Andres and the Bruja
On Christmas Day Andres found a map in his Santa Claus sock;
the next morning he followed it up the mountain behind his house in the little Mexican pueblo of
Real de Catorce. There was a man walking up the mountain too.
"Hello little boy," the man said. "Where are you going?"
"I am traveling up to the old mines to look for something," Andres replied.
The man seemed very interested. "Oh, what are you looking for?"
Andres kept walking. "I can't tell you, its a secret."
"Well young boy, I am El Presidente of the village; I think I will come along."
The two kept walking higher up the mountain; when they reached a fork in the path Andres wasn't sure which way to go. The map had been slightly damaged with all his Christmas treats. A goat was standing there.
"Where are you going? Are you lost?" asked the goat .
"I am going up to the old mines but I'm not sure which way to go," said Andres.
"I am going also," said El Presidente. "Can you show us the quickest way?"
"Certainly," said the goat, "if you promise not to eat me."
The three continued up the mountain; when they got to the top Andres could see the town and his little house way below on one side and on the other side nothing but rocks and cactus. As they started down the other side they met a rattlesnake.
"Where are you going Senors?" asked the rattlesnake.
"I am helping these two find the cave in the old mine," said the goat. "The boy is on a secret mission to find something and won't tell us what it is!"
"That sounds interesting," said the rattlesnake. "Perhaps I can help him find it when we get to the cave? I'll come if you promise not to kill me."
Andres, El Presidente, the goat, and the rattlesnake hiked up the rocky mountain; all morning they trudged, stopping often to drink from their canteens.
"Here is the cave," said the goat. "Now I must go back."
"I will come with you little boy," said the rattlesnake. "You might need my help."
"Wait here," Andres told El Presidente, "and I will go in with my flashlight to see if I can find it."
"Find what?" asked El Presidente.
Andres looked at him suspiciously. "I can't tell you."
Andres went into the cave with his flashlight; the snake slithered before him. The cave had beautiful stalagmites dripping water. He came to a pool of water; the rattlesnake swam before him and he followed, swimming across the cool water. They hiked deeper and deeper into the cave. He heard some strange little sounds in the cave, like little animals scampering along. Finally he came to a door.
"Here, I must leave you now," said the rattlesnake. He slithered away.
Andres opened the door. On the walls he saw beautiful art, drawings from his ancestors. He saw a light in the distance and followed it. There was a woman sitting on a chair made of a red stone; a candle was burning beside her. She looked old and young at the same time and had long dark hair down to her knees; her eyes sparkled brightly.
"Hola Andres, you have found me," she said with a smile. "The map was good?"
Andres felt a little strange there. "Yes, I just needed a little help from a goat and a snake; also El Presidente of the pueblo is waiting out there for me."
This news upset her. "What?! That is not good! You must not let El Presidente see what you have or he will try to take it! Be very careful with him little Andres. I have something for you to take back to your village."
Andres was very curious then. "What is it?! This is exciting!"
The woman smiled, "Come here by me." He came closer to her and she put a little packet in his hand. She looked at him seriously. "Inside here are some pills; I want you to take them to the town water tank on the Lucero and put them in. DO NOT TELL EL PRESIDENTE WHAT YOU HAVE. I'm very serious about this, Andres, please be careful!"
"But what's in the packets?" Andres asked.
The woman solemnly gave a little speech. "It is something that I think will be good for your village. I have noticed that many in your pueblo are greedy and envious since Hollywood was here. This magic will help them to love themselves, then they will be nicer and more respectful of their neighbors. I hope this works little boy; you are the only hope! And wait, here is another map in case you need to find me again some day when I will have to leave this cave."
Andres took the package of magic pills, the map, and said goodbye to the woman. His flashlight batteries were getting low so he borrowed her candle; he hiked and swam back to the cave entrance. El Presidente was just finishing his cabrito dinner.
Greasy goat fat was dripping down his chin and he looked mean and ugly. "Well, what do you have there for me, little boy? Give it to me!"
"No, I can't!" said Andres. "The old woman said..."
"GIVE IT TO ME!!!" El Presidente bellowed. He grabbed Andres by the arm and tried to take the package from his pocket. Andres threw his flashlight and hit him in the eye. He groaned in pain. "Now you're really in trouble!"
"I will never give you these magic pills!" He shouted.
Andres ran down the mountain with El Presidente chasing after him! Just then he saw his good friend Balz flying by on his ultra-light plane.
"Balz! BALZ! Lend me your plane! Give me a ride! El Presidente is trying to steal these magic pills that will cure the town of greed and envy!"
Balz landed near him and spoke calmly like a big brother. " You don't know how to fly this yet. Hop on my back and I'll take you; where do you want to go?"
A smile came to Andres's face. "To the water tank up on the Lucero!"
Andres jumped on the back of Balz and off they flew to the pueblo. El Presidente screamed at them and waved an angry fist. The two flew to the water tank where Andres jumped onto land again. He unfolded the package the cave woman had given him; in it were three green pills that shone like jewels. He dropped them into the tank where they dissolved sparkling in the water.
Balz looked at him."Now what?"
"Now we shall see if the cave magic will WORK!" Andres replied.
Balz smiled. "Would you like a ride home?"
Andres was relaxed again after the excitement of the day. "Sure! But lets fly around some more first!" After flying some hours high above the mountains they glided across the pueblo to the little house by the Panteon. His parents weren't home so Andres made himself an avocado and tomato sandwich. Soon they arrived and were happy to see him!
"Where have you been?" said his father?
His mother looked concerned. "We were worried about you!"
Andres looked at them slyly. "I just took a little hike up the mountain."
This answer satisfied his mother. "Well we're glad you're back safely; here, have a glass of water. You must be thirsty." She poured them all some water.
There was a knock on the door; it was El Presidente! He was standing there naked!
"Look what your boy has DONE!" he screamed. "The old bruja in the cave gave him some pills that he put in the town water supply and now the whole town is NAKED! No one wants to wear clothes anymore! No one has shame! It is a SCANDAL! DON'T DRINK THAT WATER!"
Andres was shocked by the news. "The bruja gave me the pills to put in the water to cure the town of greed and envy!"
His father spoke calmly. "She must have given you the wrong ones."
His mother had an idea. "Should we try to find her to get the correct pills?"
"We tried," said El Presidente, "We went back up to the cave to find her but she was gone! We think she went down to the desert but we don't know where! The village will freeze! Its going to be cold tonight; we're 9000 feet up!"
"Tell them to stay warm under their covers in bed," Andres said. "I will go look for the bruja, but first I want to have a little look around town. Where is my camera, Ma?"
His mother frowned at him. "No way, Andres!"
Andres walked through the town; all over the village people were walking around with only big smiles on their faces, shame had disappeared: Tourists from Monterrey, old ladies from the village, and all the pretty boys and girls walked around the plaza wearing only sunglasses.
One of the girls from his class came up to him. "Here, have a drink of water! You're the only one in town still wearing clothes!"
"No" said Andres, "I must go down to the desert and look for the crazy bruja who caused all this! There are many spiny cactus there- I will need my clothes. Have you seen Balz?"
"Yes, he is flying around over Que Mado."
Andres hiked up the hill and found Balz. He told him what had happened. "Will you fly me down to the desert, Balz?"
Balz thought for a moment. "OK. Go home and get ready. I want to fly over town and have a little look first! Ha! Ha!"
In a little while Balz picked up Andres to fly him down to the desert. They flew past El Catorce, Los Catorce, and down the mountain to Balz's rancho.
Andres got off the plane. "How is the farming down here in your rancho Balz?
Balz was a little pissed off. "We can barely grow a little alfalfa; the Americans are taking all out water!"
Andres had heard something about that before. "Man! That's not cool!"
Balz didn't really want to talk about it. "Yeah, well, we'll have to figure that out another day; the problem for now is how to find that bruja."
Andres got back on track. "She gave me a little map to follow just in case I need to see her again. But I will need a horse- do you have an extra one?"
"Yes, certainly. I have one left here. I lent the others to Flor and Ramon earlier today for a ride out in the desert. Oh look, here they come now!"
Flor and Ramon rode up on the horses and greeted Andres and Balz. Andres told them what was happening up in the village. They decided to all ride off toward Watley to try to find the bruja.
"I will fly ahead and spy down on the desert," said Balz. "Here are some radios we can communicate with." He gave each of the children a walkie-talkie and they packed some food and water, got on their horses, and rode off into the hot desert. After traveling over an hour toward Watley it was getting dark.
Andres got off his horse. "We better find a place to camp soon."
Ramon looked around. "I think I see a good place."
Flor agreed. "Yeah, lets stop up there!"
The children rode their horses up to the little clearing; they put their sleeping bags down under the bright stars in the cold desert.
Andres got on his radio. "Balz? Where are you?" Soon he heard Balz's voice reply faintly. " I'm back at my rancho; I didn't see anything. I'll try to fly back out and see you in the morning."
The children made a fire and laid down in their sleeping bags in the desert; before they went to sleep Ramon and Flor told scary stories. They slept...and dreamed: Andres dreamed that he was a boy who never wanted to get out of bed! All day long his mother asked him: "Please Andres! Please leave your bed!" But he just sat there playing with his Leggos. When it was time for school his mother had to invite all the other children into the house for classes. When he got dirty his mother sprayed him with water from a hose! When he had to go to the bathroom his father made a hole in his sofa-bed for him and...
Andres woke up! "Man," he thought, "that was a crazy dream!" All three of them got up rubbing the sleep out of their eyes.
"I just had the weirdest dream," Andres said. "What did you dream Ramon?"
"I dreamed I moved to Matehuala and lived in the tallest building there; I could look down on the whole town! What did you dream Flor?"
"I dreamed that I moved to Switzerland! We lived next to a ski slope and every morning I would wake up, jump on a snowboard, and play all day!"
The sun came up bright orange and warm; Andres told them his dream while Flor made breakfast. After eating, the three children got on their horses and rode off into the desert in search of the bruja. After an hour of riding Ramon spotted a deer.
Andres talked to it. "Hello deer; do you know where the bruja is?"
Ramon laughed loudly. "Thats silly, deer can't talk!"
"This one can," said the deer. "I studied very hard in animal school and I can speak three languages!"
"Hey, you're famous, aren't you?" asked Flor. "Didn't I see you on that TV show from Mexico City?"
The deer looked intelligently at them. "That was my brother. We're a very talented family. Follow me and I will take you to the bruja."
They followed the deer deep into the mysterious desert; it was getting very hot and windy. Andres's radio crackled, it was Balz calling.
He seemed quite happy. "Hello down there!"
"Hello up there!" Andres replied. They saw Balz soaring with some eagles.
Balz could see the whole desert. "I can see the house you are heading for; its the little white one off to the West. That must be where the bruja is."
"Great, Balz," said Ramon. " Where are you going now?"
"I have to fly back up to Real."
"Aren't you working on a kitchen project in your carpenter shop?" asked Flor.
"Yes," Balz said. "It is going to be a beautiful kitchen for an important American. He will be making a movie in Real and wants a little palace to live in."
Flor was excited. "Hollywood is coming back?!"
Balz explained the situation. "Maybe; but this man, who calls himself Tex-Mex Muchacho, is very independent- he might just make it himself."
"Remember the last time Hollywood came?" said Andres. "It was a mess!"
"C'mon Andres!" said Ramon. "It was great! Just ‘cause your mom didn't like it!"
"Hey I gotta go," said Balz. "After you find the bruja I'll meet you back at my rancho- maybe we can have dinner."
The three children and the deer stopped for lunch; they ate some tofu sandwiches that Andres's mother had made.
"Tofu again?" said Ramon. "Ugh!"
"Just eat. We have important business," Andres replied.
"Andres, you're always getting into trouble!" Flor said. "Why can't you be a normal boy instead of flying around with Balz and doing things like putting magic pills into Real's water supply? Why Andres? Why?"
Andres looked at her with a smile. "Its just what I do! I am me, and that means I do things a little differently. Now, lets go find that bruja!"
The deer lead them to the white house at the far edge of the Western desert. They knocked on the door but no one answered. The radio crackled again.
"Hey its me, Balz! I was flying back to Real when I saw lots of dust; there's a couple of trucks following you! I think its El Presidente and his men. I flew around a little more and spotted a little dust ball heading over to Watley- I think its the bruja on her bicycle! You must not let El Presidente catch you! GO!"
The three rode their horses hard to Whatley; they saw the bruja's bicycle parked outside the Internet Cafe. They found her inside on the computer.
Andres spoke. "Finally we found you!"
The bruja studied the children. "Yes, good, I was expecting you!"
"What are you doing?" asked Ramon
"I'm looking for information; I'm trying to find out why the little pills didn't work!"
Flor had been on the Internet before. "So you're ‘Googling' it?"
The bruja smiled. "Exactly. I think I figured it out! Here Andres, take this cactus juice back up to Real and put it in the water tank on the Lucero. I shouldn't have tried to get rid of greed and envy; greed and envy are human, its natural. Just put this magic cactus juice in the water supply and everything should be back to normal soon! Everyone will put their clothes back on. But hurry, if you don't do it before sundown there could be more trouble! I have to go now before El Presidente catches me and throws me in jail!"
Andres couldn't believe it. "But we're way out in the desert!?"
"Real is miles away!" said Ramon.
"You'll never get there in time!" said Flor.
Andres thought for a couple seconds. "There's only one thing to do!" He took out his radio. "Balz? Balz! Can you read me? Do you hear me?! Balz! BALZ! Are you there?!"
They heard his faint voice answer. "Yes, I hear you; I'm almost back to Real!"
Andres shouted into the radio. "Balz! You have to fly back and take me to the water tank! Its very important!"
"But I have to make the kitchen for Tex-Mex Muchacho! He will be angry if its late!"
Andres blew up with anger. "That American freak can wait! Balz, please fly back here and help us! Don't worry aboutTex-Mex Comilon, Panzon, Gordon, Pedon!"
Balz gave in. "OK, ride back toward my rancho and I'll pick you up on the way!"
The children went out to their horses. The deer was gone. The bruja was riding quickly away on her bicycle, El Presidente chasing after her. Halfway to the rancho they saw Balz flying near.
He got on his radio. "Flor! Ramon! Take all the horses back to the rancho! Andres! Hop on my back and we'll fly back to Real! I'll come back for you later!"
They flew high up the mountains to the town of Real de Catorce. At the water tank Andres put in the magic cactus juice the bruja had given him. Soon the water was flowing into the houses; the people drank and bathed in it and decided to put their clothes back on. The village was getting back to normal- shame was back!
Balz spoke again. "So Andres, what a day! I don't know how you do it but you are always getting you and the town in trouble! What will you do next?"
"Oh, I have a few ideas," said Andres. "Now could you give me a ride home? I'm very hungry and I think I want to take a nice long nap!"
Balz flew Andres to his home in Swiss-Town. His mother made him lunch; he went to sleep and dreamed a most Interesting Dream.