Julio Cesar Garcia had a problem last week. He was sick of his job at Miami International Airport, and he was ready for a promotion. Sadly, his bosses weren't quite so interested in bumping him up the food chain.
So Garcia did what any good Santeria true believer would do -- he went to his santero, Carlos Valdes, to ask the orisha spirits for help. Valdes and Garcia let us film what happened next.
Though thousands of Miamians practice Santeria -- including Valdes, who we write about in this week's issue -- outsiders aren't usually invited to peek in at the secretive rituals.
To start, Valdes sat on a rug in his sunny house on the edge of the everglades in West Kendall, eleke beads on his neck and a fistful of shells in his hand.
Chanting like a Pentecostal preacher, he asked the orishas to get the job done by getting Garcia a better gig. He scattered the shells on the ground and then counted out how many were up and how many face down.
Valdes ended with a food offering: A ripe watermelon, gored out and filled with honey, spices and dark blue dye. Garcia kissed the fruit, touched it to his head and placed it back on the ground.
Did it work?
We called Valdes back this afternoon to check in. His wife gave us the update:
"Julio just came back yesterday and told us that he got the promotion," Marisela Valdes says. "He's a manager now for the company."
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Pays to pay off your orishas!