Friday, June 11, 2010

Making "Chamba"

Chamba is a drink for the Fundamento or Nkisi (including Cemis).  This particular chamba is for exciting and motivating the movement of the Spirit.  It is very powerful and is not for human consumption and can burn the mouth, so let's be clear this is not a drink to play with or take for granted.  Chamba can only be made and handled by those of legal age to do so (21 years in this country).  

This Chamba is unique for us and special because the existing chamba of the Monansu is approximately 10 years older than this one and is very strong, however its original ingredients were purchased from a market rather than grown on the Land herself.

We begin with harvesting HOT PEPPERS from our Garden which were grown especially for this process.  This Chamba includes jalopenos, Peruvian Purple Peppers, Bolivian Rainbow Peppers, and  two types of Cayenne Peppers.

All the peppers are placed in a large GLASS bottle where they provide a colorful array of colors and textures as well as tastes.  All of these hot peppers have a unique Spirit or Essence which will be "captured" within the Chamba.  
We will show some of the ingredients that we used in the Chamba, but not all.  Every Palero has his own recipe and certain elements we keep as knowledge only within the Monanso.

Here are 121 pimentas de guinea (top left), yellow jackets (top right), 5 palo ceibe from Boriken, a tiger's eye gem, and a quartz crystal.  We use overproof white rum for the alcohol.

Ingredients get added and the first bottle of rum is added.

More ingredients are added... including fire ants (in jar), several bird bones and shark teeth.

Close up of the fire ants, and additional ingredient garlic (also harvested from our garden, the smaller the garlic cloves the stronger).
Close up of shark teeth,  and bird bones (of three different species to remain nameless).

Bones are added....

Teeth are added and fire ants (carefully because they sting).
A second bottle of rum is added.  Several large pieces of ginger sit in front of the chamba to be added.
Ginger is sliced and added.
Chamba is sealed well and a hole is dug in preparation for burying the chamba.
Once the hole is prepared the chamba is buried.  In our Monansu the chamba is buried for 121 days.
This chamba was buried in Lucerito's Monanso.  After 121 days it was time to dig it up again.
Slowly and carefully the chamba is dug up.  It is important that one does not forget the exact location of the chamba.  Here since the chamba was buried in the hut the snow did not make our job more difficult.  The time of year that the Chamba is buried is relevant to the final product.  A chamba made in the summer will embody different subtle energies than one made during the winter as this one was.  This particular chamba was buried in a location that at a certain time of day the sun comes in the door and lights up the floor exactly where the chamba was buried.

When we bury the chamba we bury it right into the Earth.  Here the chamba is located and carefully brought out of the hole and the hole is closed up.

The chamba liquid is much darker after the 121 days.

Again this chamba is exceptionally strong and must be used with wisdom and caution.  It will continue to gain strength over time and as it gains strength the color will continue to darken as the alcohol pulls the essence from the peppers into the liquid.  There is an extraction process that is taking place.  

The final product! 


  1. I need some I haven't worked Palo in yrs and I have brujería un my stomach. So I know I need some chamba do you make some to sell and how much I know I wouldn't drink alot maybe a shit glass a day for 21 days is what egguns says

  2. Efunlola, no we do not make any to sell. The article is for information purposes only.