Botanica: A Field Trip

botanica santeria2

Remember going on field trips when you were a kid? It was a chance to get out the classroom, and it would an adventure. Not always a good one, but a diversion from the routine of school.

Last week I found a Botanica just a few miles away, bit it was like entering another universe.

This was a real, authentic Botanica, not the one in Hollywood that sells candles to hispters. It was dark and dusty, crammed wall-to-wall with weird packets of herbs, oils, religious statues, Santeria supplies, trays of amulets and charms and some shit you didn’t even want to know what it was.

There was a girl behind the counter in full cola uniform and manner. She might have been Filipino, and she didn’t speak much Spanish. She had died blonde hair with long black roots, heavy winged eyeliner, and a tattoo in gang writing down in her cleavage,

Her name was Jenny, and she watched me ogle the stuff behind the counter. I told her I was looking for something to cure a friend’s illness, instead of admitting to being a nosy Jew on a cultural field trip.

She asked me if I believed in “that stuff” and I said “nah,” immediately outing myself by mistake.

We talked for a bit and she told me she had a month old baby. It turned out that her husband was in jail, BUT IT WASN’T HIS FAULT.

Of course it wasn’t his fault! I watch Lock-Up, I’m not an idiot!

She told me his story and I narrowed my eyes like Nancy Grace and asked: “Who threw the first punch?”

It was the Other Guy, not her husband! But somehow the other guy’s wife, a crazy bitch, told the cops that bla bla bla bla.

Poor Jenny! Only twenty-two.  She was watching the counter for her husband’s mother, who owns the shop and gives readings and ‘cleansings’ in a back room.

Jenny revealed that her baby was asleep in the back of the shop. She insisted on showing me the baby girl, who has some stupid name like Kaylee or something.

I cooed at the baby appreciatively. A fat little girl appeared and spoke to Jenny. She seemed to know her way around the store and might have been the innocent husband’s little sister.

The little girl fingered the tiny evil-eye bracelets and Hamsa charms in front of me. I told her that I love Hamsa’s, which actually isn’t true,  but I wanted to engage her in conversation.

“Good for you,” she answered coolly.

What a fat little bitch, I thought to myself.

I am thinking of going back to get the owner to give me a spiritual cleansing in the back room. I am completely serious.

Plus I want to hear more about Jenny and her predicament.


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9 Responses to Botanica: A Field Trip

  1. Suspended says:

    No exchange
    No refunds

    …and in two languages. I’m impressed. That’s some serious customer service right there. I’m wondering if the boyfriend is in jail for punching a customer who tried to return a faulty Buddha.

    Intrigued by the plate to the left of the black arm, is that a pair of breasts with big, green nipples?

    I love shops that are full of shit. Did they have a bust of Tupac with cannabis leaves around his head like a halo and wearing a necklace with a gun? I love that bust! It has serious moobs too. They’re super rare and fetch a fortune on Ebay. Just giving you a heads up…you could make yourself a few dollars 😉

    Go back and get the rest of the story! Maybe take the fat kid a bag of M&M’s.

  2. Muscato says:

    The right writer could get a lifetime’s work out of that store. Perhaps that’s you…

  3. suzanne myers says:

    This cracked me up. I loved your “Lock Up” comment:) It reminded me of an awesome Patton Oswalt bit that makes me double over every time:

    I must visit that store one day. I love their website and have thought of ordering their “Jinx Removing” soap. Love that you can “Shop by Desire,” ha ha.

  4. Sister Wolf says:

    Suspended – This picture is not from my botanica, I didn’t have the nerve to ask if I could take photos. The one pictured is more touristy. When I say weird shit, I mean weird shit! I noticed a dried up chicken foot in a box full of strange items…no Tupac though. I’ll get that kid M&Ms, ‘sharing size.’

    Muscato – YES! I could have gone on for twenty pages on this one experience. I was pretty stoned though, I’ll admit. Should I go in the back room???

  5. Suspended says:

    Ha ha, yes, “sharing” size.

    Oh no, now I’m desperate to see a pic of the real shop. You MUST go back and befriend them. Then take a few selfies with the cast 😉

  6. Suspended says:

    Shit, I just looked at the website and love it. I wanted some “Court Case Cologne”, not that I have any legal matters pending, it just sounds so good (though it obviously didn’t work for Jenny’s boyfriend.)

  7. Sister Wolf says:

    suzanne meyers – I forgot how great Patton Oswalt is!

  8. Kellie says:

    You have to get in the back room-even if it is just to file a report with all of us!! I feel like there are hidden treasures, and lord only knows what else!!
    I love a weird, fascinating shop full of characters. So much more fun than any chain store could ever be!

  9. mmmkay says:

    I love you and your writing. So happy I found you again after many years away.

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