Peru Travelog – Part 1

The Amazon, July 2011

Prague to Lima
July 4, 2011

Friday morning my beloved todo list was reduced to a piece of rubbish and thrown out with the rest. There was nothing else to do, except to to drop off my keys upstairs, last hug to Tereza and get to Ruzyně airport.

I could have get to Lima straight from Prague with stop over in Madrid, but the connection was not great and would probably mean one night in Madrid. As it was Olivier’s birthday on Friday I decided to crash his place in Paris instead and break the trip up a bit.

I took a long bus ride from Charles de Gaulle airport to the Gare de Lyon which was short walking distance from Gare d’Austerlitz from where my train was leaving towards Madrid the following evening. My amazing plan was to print out my ticket and to store my backpack in the lockers there, so I could move around Paris lightly. As I was approaching the station there was something going on, cordoned area and few police and security guys. Didn’t think much of it and went to look for lockers. Very inefficient signs took me through the whole area of oldish train station, inside, then outside again, all the way back towards the cordoned off area. Lockers were inside of it. Tried to cling onto my original plan and find my way in, but instead got a small demo of South America. No one spoke any English. Security guy mumbled something and shook his head. Lady in informations said straight away, that informations are available from her in French only. But what I gathered was that the bridge which was over the lockers area was collapsing. So I got on the Metro line number 5 and headed to Laumiere station where Olivier lives.

We had a catch up in the evening and soon Olivier’s sister and friends arrived for the birthday party. Not many of them spoke English, so I spent most of the evening chatting to Sophie and few others. Many good wines have been drunk. I had few tasting sips and they were delicious. Also lots of good cheeses were eaten, but I have refused to taste those, so can’t confirm. They certainly didn’t look good to me. We have finished around 4am and I had very good Parisien sober sleep, unlike others.

It was a glorious and warm day on Saturday. When we all woke up we went for a brunch to the Rose Bakery, little organic joint near Montmartre. After I got some food for a train trip we were heading to Mortmartre for a walk, but this activity was quite incompatible with Olivier’s hangover so we ended up back by his place in the park for few hours before I parted again and went to catch my Madrid train.

Spanish run train was fine, not overly clean, but decent. The reclining seat was bit of a challenge though. It was fun for a few hours while I listened to my iPod, but when was time to sleep it wasn’t that comfortable. I have arrived in Madrid 13 hours later exactly on time, but wee bit broken. For a second time in few days I was glad my backpack has only 13kg. It took a quick trip to the aeroporto on deserted Sunday morning underground and when I got there I was glad I gave myself three hours before my Lima flight. I have forgot how huge the Madrid airport was.

And to cut 11 hours long story down, flight to Lima on shaky old Airbus with hectic Spanish attendants was decent. What I liked about the plane, though, was a camera at the back of the plane, which showed cool view of our take off and landing. Especially approach to Lima was magnificent. Most of the continent was covered in white thick cloud with the monument Andes protruding through it. They are fucking massive.

More about Lima and first impressions of South America tomorrow. Adios.

Stopover in Lima
July 7, 2011

I have arrived in Lima quite late in the evening and was surprised how modern the airport is . The immigration process was one of the simples and quickest I have ever encountered. Only one question: “How many days in Peru?” When I have answered “Two months” I got a stamp with 90 written over it and was free to go.

Outside I was met by Pedro, who took me in his old rusty Nissan to my hostal. He was a beautiful man who spoke as much English as I speak Spanish. Regardless we spent most of the journey chatting. We drove through several districts from the dodgy looking ones to the up-class San Isidoro, with high-rises and a golf course by the ocean until we arrived to Miraflores. The other thing that was noticeable was amount of McDonalds, Papa Johns, casinos and loads of traffic.

Home Peru hostel was my base for two nights. Old colonial mansion house with great staff and smelly and always hungry dog Kahlua. Also I have met first travellers here, including an Israeli ex-military guy who is travelling through the world on his BMW enduro and whose tent was eaten by termites in Bolivia. And also one Czech guy from Dejvice. There is always one Czech guy everywhere I go.

I wasn’t really in the mood to chase sights, so spent most of the time in South American Explorers’ clubhouse, getting ideas about the rest of my trip or cruising around Miraflores and getting feel for the Peruvians. Still, it is just a big city and that is not why I am here. On top of it, the weather was shit. Raining and quite cold in the night and morning and warming up little in the evening, when the sun heated up the white thick cloud covering the whole coast.

All in all, though, I think I already like it here.

Finally in Iquitos
July 7, 2011

Loving Iquitos. Hopefully will have time to add some more words tomorrow, but for now just a picture of the view from my balcony.

Before the jungle trip
July 23, 2011

Wow, so it has been more than two weeks since the last time I had time to update this. Today is very rainy day in Iquitos, so perfect time for some stories, which I will try to dig out of my memory and few notes.

I have arrived to Iquitos on Tuesday, few days before the official start of our jungle adventure. At the airport I was saved from being hassled by many tourist soul catchers, and been taken care of by few of Peter’s team – Ruber and Keyth. The ride from the airport introduced me to the enormous amount of three-wheeled motorcars, which are the main means of transport here. What surprised me was the weather, which was colder than expected. Ruber explained that the whole region was surprised by this cold wave, lots of people got sick and few unfortunately died. It just not have been common, this kind of weather at this time of the year.

At the boulevard by the river, I have been introduced to wonderful Peter Gorman, his super awesome daughter Madeleina and their mutual friend Linda, who attended one of Peter’s previous trips. I have instantly felt great in their presence and any insecurities and doubts I might have had in my first few days of traveling disappeared. I felt I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I ordered cold beer and listened to Peter’s stories, which would be a common activity for next few weeks. I also got a nickname which would stuck with me – Vladimiro Montesinos, which was notorious head of Peru’s intelligence service. Read about him on Wikipedia, quite a colourful character. I think he’s in jail now.

In the few days before the official start of our trip we would mostly hang out in our base at boulevard, restaurant La Noche, in small local coffee joint Cafe Express or in Peter’s room filled with medicine and jungle artefacts. I have visited Belen market with Linda, which is buzzing labyrinth of market stalls selling everything from food, dead and alive animals, vegetables, spices, tobacco and all kinds of medicine plants and extracts. It is apparently the heart of commerce in this part of Amazon. It’s crazy, but colourful and fun.

I was also introduced to the other members of Peter’s wonderful team – George, German, Jhonny, Sidalith and Juan. And slowly our group was taking shape too. On Wednesday Brent, Caritha and Yaro joined us and on Thursday the rest of our group arrived in one big wave. So, with Patrice and her son Colt, Elizabeth and Helena, Devon, Martin and the Aussie gang – Nil, Teneille, Steve and Scott, we were complete. Little I knew at that stage how close we will all get over the next ten days. I love you, guys.

Welcome to the jungle
July 23, 2011

After we had our first group breakfast at La Noche on Thursday morning, we had maybe twenty four more hours left in Iquitos before getting on the boat. After the breakfast we were put in doubles in hotel Real at the boulevard for one night. Bit run down joint without hot water, but with breathtaking views of the river and jungle surrounding it.

After we settled down we took a short ride to the cemetery where Peter performed nice small ceremony at the grave of his late teacher Julio. In few days we would be entering a land where he and his family used to live and this was our thank you to his spirit for allowing us to do that. After this we were continuing to the Nanay port and took a colectivo wooden boat to Bora peoples’ ‘showroom’ and little jungle zoo afterwards. The tribespeople decorated us, danced for and with us and in the zoo we could cuddle sloths and hold anacondas. We ended the short afternoon trip in the port eating fish and samples of Peruvian foods. That evening we celebrated few birthdays and super cool piano guy came to play his wandering piano for us at La Noche.

At Friday around midday we boarded big boat San Jose and after the cargo was loaded, we departed first up the Amazon and then up the Ucayali river. We were joined by Lady, another member of the team and were assigned cabins. There was a 14 hours long journey ahead of us, which was spent chatting, getting to know each other, tripping on local magic mushrooms, watching Peru vs. Mexico match, drinking beer and later drinking rum with young local students. Moments between these activities were filled with watching the jungle, the river and villages pass by in tranquil fashion. Soon the darkness fell and we could see glimpses of stars and growing moon through the cloudy sky. It was an awesome ride and I have only managed to get one hour of comatose sleep, before Juan kicked my cabin door. We were getting closer to our first stop – small jungle town of Jenaro Herrera. It was middle of a pitch black night and we left the boat in slightly sleepy and chaotic manner, before we gathered at a shop for cup of hot drink and a snack. Soon we got assigned beds in simple hostal up the road and after we managed to get the U.S. missionaries to shut up, we could steal another few hours of sleep.

The following morning we have met at the same shop and waited for our boat to arrive, which would take us to the camp. The boat was simple wooden one with small engine with long propeller, called peki-peki. Our luggage was taken on another boat, this one was barely able to carry seventeen of us. In sharper turns water would pour inside across the edges, so we soon learned to sit quite still. We continued up the same river, then turned into smaller one, where we were meeting more locals fishermen in wooden canoes, crossed a lake and after bum torturing three hours in scorching heat we arrived to our destination.

Over the course of Saturday, we would rest, would be put into our accommodation, meet the rest of the team including monkey Mike and parrot called Margaritta, eat food, swim in the river and generally enjoy this magical place. In the evening we would split in three groups and three boats went up the river. One to hunt, one to fish and one to collect sapo frogs. This was one of my favourite parts, floating slowly on the river in complete silence and darkness, just with occasional flash of the light to examine the river banks. Starry sky overhead and hundreds of jungle sounds around. The calling of sapo frogs was the most loud one, they really wanted to be found. Only one boat came back with the goods – three sapo frogs. One of them would escape till the morning, but in the evening they seemed very calm and not really bothered by human company.

Sunday was the day of our first Ayahuasca ceremony and I am dedicating a whole post later to this experience. Also our second ceremony on Tuesday will be covered separately, including sapo and nu-nu medicine. In between though, we had loads of fun.

Each morning after drinking ayahuasca, the first thing to do was go swimming into the river and dive three times under to close up our coronas, that were opened the night before. This was a great start to the day. Swimming in river was just perfect, including the fish that were nibbling on our bodies. Wednesday in the evening we took the boat for another night ride. This time the moon was almost perfectly full, really magical experience. We went hiking to the swamp on Thursday afternoon, our last day, and saw some amazingly huge and strong trees. And in the evening the camp was opened to the visitors from surrounding villages. They came with kids and there was a band on our platform, we were drinking nun’s milk, dancing, enjoying more mushrooms and having a great time. This was a night to celebrate our time in the jungle and we did a good job, I think.

On Friday it was time to pack up and set on a journey back to Iquitos. Peki-peki ride to Jenaro Herrera seemed quicker this time and our asses were well adjusted by now. We had a small issue with our previous big boat – it wasn’t available for our ride back as it was being repaired. The word has been put out that there is a big group of people waiting to get back to Iquitos from Jenaro Herrera. We didn’t wait long and we could see big Henry boat coming our way. It didn’t seem like they got our message though. The boat didn’t slow down. Juan and few policemen got on a small motorboat and raced to speak to the captain to explain there is a business waiting. Policemen were bribed on our way down, and I could see from their expression that they will manage to secure our ride from there. For a while the boat wasn’t slowing down at all, but after a while it finally stopped maybe half a kilometre away from us. We were in. We got a lift in small boats to Henry, jumped on board and soon we were moving towards Iquitos. Brilliant hijacking.

That night I will never forget. When the full moon started rising from the river in the front of us to the cloudless sky, it was enormous and of yellow colour. As we could get only two cabins most of us slept on the board under the bright moon, covered in blankets, chatting, drinking, laughing and being close to each other. We were genuinely different people than the ones who traveled the same river only a week ago. Again we have arrived at our destination in the middle of the night. We gathered at Yellow rose of Texas restaurant and were treated to a breakfast. Our jungle trip was over, but over the course of the next week or so our new family would be hanging out in Iquitos as we would be leaving one by one to our next destinations.

First ayahuasca ceremony
July 23, 2011

(This was written on Monday evening, day after the ceremony)

I am tucked in my bed, protected by white mosquito net, trying to put in words the experience of last two days. Yesterday early morning we set of on a short hike to the jungle past Peter’s late teacher Julio’s house to collect the ayahuasca vine. Our currandero Jairo, one of Julio’s sons, cut the vine into 40 cm long pieces and then put them into a bag which Peter first smoked with mapacho (hand rolled cigarette without filter containing natural tobacco). We would later carry the bag, each of us for a part of a way, back to the camp. Peter also put designs on our faces with jungle saffron before heading back. The markings on our faces would stay for most of the day.

At the camp, Jairo started to cook the brew in a large pot on an open fire by the river and it would be only his energy that would come in the contact with it from the time we put the sticks into the smoked bag until the finished liquid would be put into cleaned and smoked bottle in the evening. The brew wasn’t only the ayahuasca vine, but also a bunch of chacruna leaves and three more plants were added to the mix.

We would watch George to collect sapo from the the two frogs left from the catch the previous night, had a decent breakfast that would be our only meal of the day and went for four hours hike through the jungle to learn about different plants. Towards the end of the hike we have visited the village of Matses people and watched Pepe preparing nu-nu snuff.

In the evening we had few preparatory talks to explain how things will be done during the night and around 9PM we have gathered on the platform in the middle of the camp. We sat down on mattresses along its three sides with Jairo’s place in the front of us. Peter and few of his team created an arcana – a protective wall around our ceremonial place – to keep out any uninvited spirits. When this was done, the team would take their place outside the platform to be at hand for anyone who would need help during next three or so hours and we were ready to start.

For some time I was imagining how this moment will feel when it will finally come and I though I would be nervous and agitated, but most of the day and the evening I felt pretty calm and relaxed. I felt little bit anxious just before I have been served, which was quite early in as my turn came second. Peter would suggest to Jairo how much to put into each cup. After Jairo smoked the cup and sang a short song – icaro – I was handed the cup and I drunk it’s content in five decent gulps. I remember the drops of liquid dripping off my beard as I was drinking and I also didn’t dislike the taste that much. It wasn’t delicious, but I have tasted worse.

After I drunk I have inhaled camalunga from the bottle that was handed to me to help to keep the tea down and to protect me from the inside. Then I got some agua florida perfume on my hands, which too I have inhaled and then spread all over me to protect me from the outside. Last there was the Taboo perfume, which is a smell ayahuasca likes a lot. I also got a Halls candy to chew on. This should also help with keeping the liquid down. Purging and vomiting is part of the experience, but it is not desirable to vomit in first half an hour or hour, so the ayahuasca can take effect. I was sitting there, covered in all these smells and smells of natural torches that have been spread around the place for the serving part. I have tried to keep the ayahuasca in me for as long as possible, the first few minutes have been the hardest. My guts we rumbling and fighting as the body was being introduced to this new substance it never tasted before.

The effects came on without warning and really quickly. I thought I had maybe an hour before it will start working, but by the time sixth or seventh person was being served, the space in the front of me started melting. Patterns and faces started to float out from the caramelised wooden floor. I though – fuck, this is too fast, there is still maybe half an hour before Jairo will start singing and I am fucked. I started panicking. I have looked left and saw Devon being stumbled at his place, obviously he could feel it too already. The space around me was being distorted, the light changed, I could hear strange sounds I never heard before coming simultaneously from outside and from inside of my head, when I put my head on my hand they both started melting together. Whatever I have put my hands on something, the object started becoming me. I have closed my eyes, tried to set myself in the lotus position, focused on my breathing and repeated my intention. This was helping me a lot during the whole night. I have pulled my blanket over me and was amazed how big it felt. It felt like it can cover me three times over. Awesome protection.

With closed eyes there were slowly moving layers of geometric patterns everywhere, going through my head, through me, in me. Sound was distorted, my own breathing was having a weird metallic echo. It was awesome, I have never seen anything like that, and that was just a beginning. My body at the same time was still fighting it, my guts were on fire, I was burping, yawning massive yawns, swallowing the stuff that returned to my mouth. I felt I need to keep it down at any cost, but never during the night got close to actually feel like throwing out. I asked the spirits to help me, I was grateful for my body to be that strong and to deal with anything that comes.

Soon dark shaped unfocused entities started to popping out at the edge of my field of vision. When I started to peak, which was about hour and a bit into the experience, Jairo was already singing his beautiful icaros and shaking his shakapa. Whenever I had a feeling during the night I need help, I could count on these two sounds to carry me over. There is very special relationship between me and the songs and the shakapa sounds. Suddenly I have found myself, or my consciousness, in a wonderful and alien world. There were entities everywhere, examining me curiously and I have introduced myself and tried to communicate. But the spirits were just looking at me. It wasn’t quiet at all, they were emitting different sounds, but nothing resembling communication. When I focused on my breathing it felt like they surrounded my nostrils and giggled in kind of a supportive way.

I felt like I am in some kind of station or landing pad made out of glass where all these entities came to peek at me. It made me laugh, it was just such an amazing feeling to make contact, at least a first baby contact. I could see and sense amazing landscapes behind the walls that were transparent. It was such a beautiful and truly different world. I tried to ask them to show me something, but nothing happened. But suddenly out of all this mess a little girl run by me. She was more sharply defined that the other entities. She seemed so real. I could hear her laugh, but couldn’t see her face. From the back she looked like she might be about four years old, with beautiful long black hair. At some stage she stopped and extended her hand towards me. She wanted me to take her hand and follow her and I wanted so much too, but I wasn’t able to. My mind created and idea about who she was, or maybe ayahuasca gave me that idea, but I can’t be sure. The true is that since that day, I couldn’t stop thinking about her and although I participated in three more ceremonies, I didn’t have anymore visions. Is it possible that that was the one vision I came here for? My next step is to work and to meditate on this and see where it will take me.

When I felt out of this space I have spent the rest of the night thinking about my family and friends, picturing each one of them and asking spirits for their protection. I have also listened to Jairo’s icaros, beautiful music. It felt like I am on a boat with him, he was navigating through the spirt world with his songs. Although I have later learned that he didn’t leave his seat for the whole night, it felt like he he was moving around. His songs and sound of his shakapa were coming to me from different directions.

I also thought a lot about love and whenever I did the space behind my eyes lit up with beautiful warm light. I was sending my love to all my family and friends and tried to cover the whole Earth and humanity into it. Lots of people purged quite hard and whenever I could hear them I was sending support their way but also I was smiling, because it meant they are getting rid of some baggage and I was happy for them.

Physically I was pretty much incapacitated for the whole night. I was alternating between sitting up and lying down. There was lots of violent twitching in my limbs too. Towards the end I realised I need to go for a piss, so I got up, made one wobbly step towards the edge of the platform, but was knocked flat down instantly. I have lied down on it and in few minutes I have asked for help. German helped me to the toilet and then to the kitchen where I have stayed for two hours before I was able to walk again to my bed.

This was an extraordinary and magical night and I am very grateful for this experience.

A great day for medicine
July 23, 2011

Tuesday in the jungle started pretty early in the morning. I was the last one to join the rest of the gang by the platform, where Pepe was getting ready to apply sapo and nu-nu. I got stuck in the toilet trying to empty my guts before this double morning action. It was pretty easy as I had a diarrhoea. When I got there Peter was already being burned on his arm, as he was going first to prepare us for what is coming.

Sapo is a ‘sweat’ from the sapo frog alias Amazonian Monkey Tree Frog alias phyllomedusa bicolor. The frog uses this ‘sweat’ to protect itself from an attack by a snake for example. When snake tries to swallow the frog this stuff makes it quickly to change its mind. I am not sure what effect it exactly has on the snake, but I am sure it is not pleasant. Somehow Amazonian indigenous people figured out that when they catch the frog, tie strings to its legs, spread it between four wooden sticks and start to tickle it, it will produce the sapo material. The material is then collected, put on a wooden stick and kept like a powerful medicine. The frog is released after the procedure without any harm and put back on the tree.

The tribespeople were using the sapo for some time to help them hunt. It has positive effects on immune system, it suppresses feeling of hunger and thirst, it improves senses in a short term and because part of the experience is a flush of the body, it clears it from toxins and makes the hunter less smelly for animals, which gives him slight advantage.

Sapo is applied trough the burns on the skin. The burns remove outer layer of the skin so the material can enter the blood system. The one who is applying will mix the solid sapo material with saliva to work it in a small chunks that are placed on the burns. After a short time the heart starts to beat faster, temperature rises and body is flushed with hotness. Everything pulsates. It is possible to sit for a while but after some time most of us just crawled on the platform or on the grass and collapsed. Then for about 15 minutes the person is more or less incapacitated and trying to get through not very pleasant experience. Someone purges and vomits. The worse effects are usually gone about 30 minutes after which time one can feel much better, stronger, see and hear better and is generally revitalised. This is awesome stuff and I am bringing one stick with me home.

If you would like to know more, for example what bioactive (body treats them like it is making them itself) compounds are present in sapo, I would definitely suggest to find an article on internet called Making Magic by Peter Gorman. Peter is also, by the way, the first person who reported about this medicine to the western world..

After I picked myself up Pepe loaded his tube with nu-nu and I got about four shots in each of my nostrils. Nu-nu is much gentler and also easier to deal with by smokers. It is made from two ingredients – roasted and grounded tobacco (nicotiana tabacum) leaves combined with the toasted, crushed and powdered inner bark of the macambo tree (Theobroma bicolor), a member of the cacao family.

Traditionally it too has been used as a tool to help hunting. Apparently after few shots the ‘taker’ is able to see a vision of a scene in a forrest with all the animals and this vision will guide him to the place where his hunt will be successful. If this is not enough, the Matses will use more powerful sapo to help with the hunt.

I had no visions after nu-nu, but I liked it. After the first few hits, that feel like a small explosion inside of your head, it is much easier and feels like really good snuff tobacco. I was spitting the stuff for some time, because it is not advisable to swallow it and at the end my sinuses felt really clear and I could breath freely. Later in the day when we were going for a swim in the lake, I could see many shades of green, everything looked sharp and I could pick up any small movement in the trees, birds, animals. It was wonderful, but I am not able to say if it was the sapo or the nu-nu or combinations of both.

There was definitely a symbiosis of these medicines and our evening ayahuasca. Our second ayahuasca was bit different than our first, it was mixed with a brew from last month and everyone got little bit less. Everything else preparation-wise was the same, except the experience. When talking to other people the day after, I have found out that the previous night was about death and darkness. Lots of people had horrible visions of demons and dark entities. Lots of people vomited a lot after the end of the ceremony. Later when we were slowly going to sleep, but mostly still tripping, there was a group of hunters that came quite close to us and shot like ten shots very close. Some big rat was being clubbed to death in the toilet area. Chickens were being snatched and killed by predators. The death was all around.

I felt I got served more. It took me one more gulp to drink the ayahuasca than the two nights before. I got mild visuals at the beginning, but no visions. My body was totally drunk though and I wasn’t able to walk until the following morning. I have slept on the platform under the amazonian night sky that night. It took me a while, when I was wondering what s going on, but then I realised, that she is working on me regardless of me not having visions. I was lying in the darkness under my blanket, sweating, letting her work on my guts and my fever that I could feel since the sapo in the morning. The following day the fever and diarrhoea were gone and I felt really good.

When I have accepted that this is also how the medicine works, I could relax more and just enjoyed the feeling of being taken care of. I had quite a few interesting ideas, inspiration for art and I slept that night really good. Also, my body was so fine and quiet this second time. It felt like the body got used to the medicine. There was not a rumble, maybe few burbs, thats all. And it felt really good and warm inside of me.

I came to the jungle to learn and to heal. And I got both, thanks to these extraordinary medicines.

Iquitos times
July 31, 2011

I have stayed in Iquitos another week and half after our jungle trip, few extra days than originally planned. Simple and free process of flight change in Peruvian airlines office made this easy and plenty of others were postponing their departure day. Most of these days I was hanging out with the shrinking group of our new jungle family and few members of Peter’s team. The first week revolved around 7th Amazonian Shamanism Conference organised by Alan Shoemaker, but highlights of my Iquitos stay took place mostly somewhere else.

Thanks to Peter we got a chance to have a private Wachuma ceremony with wonderful shaman Kucho from Machu Picchu on Sunday, day after our return from jungle. Most of our group was still in town and eight of us took up this opportunity. We were joined by Linda and Brian and our ceremony took place in Claire’s place in the village of Padre Cocha, maybe 20 minutes boat ride from Nanay port. Kucho is amazingly sweet, gentle and always giggling. I felt privileged to spend a day in his presence and watch him work. He works with Watchuma or San Pedro cactus, a medicine traditionally used in mountain regions of Peru for centuries. Wachuma ceremonies usually take place during the day, effects of the cactus can be felt for up to 10 hours or even more. Our ceremony that day started before lunchtime when each of us drunk thick greenish liquid from Kucho’s wooden cup.

As a perfect companion to earthy feminine teacher of Ayahuasca, Wachuma is described as having sky and masculine qualities. Wachuma is used to reconnect us to ourselves, others and our environment and also to strengthen one’s spirit. How is this done is something this master teacher plant decides individually. Some people may have visually rich experience, some might purge, some might spent the whole ceremony in a meditative state. My first Wachuma ceremony was visually quiet, but I have found it deeply meditative. My mind was very quiet and I felt really good the whole time. It was really enjoyable to be in a company of my new friends and see few of them receive some intense healing. Time flied and before darkness started to fall on Padre Cocha, we took a boat back to Iquitos. Sidalith, Scott, Steve, Teneille, Nil and myself went straight from a boat to a third floor “penthouse” in the port restaurant and ate some awesome fish.

There were ceremonies happening quite often the week of the conference and even though I was booked for another ceremony with Kucho on Wednesday I have bailed out in the end. Instead I have spent last few hours that morning with Peter and Madeleina before they left to catch their flight back home. Peter’s speech at the conference the previous night was a funny one and his spontaneity and honesty took few attendees by surprise. Those of us, who become to love him during our last two weeks together, had a great time watching his performance. But saying goodbye to him and Madeleine wasn’t easy. There were few harder departures in Iquitos (you know who you are) and this was one of them.

I have returned two more times to Claire’s place, both times for an Ayahuasca ceremony. The first time was with Carlos, young shaman from Tarapoto and second ceremony was conducted by Claire itself on my birthday. Both ceremonies were very quiet, took place in complete darkness and except occasional singing in silence. I felt very mild effects both times and again received no visions. But both times were important experiences. It is good to know how other people work. And as I have described to someone else I feel like my relationship with Ayahuasca is like a relationship with new girlfriend. Each date we are getting to know each other more and we are getting more comfortable with each other and one day the time will come for the kinky and dirty stuff. I know, the first experience I have described earlier doesn’t really fit this metaphor, but you got the point, right? Let’s just say we were both really drunk on the first date.

Working with Claire for a little while was also very beneficial. She gave me some good guidance and pointed out few things to me, that were kinda on my mind already, but now they are little bit more clear and better defined. She also gave me ideas for my next destinations and contacts for her friends, artists and shamans, along the way. Massage and steam bath by her friend Juan after the ceremony were pleasant and kind of finished the work I was doing during last three weeks in the Amazon and I was ready to move on, to the mountains.

The fun highlight of the Iquitos stay happened on Saturday. It was heavily raining the whole day and the roadworks around our hostel turned to mud pools. In the evening the remnants of our group munched on the rest of the mushrooms and took a short motortaxi ride to small rugged hard rock club where a psytrance party was taking place that night. We had a little boogie for a while in an empty club and when the place started to fill up we moved on to an open air stage in other part of Iquitos where most of the locals seems to be having fun. There were hundreds of motorbikes and maybe thousands of people dancing. At the stage there was a band made up of bunch of guys in white uniforms and few girls in bikinis and the place was rocking. It was great to experience the way local people are having fun in Iquitos.