Part II of The Taco Bell Treasure Map
When Juanita died it rained for seven days and that was the first time the people of the village spoke of the “Old Time Religion.” Up until then they simply claimed that they believe in Jesus Christo who lived in my supposed home pueblo of Rio Colorado just North of Mexico City. OK!
Erasto was the first to inform me that there were things that went on around there at night that I didn’t know about, but the more I pressed him for information the more evasive he became. Enter Genaro and the Old Turtle. Genaro was the Grandfather of Erasto’s new wife and along with the Old Turtle, they were the cohorts of Juanita’s deceased husband, who turned out to be a very well respected healer. They were the first ones to bring me the Little Ones, a rare and elusive sacred mushroom that only grew above Rancho Catalunia in the mountains.
According to Erasto, the Old Turtle had instructed us to return the mask to the Cave and use it in a mushroom ceremony in which I would ask the Fire God permission to take his treasure. Erasto felt that the Old God might agree since the people were very poor and now had a trusted friend that could get them money in return for what the God no longer needed. . Although his logic bordered on the absurd, without hesitation and complete lack of understanding of what I was getting myself into, I agreed.
The next day, Erasto drank auguardiente while I fasted and ate nothing. After dark, and under the cover of night, Erasto and I took the long hike up the mountain to the cave. He guarded the entrance while I crawled back inside. Now, we were taking spooky to a whole different level and I cannot deny that I was scared, but not being a superstitious person, I still wasn’t sure of what.
As instructed by the Old Turtle, I inserted one small mushroom inside the hollowed out back of the mask and placed it on the Old God’s altar with a bees wax candle. Like I said, everything changed after Juanita began to howl through the night.
I was instructed to eat the twenty-four Little Ones in pairs so their journey to the land of the Dead would not be lonely. Their taste was extremely acrid and earthy but nowhere near as bad as peyote and I was glad about that. By the time I finished I was tired and as instructed, I blew out the candle and went to rest.
But my rest was soon replaced by the Little Ones bubbling in both my stomach and mind with a peculiar sound of an underwater percolating marimba. When I relit the candle I was taken back by the apparent ventriloquist type voice emanating from the mask:
“I am the Old God, Grandfather Fire,” the mask stated. “ I am the giver of warmth on a cold night and the one who cooks your food. Only through me may you address the other gods.”Even in my altered state I couldn’t believe that this audio hallucination was real. How could it be? Neither artifacts, or mushrooms can talk, but over time, I learned that both of these great truths were false, for it was through Grandfather Fire that I came to know the other gods.
Over the next three years I continued to visit the cave and speak with Grandfather fire. I learned about the gods directly from him with no interference from Genaro, Erasto or the Old Turtle. They used to joke with me, “Why would you go to the hired help when you can speak directly to the boss?”