Published: April 20th 2009January 19th 2009
Sunset with Moon
Nueve de Octubre,Peru
We were awoken on New years day when the sun was barely rising over the horizon. It was dim and grey with a slight patter of rain tapping on the old tin roof that gave us shelter. The Shaman had arrived early looking bright and cheery as he always does and I started to wonder if he even sleeps at all. We were all still a bit dreggy from the previous nights festivities which concluded with some celebratory new years eves cheers and beers, effigy burning and even an alcohol induced fist fight amongst the locals showed that even in the deep jungle there are people that cant handle their grog. The Shaman had prepared a big pot of Ayauma fruit and leaves that he had been steeping overnight that we were to take a bath in. One by one each of us took off out clothes as he poured the chilly, icy water over us which was an intriguing start the new year. The bath was supposed to bring us a more common connection between us and the power of the plant which can apparently give great insight and knowledge and ability to heal others, a plant that The Shaman
Nueve de Octubre,Peru
used personally to initiate his own shamanic path and ability.
Tensions were starting to grow amongst the group as we were all living together in close quarters, sheltered by a mosquito net that was drawn under the main shelter giving us the only safe haven as it was impossible to stay outside as the mosquitoes would have a huge feast. At times it was bearable, and carrying a cloth to constantly keep them at bay was the only it could keep us sane, the locals didnt really seem to mind the mosquitos too much which led most of them to laugh at our crazy western antics. On top of this our food supplies were starting to dwindle with only minimal amounts of oatmeal and grains left that we had brought with us from the city. Every day we raided the local papaya and paw paw trees to get our breakfast but we were slight disappointed there was not much variety available as many fruits were out of season and also many trees have been taken away by an ever encroaching river. The waters have risen dramatically in recent years taking away whole plantations and towns as it becomes larger
from ever increasing rainfall in the region. Luckily , the local people were very kind and generous providing us with ample amounts of fish soup, plantains and rice dishes to keep our bellies from aching. It was amazing to see the generosity of these peaceful inhabitants. But as time in the jungle ticked slowly forward, many of us were starting to crave the tastes of the west like espresso coffees, chocolate and pizza. We were starting to crack at the seams, so attached to living in an artificial world where all food came in a packet and so tied to the whole financial game of our modern world. We were having trouble dealing without junk food that was completely unnecessary and that we wouldn’t even miss had we not known about it. At the same time my senses seemed to become more intensive. The colours of trees and the sky appeared brighter, the smells of the forest were fresher and the sounds were clearer. I was beginning to feel an immense freedom and peace that I had never felt before.
We kept ourselves occupied by preparing ourselves for some more ceremonies which involved going out into the jungle to
Learning to Weave
Nueve de Octubre,Peru
collect large bags of wood that could keep a fire going all day. The sacks were heavy and trekking through the muddy road was difficult when I had so minimal energy from eating little and recovering from the golden staph. It had become much better since penicillin injection and taking antibiotics daily. Some of us also went to retrieve more plants for the mix which included the Caapi vine and Chacruna leaves. There was great interest in the town regarding the use of the plants and most people respected the shaman for their abilities to heal. So much so that the following ceremony many came to witness and hopefully be healed from their problems they had yet they were afraid to drink with us. We found this very uncomfortable that we did not allow the people to stay for the ceremony. Nether the less I failed to receive much effect from the plants apart from being able to hear music tracks clearly in my head of my own choosing. I started to understand how someone like Beethoven came write an entire symphony whilst being practically deaf.
The following day Cielo and Ronin left early with The Shaman to a
nearby area inland that had crystal clear lagoons and a abundance of fruit and fish that could be used as the location in the future for further expeditions and a more permanent base. At the same time we were becoming more and more anxious at finding some deeper meaning as to why we headed out to the jungle so far away from our own conditioned environment to a place that felt so foreign yet at the same time like coming home.
Even though The Shaman had made the magic jungle juice almost twice as strong I decided I wanted to have double the normal dose. Of course Luka and Cielo felt as though it was almost like a dare and agreed to do the same. As we took that first bitter sip we knew were in for something big. I felt quite normal for a long time but Ronin was in a different place, almost immediately he began to vomit but with such ferocity and noise like I had never heard. It almost sounded like a kind of exorcism as he heaved and screamed constantly from what felt like about 10 minutes. After which he rose up and started
Cooking up a storm
Nueve de Octubre,Peru
banging his feet and flapping his arms as if he had turned into some flying creature. We all sat back in awe as he danced around the room in a bird like trance it almost seemed like he would literally fly away. He later went over to luka and they laughed and had a very close and strange connection. It was at this time nausea came over me and several others were purging also. Normally a good purge would mean an exit from that other crazy, surreal world that came when you ingested the plants back to the place of familiarity and control. Yet that was when the scary moment came as all of a sudden the room lit up in a fantastic Technicolor display with me seeing all bad energy that had been purged by others creeping up my arms and legs. Then all around I saw swarms of technicolour insects that were all trying to attack me. I wrapped myself into a little ball and started to chant and scream to keep them away. At the same time, I started to feel intense heat in my lower back and hands that felt almost as if they were on
Bird in Nest
Nueve de Octubre,Peru
fire. The Shaman was singing and chanting loudly to keep this all at bay but somehow the pain just kept intensifying. It now spread all the way up my arms and legs that felt like a shooting heat that could completely burn me. I had to get up, I needed water to cool me down yet there was none around me. I started yelling that I need some yin or female energy and it would have a cooling effect. I ran over to Sarah and she gladly gave me a cup of water which I drank promptly and poured the rest over myself. The cup itself appeared in the dim moonlight like a sacred chalice. But I felt this was not enough, I started to sense the burning again. I gave a Sarah a big hug and immediately began to feel better. It was a strange and beautiful unison of pure energy where it felt almost molded together into a perfected whole rather than of a male / female polarity. I didn’t want to let go but finally I left. Soon after this Sarah started having terrible pains in her stomach and lay down in an attempt to sleep it
Outskirts of town
Nueve de Octubre, Peru
off. I went over to Cielo and she started fanning me and holding me as if I were a child again but none of this was calming me down. I was praying for some rain and then all of a sudden there was a flash of lightning, the heavens opened and the rain came down in a almighty pour. Immediately we ran out and felt the cool drops soothe me as they fell across my entire body. Of course the ravenous mosquitoes came out yet I gave them no concern as I felt so much relief from the cooling effects of the falling rain. Ronin was standing in front of me and appeared like a glowing white apparition from the reflected moonlight. I asked if we could go to the river and as we walked it was as though I was floating in a dream landscape, up ahead were some cows that merged into a kaleidoscope of colours as they ran off into the distant jungle. Even at the river side the bank and river didn’t seem real, just merely a play of colours on light. The mosquitoes were swarming but they had no effect. I was in another realm,
one where mind was master and body merely a base instrument. There was complete control and awesome power. As we headed back, I saw the grey old shack off in the distance that appeared like a home. I heard my name being called and I was brought back to when I was a child hearing the seagulls of my home town Bondi calling 'ark, ark'. It seemed as though they were calling my name and I remembered the times when my mother would be calling me home. When I returned the others we very relieved to see that I was still ok as they had thought for sure I had drowned. In the room Sarah was still screaming in pain and The Shaman was massaging her to remove the problem, I went over to where there was a hole in the skirting boards, crouched down and started chanting songs that were somehow singing themselves. Time ceased to exist and I was teleported back to the dreamtime to when humans had no technology or modern science and were completly in tune with nature. It was pre history so there was no longer separation nor consequence but only unity with the divine.
Nueve de Octubre, Peru
I was overcome with a tremendous feeling of love for everyone around me, I felt that love was answer to all questions. On some level I was connecting to the wind and rain, acknowledging and understanding their great power which I could feel. I was glad to be able to handle the situation and went back to rest and somehow integrate my experience back to 'reality'.
There was complete control and awesome power.
The next morning we all felt amazed at what had taken place the previous night. Sarah was much better and no longer had problems with her stomach and saw some amazing visions of having a family with Luka. The Shaman was very happy how it went and warned us with an innocent grin that three cups probably could have killed us. He told me to go pick some of the berries of the Ayauma tree to put under my pillow and to my amazement when I saw them they looked exactly like those I had seen in my vision a few weeks earlier. I had gone into town quietly contemplating my experience and while I was taking a shit suddenly a bunch of wasps started attacking me and stung me four times as
I ran under the nest to a nearby house where Ernesto, one of the locals was freaking out after seeing what had happened. The stings were powerful and even though painful were somehow energizing. However this was short lived due to the these wasps being quite strong I spent a few days looking completely pale and unable to move my arm too much. In the following days we kept trying to figure out what day it might be and what time it was but as none of us had a watch. In the end we realised it was completely pointless to even worry about it as it didn’t matter out here. What did matter was the fact the rain had become much more wild and crazy with storms lashing from all sides with fierce winds that lasted for hours which meant we had to move all our beds and clothes out of the way as the shed we were staying under gave little protection from the onslaught. Patience was wearing very thin, more of us started getting infectious sores from the sandfly bites and were complaning about the food being so bland from the strict diet. We were becoming fed
up being in such a wild area, succumbing to the fact we were mere fallible westerners unable to deal with a reality that was quite separate from our own.
It came the time when Luka, Max ,Cielo and Sarah decided to return back to Pucallpa around 1 week before our scheduled return. Not knowing when the next boat would arrive, they waited and waited by the shore as nobody really knew when exactly it was coming because nobody actually cared. Finally about a day later a quite small boxed shaped boat appeared and carried them all off back to the chaos and familiarity of the big city.
It was just Ronin and I that remained, I felt that one extra week was not long to wait and despite all the odds that went against me here I felt it was all just some crazy test. We moved back to the school and relaxed in the peaceful and quiet atmosphere of the village without much disturbance. We spent our time speaking with the locals on how to introduce classes to teach the new generation customs almost forgotten such as weaving and making their our pots out of clay instead of buying cheap aluminium ones. We also discussed ways of allowing the people to rely on their own skills in the jungle rather then buying into a western system so foreign to their own. When the time came for the final ceremony again I felt immense heat coming from the base of my spine. I was worried as I didn’t have any one around to help this time and there was no rain coming. I decided to lay down and surrender to it and to let it take me, let it kill me as I no longer cared. It was then a voice came and said I passed the test and as this was happening great energy waves were flying around my body. I was given information about India and my future journey to the country. I felt happy and could return to Pucallpa feeling as though I had undergone a major life challenge and won.
The final day came where I said my goodbyes, gave some of my no longer needed possessions to the locals and we got onto the small peke-peke just before sunset. One thousand mosquitoes bid me farewell and the boat driver, Ernesto and Pekon vita all came to the boat completely drunk and I thought to myself this will be one hell of a ride back. We left the village just as darkness was setting in and there was hardly any room to move on the boat as it was packed with hundreds of platanos. Ernesto was arguing about our speed, Pekon Vita was singing and the Boat driver was trying to steer the boat through complete darkness completely off his face. Bolts of lightning were igniting the skies on all sides, lighting up silouettes of the palm trees along the banks of the river with a backdrop of the thick and lush jungle. We did little to avoid hitting the large logs and trees that were drifting down the river and I started to believe this was the end. It started to pelt with rain and we hid in a small mangrove under a sheet of plastic until it slowed down. My pants were all wet and the wind was quite chilly as we traveled down stream. The Shaman took over as the driver passed out and I could only really make out his shadow as the myriad lightning flashes crashed as the thunder raged deep in the black sky above our heads. I could barely sleep as I was constantly awoken by the loud thuds from hitting large trees that would almost topple the boat with us in it. By the time morning arrived I was so happy to see the sun rise and we drifted quietly along the river. We saw lots of damage done to the passing villages from the widening river. After seventeen hours of hair raising boat riding, I saw the mini metropolis of Pucallpa in the far distance. I had mixed feelings, some of relief and others of apprehension of returning to the modern world that was plagued by the noise of heavy traffic, loud music blaring out of oversize speakers, the tall buildings and the general rush, chaos and stress it brought along with it. I knew that if I could just remember and not let go of the serene echos of that mystical jungle everything will be just as it always has been, perfect.