Saturday, September 16, 2017

Voodoo Sudafed

Here's another quick post in my attempt to at least begin to think about potentially getting started on the process of getting caught up on my blogging. As you know, the original point of this blog was to chronicle my travel stories for friends and family.  Over the last decade it's taken on different forms, and in many ways now it's mainly a clumsy rumination on literature and music.  After I finish with Proust (I'm guessing in another hundred posts or so), and before I embark on another "My Year With . . ." project, I definitely need to devote a hell of a lot of time to getting caught up on travel stories.

Here's a picture I snapped of my esteemed friend Steve from the old spice market in Stone Town on Unguja in Zanzibar.  We were walking through the market one day when one of the merchants started hurrying toward us calling "Mr. Steve, Mr. Steve."  Apparently the day before Wehmeyer (one of the reasons why we travel well together is we're both perfectly happy to be off doing our own things; he was exploring the spice market and I was off visiting mosques or something) had been inquiring with the same merchant about a plant that we had seen used in a spirit possession ceremony and the guy identified it but said that he didn't have any in the stall at that moment, but that he would definitely bring some from home the next day.  And, true to his word, he did.  In Steve's own words, copied off an email exchange: "That's kivumbasi, the sacred herb that a mganga uses to help entice the majini or mashetani (spirits) and thus facilitate trance possession . . . It also clears congestion.  Kind of voodoo-sudafed."  I cannot legally comment on whether or not that plant passed through customs and whether or not it is growing somewhere in Vermont.  It's difficult to express how friendly and welcoming Zanzibaris are.

And to think, I had to browbeat this guy into getting him to come to Zanzibar in the first place.

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