Jundesi Plants the Secret of San Lázaro

Ña Octavia Zulueta—Jundesi and her godson Armando remained close through the years. She admired his aché and his enthusiasm for the Babalú.

One day Jundesi appeared at the family house on Calle Juan Domínguez in Percio. She said she had something to give him. She said she needed to plant the secret of San Lázaro in the backyard. She went to the back corner of the yard, next to the latrine. From a basket she pulled a long object that was the size and shape of a piece of yucca. She dug a shallow hole and half-buried the secret. On top she placed a coral stone. There it remains.

Over the years, the family built a small house around the secret, and someone tried to protect it with a tin can. Every year, at the time of San Lázaro’s feast, they hold a big celebration that always includes feeding the secret of San Lázaro. As they feed Babalú-Ayé, they catch some of the blood in a gourd with white wine and rum. They pour this mixture over the secret.

No one really knows what the secret is or why Jundesi planted it there. In an uncharacteristic moment of uncertainty, one elder wondered out loud if Babalú-Ayé help people heal from illness and the secret helped to cause it. No one really knows, and so it remains, like so many things, part of the mystery of Babalú-Ayé.