Those same truckers who leave cigar stumps for Gaucho Gil? They also festoon their rearview mirrors, mud flaps and grilles with red ribbons honoring another folk saint the church wishes would go away. This time it’s a woman named Difunta Correa (literally defunct or deceased Correa) and legend has it she was so dedicated to her forcibly recruited army husband that she and her infant son followed behind him when she learned he had been wounded. Thing is, she didn’t have enough water and guachos found her flat on her back in the desert, three days dead. The miracle part is that her baby was alive, nursing at her breast, near the village of Villecito.
So instead of bottles of booze, devotees leave her plastic litre bottles of water and give thanks to her for everything good that has ever happened to them or that they hope happens. At her largest shrine they stack model houses, expired license plates and photos of children and you can buy stickers and wax replicas, exposed breast and all. We settle for one of the mirror ribbons thanking Difunta Correa for protecting our Ford.
Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.