Contrary to the German couple’s wishes, our tour today ends with the cactus church in a local town whose name I forget, our extensions to the Mapuche village and mini farm, name also forgotten, cancelled in favor for an extended stay in this town’s center square, which seems to please most of our tour group because they all emerge with a helado in hand, lip-smacking satisfaction.
I prefer to claim ignorance, even though in the recesses of my mind, I know we were promised more, for our guide Pablo is actually a pretty spiffy dude with great guiding skills, and dear tour mates, I beg you leave your bad juju at the door and not spoil the rest of our fun with your pissiness.
Don’t be the rain cloud, freund.
Plus, this tator tot town has a church made of cactus wood, its planks of holey bamboo-esque cellulose circling the stairwell and lining the roof, similar to San Pedro’s under-construction church. Pretty cool, this cactus wood, its living cousin dotting the front of this stone-faced house of god, the only building materials available here being sand, mud, hay, and, duh, cactus because there are no trees here.
Amazing, the ingenuity, and I think I see San Pedro’s namesake cactus front-and-center, yet another surprise, because gossip goes that drug-seeking Western tourists decimate the native species in search of a rendez-vous with the sacred plant teacher and healer, price of entry a star-slice sliver of succulent.
Huachama is in high demand, literally, and it seems the little plant is left to living in shadowy secrecy lest it be stolen and cut up for a midnight chemistry session of boiled reduction. The Shamanic journey, it seems, suffers from profanity, its sacred roots barely gripping in wind-swept soil as grubby hands hope to drain it of its worth without comprehending the gift of sight.