Martí and Moncada is a clear direction, is Santiago de Cuba. It is as if the city could not exist without the color of those streets as if it receives the strength of its people. There, where medicine and magic mate, everything seems to find a solution.
The ancient wisdom was concentrated and distills generous at every step. Tobacco and honey, stones and feathers, pictures and seeds. Chickens and pigeons are placed into small cages, there are of all colors and for all purposes: life-saving soups, demanded offerings, insults to wash…
People walk by, browse, query, purchase. Squeeze their bunch of herbs or roots. The popular botanic has proved a tireless creation. The Afro-Cuban line in all its glory. Juan Tomás Roig and Lydia Cabrera would have made a killing.
Beside the known benefits of aloe or yagruma, come to your attention some plant names that say it all: vencedor (winner), I can more than you, tames braves, open roads, remove curses … They say that in the right doses, that in the right hands, fulfill their duties.
The prickly pear leaf hangs next to the amulet that will protect the house against the evil eye, from the looks that “take turtles out of the water and bring down coconuts.” The necklaces bearing the yellow of Oshún and white of Obatala. Candles lit all colors want to honor the dead, that the saints granted the favor, so that at last! be light.
What will be in the knobs that are pushed into the wood? Behind the glass hovering oil viscosity palm oil that softens and nourishes the spirit. And powder blue, white, on. Even brittle yellow sulfur, reserved for difficult situations. In the basket, husks want to jump to the neck.
Below, it is the turn to metals: horseshoes worn by use, old nails from railrodas crowd the pots. Only God knows what old ways come and to what “pots” they are going to.
For kidneys, for diarrhea, skin, stomach, remedies for insomnia. For good luck, for travel, for tying up the knot and lovesickness, for the development. Here’s to the human and the divine.
Since when these men and women are here? Who can say? Only in recent years they have been grouped in small kiosks; but herbalists and sellers Martí down -of this mulatto and vendors street seem to be part of their sidewalks, their corners like the carnival celebrations.
I drop by, snoop, asked, “Buy something, my son,” said one youngster smiling. She is followed by a woman twice her age. “Buy something to open your roads”. And it makes me an emphatic, unmistakable sign: Come here …