The man led me into his house before I gave him much of an explanation for why I was there.
He walked me over to his kitchen table and sat down comfortably, strapped on his portable oxygen and asked what I wanted to know.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
He answered, “Juan Ricardo Sioux Kessler Muños De la Rosa Campos Chavez”.
Feel free to insert hyphens wherever you deem necessary.
Around his neighborhood in San Elizario, he is more commonly known as Don Juan. He is a curandero, or witch doctor.
He was born in San Elizario, the small town on the outskirts of El Paso, and has lived there his whole life, practicing his brand of folk-medicine since the age of nine. The sun rises facing his front porch and sets across his back yard. The edge of his land is marked by the U.S.-Mexico fence.
“It makes a nice sound when the wind is blowing. . . It makes a nice song,” Don Juan said.
Border Patrol agents drive up and down the levees of the river a few meters away from his cows and horses.
Don Juan’s first act of curanderismo and awakening of his power happened when his sister suddenly and inexplicably went blind. She wailed and moaned but none believed her. Don Juan (or little 9-year-old Juanito, at that point) grabbed his sister by the hair and bumped her head repeatedly against the floor. She began to gag. Juanito reached into her mouth and pulled out a wad of hair the size of a fist from his sister’s throat. Her sight returned to her. Those who witnessed the event were awed.
Don Juan explains that his sister had been hexed with a poisoned piece of gum she had eaten earlier; the act of a vengeful in-law.
Since then, he continued practicing his works. He had no formal lessons or master (sensei?) of curanderismo. He professes his wisdom to come directly from up above.
“I talk to the Creator,” Don Juan says about his ability. “They put it in my head and i just play it like I’m a guacamaya. . . a parrot. I repeat what they tell me, the spirits and the elders. My forefathers.”
He is quick to point out that his ability is present only at the whim of God.
“I cannot do anything if I do not have God on my side,” Don Juan said.
Although people from time to time come to Don Juan with supernatural ailments, the greater portion of his work deals with health problems. He heals everything from simple colds to stomach problems to dislocated joints to cancer. He’s cured it all.
At all times during his curing sessions, Don Juan prays to God. He lays down the patient and holds his hands over them, speaking to God and asking for his guidance. He calls the Our Father prayer the most perfect prayer.
Don Juan prescribes herbal teas to his patients with instructions on how to take them.
“If I make a contract with you, you ask me for help , I will do as long as it is is God’s best interest and for you to get well, so you can go forward. Get along and pay your bills. Take care of your family. I will help you,” Don Juan said.
Because plenty of people have asked to meet with Don Juan I’d like to provide an address:
13090 Petunia Drive, San Elizario, Texas, United States.
Pop that into Google maps and it’ll take you right to the spot (you might have to turn the camera around a bit).
You’ll recognize his house at once, as it is the last house at the end of the road right smack at the border of Mexico and U.S.A.
Outside his house is a large teepee, a statue of a buffalo, a POW/MIA flag, and a collection of old cars.
You seriously can’t miss it if you’re in the area.
If I can find a phone number later, I’ll get that to you,
but for now (as I am living in a different continent now) this is the best I can do.
I really hope this helps in some way.
I’d really like to apologize for not getting this information to you sooner.