We went back inside and Vicente told us a little more about his training in Paso del Sol and Puente de Jacob. (My Spanish wasn’t good enough and he spoke too fast for me to understand what this all meant.) Vicente noticed that the actress’s aura wasn’t quite clean and asked her to lie face down on the couch and take off her blouse, then asked PR to undo Hollywood’s bra clasp, whereupon the brujo proceeded to rub her aura clean. My aura was already clean, I assume, as he didn’t use this procedure on me or on Miami.
With soul and spirits squeaky clean, we headed back to the hotel. More magic: once at the hotel, I checked my cameras… both worked.
Some useful links (none for the brujo, we knocked on doors–with the help of our guide):