Twenty five years ago, people did not only use garlic as a seasoning in food. It had a lot more uses than it is being used for nowadays. Ajo was commonly seen tied in bunches and hanging over the main door of a house or the main entrance of a store. It was believed that it had two important functions. First it brought good luck. Secondly, it kept out evil spirits or "la maldad" as it was commonly said. If you had a lot of bad luck coming into your house like sickness followed by death, or big expenses etc., don't worry. All you had to do was to hang a garlic head over the door. If a girl was left by several boyfriends, and she had trouble keeping her fiancees, a head of garlic over her bedroom door could guarantee a boyfriend. If a woman was constantly fighting with her husband, the garlic also did the magical trick. This is not a superstition. Ask Doña Cleotila or Doña Tiburcia and they will confirm that this is true. In fact, many of you reading this column are the result of a love romance that began with a head of garlic. Why do you think you sometimes smell like garlic?
Garlic was also used in the preparation of a love potion, you know, the kind of drink that would make any boy fall for you. A few strands of his hair, some strands of his underwear (a recently used one), ruda leaves, alcohol and of course the magical garlic and that guy will fall on his knees begging you to be his. The same is true if a boy did it with the girl's possessions. She would be completely crazy over the boy. But don't you ever leave out the "ajo".
I am told the Arabs use a lot of garlic in their food. You see, there is the reason for their good health, their good looks, and their good luck. That is why they are so very successful in business.
On the other side of the coin, garlic was not only used in the making of love potions, but also in the preparation of obeah or witchcraft. If you wanted to bring evil unto someone, the "brujo" or witch doctor would prepare you some formula that might include a photograph of the person, hair from a black cat, sand from the cemetery, and garlic, of course. You stuck a few pins to whatever the witch doctor gave you, or you buried it wherever he often passed and your evil spell would befall that innocent victim. It was obeah practised by the Caribs or the Indian brujo from Orange Walk or even by a few persons here in San Pedro. Yes sir, ajo was also used here to bring evil to people's lives.
Finally in the absence of these beauty salons where they fix up your nails, nice and pretty, the "ajo" was also used for pretty nails. You simply pierced the garlic with the nails and left it there for a while and the garlic would harden the nails giving you long and sturdy nails. You could then do the laundry all by hand and the nails would not break. I bet Judy and Elida (our two popular beauticians) were not taught this at their professional school of beauticians. Well, try it. If the young ladies do not mind the smell, you might get some cheap and valuable results with the "ajo". Garlic was also used to cure bad coughs. Garlic was also used to cure chest colds. And the list goes on and on. Garlic, twenty five years ago, was a very popular product.