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Large collections of witch dolls in the village of Santa Tegra in the Galicia region of Spain. (Photo by John Clayton)

Do you believe, really believe, in witches?

On October 31st all kinds of craziness comes to the fore. People, mostly children, dress up in all kinds of weird looking clothing and outlandish outfits to celebrate Halloween.

Halloween is one of the biggest nights of the year for witches. How do you imagine a witch actually looks? To me they’re much like the wicked witch of the North in the classic movie Wizard of Oz. 

A few years ago, the tourist office of Spain invited me to be part of a media trip to the region of Galicia. And, the trip involved an entire day involving—you guessed it!—witches.

Located in the northwest corner of Spain, Galicia's coastline overflows with colorful coves, greener than green valleys, and fast running rivers. On a sunny day, those rivers sparkle as if they were filled with thousands of the world's finest diamonds.

One of the most important people on any press trip is the guide. How good, or yes bad, is she/he, and do they give you newsy, thought-provoking information? Ours was, I thought, a real winner.

Our bus to Galicia stopped on the upper reaches of a huge hill. As an eddying wind came out of nowhere and shrieked around our vehicle, our savvy guide warned:

“Get to know the local witches well, as you’ll not want them to cast a spell over you.”

We then entered the village of Santa Tegra.

There we were met by a vast phalanx of booths and curio shops selling almost everything connected to Spain—history, local crockery, stone ware, toys, gizmos, and enough scarfs, jackets, rings and things, to stock at least five huge American shopping malls.

Tucked in among all this paraphernalia were never-ending booths and shelves with witch dolls. They were wizardly, wonderful and wicked, these witches!

And, if you wanted to purchase one, they conveniently came in sizes small, medium, large, and were “tourist ready.” These witches were clothed in almost every sort of dress, outfit, and all in colors. All of us, all at the same time, instantly knew why our tour bus stopped here.

We all rubbernecked at this cauldron of local lore, as our guide informed us Galicia is known as the Land of Witches.

Embellishing this point, he theatrically stated that in olden times when someone was stricken with some sort of deadly disease, the local witch was summoned to cure the illness. Did they know back then, I wondered, if they would one day be a powerful draw for tourists?

I’ll confess, I’m a real sucker for all this kind of sightseer schmaltz.

Sensing my “I’m ready to buy” aura, one of the vendors, elderly and frail, with a spindly black hat, and wearing a witches wardrobe, approached me.

She pulled out a truly intimidating witch seated in a rocking chair. When wound up, the witch rocked back and forth. And, if you clapped your hands, she'd let out a blood curdling yell!

I purchased it on the spot.

For an offbeat experience coupled with unequaled, exquisite scenery, check out Spain and, of course, Galicia.

It's pretty spellbinding.

Contact John via email at jdcradio@gmail.com.

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