When I spit on children I cure diseases

I have come to realize that my idea of normal has changed significantly. Things never seem that strange to me at the time… and then I think about explaining it to folks back home. So, here’s one such experience:

I’m hanging out at my cousin's house, enjoying the mango juice we just made (from pre-ripened mangos…which are also quite delicious to eat dipped in sugar). Yola, the woman who goes house to house selling Ropa Americana had just finished showing us the stock she just brought back from Tegucigalpa, mostly sweater-jackets (shwackets as my friend Mary calls them) and jeans.

Nothing out of the ordinary for a Monday afternoon.

The oldest of these cousins, Juan Fernando, arrives with his wife Paola and their 3-year-old son, Carlito.  The poor kid has been sick for the past 4 days with a fever and vomiting. He doesn’t seem to be contagious, since none of the other children he’s been in contact with have gotten sick. “It must be el ojo (the eye)” they say. What is the cure for this? Rosear is the answer.

“But Amanda, I don’t speak Spanish,” you say? As there is no translation for the word, let me explain:

2 people chew on an herb called ruda, then take a swig of pure guaro (aguardiente) and swish them together. While this is happening, someone else rubs a chicken egg over the child’s body. If the egg cooks, then they have successfully extracted "the [evil] eye." After they do the egg rub, they hold the child up in the air and the 2 people with their mouths full of ruda and guaro spit it all over the child, from head to toe, at the same time (one in front, the other in back).

This is to get rid of the evil eye and cure the child.

In the case of Carlito, my cousin Karol and I were picked to perform this ritual. After having done it, here are my thoughts:

1. Ruda does not taste very good.

2. I am really bad at spitting liquid in spray form, it came out more like a fountain as opposed to a spray (perhaps I should have practiced first…).

3. The taste stays in your mouth. Gross. (Oh and apparently you can’t clean out your mouth afterward cause then it might not cure the child).

4. I do not think I will volunteer to do this ever again. However, it supposedly worked.

So, after this little ceremony, I jet over to my house to change and go for a run around the soccer field with some friends.

Lygia plays music off of her phone so we can all have something to listen to as we do our laps. The day ends with dinner and telenovelas with my host family.

This is my Honduran life.

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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.