Travellers tend to enjoy random experiences and I’m no exception. The more random (but connected to the country or culture) it is, the more I want to try it. For example, in Oaxaca, Mexico, I decided I wanted to do a limpia. Beyond it being some sort of indigenous cleansing ceremony, I knew nothing about it but hey – by doing, I’d learn, right? After all, I did learn what a temazcal was…
In Sierra Norte, there is a community of villages called Los Pueblos Mancomunados. One of these villages is Capulalpam de Mendez. It was a pretty deserted place but that could be because it was rather cool and drizzly that day. It is an interesting little village worth a wander around if you’re in the area for a limpia. Bright colors, traditional architecture, tiled roofs, and cobbled streets were evident as I explored the quiet village. There’s even a pretty neat looking colonial church (named after San Mateo) that was inaugurated in 1731 – unfortunately, it was locked the day I visited.
Capulalpam de Mendez has a centre of traditional indigenous medicine and it is here that you can partake in a ritual cleansing called limpia. This ceremony is used to cleanse the body, mind, and soul by alleviating spiritual problems such as curses, bad karma, and witchcraft, as well as more mundane physical health problems. Supposedly, it even does things like balance chakras, stimulate the third eye, bring rejuvenation, give you protection, heal addictions, rid you of phobias, etc. A limpia is supposed to be a part of your everyday life since we collect energies, both good and bad, every day. So instead of an apple a day keeping the doctor away, perhaps it’s supposed to be a limpia a day?
While a limpia can be performed using different objects, I think the most common is with an egg. The person performing the ceremony is called a curandero. Mine was female and didn’t speak any English – I have a little bit of Spanish so I was able to understand some of what she was saying. She started by having me close my eyes and then she vigorously hit me with branches and leaves all over my body. Then I got spritzed with what probably was herbed water. And before I could even blink, she pulled open the front of my shirt and spat down it! At this point, I really had no idea what to think – but later I learned that it was mescal that went down my shirt, not her spit. Not sure that’s any better, though…
All of that was just the warm up to the main event of The Egg. Apparently, eggs (when raw) are able to absorb negative things. The curandera rubbed an egg all over me, with emphasis on openings such as ears and mouth. She also did the back of my neck and various joints. Once she was satisfied, the curandera then cracked the egg into a glass of water for examination. Whatever the egg looks like in the glass, it is supposed to tell a curandera what is a patient’s problem – spiritual, physical, or maybe even attitude.
So what was my grand diagnosis? Wait for it… Wait for it…. *drumroll* I was stressed and tired.
As treatment, I was given a massage that was hilariously bad. It was all good though – it was such a unique random (and amusing) experience, by then I was just happy to be in the moment. But as I think about it today, I don’t know if I got such a crappy diagnosis because of the language barrier or if there was actually nothing really wrong with me at that point in time. Hmm…I think I just might go with that: I had been perfect 🙂