Participate in Online Auction to Benefit Mayo-Yoreme

Please participate in this very affordable online auction to gain a photo for your home or office, plus support people who will very much appreciate your assistance! Below from SIETAR France. You are also invited to my photo talk and exhibit in both Paris and Vienna. I look forward to seeing you there and to having you enjoy a taste of indigenous Sinaloa!

VENTE AUX ENCHERES DE PHOTOGRAPHIES !
SILENT AUCTION OF PHOTOGRAPHS!

Nous espérons que vous allez bien. Nous sommes ravis de pouvoir vous annoncer notre toute première vente aux enchères qui commencera le 1er novembre à 9h00 et se terminera le 19 novembre à minuit.

Nous avons 10 photographies originales qui nous ont été gracieusement fournies par Dianne Hofner Saphiere et qui sont le résultat de son travail avec la communauté des Mayo-Yoreme au Sinola, Mexique.

We hope you are well. We are very pleased to be able to announce our very first SIETAR France Silent Auction which will begin on November 1st at 9h00 and end on November 19th at midnight.

We have 10 original photographs to be auctioned which have all been graciously donated by Dianne Hofner Saphiere and which have come out of her work with the Mayo-Yoreme community of Sinaloa, Mexico.


Comment participer à notre vente aux enchères — 10 photographies  originales données par Dianne Hofner Saphiere

How to participate in Our Silent Auction —10 Original photographs
donated by Dianne Hofner Saphiere

Pour participer à cette vente aux enchères, il vous suffit de vous enregistrer sur notre site web dédié au :
http://www.biddingOwl.com/SIETARFrance

Une fois votre profil créé, vous aurez la possibilité de miser sur les différentes photographies et configurer votre profil pour recevoir des alertes par mail ou par SMS si quelqu’un surenchère.

Les gagnants seront automatiquement avertis à la fin de la vente et recevront leur version électronique de la photographie par mail.

Les recettes de la vente seront partagées à égalité entre SIETAR France et la communauté des Mayo-Yoreme.

To participate in our silent auction you will need to register on our dedicated website at:
http://www.biddingOwl.com/SIETARFrance

Once you have created your profile, you will be able to bid for the different photographs and configure your profile to receive alerts by mail or SMS if you are out bid.

The winners of the auction will be automatically contacted and will receive their electronic version of the photograph by email.

The proceeds of the auction will be shared equally by SIETAR France and the Mayo-Yoreme community.

Dianne Hofner Saphiere

Photographe et consultante en développement interculturel des organisations, elle est l’auteur de plusieurs ouvrages dont “Communication Highwire: Leveraging the power of diverse communication styles” et de “Ecotonos : A simulation for collaborating across cultures”. Elle est la créatrice de Cultural Detective®, un projet de développement des compétences interculturelles impliquant plus de 150 experts interculturels partout dans le monde.

Au cours de ses trente années de carrière dédiés à la coopération interculturelle, Dianne a collaboré avec des personnes de plus de 100 pays différents. Née aux Etats-Unis, elle a vécu 12 ans au Japon et vit au Mexique depuis 10 ans.

Au cours de ces quatre dernières années, elle a développé sa passion pour la photographie, se spécialisant dans le photojournalisme – privilégiant l’approche ethnographique, les événements au sein des communautés et les “trésors culturels de l’humanité”.

Photographer and intercultural organization development consultant

Dianne has worked with people from over 100 countries during her 30+ years facilitating cross-cultural collaboration. USA-born, she spent twelve years in Japan and has lived in Mexico for the last ten years.

Dianne has authored various volumes including “Communication Highwire: Leveraging the power of diverse communication styles” and “Ecotonos: A simulation for collaborating across cultures”, and is the creator of Cultural Detective®, an intercultural competence development project involving over 150 intercultural specialists worldwide. 

She has dedicated the past four years to her passion for photography, specializing in photojournalism — often through the lenses of ethnography, community events, and “human cultural treasures.”

Rites of Passage

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Emiliano’s first “pega.”

This Sunday afternoon, June 18, stating at 5:30 pm, Mazatlán will witness two rites of passage:

  • The last bullfight of Mexico’s greatest rejoneador (horseback-riding bullfighter)—Rodrigo Santos. He has intentionally chosen Mazatlán as the site of his retirement. He is from San Luis Potosí, but our home has much sentiment for him. This is a huge honor for our city.

  • In the same event when this giant retires, but of much lesser importance, at least at this point, we will see the debut of a nine year old forcado—those who catch the bull’s face with their bare hands—named (Ariel) Emiliano Vàaquez Vargas. He will not face any of the four bulls on Sunday, but he will be granted the opportunity to walk into the ring with the rest of the 20-strong Forcados Mazatlecos group.

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In the 35 or so years Greg and I have been traveling to Mazatlán, we well remember that there used to be several bullfights each month, sometimes as many as once a week. It was a valued tradition in Mazatlán and throughout Latin America, one that came in with the conquistadors via Spain and Portugal. René Tirado, cabo or leader of the Forcados Mazatlecos, grew up in that tradition. He’s now doing his best to teach the next generations to carry on the art. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Recent years, of course, have seen a huge decline in bullfights, due to complaints of animal cruelty. To the rejoneadores, toreros, and forcados, however, bullfighting is an art and a way of life. While our bullfight ring looks tired and worn on the outside, I was happy to see it looking clean and well-cared-for on the inside. As René told us, “I understand if people don’t like what we do. Nothing is for everyone. But we should not judge something as bad and try to ban it without first trying to understand it. I would never critique a painting, as I’m not an art specialist.”

“The cattle industry actually helps preserve the lands we have here in México. These bulls graze on open range, they live life as kings. When they are four years old they enter the bullring. In the ring, if they succeed, they will live out the rest of their years on a stud farm, again as a king. If I were a bull, I would much rather die in the ring, with dignity, fighting for my life, with the chance of rescuing myself, than die in a slaughterhouse.”
—René Tirado

On Sunday there will be four bullfights: two with toreadores on foot, and two with rejoneadores on horseback. For the fights on horseback, the forcados, equipped with nothing but their team of eight, their hands and their speed—come in at the end to put their arms around the bull’s head and neck—ideally between not on the horns—in order to subdue him.

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Photo of Forcados Mazatlecos from Forcados de Vila Franca

The bulls are raised to fight; it’s in their blood. The evening we visited the bullring the forcados brought their children in, to get them acquainted with the sport and hopefully pique their interest in pursuing it. In addition to the four bulls in the plaza for next Sunday’s event, there was also a calf or becerra at the bullring. He must have been just six or eight months old, but he was feisty! He had such a good time chasing the men, and the children, around the ring. Even though he was just a baby, he could push the men right off their feet and into the air. He made short shrift of the fake bull that had the audacity to stand in the ring with him, too.

Emiliano, the boy who will stand with the forcados on Sunday, had his first pega or face-stop with that calf the afternoon we were there. Dad was with him to help out, and René was quick to assist. The calf really took the wind out of Emiliano, but his face glowed with pride that he was able to accomplish the feat. Below is a sequence showing the action:

The Forcados Mazatlecos are well known nationally and internationally, representing Mazatlán wherever they go. They were founded in 1987 by Arturo Castro Ortega. They travel about twice a month, sometimes even four times a month, to events around the country and internationally. They recently performed in Plaza México—the world’s largest bullring—and travel to Portugal. Amazingly, they all hold full-time jobs as the forcado gig is unpaid! They receive no help from CULTURA or IMDEM. Festivals that invite them to perform will pay their expenses and a small honorarium, but these artists do it for the love of the sport and the art; they are passionate and committed to what they do.

A couple of details I learned from René:

  • Forcados originally existed to protect the king and the royal court during bullfights in the plazas. A prince was killed at one point, and after that bullfights were held in bullrings built for the purpose, rather than in city plazas.
  • Spanish-style bullfighting has the torero on foot. Portuguese-style has the rejoneador on horseback. Traditionally you learned these arts if you grew up in a wealthy cattle family.
  • René has a horrible couple of scars down his right leg, where ten years ago he had an artery replaced. It saved his life. The accident happened during a bullfight right here in Mazatlán.

If you’d like to take advantage of this very unique opportunity, you can buy tickets at the Gran Plaza, in the kiosk right in front of Cimaco, or at Via Rápidas or La Trokería up in Sábalo. Tickets prices start at 100; general admittance in the shade 200; preferred seating in the sun 250; and preferred seating in the shade 300.

 

La Nautica: Latin America’s Oldest Merchant Marine Academy

DSC_0319Edited2Mazatlán has been renowned since colonial times as one of Mexico’s premier maritime and shipbuilding centers. It is thus quite natural that we are blessed with the country’s oldest merchant marine academy—La Escuela Nautica Capitán de Altura Antonio Gómez Maqueo, or “La Nautica,” as it is affectionately known. The school also distinguishes Mazatlán as home of the oldest merchant marine academy in Latin America.

Visiting family and I were fortunate to get up close and personal with the highly disciplined young adults parading in their dress whites during the school’s recent 137th anniversary ceremony. Watching hundreds of young people march in crisply choreographed unison during the golden hour at sunset was truly a sight to behold! We were invited to the bugle, drum and flag-filled festivities by Captain Rodolfo Cinco Arenas, who has taught at the academy longer than anyone on the staff—since 1982. Though Captain Cinco was able to retire a few years ago, the school persuaded him to come back as a contract teacher because he is a leading expert on ship stability and GMDSS, the global maritime distress and safety system. Walking around campus with the Captain was so much fun, as all the gorgeous young cadets saluted us as we walked by.

The Nautica is a public school operated under the auspices of the Secretary of Communication and Transportation’s FIDENA (Fideicomiso de formación y capacitación para el personal de la marina mercante nacional). It currently educates 653 students from throughout Mexico and Latin America as officers and engineers for all types of commercial vessels: container ships, ferries, fishing vessels, freighters and tankers. Cadets are nearly evenly divided between deck (mates and captain) and engineering. The school opened to women in 1994 and currently includes more than 50 female cadets. Since its inception it has trained 2500 officers who are able to sail vessels from almost any country around the world, frequently including Algeria, Brazil, Dubai, and Venezuela, though Canadian and US American vessels limit officers to citizens from those respective nations. Tuition is $67,000 pesos/year and includes everything: housing, food, books, classes and simulators. The experience is of course highly subsidized by the federal government.

Despite presidential decrees founding a merchant marine academy in Mazatlán in 1857 (Ignacio Comonfort) and 1880 (Porfirio Diaz), fates dictated that the Nautica’s first classes weren’t held until December 1888, when the Chilean vessel Buque México arrived in Mazatlán from San Francisco. The ship served as home to the school’s first class of 15 students. In 1921 the Nautica moved to 43 Calle del Arsenal, which today is where Venustiano Carranza meets the malecón; a plaque indicates this fact. In September of 1939 classrooms, workshops, dormitories, sports fields, a cafeteria and a small dock were constructed at the school’s current site at 2111 Calzada Gabriel Leyva. During World War II the school was temporarily transferred to the navy (1941-58), and for a few years graduates could opt for a degree as either military or merchant marine officers.

The curved façade of the main building of the Nautica is reminiscent of the bridge of a ship. Classrooms and dormitories form a large central square, where the ceremony was held. Spiral staircases, stone columns, carved wood, antique tile floors, student-painted murals and lush palm trees make for an impressive campus. From 1982 to 2006 the academy had an educational ship named “Nauticas México;” cadets navigated the vessel throughout the Americas and Europe. It was the only merchant marine training vessel in Mexico, but has never been replaced, as the government has decided simulators are cheaper and better for educational purposes. The Nautica today has 45 professors, 25 classrooms, 12 simulators, beautiful lap and diving pools, and Mazatlán’s only planetarium (built in 1986), which sadly is not open to the public.

Nautica cadets are civilians, not military, though education is military style. They reside on campus six days a week, and have strict regulations regarding uniforms (dress whites and blues, international and khaki in short and long sleeves), hair length, lights out, language and behavior both at school and during time off. Privileges include Saturday nights and Sunday mornings off campus, and visits by family and friends on Thursday evenings. Those privileges are easily and frequently lost, however, as we well know from our son’s friends’ experiences.

Entry to the academy is extremely competitive, open to high school graduates and those who pass very challenging entrance exams. Even when accepted, quite a few cadets drop out prior to graduation due to the rigor of the curriculum and lifestyle. Cadets live and study on campus July through December and January to June, with one month break in the summer. Graduates must pass their classes and professional exams, be able to swim, and have English proficiency to complete the four-year program. Once they graduate, they still need to come up with $50k pesos to pay for their professional title (título), something common across most careers in Mexico. Graduating from it, however, pretty much guarantees a lucrative career.

Mazatlán vs. Cartagena

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Cartagena de las Indias, Bolívar, Colombia

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Mazatlán, Sinaloa, México

You know that Mazatlán bills itself as a “colonial city on the beach.” It was never a colonial city in the historical meaning of that term—major European settlement came with the gold rush in the 1800s—but it does have gorgeous architecture and an interesting history, so we’ll give Tourism some leeway.

The other major Latin American “colonial city on the beach” that I know of is Cartagena. I’ve long wondered how it compares to my beloved Mazatlán. A few years ago, when I first traveled to Bogotá for work, I’d hoped to make it to the Caribbean city. Well, it’s taken me till now, but Greg and I made it. So, here’s the down-low on the comparison.

There are so many similarities between these two cities it’s eerie. The people are warm and friendly. Hot water with a steady flow is very difficult to find. There is a malecón/oceanside promenade, lots of great seafood, fishing boats, strolling vendors of every sort, panzones/big bellies, beautiful women, litter, beautiful historic architecture and beaches in both places. Whether in the Pacific coast port or the Caribbean port, you’d better watch where you walk: sidewalks, when they exist, are broken, have sink holes, pot holes and uncovered man holes. Both cities have skyscrapers that house condominiums owned by wealthy foreigners who only live in them some weeks of the year. Both are open-air cities: restaurants, bars, cafes. Both have nearby islands, mangoes, pineapple, coconut.

Una palenquera, María, a fruit seller from Palenque, Colombia

Una palenquera, María, a fruit seller from Palenque, Colombia

What are the differences? Cartagena has a decidedly more European (narrow winding streets, the al fresco dining in the plazas, architecture) and Caribbean (Afro-Colombians, colorful dress, music, plantains) feel. The WIND that we’ve experienced here is absolutely unbelievable, and makes dining or drinking seaside an irritating endeavor, in our opinion. Supposedly the wind will stop once the rains come, but we’re told it’s been windy like this since January—that’s four months! Mazatlán has more beggars and vagrants in the tourist zone. Cartagena generally includes a 10% tip on all food and beverage served; by law, consumers can add or reduce on that base. The food is generally not spicy in Cartagena, and we didn’t find any hangouts that were primarily for foreigners; the city seems more integrated. In Cartagena we were told that “gringo” means any foreigner. Mazatlán is noisier, thanks to the pulmonías, ahorigas and wandering street musicians.

And, drum roll please… Mazatlán is overall cleaner than Cartagena! Hard to believe? We are so eager to educate Mazatlecos and visitors to our port about putting litter in its place, about getting people to use permanent water bottles rather than plastic, and to never again serve something on styrofoam. Our son spent five years of his life repeatedly cleaning out Estero del Infiernillo, getting so discouraged at how one week later the locals again had it filled with their garbage. But, honestly, Greg and I have seen more litter here in Cartagena in the past four days than I thought was humanly possible. Having said that, the walled city itself is cleaner and tidier than our Centro Histórico.

We’ve worked up a table to show you our ratings. Obviously this is completely subjective, and it’s not fair, either. We’ve lived in Mazatlán for eight years and have traveled there for 35; we’ve just spent four days in Cartagena. So, we welcome input from those more experienced with the Colombian city.

 

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Colombianos, you have a gorgeous city in Cartagena, it’s true. And, I urge you to come visit us in Mazatlán! I think you will be surprised! And, municipal governments of Mazatlán and Cartagena, I would urge you to initiate a special task force, so that you can learn from one another! Your situations are incredibly similar, and your strengths and weaknesses are complimentary—lots to learn from one another!

 

La Sobada

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Margarita is 78 years old. I don’t think she looks it…

“Comadre, you need a sobada.”

“What’s a sobada?”

Context
I am, gratefully, a pretty healthy 55 year old. I’m overweight—I love good food and chocolate. I drink alcohol, I sit at the computer too much, working and reviewing photography. But I climb the lighthouse at least a couple of times a week, I’ve done yoga regularly since my late teens, I absolutely love zumba, dancing, walking, bike riding… I exercise and eat healthy.

Thus my dismay and frustration that, after injuring my right shoulder LAST JULY (while doing yoga), I still, nine months later, couldn’t lift my arm much past my shoulder, couldn’t put my hair up without pain, couldn’t even open my armpit enough to get a stick of deodorant in there. I should have been overjoyed that nothing was broken or torn, but somehow that fact just added to my dismay and impatience—why wouldn’t this injury heal? Why did I still need to ask Greg for help dressing and undressing myself every day? I most certainly did not like being physically handicapped or having chronic pain!

I’ve gone for regular massages since I injured myself. Portland, Chicago, Tokyo, Kyoto, DC, Las Vegas, Mazatlán, Dimas—everywhere I went, massage was a constant (thank you, Mary!). It helped with the discomfort, but it sure wasn’t curing anything. I worked with two different chiropractors—one horrible and one a savior (bless your artistry, Terry!). I went to my acupuncturist; she also helped. I participated in 2-1/2 months of three times/week physical therapy, with handsome and charming young men. But nothing alleviated the pain.

Despite treatments over the same number of months required to gestate a new human being, I still had extremely limited range of motion in my shoulder. Between the pain, the multiple therapist visits, the ice packs and the hot showers, I had very little ability or time to actually work. My injury had nearly taken over my life. I am blessed with the world’s most loving and caring husband, but even he was sick of my whining. And I had to get ready for a big work trip. Something had to be done!

What is a Sobada?
My comadre Silvia said I needed to get a sobada. A sobada? Never once in nine years living here, 37 years of travel to Mexico, and six summers in Mexico City as a child, do I recall hearing the word “sobada.” Then my comadre’s Mom told me the story of when she went to a sobadora (woman who performs sobadas) and how it had cured her. “She lives near my house. You should go.” I didn’t commit, but I was intrigued.

Throughout that next week I heard the word “sobada” about eight times, unsolicited. It was one of those coincidences, I felt, indicating that something was meant to be; one of those times when the universe sends me a loud message, so I’d better listen up.

But what in the heck was a sobada? I didn’t want to get myself into something I would regret. Not another bad chiropractor story. I couldn’t find a clear meaning of “sobada” in the dictionary. Searching the web, “sobada” is everything from a recipe for cooking tripe to prenatal and postpartum massage, supposedly dating back to the Mayans in Yucatán.

So I asked a few of my local girlfriends if they would please explain to me what a sobada is. One of them said, “it’s just that—a sobada.” Meaning, “it’s a kneading.” “So how is una sobada different from a massage?” Every single one of the girlfriends I asked, all seven of them, then referred me to their favorite massage therapist. None of them criticized sobadas, but they obviously didn’t want me going to a sobadora, either.

Matters were taken out of my decision volition when Silvia called to tell me she was picking me up at 5:30. She was going to take me for a sobada. I felt a mix of hope and dread. I certainly had no idea what I was getting myself into. But, if you know me, you also know I was open and curious. I theorized that a sobada was a unique Mexican-style massage, in the same way shiatsu is Japanese massage, and reflexology and tuina are native Chinese methods of massage. I was eager to learn about this new folk remedy of my adopted home. And, I was afraid; I didn’t want some inept folk remedy practitioner wreaking havoc on the little progress I’d made thus far.

Meeting La Sobadora
Silvia picked me up promptly. We drove to her mother’s house, and she hopped into the car as well. Then we drove another four blocks, and stopped in front of a house in Colonia Francisco Solís. I love the neighborhood; it’s very basic, but you always see people sitting outside, visiting with one another, kids playing in the street. It’s a friendly, family-oriented place.

The sobadora’s home is one of those open to the street: the kitchen, dining and living room open to a wall of windows facing the car port, with an iron gate on the street. When I arrived,  workers were doing construction across the way. There was no bell, and no door to knock on, so my comadre’s mother called out, “Margarita! I’ve brought the señora!”

Once in the door I saw a basic cement home, sparsely furnished. A special needs girl—a granddaughter, fidgeted in her wheelchair at a dining table. A woman—Margarita’s daughter, also sat at the table. There were photos of family throughout the room, a statue of the Virgin (the healing virgin, I was told) at a small altar, a photo of the Pope, a rosary, some other religious icons, and Jesus was etched into the glass of the entryway. Margarita was obviously one holy, and very Catholic, woman.

Margarita's Virgin of Healing

Margarita’s Virgin of Healing

She began telling stories as soon as we entered her home, and her mouth never stopped moving during the hour or so we spent with her. Margarita is 78, short, broad, bright-eyed, vivacious, and dressed in colorful polyester. She’s matter-of-fact, and speaks in our local dialect. I learned she has ten children remaining of 14 she birthed, and lost track of how many grandkids and great-grandkids she told me she has. She was kidnapped and raped at 13, and she and that man went on to have all those children. When he died, she remarried, at 35, to a wonderful man willing to take on 14 kids. I only understood about 40% of what she was saying, as she was speaking to the six of us in the room at a million kilometers a minute.

She pulled over a high-backed chair with a straight back, the beautiful carved kind from Concordia. She instructed me to sit on it. “Take off your blouse,” she instructed. Really? In front of all those construction workers and all five of you, all of whom are staring at me, I thought to myself. Reading my unexpressed thought, she kindly walked over and closed the door. Fortunately, much of the glass facing the street was covered with newsprint, to filter out prying eyes. Now I only had five women staring at me.

Getting off my blouse is not an easy feat given my disability, but I did it. I sat back down. Then she unbuckled my bra. Ok, I can handle nudity. But I could sense my comadre’s discomfort with it. When Margarita asked me to tie my hair back, I was in a bit of a predicament. One, the range of motion in my arm doesn’t permit me to get my hair up into a ponytail. Two, to even try, I needed to drop the unhooked bra that I was holding in front of my chest. I did my best, while Silvia nervously let me know, “Comadre, your bra fell.”

I sat back down on the chair, again holding my bra over my chest in some silly sign of demureness. Margarita left the room, and came back with a bottle and a jar. She instructed me to sit sideways on the chair, and lathered me with a eucalyptus or menthol oil. As she oiled me, Margarita performed the sign of the cross on my body several times, and implored God and the Virgin to guide her hands and make me healthy. Then, she commenced to massage my throat, neck, shoulders, arms and back.

Unlike the chiropractor, she didn’t seem to adjust bones. Unlike the orthopedic, she didn’t ask for x-rays or MRIs, or even any physical history. Heck, she didn’t even ask how I’d injured myself. Unlike the massage therapist, she didn’t work my muscles or try to break up my scarred fascia. She stroked my throat and neck first, finding a gnarl of what she called “nerves” on the right side of my neck. I am surprised that none of the massage therapists had found it. It was painful, but she didn’t push too hard; she pressed in long strokes over my neck and throat, smoothing the knot. It jumped around and would not be soothed, but her stroking it was comforting and loving. Unlike the chiro and the massage therapists, Margarita didn’t complain about how tight I am; she did say that my injury wouldn’t resolve itself today; it would take three visits.

I interrupted one of Margarita’s stories to ask her how she came to be a sobadora. Is this something you study to do? She told me, “No, I don’t read or write. I have the don (the gift).” She told me she learned she had the don / the gift of sobar (to knead) when she was nine. A boy in her neighborhood fell into a well, and she cured him. The neighbor asked her mother where she learned to do that, and when her mother replied that she’d never been taught, she just did it naturally, they all decided it was a gift from God. Nowadays, she has learned to read—she had a Bible open on her dining room table.

Margarita finds another knot of nerves in my wrist, and a third in my hand. She also finds some between my shoulder blades. When she rubs them it hurts, but not too bad; no Lamaze breathing is needed, like it often is with the chiropractor. She basically runs her hands over what I guess are ligaments in my body, finding spots of concentrated energy, lumps, bumps, knots, and pain. Then, she smooths them, with the camphor oil or whatever it is. It smells like the Chinese stuff I use—the green oil. Margarita tells me to notice that she rubs up from the elbow to the shoulder, and down from the elbow to the wrist. This is key in healing my body, she tells me. She also advises me to move my hands each morning and massage them a bit. I am not to take a bath or get my hands wet for the rest of the day after the sobada. Hmm…

During my treatment, Margarita tells the stories of other people she has healed, always with sobada, and also with herbs, teas, and poultices. I learn that wrapping a swollen ankle in newspaper will reduce the swelling. She shares several recipes for healing potions and teas. She is obviously very well versed in folk medicine. She finishes rather abruptly, and tells me to get dressed. I’m covered with oil. I don’t want to put my blouse back on. But what choice do I have? Hopefully hot water will remove the oil from it later, and I’ll definitely bring a towel to my second session!

Margarita wants to finish my treatment with a communal prayer to the Virgin. But Silvia says we don’t have time. She has to take our compadre, her husband, to the dentist. It’s her day of helping others get healthy. I thank her, her Mom, and Margarita, and arrange to get my second sobada. Silvia asks how much we owe, and I pay Margarita 100 pesos.

I found a video on YouTube about a Mexican sobador:

Here’s another one, in English, of a sobador in Perú:

Folk Medicine and Sobadas
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), traditional or folk medicine is defined as “the sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness.” To me, it is a worldwide treasure, and I am confident that folk medicine contains much wisdom and many answers to issues facing our world today.

As an interculturalist, I know that Native American healing traditions date back at least 12,000 and perhaps as many as 40,000 years ago, and that healing energy is believed to come from a spiritual source. Most practitioners are identified as children and considered natural healers, though many are also actively trained or educated by an elder.

Greg and I enjoyed three days with a traditional curandero or healer/holy man in the Peruvian Amazon on our honeymoon. Similar to many of you, no doubt, I love temazcales, or Mexican sweat lodges. I’ve used ayurvedic medicine, received Thai watpo, and I’m curious about Australian Aboriginal ngangkari massage. Just this week a girlfriend of mine who teaches at Columbia University joked with me that we owe it to the world to conduct an international experiential study of healing waters and massage treatments. So, I most definitely was observant as Margarita worked on me.

I came home happy last night. Pain-free. I’ve awoken this morning two hours before my alarm is set to ring. Pain-free. My range of motion isn’t great, but it’s a bit improved. Most importantly? It’s pain-free. Oh, I mentioned that. 😉 I pray it lasts! I have a chiropractic appointment this morning. And, before I go to the ballet tonight, I have my second sobada scheduled. I have a month of work travel coming up, and I need to be able to do it. Last summer, three months of work travel are what caused this nonsense in the first place.

Wish me luck! I do pray that Margarita’s sacred healing hands will work their miracles with my injury and restore my health!