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  • Originally published 08/07/2013

    Tourists to Mexico still drawn by peyote trips

    REAL DE CATORCE, MEXICO – Gisele Beker, a 26-year-old Argentine, trudged for hours in scorching sun to the sprawling Wirikuta desert craving peyote, the hallucinogenic cactus that Mexicans deem sacred.Joined by three Mexican friends, Beker was living her dream as part of a new wave of tourists taking a trip for a trip — in this case to see where Lophophora williamsii takes her.“Did you strike gold yet?” she asked her Mexican friends anxiously after a 700-km trip as they searched the desert floor for the small, spineless cactus full of psychoactive alkaloids, particularly mescaline.The drug is technically illegal, but for centuries it has played a role in indigenous culture in northern Mexico and Texas, where it is part of transcendence and meditation for cultures such as the Wixarika, or Huicholes in Spanish — so much so that this remote corner of San Luis Potosi state has become a bit of a promised land for those who have trekked here to try peyote, despite the logistic challenges, since the 1960s....