Lupe de Osma shares this collection of Costa Rican stories, many told to her as a child by her nanny. Again, I’ve chosen the title story to read for my literary trip to Costa Rica. The Witches Ride is a fascinating commentary on religion in Costa Rica even though it’s meant as a children’s story.
The story follows a simpleton boy who goes to find wood for his mother but gets lost in the forest. He falls asleep in a deserted house and when he awakes, he sees twelve witches dancing around a fire. After their merriment, they all climb on their broomsticks and say the magic words: “Fly me faster than a fairy. Without God, without Saint Mary”.
The boy follows suit with an extra broomstick. He then comes across some robbers who mistake him for the devil and he ends up with their stolen booty.
Costa Rica is a Catholic nation which is very apparent in this story based on the witches spell. In one fell swoop, we’re meant to understand that old wise women who follow old beliefs are evil and their power comes from renouncing God and the saints. This was likely effective fear mongering propaganda as well as being an entertaining story.