The rainy season hadn’t begun yet, but my husband insisted that the capulines were ready. He said he saw some sellers by the Bodega, their buckets brim full and was impatient for some of his own.
So on Sunday, we went in search of the elusive capulín, otherwise known as the bitter-berry or chokecherry or capolcuahuitl in Nahuatl. According to my little guidebook Antiguo Recetario Medicinal Azteca, the capulín is useful for the treatment of dysentery, spasms, nervousness and pain caused by abscesses and tumors with the application of a leaf poultice.
Excess should be avoided and care should be taken in the ingestion of the capulín leaf because it seems that wilted leaves become toxic due to the release of cyanide in the wilting process. Ingesting 10-20 lbs of foliage can be fatal. The tablespoon every 2 hours of tea made from 4 fresh leaves per liter for nervousness should be safe enough.
We had gone once before with my husband’s mother. The trip was longish, and our then 4-year-old son fell asleep, so I stayed in the car with him. Boy, was I glad that I did! Not 20 minutes after they left, there was such a hail storm that it dented the roof of the truck. Eventually, my husband and his mother, and the passel of local kids that had come along to show them the way, came back into sight, drenched to the skin. My mother-in-law had her bucket on her head and was hollering Bloody Murder. There were no capulines to enjoy on that trip.
This time, we drove Myrtle up past la basurera (dump) through La Barranca and Santa Gertrudis to Los Amoles, at the very peak of the mountain. We had to leave Myrtle behind when the trail got too rough and hoofed it the rest of the way. The path was well-traveled, no espinas (mesquite thorns) like there is in La Yacata, and as we were already so far up, it wasn’t as difficult an uphill trek as I thought it might be.
The earth in the area was a deep rust color, and the wildflowers were spectacular. My son, who has recently developed a keen interest in rocks, was in seventh heaven with all the new samples he slid into Dad’s backpack.
We encountered an older man on his horse coming down the mountain, and my husband stopped to chat. It turns out that he knew this man from when he was a boy in Cerano. They talked about trading donkeys and horses, although I don’t think anything will come of it. My husband is pretty pleased with Fiona, our current burra (donkey) and Beauty is due to foal any day now. As my son and I had a shady place to wait, we didn’t mind the rest period.
We did finally come across some capulín trees. However, most of the berries were still green. We managed to get a handful to enjoy, though. They taste like mini-cherries and were well worth the hike.
The way back was just as pleasant a hike as the way up. At the risk of repeating myself, how amazing it is to live where the earth’s abundance is so readily found.