In search of the Shaman – Part II : Piura, February 2009

“Hello, is this Elena?”
“Yes, who is this?”
“This is Gilles Havik. Am I right that you are a curandera?”
“Yes, you are. Who are you?”
“I am from the Netherlands, I’m interested in shamanism. Could I pay you a visit?”
“How did you get my number?”
“I got it from a lady on the market. She recommended you.”
“Do you know who she was?”
“Ehm… no I don’t…”

It’s confronting, the way she reads these cards, then looks at me. Intriguing, the way she sits behind her desk, safely present in her well-protected house. I’m surrounded by meandering smells, dim red lights and radiating altars. She tells me stuff about who I am, what future I seem to have and which options I have on how to deal with that. I tell her this is not what I came for: I came to take her outside for a drink. She never goes outside, she says.

We walk a little on the main square. I take her to the bridge because I want to show her how beautiful the waves and the wind are. She explains that the reason she never goes out, is that there is dark magic embedded in this town. The bridge downstream, for example, harbours an age-old curse. Stuff happens there, she says. I say that I’ll lift the curse. She says I don’t know what I’m dealing with.

We eat some grilled cow’s heart – a local delicacy – while we tell each other stories of our lives. She regularly meets a black magician who teaches her. She wants to get to know her enemy, she says. Her stories are Potteresque. Potions made of skulls, long-distance killings, abortions… She strongly disapproves of the latter. It yields gnomes, who’ll keep following you. The guy gives her the creeps, but she keeps visiting. With this unexpected course, the night gets an obscure tone.

I walk through my neighbourhood. Daytime. On the corner, I see someone I meet all the time. Short, dark skin, painted blond hair. He turns towards me, so I greet him. He locks on my eyes. A dark cloud shapes around his head. Then, out of his clear blue eyes, leaps a dark spirit in a frontal attack upon my soul. Even if I see the pain it causes to itself, the attack scares the hell out of me. I wake up in bed, but cannot move. That scares me even more. I feel a pressure on my chest as if the attack is still going. Am I drugged? Is this Elena? Her teacher?

Looking back, I cannot tell how long it took until I could shake it off, stand up and run to the roof. Without any second thought, I called the spirits of the four winds and asked for protection. Then, I called those who could hear to shape a web of love. A sensible orb covered the roof and the apartment down to the ground. Back in bed, the pressure returned. I saw a bear attack. Then, a big black cat stood between me and her. It ended the fight.

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