Early one morning I got a call from a family member in Ireland. ‘Don’t accept any packages from strangers!’ Alarm bells had been set off by the antics of two teenage girls (one Irish, one Scottish) who’d been arrested the day before in Lima airport whilst in possession of a hefty amount of cocaine. ‘Surely, I have more credibility than this’, I thought to myself.
Later, a text from another family member, ‘mind you don’t take any packages off strangers!’ It was big news back home so I thought it would be interesting to see what kind of news it made, if any, in my Peruvian town of Ollantaytambo.
I went first of all to The Coffee Tree, Alex usually had a daily paper, maybe it had some mention of these girls. He turned every page, nada, nothing.
I went on down to Hoovert’s mini-market, he had a TV. Explaining in Spanish that an Irish chica and her friend were going prison for smuggling drugs got my friend really intrigued. ‘Are they your relations?’ he asked me. ‘No,’ I replied. With that he took to roaring laughing nearly falling off his stool. I saw the funny side. Ireland is so small compared to a country the size of Peru, any incident involving one of own citizens and we behave like it happened to our neighbour down the road.
The real news in Peru that day was that two major terrorist leaders had been shot by the Peruvian army and many of my Peruvian pals were extremely happy about this. I reassured my family there would be no unusual packages in my possession as I had the best of company here in Peru and a fair amount of sense to start with.
A day or so later, I was on my way to the market. A pair of shoes needed mending. Crossing the Plaza De Armas I was drawn to a display stand which had a chart closely resembling the mappings of reflexology. I went to take a closer look. A woman approached me. I relayed my story in Spanish language about my training and interest in reflexology, a holistic therapy.
The woman introduced herself and her colleagues and we exchanged notes regarding their therapy. They had a device. It resembled the game with the wire and hook where there is an electric signal that ignites when the metal parts touch each other.
I was asked to give my hand and a wand instrument was waved along the edge of my palm, the area which I know to reflect the spinal reflexes. At a particular point, I felt the light zapping of electricity. This was the diagnostic element of their therapy called Prosana which is of Korean origin.
Another part of their therapy involved use of a bell. They asked my permission to perform the healing ritual. I agreed. Just then, two of my pals, Henry and Felipe happened to be passing and stopped to investigate the goings on. I could see them chuckling to themselves as one of the men clanged the bell around me and above me.
Then he brought me into the shelter itself. Here he produced a substantial red package (A4 size) with lots of Spanish writing on the outside. I couldn’t be sure what he was telling me to do with it but afterwards having read the details, it appeared to be a tea of many herbal ingredients to be used for the purpose of detoxification. My friends were teasing me about it.
My Prosana friends remembered I had told them about the pair of shoes that needed mending in the market and they insisted on accompanying me so as to ensure I got a good price.
I arrived back in my lodgings with the package under my arm and began to scrutinize the ingredients which were too numerous and incomprehensible to me. ‘I wouldn’t touch that stuff,’ Henry offered. His wife was also shaking her head and sniggering. ‘Give it to Alex,’ they said, laughing at the idea of it.
I wrote home that night. ‘I have the package. I think there’s cocaine in it!’ I certainly didn’t bring it to the airport. I gave it to Alex as my parting gift.
This Blog post has been long listed in the V by Very Ireland Blog Awards 2017.
© Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing (Blog)