In Texas City sits a pinata store called MK'S Pinata.
Here you can buy pinatas, party supplies and even rent chairs.
Just beyond the front door to the left, you’ll notice a plethora of colorful plastic bottles in a section labeled Aguas Espirituales (“spirit water”).
For a few dollars per bottle, you can get a dose of spiritual power to help you cope with life’s difficulties.
For those with business problems, there’s
Exito En Los Negocios
(“Success in Business”).
Have romance issues?
Try Haz Que Te Ama (“Make Her Love You”).
Are you being sued?
How about Caso De Corte (“Court Case”).
This is the realm of botanica, an urban retail store specializing in folk medicines, religious candles and incense.
Botanicas are sprinkled throughout cities like Houston, New York, Miami, and wherever there are large Hispanic populations.
The Spanish term botanica translates to “plant store.”
Botanicas offer medicinal herbs and alternative medical treatments and cater to those living beneath the poverty line and without access to standard medical care.
Customers can find “cures” for arthritis, hair loss, diabetes, and menstrual pain.
The roots of the botanica stretch back to Africa and the slave trade.
When slaves were captured and taken to Cuba, many adopted Santeria, a folk religion synthesizing elements of Catholicism, voodoo, and spirit communication.
As Santeria spread through Central America to the new world, botanicas arose as gathering places to practice religion and teach herbal remedies.
The practice of folk healing was called Curanderismo and the person who passed on this knowledge was called a Curandero.
Botanicas offer spiritual cures for supernatural maladies.
They carry products used in Roman Catholic religious practices like rosary beads, holy water, and images of saints.
Many botanicas have a shrine dedicated to the popular saint La Santa Muerte (“Holy Death”).
Customers make offerings of food and money to the saint in exchange for good fortune and spiritual protection.
As you drive through the Houston area, botanicas are found in strange places.
They’re wedged behind car repair shops, next to tequila bars, or in the front room of residential apartments.
Stop by and check MK'S PINATA out and see if they can help you...
By Jimmy Graves