San Lacaro Botánica by Chris Jainandan and Pascal Wirth

By Chris Jainandan and Pascal Wirth

On Wednesday, March 30, we visited the San Lacaro Botánica located in Winter Park, Florida. This botánica was located just about 10 minutes from Rollins’ campus, and it was surprising to know that there was one within such close proximity.

The botánica itself was not very large, but contained a variety of items used in the santería religion. Surprisingly, there were literally hundreds of different candles, potions, and oils that were sold, which could have been used for a variety of tasks. The candles could have been used for anything from gaining financial prosperity, to making someone fall in love, and even to killing people! Also, it was surprising to see the number of oils that were sold, which had similar purposes to the candles. Another thing which we found interesting was that there was a huge freezer inside the store, but it contained only eggs and coconuts. We later found out that these were items used in religious practices, although the significance for using these items is not known to us.

The atmosphere of the botánica was unique because it contained so many unusual items which are not readily sold in other stores. These items related to Hurston’s descriptions because we read how candles and other items are used in voodoo for religious purposes. There were no other shoppers at the time whom we could interview, but the shop owners were nice enough to explain how to use the candles and potions.

All in all, visiting the botánica was a very unique and interesting experience because it allowed us to see part of another culture and the significance of candles in that particular religion. We also thought that the store would have been more unusual considering what we know about voodoo and santería, but all in all seemed not too out of the ordinary.