The Trees and Herbs of El Pilar

Copal Incense

When I stay here in Pilar in ninety-three as watchman, I see a lot of different trees .... herb trees, medicine trees, water vines, a lot of copal.... And they [the Maya] use it as fire with the copal. They catch their fire with copal, with the chert, the flint stone, you see, they use the flint stone, with carbon. See they put the carbon in the jar, and when they drop copal inside, flint that and that, the light goes straight to that jar, and he start to smoke.

Cohune Palms and Allspice Trees in the Jungle

We have a lot of several trees of cohune ridge, [cohune palm stand or grove] that I show the tourists. They ask me what kind of tree is this? I tell them name of the tree, which is like gumbo limbo-chaka [tree used to soothe rashes], poison wood [tree with sap that produces rashes], and ahm, .... allspice tree, and like cohune palms. The Cohune, the Maya, they used the cohune nut for making fat. They hit it with their hatchet. they have their own special hatchet that they made, to bust these cohune. So they made their own oil out of that. Like the old days in Bullet Tree. Well, the oil, they boiled it, with water. And that oil come up and the water stay down. So, when you go in that jar, you’re going to find all the oil on top, and the water to the bottom.

The allspice, we take the allspice and make tea out of it. And that tea is good for medicine, for your body, for cold, to clean you. You can drink spice tea. Well you boil it, you boil the spice leaves. Boil five of the leaves, and then you make your tea. And then you can put a little, like I told the tourists, they can put a little canella [Sp. cinnamon] inside, or something to build up the water, and they have a blended tea.

Medicine from the Bush

I’m not going to tell you a bad medicine to drink, and I know when it’s a medicine that is going to harm your insides. I will tell you a medicine that is good for you, like I told many of the tourists, that come up. But some day, when you return, and work with me, and you can say, "But Teo, remember you told me this..?" I will not neglect that word, because I told you it. "These things are things that Teo told me."

Teo told me, this bush is for insect bits, this is for snake bites, this bush is a bush poison to your skin,. This bush is something that can heal that poison, that’s on my skin. But Teo already showed me all these things, and I already take it in notes, that so what-so-ever time I take out my guide I can tell him something. If you come with Teo, and Teo take you one-by-one and reveals all to you. If it’s ten of you, ten days, each day I take out one. I take out one, and each one of you have your pocket book, and each thing you have it written , like you with me while we working.

These things are when a person has cold inside in their system; this ... jackass bitters which is this here, over here. This is jackass bitters over here, you boil this leaf and you drink that leaf for cold. That’s why some of the people .... the people when they go to the doctor and say, " Doctor, I can’t have a baby, or I can’t have this, I FEEL sick," The doctor check them and say, " Oh you drink a lot of ice, you full of a lot of cold you can’t multiply. You have to go and take a clean check, and take out all of that cold. Then, so you maybe have a choice to have a kid. But so long as you have that cold on you not going to have no kid. You are going to say [soft voice]" I wonder what happen," but it’s your own system is dark up with cold. And as long your system is locked up with cold, you can’t get contact..... just like a live wire, a wire that you don’t scrape. You know, sometimes, you don’t scrape a wire to make it get contact, well it’s just like that, like the human inside, understand?

And other plants you have, you have between, you have, aahm .... balsam to drink. Those call them, aahm, talawala [Bear Paw Fern]. That’s what Abel took which is for pressure, when you have high blood pressure. That you can drink. You scrape off all that red it has, and you soak that in cold water. You clean it, and you soak it in a jar. Then you drink that; they call it the talawala. That’s the name, talawala. That water you drink like your tea. You have many things here, many different medicine herbs, here at Pilar.

You know about the chicoloro which is a herb [to stop bleeding]. The tourists they ask me about gingweyo [medicinal root]. Such as many herbs that they .... the Maya,... and people used it. They used the breadnut. I told them of the breadnut [Ramon Nut]. The Maya used the breadnut for food. They, parched the seed, and they ground it on the metate [grinding stone], on the rock. They ground it, and they boiled it, and they cooked it for their porridge.

Forest Weather Signals

And knows the dry season. And the cricket, those cricket they give sign, when it’s time of weather. Depend on the time, make you say, it’s a short time we hear them only in the year. From the first of April, they start to make their noise. They have almost one month and a half making noise. All depending on the temperature and the climate they get. If they get a weather climate, a cool climate, they can’t make noise. They make noise whatever time they get sun. Whatever time the sun comes out, they feel happy. They want we call dry- weather cricket - cicada. Those are the, .... what you call chicerine. So we call it dry- weather- cricket in Creole, as you say that’s Creole.

And the dryer, whenever we get a little squall of weather, is only on the time when the moon is full. When the moon is young, we get a little rain, for as you say, whenever the moon is eight days young, we get a little squall of rain. Whenever the moon getting a shifting to three- quarter, we get a next little squall. Whenever time it goes, eight days after .... after fueling, we get the next one. Almost get three squall of rain in the time when the moon is young, to when it gets full. It’s the same moon that brings that rain. It’s for the earth, as you say, for the hog plums for the fruits, to get water. So we get the type of rain, with the hog plum and the mango, because they are the times in April, May, June when we no get the rain.