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Real Catorce – A Traveler’s Guide to the Peyote Fields of Mexico

Real Catorce – A Traveler’s Guide to the Peyote Fields of MexicobyBob Makransky

You can get to Real Catorce, San Luis Potosi, via a bus from Matehuala bus station, or also by taxi. For a couple hundred years it was a major silver mining center, with a population of 40,000. Maybe 3,000 live there now, and there’s lots of ruins of buildings, mines, smelting facilities, etc. It’s extremely picturesque. It’s getting touristy, but as a result there’s some good places to stay and eat. I liked the Hotel “El Real” (US$20-25) – you can reserve rooms there in advance by faxing (488)24733. Ask for Habitacion #9 or #11 (These are doubles; habitacion #8 is the best single). But there’s plenty of cheaper places, too. Whether you stay there or not, Hotel El Real has posted great maps of the area. La Abundancia has excellent food, but I found the servants rather surly. There’s lots of astrologers in the town and also lots of free-lance hippies. The pantheon church is nice. The church of St. Francis of Asis has a small room just off the room with all the “Thank you St. Frances for blessing received” plaques which is a SUPER power-spot … definitely go there and ask for a blessing.

Cerro Grande is a two-hour hike. Take the high road across the arroyo south of town. The only place you might get lost is where the car road to the antennas peels off sharply to the left and the footpath continues straight up. Go straight up another 100 meters to the cross at the summit of the pass, and then leave the footpath and strike out overland to the right until you reach the summit. There’s a cave on the summit which supposedly leads down to a pool from which the town of Real 14 gets its water.

Cerro Quemado is an hour and a half’s walk. This is a power mountain sacred to the Huichol Indians (there’s a Huichol ceremonial circle on top. Take a candle to make an offering there and ask for a blessing. This is a SUPER-DUPER power spot). Take the low road from town across the 2 bridges over the arroyos. The only place you might get lost is after the water tanks, where the two arroyos come together and the path splits, take the right fork. Cerro Quemado looks vaguely like an elephant, with its rump dropping off sharply to the right and the head and trunk sloping off to the left. From the desert (especially when you’re tripping) it has an incredibly powerful aspect.

The peyote, however, grows in the desert below Real 14, all along the railroad tracks between 14 and Wadley Stations; however it’s been pretty much picked for kilometers from the tracks and the main highway. A good bet is to take a jeep from Real 14 to 14 Station (they leave around 9 – 10 am). You can frankly ask the driver that you want to hire him to take you to the peyote fields, and pick you up the next morning (everybody in Estacion 14 makes money from the foreign peyoteros). The driver may (for his own convenience) want to drop you close to the railroad line or main road, but like I said, that area has been over-picked. Have him take you deep into the desert – at least 15 kilometers from the tracks and 10 from the highway – Make sure he shows you what to look for, to make sure there is peyote there. The round trip shouldn’t set you back more than 250 pesos at the most.

Take warm clothes, sleeping bag, water and dried fruit. There’s lots of spiny stuff out there so wear heavy boots and jeans. Fast the day before and morning you go. At the first peyote plant you come to, make an offering and ask Mescalito for his protection and help, but do not cut that first peyote. Walk further until you find more peyote. The older ones are the best – usually they are tinged reddish or brownish. Some people say that 4 ounces is enough for them, but I take about half a pound. They grow in the shade of the gobernadora shrub, usually in groups, so low to the ground that it’s hard to see them until you get the idea of what they look like (which is why you need a guide to show you). You cut them off below ground level; put soil back over them so they’ll regrow; and then cut out the white spiny hairs (which are full of poison that makes you vomit); also peel off the woody base. Eat them all at once with the dried fruit (you can’t just take a couple and wait to see what happens before taking more, because you’ll be too sick to your stomach in an hour or so to eat any more). Then find a shady spot to camp and chill (in the desert, that’s literally the case). Thank Mescalito when you leave.

It would be better to take a bus directly from Estacion 14 back to Matehuala (rather than returning to Real 14) because the cops in Real 14 sometimes grab hippie-looking types off the jeeps coming up from the desert and search them for peyote or peyote balls and bust them.

(excerpted from Magical Almanac free monthly ezine:

About the author:
Bob Makransky is a systems analyst, programmer, and professional astrologer. For the past 30 years he has lived on a farm in highland Guatemala where he is a Mayan priest and is head of the local blueberry growers association. His free ebook Magical Sampler is available from:; and his free monthly astro-magical ezine Magical Almanac is available from:


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