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Malestares in Mexico

When traveling in Mexico there are a few “malestares” (malaise) that you should watch out for. You may or may not be familiar with them, but you’ll most likely hear of them after spending a significant amount of time here. In the next couple of segments we’ll take a closer a look at a few of these conditions.
“Susto” (fear) is a psychological or physical reaction to trauma. There are a number of stories about children who go missing, witness a traumatic event or experience other stressful situations and later show physical or psychological reactions that warrant the attention of a “curandero” (healer).

For example, my husband’s uncle, as the story goes, fell into the river when he was a little boy. That alone was a “susto.” But then, when he popped his little head up out of the water, he saw his father taking off his belt. What was really a meaningless gesture was taken for pending doom: yet another “susto.” He sprung out of the river and ran into the house to hide from the leather belt. He got down on his belly and slid under the bed only to find himself face-to-face with a chicken who was just as spooked as he was.

They say that the robust little guy turned into a skinny, pale boy. He started scraping the paint off the walls and eating it instead of real food. It wasn’t until they found a local “curandero” (healer) that he was able to leave his “susto” behind. Although, they say, he was never the same.