My Encounter with an Incan Witch

moms.jpgIt was Halloween 1976 and the movie showing in town that week was "Carrie." Back then it didn't really matter what was playing because my Mother and her best friend, Mrs. Mary Lynde had made a pact, which is still standing to this day and I think it went like this, "We will go out every Saturday night with our husbands, first meeting at one of our houses to have two Jack Daniels and diet Sprite and then to a restaurant without any of our children." It's only been in the past few years that I have been invited out with them on an occasional Saturday night. 

Mother and Mrs. Mary Lynde had seven children between the two of them when they were in their 20's, which I can't imagine. Many people thought we were all one family or at least cousins because we were always together.  I can only imagine how much they must have looked forward to Saturday nights. 

When Lawrence Welk started blowing those bubbles, I knew it was the wicked hour my Mother would emerge from her bathroom with perfectly coiffed hair and baby blue eye shadow wearing a matching outfit and purse that I suspected came straight from the Sears catalog (I was so jealous).

car.jpg The smell of Estee Lauder's Youth Dew filled the house and when I heard her high heels clicking on the kitchen floor, I knew it was time to proceed to the garage where my Dad was cranking up Mother's Lincoln Mark V. My brothers' and I would fight over the back windshield, our preferred seat. We liked this car because two of us could fit back there while the other brother had the floor board to himself. Remember it was 1976.

Our parents' dropped us off every Saturday night at the Dairy Queen or Hardee's and all seven of us walked a few blocks to the movie theater. I was more interested in seeing my friends and eating the large box of Junior Mints than any movie. But it was Halloween week and there was buzz that this was a real scary movie that none of us should be seeing. There was nothing that could have prepared me for "Carrie" and I was one of the older children in the group, I might add. 

carrieposter.jpgA movie about a possessed high school girl with super-natural powers, who is tortured by all her classmates, and has a sadistic, fanatically religious mother is not the best thing for a 12-year-old girl to see. After that movie, I lost all interest in Halloween, not to mention going to proms. The thought of someone with blood on their face, ringing my doorbell wanting some candy is enough reason why I still turn off all my lights on Halloween and ignore them.

How do I know if they are real or not? I am still, to this day, convinced that Sissy Spacek is "Carrie" and I hope and pray she never shows up on one of my flights. Even those witches who position themselves in the grocery store candy aisle, giving out samples? I turn around and walk the other way because there is something wrong with a woman wanting to look that horrible.

I was completely caught off guard this past weekend when I was in Lima, Peru at the enormous popularity of Halloween. Who knew a third world country, positioned just below the equator, would embrace this holiday. We had gotten in late on Friday night and I got up early the next morning. Before meeting my travel mates for breakfast, I checked out the grocery store across the street, which is their version of Whole Foods. I spotted a Witch in the candy aisle, giving out samples and I walked the other way. As a matter of fact, there were Witches all over that store giving out free samples of nothing I could have wanted enough to take from them. During breakfast I was telling my travel mates about all the Witches and decorations in the grocery store and one of them questioned if I wasn't confusing the local Incan woman with Witches. 

perumarket1.jpgAfter breakfast we all walked down to the Inca Market, which is an endless menagerie of booths selling anything and everything you can imagine from animal horns, to Alpaca shawls, silver jewelry, bags and things I can't identify. It's crowded, the aisles narrow and there is a lot of hassling by the Incan women to get you into their booth. I turned a sharp corner and came face to face with a real "Incan" witch. The long pointed black hat gave it away. This old, extremely 'leathery' faced woman with a big nose and a strange, long decorative dress would have blended in with the other characters at the market if it weren't for the witch hat.  

incanstick.jpgThere was no turning around and walking away at this point. We were face to face, eye to eye and she picked up a stick and waved it in my face and said  "Once and for all, rid yourself of all evil spirits, right now right here."  I had no choice, I reached for my money and said "How much?" After a little negotiating, I gave her $25 Soles, which is about $8. I am now the proud owner of an 'Ancient Incan Evil Spirit Stick' that is guaranteed to ward off all evil spirits. 

I haven't brought it in the house yet, it's still in the car. I thought I would let it get acclimated to a new country, a new environment or maybe that's just an excuse from an adult who is scared of taking candy from a lady in costume at a grocery store. I bought some Halloween candy and I think I will even turn on my lights this year but beware that my "Ancient Incan Evil Spirit Stick" will be prominently displayed by the front door, doing it's job.


Laura grew up in a small southern town in Georgia on a cotton and pecan farm where life centered around family, friends and good food. She has lived in Atlanta for 20 years and has been a Flight Attendant for a major airline for 18 years, traveling the world in search for the next best meal.