Mexico's Peyote Casts Mind-Bending Spell on Tourists
Carola Sole - Agence France-Presse
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July 31, 2013

Every year tourists from all over the world go to the Wirikuta desert, a place in the centre of Mexico considered magical by the Huichols indigenous people. Visitors come to find the peyote, a protected cactus with hallucinogenic properties. (AFP/PigMine4)

REAL DE CATORCE - Gisele Beker, a 26-year-old Argentinian, trudged for hours in scorching sun to the sprawling Wirikuta desert, craving peyote, the cactus hallucinogen locals in Mexico deem sacred.

Joined by three Mexican friends, Beker was living her dream as part of a new wave of tourists taking a trip for a trip — in this case to see where “lophophora williamsii” takes her.

“Did you strike gold yet?” she asks her Mexican friends anxiously — after a 700-kilometer (435-mile) hitch-hike — as they search the desert floor for the small, spineless cactus full of psychoactive alkaloids, particularly mescaline.

The drug is technically illegal but for centuries it has played a role in indigenous culture in northern Mexico and Texas, where it is part of transcendence and meditation for cultures such as the Wixarika, or Huicholes in Spanish.

So much so, that this remote corner of San Luis Potosi state has become a bit of a promised land for those who have trekked here to try peyote, despite the logistical challenges, since the 1960s.

The tourists just keep trickling in.

Read the rest at The Jakarta Globe

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