Tourists, locals and pilgrims who travel to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the most visited church in Mexico, get the chance to meet a little bird who will tell them their fortune.
The way it works is you tell the bird your name, and then the bird picks out small slips of paper from a cigar box. On the paper, you can find pieces of advice and clues to your destiny.
I decided to give it a try. For 50 pesos (approximately $2.50), I would receive five general suggestions specific to me, and then one custom answer based on a specific question. The answers are printed on small pieces of folded paper. Aramis, the bird's keeper, recommended that for that last question (I asked about my marriage), I wait until I’m home and by myself before reading the answer.
We are therapists of the street. People ask about love most often--because people are impulsive.
The twenty-something's birdcage is on a busy pedestrian avenue filled with parishioners visiting to the Basilica. Religious shops behind his fortune-telling station sell votive candles and icons. An old woman dances to a boom box, then passes a hat for tips. Families fill a cafeteria that specializes in goat soup. Millions visit the Basilica annually, and the Pope will be making a stop there later this year.
Aramis took my left hand and started placing fortunes in my palm. “You have joy, fortune, happiness, luck, and the fifth message is what you need to know about your life, in general.” Uh oh. “You are going to live a long, good life, but someone is going to betray you. You trust too many and tell people everything. Your life is not a newspaper.”
Canaries dropping truth bombs--it happens.
Aramis’ father, who was also out with his bird, taught him the tradition. “My father has been doing this for 40 years. That is why it is my work,” he told me.
The personalized answer to my marriage question was spot on. But I’m not going to tell you what it said.
To learn more about the traditions of Mexico, check out our coverage of Dia de Los Muertos, or The Day of the Dead.