I admit. I am superstitious. I try to avoid the number 13 because I honestly believe it is unlucky, and especially because my lucky number is just one more, 14. If no one tells me “salud or bless you” after I sneeze I tell myself just to be sure my soul wont escape forever. And I hate walking under ladders and scaffolding (which is not just superstition but common sense if you ask me). I always wish on eyelashes that happen to fall out – hoping a fairy will find it and grant my wish. And I have a little golden elephant that travels with me in my suitcase or in my car for good luck (which, to this day, has been very successful in bringing me luck).


I know, you might think that an educated, worldly person like myself would not believe in such “silly nonsense.” But I do. And I am not too ashamed to admit it. You see, these beliefs have been around for thousands of years, and it is yet another device we use to navigate through this world full of dangers and obstacles ready to stop us dead in our tracks. Some say even organized religions (of any denomination) exist to give people something to believe in, a faith in something bigger and more powerful than ourselves, an understanding of an order in the Universe, so as to reassure us that the universe does not just exist on random events. And of course religion also provides the ultimate tranquility for the ultimate question — a sure course of events that will happen after death.

Perhaps this is another reason I love traditional “latino” culture (which I say loosely), where it is not at all unusual to be superstitious. It is not at all questioned that one might go out of their way to avoid a potentially dangerous situation – that may or may not involve ghosts. I remember the first time I really got to know a girl from nothern Mexico in my high school in Portland, Oregon, and she told me with as much certainty as I might explain that 2+2=4 that there are evil ghost spirits in the desert in Northern Mexico and that one had to be careful with their pets and selves lest one of these spirits attack them. And in Bolivia, my host mother would burn a little incensed fire and bring it around the house at the first of every month to clean bad energy and bless the house for the month. Perhaps these beliefs sound odd to an outsider, but just think of this … what harm does it do to burn a little incense, if just in case, an atom of positive energy is attracted to the smoke and brings a stroke of good luck to your home??