The Secret Jar: Not Your Abuelitas Vivaporu

To know Juliana is to know and to feel the unbreakable bond of family. La familia is everything to her. The broad smile and unconditional love she immits when speaking of her children (Jakob and Benjamin) is contagious.

As is the warmth and love in her voice as she breathes new life into old memories by honoring me with stories about her grandparents. The abuela who insisted that Vicks Vaporub, Vivaporu, was a magical cure for all ailments big or small. And the abuelo who would secretly stuff branches from marijuana plants into jars of alcohol and hide them under his bed. Retrieving them only when she, or one of her siblings, or cousins would stump a toe or scrape a knee or fall from some impossible height and inevitably come running back to the house in tears and agony. If Vivaporu failed to stop the wailing, then the wounded child would crawl onto the grandfather’s lap while he rubbed the salve from the secret jar onto the wound until the child stopped cryin.

“So, they were basically defusing it?” I ask. “Yes, but they didn’t know it.” She admits throwing her head back and letting out a gregarious laugh. Juliana goes on to recall how her grandparents, who grew up in the countryside of Antioquia, Colombia , worked the land which was brutal, backbreaking work. And how every night her grandparents would rub the salve

from the jars on their aching bodies. “They would rub it on their legs on their hands. They would use it everyday but they kept it under the bed and we never talked about it. It was a hidden thing because there was such a stigma” As she got older and became a mother, Juliana went on to explain, she realized that the contents of her grandfather’s secret jars looked a lot like something she smoked. And she began to wonder if the content of the




 jars was able to alleviate her grandfather’s pain and the marijuana she was smoking was able to help her through severe postpartum depression, what other



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