Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Let the Indio Amazonico Solve Your Troubles!

Drop a coin in my stomach. 

Bogotá is full of seers, healers and charmers. They hand their cards out on downtown streetcorners, promise miraculous cures and lottery wins on morning radio and sell nostrums to keep that true love on a short leash.

'He who gives seven times receives 70 times.' 
But none other might offer so many services, or employ so many religious figures, as the Indio Amazonico, whose store you'll find along Caracas Ave. in Teusaquillo. Just look for the obese golden Buddha statue in the doorway.

Three figures from a popular Venezuelan religion with
roots in Cuban and African traditions. Maria Leonza
is on the right. 
Besides the Buddha, you'll find Christ, tarot cards, holy oils and popular religious figures from Venezuela, amongst lots of other stuff. Corny and tacky don't really come close to describing el Indio Amazono, particularly touches like the Buddha, who's got a slot in his stomach to recieve believers' coins, or the bleeding plaster Jesus in his glass booth, littered with believers' bills.

Related Blogpost: Of Superstition and Precipitation.
'Thanks to the Indio for getting me out of jail. I was innocent.'
But if the Indio may seem deserving of a spot in a circus sideshow, but he also seems to serve a purpose. How else could he have endured for decades? The sidewalk in front of his 'temple' is decorated with believers' messages thanking the Indio for curing diseases, saving businesses and marriages, even for recovering a lost child. Could these all be fakes? They have the smack of authenticity to me. And if even a fraction of them are true, the Indio belongs on the fast track to sainthood. 

Making a purchase. 
Faith has evidently done well for the Indio, who comes from the Putumayo and is now in his 80s and practicing in New York, where he's found either more believers or bigger wallets, or both. Normally, one of his students, a profesora, fills in for the Indio in Bogotá. A consultation with her costs 30,000 pesos. But a session with the Indio himself, during one of his three or four yearly visits, costs ten times that amount.

In an interview in the 1980s published in a New York newspaper and posted on the temple's wall, the Indio said that client's most common problems are sexual impotence in men and weight problems in women.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Supplying all sorts of happiness. 

'I'm doing well in love now, Thanks to the Amazonian Indian.'

Dropping a coin in the Buddha. 

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