El Tecolote

Wirikuta is a sacred site to the Huichol, located in central Mexico. All around the place peyote lophora williamsi grows. The peyote is  a cactus with psychoactive alkaloids which is used in Huichol rituals.  At the same time the zone is not only visited by the Huichol but also by tourist who are in the search of spiritual experiences through peyote use.

There are some small human settlements in the zone, however the extreme weather, lack of water and unproductive soil have condemned them to become ghost towns. This is the case of “El Tecolote,” a small ranch with two dozen inhabitants where the youngsters leave to never come back and tourists, mainly young ones, visit to consume peyote. This growing spiritual tourism endangers the ecological equilibrium by the high depredation of peyote and also affects the lives of the locals.

Don Luis Bustos has always lived in El Tecolote. He used to be a farmer but his life changed when he started helping tourists who visited the desert. People began to travel to the ranch not only to consume peyote but also to talk to Don Luis, who became a superstar known under the name of “El Jefe del Desierto” (The desert’s Chief) . Don Luis started wearing military outfits and quit his activities as farmer. His abuse of peyote and alcohol, offered to him as a gift by the visitors, created problems between him and his neighbors. Don Luis lives in the constant dilemma of being praised as a shaman by the outsiders and at the same time rejected as his family and neighbors.

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