lunes, 1 de julio de 2013

Tales of toloache and mexican magic

"So" I asked "You guys really don't have any herb or magical spell that is used to make someone fall in love with you?"

My Dutch colleague stared skeptically back, as if I was out of my mind and asking silly questions. I couldn't understand why my question seemed odd and insisted.
"Seriously, I'm not making this up. It's common knowledge in Mexico, folklore or an old wives' tale if you will, that to make someone fall in love with you, you slip toloache in their food and it's done, they fall head over heels for you."

No, unheard of. But Google, Google would surely have the answer so I typed something like "magic to fall in love Netherlands" in my search bar. All I got back from Google were a bunch of articles and a few ads for amphetamines and ecstasy, what Google seems to interpret as the Dutch recipe to make people magically fall in love with each other.

Magic and superstitions are part of every day life in Mexico. In fact, much to my surprise I discovered last week that magic is such an everyday topic that toloache is sold at the Saturday market, right between a fruit stand and a candy stand. I approached the stall and scrolled through the merchandise: magic herbs, talismans and even holy water in an aerosol can, for your urgent blessing needs. I asked the vendor about toloache. Just like unicorns and other mythical creatures, toloache was this thing I had heard stories about but I had never actually seen in real life. The stuff of legends, right there, hanging innocently between bananas and Barbie dresses. Out of some sort of Robert Ripley-ian passion for oddities, I bought a small envelope of toloache for 20 mexican pesos and asked how it was supposed to be used. The vendor explained that I should use a small amount of the powder, just the tip of a small spoon, and put it in the food of whoever I wished to make fall in love. Not more, because it could be harmful, not less because it wouldn't work. And while mixing the toloache with the food, I should say a spell to make the magic work.

Toloache, according to Wikipedia, comes from a plant called Datura inoxia which is occasionally grown for ornamental purposes as it gives beautiful white flowers that smell pleasantly at night. Datura, however, also produces highy toxic alkaloids which happen to have the property of inducing delirium, a state in which one is unable to differentiate fantasy from reality. Upon ingestion of toloache, increased heart rate and increased body temperature are accompanied by an assortment of neurological symptoms such as amnesia, pain relief, bizarre behaviour and hallucinations, which I'm not really sure if you can argue are similar to falling in love or not. Either way, both acute and chronic use of toloache may harm and kill the brain neurons (neurotoxicity), cause intoxication and even lead to death. While you could think that wanting to love and be loved by someone is an understandable human need, poisoning the person that you want to fall in love with you is in general a dick move.

My sole intention being to have the toloache as an oddity for display, I was quite happy with my purchase. I thanked the vendor and put the envelope in my purse.
But she then added "That's only if you want to make someone fall in love. If you really want to make someone fall crazy in love because you want to get married, then before adding it to the food, you first have to mix the toloache with your menstrual blood. Works like a charm."