Exploring Samana City,
Dominican Republic
Part 3

Mama Juana, a mystical local brew

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The Fabled Mama Juana

I take several photos of La Churcha and get back in the taxi. Richard turns and asks, “A mama—you wanna?”

Now, there's an unexpected question. Is Richard offering to be my pimp? Well, who better than a taxi driver?

“A mama—you wanna! Very good!,” he grins. “I take you.”

Before I can say anything, I'm breathing oil fumes again and Richard pilots his scooter taxi back to the market. We stop in front of a small shop with two open doors. The doors carry signs for El Presidente beer and Coca-Cola. It's hard to imagine a brothel advertising Coke.

Before stepping over the threshold I peer inside but see nothing but a normal neighborhood bar. Richard points to a large clear bottle. "Now you try mama—you wanna.”

I peer at the label: yes, it's Mama Juana, also known as Mamajuana. I vaguely recall hearing about this make-it-yourself drink and how it's supposed to be an amazing aphrodisiac.

The bar owner, a tall, powerfully built man with short graying hair, realizes I am a sales prospect and explains that the one-liter bottle is filled with aromatic leaves, particularly cinnamon.

I am supposed to fill the bottle with red wine for one week, then pour out the wine and add two fingers of honey and the rest rum. The longer the drink is left to stand, the more powerful it's supposed to become.

It will make a real man of me he laughs as he spreads his hands more than a foot apart. Only in my drunken dreams, I laugh back, declining the Mama Juana. I order a couple of Presidentes, which pleases him, and Richard.

The bar owner's relaxed and friendly attitude makes me feel quite at home. His pub, not much larger than a tree fort I once built, is as unpretentious as he is.

The walls are unpainted rough-hewn planks and the beer is kept in two old refrigerators that date back to the 1950s; I recognize them since my parent's used to have ones like them.

However, I later find a bottle of unmixed Mamajuana ingredients, which I take back to the States and try it there. Still have that bottle of dry herbs and twigs.

Exploring Samana City Part 2

Exploring Samana City Part 1

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