In front of the Casa

In front of the Casa

Last week our middle daughter was “jogging” on the ocean cliff path, when she stumbled and twisted her ankle. We were not sure if she had broken or merely sprained her ankle. As we debated over the best treatment, Faustino, our maintenance man, (and friend), for the past 8 years, happened to be emptying our house garbage. When we told him what had happened to our daughter, he sprung into action…

After a quick examination of her foot, he determined it was only a sprain. He told us about remedies his mother would use on his multiple sprains and fractures brought on by his childhood soccer games in the pueblo he grew up in. He disappeared and within minutes appeared in our kitchen carrying small branches of leaves he called “parasito”. We asked where he found them, imagining a chance encounter with a mystic healer/shaman in our village. He laughed, and told us it grew in the jungle next to our house. After making a tea with them, he proceeded to massage our daughters foot with cooking oil and he then applied the salve. He then soaked a slice of potato in tequila, (to absorb the swelling), and wrapped our daughters foot.  Later, he appeared carrying a handful of leaves, (looking like leaves to me). He called them, “hoja de bruja” – “Leaves of the witch”. He informed us that he had planted them years ago in our garden. After heating and oiling them, he used them as a dressing and rewrapped our daughters ankle.


Needless to say, by the next day the sprain had greatly improved. This was not the first time “Dr. Fauistino” had facilitated a healing. In a past art workshop, one participant had also sprained her ankle and the “potato remedy” worked as well!

This encounter has made me re-examine the question, what is the definition of effective and healing medicine? What judgements and beliefs does our North American  culture hold re/ “sophisticated” medical intervention and where it can be found?

Many of our workshop participants ask about access to medical help if necessary when staying with us in our village. We assure our guests that there are five reliable hospitals in Puerto Vallarta (and a small medical clinic under construction in Boca). Our now increased awareness of the wisdom which is part of every day life in our pueblo, has altered our respect for the depth and efficacy of the medical sophistication which lives in our own literal “back yard”!