Spiritual Offerings, Not On Beaches

My longer term readers will remember that frequently I have posted pictures of offerings I’ve found principally on the beaches of Uruguay, but also encountered on a visit to Cuba.  Collections of fruit and vegetables, fresh flowers, grains, often coins and candles, and usually with some bird or animal sacrifice, commonly chickens, roosters or doves and sometimes goat limbs or heads.  It has been a while since my last offerings post, though, for reasons I’ll skip here.  I’ve occasionally seen them on roadsides and at traffic intersections, for years in my ignorance believing these were dumped rubbish.  Uruguayans do litter their streets terribly, but these are, well, now I realise, offerings, and whatever they are hoping for is better served by placement where many people will pass by, I’m told.

These offerings relate to the makumba belief system that prevails here, Brasil, Argentina and Paraguay in particular, but also across the Caribbean and other parts of latin America where African people were brought across the Atlantic as captive slaves in the C16-C19.  Links to some of those posts are here,  here and here .

Early last year some Aussie visitors were in port for the day on a cruise ship, and Mike and I took them on a whirlwind tour of Montevideo, concluding with lunch at the port just before their departure.  As we often do, we started with The Cerro – a high hill overlooking the port and city of Montevideo, on which was constructed a spanish fortress in the early 1800s.  I was not entirely surprised to find an offering tucked into forked branches of a tree on the side of the hill, overlooking the harbour and city beyond.  I wouldn’t have said it was a high traffic site, but it does have a view of water – which is another very auspicious factor, apparently.

Offerings in (left) forked tree branches and (right) street intersection

A few weeks ago we were taking some departing friends around a couple of parts of the city they’d never managed to visit in the years they lived here.  After The Cerro fortress we made our way to the northern side of the city where in the barrio of Cerrito de la Vittoria stands the huge magnificent church of the Cerrito de la Vittoria   Right in the middle of the intersection where two  of the surrounding streets meet, was an offering in a cardboard box, including dead chicken, fruit, vegetables, flowers, corn and other stuff.  Nothing had driven over it – such a thing is probably a common sight there.  We’ll be going up there again soon, so maybe there’ll be another.

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