Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Coca Leaf Fortune Teller


Coca leaves aren’t actually a drug but have many uses as I started to learn in the Coca museum in La Paz until the urge to poke my eyes out from boredom became too unbearable. What did I do to deserve this place?
I did find out from a couch surfer that there are coca leaf fortune tellers in La Paz. Our hostel was right in the thick of the witches market and to my surprise the fortune teller that he took me to was almost right next door. The place was unmarked and a bit of a hole in the wall just a gated black door. We made a deal for 20 bolivanos each. I was a bit hesitant at first, I mean when someone tells you they know a guy and then he is just next door, it’s a bit odd.
He had a diploma on his wall for naturalistic medicine, a few chairs and a sheet draped across the room. I went first for my reading which was behind the sheet as well as a single bed, a small table and two chairs. Coca leaves were scattered on a cloth on the table. He did seem mystical and authentic. He didn’t have a sign outside his door and wasn’t trying to rip off tourist so all those were good signs. I had my couch surfer translate for me just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
He told me about myself by picking up the leaves dropping them and seeing where on the cloth they landed. He told me about my health, he said I will have a job in what I studied or what I will study. He said I should plan more for the future, make decisions calmly and not be so spontaneous. Huh that doesn’t sound like me at all (I say sarcastically). He said I won’t live in Canada but will live with someone in another country.
Was love and money in the leaves for me? Well he wasn’t too positive when it came to the love aspect. He said my current interest is just for the moment and caught up with an ex. He mentioned someone from my past will come back and want to be with me but another woman is in the way. As for my writing and money he said I will do well but it will be very hard at first and very competitive. Most things seemed to ring true while others were a bit questionable. I have no idea how he can tell all these things from throwing leaves and placing them in different positions on the cloth but coca leaf fortune telling is quite a popular practice. There are many brujos (witches) in Bolivia which are frequented by the local people to help guide them in their lives. You are either born into the profession or receive a calling later on in life. The coca leaf is the key to the brujos for fortune telling, it helps them see the present, they can tell what ailments people have and how their future will be.
The coca leaf has also been important in Bolivia for many other reasons as well. Indians have used coca leaves as an anesthetic, they chew it to ward off hunger and fight altitude sickness. Mal treated miners were given coca leaves so they would work without needing to eat or rest. Then came the process of turning the leaf into Cocaine, some people may tell you the white powder can help you see your future as well….I’m not so sure, maybe that will have to wait until Colombia.

1 comment:

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