I HAVE FREQUENTED MANY BOTANICAS…
And they always seem to fall into two categories — those that are welcoming and helpful and those that clearly do not want to see my happy pinche gringa ass coming through the door of their store.
Fortunately, the first group of botanicas are far more prevalent than the second group. However, it should be noted that the attitude of the second group can often be softened if one is respectful and knows enough Spanish that a game of charades is not necessary to complete a purchase. Botanica shop keepers are like anyone else; they have their preferred customers. Although it may take some time and effort to establish a rapport with your local botanica gente, it has been my experience that it is always well worth the time and effort expended. I encourage you to visit your local botanica, if only to expand your cultural horizons.
The following L.A.Times article demonstrates just how much alike botanicas and the hoodoo drugstores of yore really are. The products may be a little different, but the wants and needs of the customers are the same, as are the stores’ roles within their respective communities. (This article also includes some great pictures of the Farmacia Million Dollar store, so be sure to click-through the photo gallery.)
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