Ayahuasca With Peter Gorman

by Captain Bill

Guest post by Dag Walker

Ayahuasca with Peter Gorman

Iquitos, ayahuasca, Peter Gorman: the three names almost synonymous among those who read deeply in the realm of the Vegetable Mystik. Over the course of nearly 60 years of intense and broad reading and travel, I had never heard of any of them till I stumbled upon all of them by chance roughly in a day. Now, all three are essential parts of my life experience. Recently in Iquitos I took ayahuasca with Peter Gorman. My life is fundamentally altered by my experiences of Iquitos; somewhat changed by ayahuasca; and changed in personal ways only I can see clearly by my encounters with Gorman. Different, yes, and much different. Such is the life of travel, that one is different because of the life itself. But how different life is due to such heavy pressures on the man in the wandering life!

I could have been an office manager in a small town back home, married forever to my childhood sweetheart, our children now grown, me a grandfather, member of the bowling team, neighbour, church-going good old boy. I would have killed for such a life, then and now. Instead, I sit in the Amazon jungle in a rotting old mansion on a side street with a notorious American drug figure and I swallow poison, ayahuasca, and I hallucinate, and I am so strange that my lifelong friends don’t begin to understand me at all.  No job, no wife, no kids, no home, not even a nation to call my own. I have ayahuasca experiences.

My experiences of Iquitos have been uniformly happy. My experiences of ayahuasca have been mostly bland. My experiences of Peter Gorman were mostly violently negative. Perhaps it’s the magic of this city, perhaps it’s just that two tired old men can’t find the energy to hold a grudge, but over time Gorman and I have become better acquainted and have developed some kind of man to man relationship that allows us to be friendly, if not close friends. It’s not ayahuasca that has allowed us to reach this state of mutual respect, but it is writing that draws two cranky old men to talk and listen. Ayahuasca is part of that dialogue. Writing about ayahuasca is significant to both of us.

For the purposes of this book, my ayahuasca session at Peter Gorman’s home in Iquitos is effectively my final installment of this long look at drinking jungle drugs in the Amazon. It’s fitting that such should centre on Gorman.

I can’t recall my first encounter with Gorman, though those who do tell me I blew up at the man and stormed off in a huff within minutes of our chance encounter. The second meeting I do recall, Gorman misremembering it as reacting to me slagging the president, in fact he being offended by some remarks he overheard me say regarding jihadis, people and a force I know only too well, one that those who do not know it see as a benevolent ideology and as a political manifestation of race. Gorman, being an uninformed liberal leftist, automatically sided with his fellow liberal leftists, and further, he bellowed that he wanted to shoot me. I live with threats of murder daily because of my involvement with jihadis and violent left fascism; and thus, because I am tense always, I challenged Gorman to shoot me indeed. Of course he wouldn’t shoot me. I was making a theatrical point as well. And so it was that we ignored each other for weeks, each waiting for the other to make a conciliatory move so we could talk and find out about each other. Then entered Elmore Leonard, novelist. Gorman had one of his books, and he offered it to me. Two writers, two thinkers, two stubborn old men, we had our break in tensions. Unfortunately, it was too late for us to undo my public writing about Gorman. When I looked at what I had written about him I saw that I had outdone myself in viciousness. I stared at my words describing the man and I saw the most vile and hateful writing I have ever done. I was delighted.

Over the course of Gorman’s visit to the city I watched his leg fester and whither from flesh-eating disease he got during his jungle adventure. It was a terrible thing to see, especially since I experienced something similar with my own leg years ago, and not so long ago I watched my friend Bar suffer something similar but worse. Gorman had my sympathy. When he left for hospital back home I kept in contact with him, hoping his leg could be saved. It was, and I was pleased for him. Meanwhile, I continued writing my books about the city, one book being about ayahuasca, this book. My ayahuasca experiences, as we know, were less than stellar, and thanks to the intervention of a mutual friend, Gorman wrote with his take on it. Due to that, I eventually got an invitation to drink ayahuasca with Gorman at his home upon his return to Iquitos.

Gorman and I have different friends in Iquitos, though the city is so small we all know each other well. My friends are beer-drinking red necks who would not drink ayahuasca under torture. My friends are working class men for whom drug-taking is as alien as homosexuality and women’s suffrage. To Gorman’s friends, mine are racist idiots living in an evil past. Between these two groups there is not a lot of liking, not a lot of understanding, not a lot of trust. I cross between because I am a traveller.

I am a long way from my home, and I will never return.

I do long for home, and I see it clearly in my mind’s eye when I look at Gorman. He looks very much like my father. Home comes to me in a rush when I look at Gorman, and this is a great unfairness to the man, especially so because it causes me to become violently angry at an innocent man. Not just looking like my father, though, Gorman looks like The Patriarch personified. When Gorman bellowed drunken threats at me I saw my home and my father and my life. I saw a sadistic, manipulative, violent thug threatening me, my father, and I know I am my father’s son because I am often just like him. I never did take an axe to my father, though I took a hatchet to Gorman in print. The man still hurts because of what I did to him. I didn’t kill my father; instead I took out my rage against that man on Gorman. My psychic fucking pains….

I am well-known in Iquitos as a writer on ayahuasca. Gorman is world-famous as a writer, particularly about ayahuasca. What I write about ayahuasca in Iquitos is not well-understood. I am a skeptic, a concept too many automatically conflate with debunker, cynic, hater. Gorman too made that mistake initially. However, to his credit, he wrote to me that if I were fair and honest in my presentation about ayahuasca, a subject he obviously holds close and dear, he would, he claimed, write the Forward to my book on the subject. Gorman had and has no reason to do me any favours, especially because of what I had done to him in print. Yet, he made his offer to help me. Further, he offered to take me to his home and give me ayahuasca to show me what he can of it in practice. My beer-drinking friends warmed me to a man that Gorman would do nothing good for me. He would not take me to his home, would not give me ayahuasca, would never write a single word in my favour.  To a man my friends said that Gorman hates me and was merely setting me up, and that I was a fool to be so gullible, that I should not believe a word he said about this. They meant it all, and my friends were deeply concerned that I was determined to believe Gorman would tend to me. They warned me. “You should hear him going on about you on the malecon when he’s drinking and talking to his group. He hates you!”

Gorman left town with his group of starry-eyed Romantic ayahuasca drinkers and went to the jungle. My hard-ass cowboy friends all said, “You see, he dumped you. He will not do you good.”

I didn’t see Gorman when he and his group returned from the jungle. He was around, but I didn’t meet him. My friends all shook their heads and said: “I told you so.”

***

I took ayahuasca  with the secret hope that I, like the hundred-plus others I had spoken to in-depth about their experiences, that ayahuasca would be for me some grand mystical and revelatory experience, changing me in a fundamental and fine fashion, giving me an experience I would treasure. I had grand hopes, indeed, though I said not a word of it to others. Not just hope: I expected. But time and again I drank ayahuasca and nothing happened. My friends said I was stupid to play with drugs that could seriously affect my mind and mental health; the hippies and ayahuasca hangers-on all said I was doing it wrong. There is no right or wrong: there is persistence. I kept drinking. Gorman disappeared. None of my friends ridiculed me, though they were disappointed in my persistence in what they saw as self-harm. What would “Mother Ayahuasca” do other than pour a can of black pepper in my eyes, slash my scalp with a pair of scissors, push me backward down a flight of stairs, burn my hand with a cigarette lighter? Mother? Surely I know better. There is no revelation and Gorman hates me.

I didn’t see Gorman for over a week, though I got reports from friends daily about him hating me in public, Gorman carrying on at cafés loudly denouncing me as a hack and a fool and a bigot. My friends actually like me, and they took some satisfaction that since Gorman hates me so deeply there is no chance of him poisoning me with his ayahuasca, that I could finally give up this quest and return to my real life. Then, by chance at a street corner I bumped into Tom, a quiet man with a large round face and long silvery wavy hair and blue eyes, a guy who looks like the Quaker Oats man, one of Gorman’s ayahuasca jungle guests. “Peter will take us to his house tomorrow evening at 7:30 for ayahuasca,” Tom said. I stared at Tom is disbelief, thinking this was some kind of joke. Then it came to me, that Gorman was luring me to his home in the night in the depths of the city where he would poison me with one of the most frightening drugs known to us in the Amazon jungle. “Those whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad.”  Gorman was going to poison me with toé.

As I sat with my friends on the riverside boardwalk word came and spread that I was taking ayahuasca next day with Peter Gorman. My best friend in the city leaned across the table and whispered to me, “Dag, you don’t have to do this.” By which he meant that he would still respect me if for some reason unknowable to him and me and others I refused Gorman’s challenge. El duelo. It is the rules of the game, that I took the first shot at Gorman, unprovoked and savage and public; and it is Gorman’s turn now. Those are the rules men play life by. None of my friends said, “Gorman should not poison Dag.” They all said, “If Gorman can, he should. But Dag doesn’t have to do this.”

****

I arrived on time for my appointment with Gorman so we could proceed to this Iquitos home to take ayahuasca, but when I sat down at his table at the cafe on the waterfront he announced that he needed two hours of my time to talk about how the evening would proceed. There is more to this ceremony than simply sitting alone in the dark to drink ayahuasca. I said nothing to give away any hint of my disappointment. Gorman spent the next two hours talking about ayahuasca, what it can be, even for me.

Gorman told me what I assume he tells us all: that ayahuasca is a teacher; that ayahuasca is a spirit that shows people what they should know, whether about themselves or others; that one is not helpless in this learning process: one must at times ask about the lesson to be learned, confronting daemons and demanding passage beyond them to the secrets they might hide, assuming one dares. Gorman said that one is in control of the mind, and that the body is a rest, that if one is confronted by fears, ones mind is capable of overcoming such fears by allowing oneself to grow into insurmountable power and to reach beyond it, that if one is confronted by a vicious four-headed dog, one can become an armour-plated lion. If one will be strong, then secrets can come to the fore. Gorman talked about his children; and I thought about promises, that a promise is easier than a lie, that a promise is not a lie till one stops promising.

I left Gorman and walked down the malecon, seeing my buddies drinking beer and laughing among themselves as they leer at young women and tell tales of times long gone, tough old guys who carry guns and have dark histories. I sat myself in with them and they heard that I would return next evening to drink ayahuasca with Gorman, no reprieve, only short remission as next time looms like mother kicking till her shoe-heel breaks and she stumbles and you smash her on the forehead with a brass ashtray, smash her so fucking hard she can’t see, and when she speaks again she says she’ll always love you, and you know it is a promise.

I will see Gorman next night.

Ayahuasca With Peter Gorman

Guest post by Dag Walker

Dag’s latest book, Iquitos, Peru: Almost Close, is available at Dawn on the Amazon. Ask Bill Grimes for a copy. Or order your copy direct from amazon.com at this link: Iquitos Peru: Almost Close;

Dag’s new book, Confessions of an Ayahuasca Skeptic, with Forward by Peter Gorman and Afterward by Alan Shoemaker, will be available soon through amazon.com.

To get a taste of what might happen, click this link; Ayahuasca With Javier de Silva;

Hi, Bill Grimes here. As always, the views expressed by guest authors are not necessarily the views of Bill Grimes, Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, or the Captain’s Blog.

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"Rodrigo Rodrich for El Comercio, Iquitos Peru"

I discovered this “striking” photo taken from the Malecon in Iquitos, of a storm over the Amazon, by Rodrigo Rodrich for El Comercio, and picked up by Peru This Week, as part of this seven photo collection; See The Stranger Side Of Iquitos.

Mr. Rodrich is a fantastic photographer. We have other photos of Rodrigo’s on the Captain’s Blog, from when he photographed the Great River Amazon Raft Race. One of my all time favorites is Adventura en Balsas. Brilliant.

Click the links. Enjoy!

On The Streets Of Iquitos With Rodrigo Rodrich

Bill Grimes has been living in Iquitos for over a decade, is president of Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, and host of Dawn on the Amazon Cafe.

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Organized by Regional Government of Loreto Department of Tourism

President Ivan Vasquez Valaria

Headed by Señora Gina Guerra, Director of Tourism, Loreto, Peru

"Great River Amazon Raft Race Balsa Adventure

The River Amazon International Raft Race has been staged here in Iquitos Peru since 1999. At first it was just a one day affair attracting local people. In 2006 the race was extended to cover 180 kilometres,  or 118 miles of the mighty River Amazon over 3 days. The event has now been officially recognized as the World’s Longest Raft Race by Guinness World Records. Click the link to read more.

The rules state that each team of four must construct their own raft out of balsawood logs and other materials (which are provided) and then paddle the craft for three days through the magnificent Amazon rainforest to the finish line in Iquitos.

Happy Rafters Great River Amazon Raft Race

Happy rafters in the shade on a well constructed raft

Twelve different countries took part last year. Except for one year it seems the foreigners can never beat the local rafters who always take about four hours less over the three days to complete the course. The winners of the 2013 River Amazon International Raft Race were the “Los Invincibles” from the village of Padre Cocha. Their cousins “Los Increibles” came a very close second. The only River Amazon International Raft Race to be won by a foreign crew was in 2008 when the “Easy Living” team from the USA completed the course in a record time of 12 hours and 19 minutes. That record still stands to this day.

The next River Amazon International Raft Race will take place in September 2014. Seventeen international teams have already pledged to compete in this year’s race and now that we are in the Guinness Book of World Records we expect a record entry this year. Early enrollment is highly recommended. Join us for a great Amazon adventure.

"Sisterhood Great River Amazon Raft Race"

Sisterhood in the Great River Amazon Raft Race

The Program

Wednesday 17 September

7:00 p.m. Rafter’s Reception in the Plaza Ramon Castilla.

Thursday 18 September

8:00 a.m. All participants leave by bus from the Plaza Ramon Castlla for the 2 hour trip to the City of Nauta.

10:30 a.m. Civic Reception on the Plaza de Manuel Pacaya in Nauta.

12:00 noon Lunch

1:30 p.m. All competitors cross the river by boat to the beach on Fisherman’s Island.

2:00 p.m. Each team captain will receive their teams raft making materials.

2:45 p.m. Raft construction begins. Foreign teams are allowed local help if required.

6:00 p.m. Dinner followed by music and dancing on the beach.

All participants spend the night in tents, 1 for each team.

Friday 19 September

6:30 a.m. Breakfast.

7:30 a.m. Start of first leg of the race to Nuevo Esperanza, 36 miles.

Lunch as competitors arrive.

6:30 p.m. Dinner.

7:30 p. m. Welcome ceremony by the village.

All competitors sleep in tents on the football pitch.

Saturday 20 September

6:00 a.m Breakfast.

7.30 a.m. Start of second leg of the race to Tamshiyacu 44 miles.

Lunch as competitors arrive.

6:00 p.m. Dinner.

7:30 p.m. Welcome ceremony.

All participants sleep in the school hall.

Sunday 21 September

6:00 a.m Breakfast.

7:30 a.m Start the last leg of the race, 40 miles to the Fishing Club at Bella Vista Nanay.

Lunch as competitors arrive.

3:30 p.m. Awards ceremony and farewell speeches.

"Great River Amazon Raft Race, What It Takes To Win"

What It Takes To Win

The Rules

1. Teams will consist of 4 people.

2. Substitutes are allowed but with a time penalty of 2 hours per substitution.

3. Each team is allowed to have up to 3 substitutes.*

4. Rafts will be constructed of 8 balsawood logs (provided) with a minimum length of 5 metres.

5. Rafts must be constructed 8 logs across not 4 x 4

6. Only the lst and last metre of each log can be cut into points (bows).

7. Paddles and lifejackets will be provided but competitors can bring and use their own.

8. Foreign teams are allowed local people to help in construction.

9. Life jackets must be worn at all times during the race, failure to adhere to this rule could mean disqualification.

10. No team must interfere or impede the progress of other teams.

11. No alcohol or drugs are allowed onboard rafts.

12. Any team who has more than 5 klms to go to the Finish Line at 5.00 p.m. will be towed in with a time penalty of 2 hours. Any team refusing to be towed will be disqualified.

13. Any team deemed to be going deliberately slow will be disqualified.

14. Each raft will be given a number, this must be displayed at all times.

15. All competitors must sign a disclaimer before competing.

*Substitutes will travel in the Support Boat until needed.*

THE JUDGES DECISION WILL BE FINAL

Other Notes

Suggested Items to Carry On board your Raft

Ponchos

Machete

Flashlight

First Aid Kit

Long pants

Foam to sit on

Insect Repellent

Long sleeved shirt

Gardening gloves or similar

Sun cream

Wide brimmed hat

Snacks like potato chips, fruit etc…

Entry Fee

$1,000 U.S. dollars per team of 4 + $250 per substitute.

What Is Included

Transport from Iquitos to Nauta, 18 September.

All meals are included, breakfast, lunch and dinner except Thursday the 18th when only lunch and dinner are provided and the last day, Sunday 20th when only breakfast and dinner well be provided.

Purified bottled water will be provided at all times.

All raft making materials will be provided.

Life jackets and paddles are provided.

Accommodation; The nights of 18th September and 19th September.

All competitors will sleep in tents on mattresses, 1 tent per team. The night of Saturday 20th competitors will sleep in the school hall in Tamshiyacu on mattresses.

For instructions how to join, please email;

michaelfcollis@yahoo.co.uk

Security

For your security the Peruvian Coast Guard and the State Tourist Police will stay with the race for its entirety.

The Red Cross and the State of Loreto Health Department (SALUD) will have safety boats with doctors and nurses following the race in case of any emergency.

Please Make A Comment On Our Blog Below

If you have competed before tell us about your experience.

If you are a first timer please give us your thoughts.

Please direct any questions you might have to the blog so that others can see the answer.

“THE FAINT OF HEART NEED NOT APPLY”

More of what it takes to win

The 16th River Amazon International Raft Race

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By Joe Tafur MD (Co-Founder of Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual)

Ayahuasca is now spreading across the globe, and has become many things to many people. In its origins, ayahuasca is a traditional plant medicine utilized in ceremonial healing throughout the Amazon. In the Amazonian tradition, ayahuasca is a healing spirit of nature, accessed by imbibing the ayahuasca tea in healing ritual. For others, ayahuasca is simply the tea itself, known for its hallucinogenic properties, made from potent psychotropic plants indigenous to the Amazon Rain Forest. The term ayahuasca is taken from the Quechua language, aya- which means death or spirit and huasca which means vine. This traditional medicine also has many other names among the diverse indigenous cultures of the extensive Amazonian region.

In the mid-1800’s, Spruce and von Humboldt were two of the first European explorers to encounter the ayahuasca decoction. These early explorers reported hearing tales of the beverage’s magical effects: stories of visions, “out-of-body-travel,” predictions of the future, location of lost objects, and contact with the dead. Upon experimentation, these explorers verified the tea’s mystical properties. Spruce determined that the various regional concoctions (ayahuasca, yage, hoasca, caapi) all utilized the Banisteriopsis vine in combination with the leaves of some other presumably psychoactive plant.

Ayahuasca tea is named for the ayahuasca vine Banisteriopsis caapi and is generally prepared by boiling the shredded stalk of the woody ayahuasca vine and the leaves of the tryptamine-rich Psychotrochia viridis bush, known commonly in the Peruvian Upper Amazon as chacruna. There are a number of other ways to prepare ayahuasca tea, sometimes involving different tryptamine sources or the addition of other plants.

From a Western perspective, this combination of plants provides the necessary alkaloids involved in promoting the mysterious ayahuasca experience: namely, N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and a few beta-carbolines.

Chacruna is known to be rich in the psychedelic indoleamine DMT. The Banisteriopsis vine ayahuasca is the source of the assisting beta-carbolines. Thus, the combination provides the psychoactive alkaloids: N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and the beta-carbolines: harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine (THH). The effects of isolated DMT in humans have been reported to resemble those of the structurally related molecule LSD. However due to its rapid breakdown in the gut, DMT, if used alone, must be injected or inhaled to induce a response. The effects of ingested DMT can be amplified through the additional consumption of beta-carbolines. The beta-carbolines of the ayahuasca vine delay the breakdown of DMT and prolong its effects in the body and brain. This phenomena is known as the “ayahuasca effect.” Among other things, this effect also delays the breakdown and prolongs the effects of serotonin, one of the brain’s neurotransmitters.

It is for these reasons that one must avoid foods rich in tyramine (such as meats that are potentially spoiled or pickled, aged, smoked, fermented, or marinated; alcoholic beverages, and fermented foods, such as most cheeses) and medications which affect serotonin levels when taking ayahuasca. If these foods or medications are combined with ayahuasca, the body’s serotonin levels can be raised to dangerously toxic levels.

DMT has also been shown to transiently elevate blood pressure. Additionally, in some cases, the ayahuasca experience can cause significant psychological stress. For these reasons, extreme caution should be taken with those who may be at risk of heart disease.

Western science has been primarily focused on the effects of DMT in the ayahuasca experience. Many Westerners consider the ayahuasca tea to be simply a traditional DMT delivery system. As DMT is the source of the psychedelic visionary experience, “gringo” scientists believe it to be the most significant component of the ayahuasca tea. Some believe that ayahuasca-associated vomiting and diarrhea are merely unfortunate side effects of a primitive and crude DMT delivery system.

Conversely, after presumably thousands of years of trans-generational experience with ayahuasca ceremony, indigenous healers have determined that the ayahuasca vine is the vital ingredient in the ayahuasca tea. The ayahuasca vine provides the force which drives the ceremonial healing process. The ayahuasca provides “la purga,” the strength of the medicine. This purge includes the well-known vomiting and the diarrhea, but refers more completely to a deep spiritual cleansing. Traditional ayahuasca medicine is most concerned with this component, deep spiritual cleansing, which includes deep emotional, psychological and physical cleansing and healing. Ayahuasca is traditionally known as the grandmother of the healing plant spirits, and hence the tea is named for her. Chacruna, the DMT source, also a master plant spirit, is her assistant in the ayahuasca ceremony. Indigenous healers are well aware that chacruna is the source of the ayahuasca visions. Ayahuasca tea richer in chacruna often provides a more visual experience. However, as noted in traditional clinical experience, the spiritual cleansing process is not dependent on the visions, although it can be enhanced by the visions.

With this in mind, DMT does have a fascinating role in the ayahuasca experience. Some individuals have offered the possibility that like the opiates and the cannabinoids, DMT may be acting on an endogenous human system. DMT is produced endogenously and is actively transported across the blood brain barrier. In 1965 DMT was isolated in human blood and in 1972 DMT was isolated in human brain tissue. It has since reportedly been isolated from cerebrospinal fluid and urine. Its endogenous function is not clear and the site of DMT production has not been clearly identified. It is possible that DMT is produced in the pineal gland where the necessary enzymatic machinery exists to produce a methylated indoleamine. Peripheral production of DMT in other parts of the body is also possible. Some suggest that endogenous DMT in human beings may play a role in mystical experiences including those involved in deep meditation and near-death.

Although ongoing DMT research and the possibilities for endogenous DMT are fascinating, traditional ayahuasca ceremony involves much more than this mysterious molecule. Some traditional Shipibo shamans remark that the isolated chemical DMT provides only the formula of the visions, but does not carry the vital spirit of the healing plants. The practice of traditional ayahuasca medicine seeks to provide profound and lasting healing as opposed to a temporary visionary experiences, and involves several components.

First, ayahuasca medicine is prepared from whole plants. Although unpleasant to the taste, ayahuasca tea, as mentioned, produces effects beyond the psychedelic properties of DMT. Properly prepared and utilized, ayahuasca tea can facilitate deep healing and access, for those willing, to the mystical visionary world of the healing plant spirits celebrated in traditional Amazonian culture. Next, in the Shipibo tradition, in order to open yourself to the more subtle aspects of traditional plant medicine, one should maintain a traditional vegetalista diet to maximize your healing.

Lastly, traditional ayahuasca ceremony is guided by appropriately trained shamans. As the ayahuasca experience can be very intense and even psychologically destabilizing, one should be very careful when choosing a proper ceremonial guide. Shipibo shamans like many other Amazonian ayahuasqueros guide the ceremonial healing process through icaros. Icaros are the mystical healing songs sung by the shamans while under the effects of the ayahuasca. The shamans universally teach that these icaros are learned from the plants themselves and are sung to channel the healing energy of master plants. These songs are learned during extensive traditional diets and often under the guidance of an experienced master. As ayahuasca continues to spread into this modern world, we should remember its origins and continue to learn from Amazonian cultural wisdom and the extensive experience of traditional masters.

Introduction To Ayahuasca Medicine

By Joe Tafur, MD (Co-Founder of Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual)

Dr. Joe Tafur practises “western” medical techniques for 6 months of the year in USA and then practices and studies Shamanic techniques including ayahuasca at Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual Ayahuasca Healing Center, near Iquitos.

Bill Grimes here. Many thanks to Dr. Joe Tafur, and to The Iquitos Times
As always, the views expressed by guest authors are not necessarily the views of Bill Grimes, Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, or the Captains Blog.
You will want to read this descriptive article by Chris Kilham, Medicine Hunter, about his experience with ayahuasca at Nihue Rao.

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Guest post by Dag Walker

Javier de Silva

Part One

Ron Wheelock was in a confessional mood or something as we sat having breakfast at his place the morning after. He got onto a guy he is obsessed about, Javier de Silva, a local curandero who, Wheelock says, is plagueing Wheelock with spells and miseries from afar, from the aether, and in fact was doing it as the session the night before progressed. De Silva is such a menace to Wheelock’s peace that he is seriously, he says, considering a move out of the ayahuasca business and flight from Peru just to get away from this guy. Wheelock is serious about this. “Javier de Silva is the worst brujo in the world,” Wheelock says.

“Hey, I know that name,” I blurt out. I know it because Bo Keeley, who tells me everything about how to live my life right, told me that I had to take ayahuasca with the guy. Now it is totally settled. “Ron, I have to take ayahuasca with him. It’s perfect. You and him, in competition, who knows what will happen!” I’m thinking it’s cosmic, and that maybe Bo is onto something here.

After hearing many horror stories about de Silva from folks around town I try to track him down, failing at first because I got the wrong street address. I was nervous a bit because the man has such a lot of people who say so many bad things about him. I feared firstly that the man would tell me to go away, wrecking my devious plan to take ayahuasca with the two biggies of the ayahuasca trade here. Then there was no secondly. I had to actually find the guy first.

Enter Juan Maldonado again. Juan is the ultimate hustler in Iquitos, a man most people get to know if they stay here for longer than a few weeks. Juan is the man who can fix anything, get anything, and will do anything for a few dollars. As much as a man like Juan can be a friend to anyone, he is my friend. I got him to come with me to find this brujo with the seriously bad reputation. With Juan that was a simple matter. The problem was that de Silva was on a Peru-wide tour to promote his ayahuasca and healing abilities and was out of town for a week yet. Fine, I had the right place to return to. I also had a stern and concerned warning from Juan: “He is a con man,” Juan said. This is some kind of statement, coming as it does from Juan. Mention almost any name in the city and Juan will say, “Yes, I know him. He is a friend of mine.” Juan doesn’t say this about de Silva. Instead he says: “He is a sneak.” I wanted Juan to introduce me to de Silva to establish my credential as a low-life and cynical journalist.

Juan is the kind of man one would expect to find in the movies, and as luck had it, Juan was actually in the movies the day I needed him to come back to de Silva’s place with me. I had to fake it with de Silva to sneak my way into his affections. With Juan’s admonitions in my ear I went.  “He is a sneak and a liar. He is dishonest and only out for the money.” Oh, Juan! After that there was no backing out. It’s Javier de Silva or death. Maybe both.

I finally met de Silva, a medium height, dark-skinned man of 42, his curly hair cut short, he dressed in a wife-beater tee-shirt, baggy shorts below the knee, and plastic flip-flops, the usual attire in Iquitos for foreigners, locals usually far better dressed, at least in public. De Silva was at home, inside a two story concrete place distinguished only by its imposing size. De Silva is fat, his belly sticking out too far, his face round, and sweaty even inside the bunker that is his home. He smiles, and his teeth are wonderfully white. He opens his big arms wide, and I step back so he doesn’t hug me. We shake hands like men. I explain myself and enter his home, main floor, a huge empty square, plastic chairs stacked up in a corner, some stained colour posters of Mary and Jesus or saints or something taped on the wall. It’s an empty barn of a room. We pass through it into the back of the place to a small sitting room, also bare grey stained concrete walls, and we sit on some plastic chairs while I further explain what I want from the man, i.e. a story about ayahuasca and the man who uses it to commune with the spirits to heal the wounded and ill and frightened in this world. To my relief, de Silva is open to talking to me, and better still, he doesn’t do tourists. At least not primarily. All the while we talk de Silva smiles at me and often, for no reason at all, he bursts into giant belly laughs and his little black eyes glisten. This guy is a pro. performer.

“Hey, you, tell me about stuff.”

De Silva has staked out a space in the very crowded area of Iquitos ayahuasqueros. I’m in for a few bumps as I listen to him, and I encounter some shocks as well, fat, smiling, Mr. Joviality that he is. This guy is a con. But I come to him with as much prejudice as I did when I first met Ron Wheelock. I think I’m here to learn.

De Silva is Peruvian since he came at the age of 12 with his ayahuasca master grandfather, though many refer to him as an exotic, as The Brazilian. Iquitos is his home, and here he’s at the top of his game, though not so top as he used to be, the centre of all spotlights among the shamanic crowd he used to dominate during the international conferences organised by the U.S. Federal fugitive, Alan Shoemaker. De Silva is still big in town, almost entirely among locals, and big in Ron Wheelock’s mind, due to de Silva’s “witchcraft.” All I see, as we move into an even smaller concrete room, his sanctum sanctorum, where de Silva performs his magic on-on-one, is a smiling fat guy chain-smoking the local cheap cigarettes, Caribe, of which he has opened and scattered on the bottom rack of his altar perhaps 50-60 packs. The menace of this guy is the choking fog of cigarette smoke. He’s a clean-shaven fat guy dressed like a bum sitting at home alone on a weekend. He checks me out in my flip-flops, my rolled up shorts, my shirt tails hanging out. I haven’t shaved in over a month. De Silva smiles at me. De Silva isn’t loud or aggressive, doesn’t have the cunning, wary, scanning look of a convict scoping out the scene. He looks me clearly in the eye, and he looks OK to me. If not powerful of mind or body, he is at least powerful in personality. Yet there is still something about him that sets off my alarm bells, this guy who has spooked Ron Wheelock. De Silva, I see, is a low-rent version of Obama. He’s a talker. He smiles at me like he doesn’t mean it. Then I truly get it: “I am different from all the others. They are in this for the money.” Now I do not trust this guy at all. I nod and smile and let him know I believe he is something special and I like him. He looks at me and grins for real for the first time. I sit and smile like I mean it and inside I worry that Juan Maldonado will show up for no reason at all and tell de Silva that I am here because I know Ron Wheelock. I smile at de Silva and he checks out my metal teeth.

I’m a nice middle-class guy from a small rural area back home where folks are honest, decent, and church-going people who join the army and kill innocent, blood-crazed peasants for a few years if by accident they get their teenage cousins pregnant. I’m a simple kind of guy with solid values and a core American morality. Thus, to find myself deep in the Peruvian Amazon jungle in a tiny concrete room with a man who has a reputation as a con man and a witchdoctor who can cast spells on people and destroy their minds and bodies, the kind of man I have heard about all my life as Satanic, I could have been– should have been– scared. I should have been trembling and in fear of losing my soul. As is, I can’t recall fear anymore. My concern was to put the man at his ease so I could get a story from him without him knowing I had sneaked in with a lot of ideas already in mind. I smiled a lot as I sat with this devil-worshipping con man. I didn’t feel a thing. Nothing is too strange anymore in my homeless life.

There I was, trapped in a six by four foot room with a Satanist who could capture me, torture me, kill me impossibly far from my homeland and no one else would know or care. In this room were three chairs, in a corner that de Silva occupied, a wire frame rocking chair with one plastic seat cushion, my wooden chair in another corner, and a chair by the doorway where sat a segundo, one of many of de Silva’s seconds in command. This cramped little box was de Silva’s workspace, a place he practices his arcane magic medicine of casting out daemons who cause cancer, which he can dispel for $200.00 U.S. I watched him under the dull glow of a pig-tail lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. We smiled at each other.

A fourth man entered and stood standing stupid, segundo closing the door, lighting a Caribe, which he handed to de Silva who immediately huffed it to the filtre and put out his hand for another. De Silva lit four small white candles and turned out the light, the candles illuminating the doo-dads on the altar, a two foot by three foot long table crammed with ornaments of the curandero trade. I scanned the walls and saw a poster of Jesus and Mary, one of those ultra-dayglo things that shifts into a different picture, a Bleeding Jesus with puppy eyes. Two for one. I, too, am a sucker for a good deal. Beside that on the wall was a picture of Shiva and his wife, Mrs. Shiva, I guess. On the corner of the desk close to de Silva were two sticky-looking discoloured cell phones. The desk was littered with stuff I would loved to own as a ten year old, and I would like to have some of it even now, which de Silva gets because we looked at each other and did the lips and teeth thing again and he knows I’d shop-lift his cool-shit if I got a chance. I’d pass on the three plastic multi-size pyramids, but I sort of like the gold-coloured charging plastic bull. I asked if that was a statue there of Saint Anthony, the Egyptian sex maniac Dali painted a picture of. De Silva said that would be a different Saint Anthony. The one thing I really wanted to steal was the foot high metal totem pole of junk bits on the desk. There’s a skull with sparkly diamonds for eyes, and a metal moon and some gear parts and weird-looking shapes from things I don’t recognise, all of it stacked up and soldered into a big cross. De Silva said the image came to him in a dream and he had it created in Lima. My inner ten year old wants it. I turned from it and saw a tiny photo of a wrinkled, butt-ugly Muslima in a hijab. I asked about her presence there and de Silva informed me she’s a Catholic saint. Sorry, bud, that is definitely a Muslim woman. Finally, I stared in disbelief at a clay statuette on the desk. It is a thing from one of those hip cards and gift shops one finds in Manhattan or Los Angles, a figure of Stan Laurel, silent movie star, with his slap-stick pal Oliver Hardy. De Silva informed me the statuette is a doctor in a brown suit carrying a medical case. I remember Laurel and Hardy. They should be together on de Silva’s altar.

“Blah-blah and the ya-yas,” de Silva says, and I turn sadly from thoughts of home to my current reality, “25 years as a curandero in Iquitos….” Out of the corner of my ear I catch that “I have 10,000 plants at my ayahuasca centre in the jungle outside of the city.” He tells me he knows 15,000 icaros. I make a mental note that if he says 20,000 of anything I am walking out.

I started out with some softball questions to get things moving, questions so easy to answer that no one would have to think about them, just to get the man in the mood to talk to me. This is relationship building so this sleazy con man will trust me. I am bored to tears with this kind of crap, but I do this for a living, so I do it with a smile. I do fear I might pass out from lack of fresh air as de Silva blows through a pack of cheapy smokes. I listen to his nonsense ayahuasca stuff and take notes just because.

“The patient takes ayahuasca to have a connection with the spirit causing him harm, which allows de Silva to follow up so he can defeat said evil spirit.

Check.

Ayahuasca is a gateway to other worlds.

Check.

There are 150 other worlds.

Check.

There are five elements: Earth, air, fire, water, and the Spirit.

Check.

Mother Nature is the mother of all the elements, as if I care.

Why visit other worlds when the one we inhabit is so large and strange that we cannot know much of it at all?

To gain power.

Sure.

To find oneself.

And if one does find oneself, what is one to do with self, especially if said self is an arsehole one would rather not know?

One can change oneself.

As if.

De Silva says he looks on change as a matter of medicine healing by changing curses in one who can be whole again, by connecting ones interior elements of happy wholeness.

Huh?

If there was a further explanation I lost it in a cloud of Caribe smoke and the smell of the liquid agua florida de Silva guzzled. I wasn’t so bored by this a year ago when I first heard it, but now it’s tiresome. I barely listen as de Silva speaks on and on till I suddenly have to stop him and ask him to repeat himself in case my Spanish has suddenly failed me entirely. It’s one of those WTF!? moments.

“Mapacho is for amateurs. A true master smokes the pure tobacco of Caribe.”

I’m, like, “WHAT?”

Then there’s more drivel that I tune out as I nod and smile.

Every hippie and middle-aged flaky I have ever heard goes on about Mother Ayahuasca till I am ready to puke up anaconda spirits.

“Ayahuasca does not grow in water,” de Silva says. “It grows on land. It is not a water-borne plant. It is not an anaconda spirit. Ayahuasca is a rope. It is a male.”

Mother Ayahuasca is not my mother? Mother Ayahuasca is a man?

“This is true. The idea that ayahuasca is female is learned from Shipibos, and they are greedy and only want money. Ayahuasca is a male. Yaje [DMT] is female.”

Suddenly I am not in Kansas any more. I do not hear the usual cliches, but instead I hear the war hammer blows of iconoclasm smashing the idols of hippie-dom, de Silva having cleared a space for himself to stand among the wreckage of boring old New Age fripperies. De Silva has just stepped out from the crowd and he now shines. He shines alone. No one else can now do what he has done, i.e. no one else can be the ultimate ayahuasca rebel because they would simply be imitating de Silva. All the conservatives can do is call him a brujo and hope it sticks. This is jungle medicine checkmate. Bang!

I sit in the coffin size room and my head spins from the cigarette smoke and heat of burning candles and the close quartered scent of fat men. I am in unfamiliar territory in the Amazon jungle chatting with a witch doctor. I am a small town conservative Protestant from fly-over country, U.S.A. I cannot go home again. That place disappeared long ago. I sit with Javier de Silva in a concrete casket in the Amazon. Lost? Only if I had somewhere else to go. Afraid? Only if I had anything to lose.

Part Two

Stuck in this stink of sweat and cigarette smoke stench-filled tomb I am seriously in danger of passing out from lack of air and and a strong flow of bewilderment. It does not get better. Enter a 40 year old woman dressed to the nines in the local equivalent of Walmart’s finest sale-priced floral pattern discount ladies’ apparel, pancake make-up fit for a matron of an age we will not say, and the lady so nervous she cannot stand still even though she is obviously exhausted, her eyes red, her face pinched, her posture slumped and yet tense, a woman who, it turns out, has not slept for over a week because her ex-lover has cast a spell on her. She exists in a state of ever-waking torment. She cannot go on. She takes a seat, a pink plastic molded thing that I think de Silva might well have pulled out of a hat somewhere, because I cannot recall having seen it all this time. She’s kind of cute in a Marg Simpson way, her hair a lot shorter and stiff, brushed back severely, set hard in tight curls from a beauty parlour. This lady is trying very hard to look as good as she possibly can in this Modern Amazon world of working class small town America circa the 1950s, and I think she’s doing it well. She looks like the practical and hard-working ladies back home, something like Sarah Palin, like a nice lady with kids she works hard to support. She fiddles nervous with a string of white plastic balls that sort of approximate pearls as she glances at me, a stranger, a man in the room where she must tell all her secrets of love and woe and pain. She’s got my vote, especially when she sits rigid in the chair and gives in and matter of factly says to de Silva that she is possessed by a daemon.

De Silva leans forward, his big belly rolling across his fat thighs, his big, flabby arms jiggling as he reaches for another Caribe cigarette already lit by segundo and waiting, all the phlogiston sucked out of it as I watch in horrified wonder, the long grey ash falling to the floor like a dead man. Yeah, that is scary. De Silva looks the lady in the eye and tells her softly, “I will cast out that daemon.” They consult  in whispers, and suddenly de Silva leans back in his chair and speaks in a tone of shock, shaken to the roots of his soul by the discovery he has made: “You are possessed by the spirit of the Black Anaconda!” he roars. I burst into hysterical laughter, but thank the gods, only on the inside. The lady in the pink plastic chair twists one leg around the other and shucks both under the chair as she clamps her hands crosswise on opposing shoulders and stares terrified at de Silva. “I will defeat him and rid you of this curse,” de Silva shouts, and I fucking well believe it now, as do all the others in this room, particularly mom and her 20 year old son who has slid in and stands beside her and puts his hand on her hand as she clutches her shoulder tight and must hurt if only she knew. The Black Anaconda Spirit.  If you got it, it’s not a laughing matter, as I see when I see it all play it out before me in the smoke and the candle light and the steam of sweat.  This lady must be saved. This lady will be saved. I am sure of it.

To get this ball rolling, de Silva takes a giant swig of auga florida, stuff I might use on my hair if I were a bit fancier than I am. He does another Caribe like he did before and I am aghast and somewhat sick at the sight of such a stunt. He sucks the coal through the cigarette till there is nothing left but a long ash, and I can’t cope with it. I turn my head away. How does he do it? He begins to whistle, a mighty fine tune, too, though I have no idea where the music came from, up and down the scales, and I like it. He shakes his chakapa and the leaves of this big rattle swish and make a sound like the wind blowing through the leaves of the pine forests back home at night when I am awake and am supposed to be asleep. I find myself mesmerised, the icaros coming thick in the dead air, the tune familiar to me from too many icaros sung by others; but this is different, de Silva singing, more than loud, the sound powerful and exciting and exhilarating, the song pounding in my mind. I feel the icaro in my chest. I feel the icaro surging in my blood. De Silva shakes his rattle, he sings, he trembles and shakes his corpulent stuff in his chair and he sweats, and the sweat flies off him like a dog shaking off a jump in a lake. His voice is a full roar and beautiful. His eyes are wild and rolling out of control, and yet still he manages to reach out to segundo for another lit Caribe, which, hate to say, is sucked to dust along a diminishing trail of glowing red ember to the filter. The icaro rises to heights of glory, and at the crescendo, all of a flash and fury, it ends instantly. De Silva heaves himself back against the chair, he covered in sweat, reaching for a towel, wiping himself off, and then, looking at the woman in her chair, he laughs out loud in a opera-worthy scene of ultimate triumph of good over evil. He shouts, and the lady grabs her knees and stares bug-eyed at him. “The Curse of the Black Anaconda! It is gone!” The Lady slumps in her chair, so relieved she cries silently, tears dropping onto her polyester dress in a glittering light cascade.

Well, fuck me dizzy. That was some evil spirit. I’m happy for the old lady. I look at her son, and I am happy for him too. Mom passes de Silva two ten sole notes. All is well again. Son stands still beside his mother, he clean cut and proper, dressed in black slacks and a black shirt with white embroidered words I squint to see.

Sony. Make. Believe.

Part Three

Dinner arrived at my favourite chicken place just in time to save me from a serious bad headache of the kind I used to get as a student when I marked the backyard of the house with sticks in the ground so I could compare the force and distance of my headache-induced projectile vomitting over the course of time. I was so used to crippling pain that I became clinical about it. My impending headache was making me somewhat nostalgic. Javier de Silva. I had spent so much time thinking about the story and how to present it to the greater world that I missed all the day’s meals, didn’t drink anything, and smoked myself into this state of pain and sickness to the point I was dreading the moments from my dinner order to the plate landing on the table so I could at last eat and be reasonable again. My chicken dinner came, and as I stuck a fork into a plateful of french fries covered in ketchup, my coleslaw just waiting for the next bite, my chicken sending me to a heaven of food delight, in walked Ron Wheelock, and he said hello and asked how I was. I put my fork down and greeted Ron and his boy and his girlfriend. These are people I like and I value my time with them. Dinner had to wait.

Ron smiled and his bright blue eyes shone even when I told him, “I just finished writing up my notes of a meeting I had with Javier de Silva.” Ron spent some years in prison for selling drugs, and yet there is none of that typical con manner about him that most pick up and keep for life even after a short spell.  When he shakes my hand I feel the grip of a man who works hard for his money. We share 10,000 years of island inbreeding. Ron smiled at me, and I like him because he means it when he smiles.

Wheelock told me as he and the family stood and I sat at my table, for in hand, that he had a group of 31 people at his ayahuasca lodge recently. “The first session was good,” he said, “but the second was a catastrophe. Javier de Silva came and put curses on me and made my people crazy. I t was worse during the third ceremony. De Silva cast so many spells that I had to fight him the whole time and people were panicking. The last ceremony was just as bad. De Silva is a brujo. You ain’t gonna take ayahuasca with him, are you?” Wheelock was seriously concerned about it. “There was one guy who ended up crazy. I used to see him on the street. I’d give him S./5.00 sometimes, not often, but sometimes. He was crazy because de Silva cursed him. I don’t want to see that happen to you.” I could see Wheelock’s thin face drawn at the very thought of his nemesis, his concern for me making him tense.

If not for Ron Wheelock’s relationship with de Silva I would have no interest in the latter. As is, this is a must for me, this clash of Titans. I have to take ayahuasca with Ron Wheelock’s enemy, Javier de Silva.

Wheelock’s boy is excellent. We make faces at each other, we poke each other and do boy things. I forget momentarily about brujos and curses and headaches and even my dinner. We all shake hands and I stab my chicken, ripping him up and eating him. “You have my blessing,” says Wheelock as he leaves.

Part Four

Mother Ayahuasca had better lock on her chastity belt because the plan as of now is to go drinking with the Three Davids, currently the most notorious motherfuckers in Iquitos. If there is trouble in town, one hears the “David” was involved. Taking ayahuasca with these guys is probably a mistake, and thanks to Juan Maldonado, it’s to drink with the most notorious brujo in the city, Javier de Silva. What could go wrong?

David is going to drive us over to de Silva’s place. He has a mototaxi, and if he isn’t too drunk he’s a great driver, very reliable and affable and a good friend. David is tall, well over six feet, so he carries the extra 70 pounds, most of it from beer drinking, pretty well. He’s a good-looking guy for a 60 year old, white hair now, and blue eyes and a long ago broken nose. He’s easy to like, always ready with a joke, a happy guy who had some bad luck over the years, like being busted a while back because the police in Europe mistook him for a big-time dope smuggler, and David did a few years in prison till the  government figured out that they made a mistake somehow. I’m not clear on the details of this story. Nor am I clear on how his bad luck continued and David went to prison in Ecuador after the Chief of Police emptied a revolver into the whorehouse David was running. David’s bad luck continues in Iquitos because someone in a position of authority is claiming that David has threatened to murder said official. Knowing David as I do, I suspect the official lacks a sense of humour. David is going to drive David, David, and me to Javier de Silva’s place.

David is going to come along, the second David, that is, the guy with the crenelated smile, his thick black hair pulled back into a tight pony tail, his limping gait from a serious accident during a crazy adventure making him noticeable from a block away, to write a story for the local expat paper. I think David is coming. One can never tell from one minute to the next about David because he is having a problem with a local warlord who is threatening David with a ten year prison sentence, and David is leery of going back. He had some really bad luck in life, being smaller than a lot of blokes, and thus he was picked on a bit, causing him to straighten out those who would bully him. Unfortunately, giving these lessons in good behaviour to others got David thrown in prison a number of times for assault and such things. Perhaps if David hadn’t used table legs, pool cues, and broken beer bottles to teach so well he might have been seen as a victim of other people’s cruelty. He is definitely that now, given the warlord’s fury at him. That fury means David is forever planning his escape into the jungle to make his way to some other country where the Peruvian police won’t bother coming after him, though the warlord’s employees are likely to seek him out no matter where he goes. I don’t bother mentioning that to David. He’s tense already. Ayahausca would likely be just the thing to calm him down and show him the error of his ways.

David, on the other hand, he being David number three here, looks like James Bond of later movies, a good-looking fellow with prematurely grey hair, a Scottish bad temper, and a fine wardrobe that one afternoon came hurtling down from Tracy’s (a gentleman doesn’t ask ladies about being in prison) second floor balcony over the Malecon Maldonado, just moments before the safety glass door exploded into a million pieces, knows the error of his ways, suffering from a severely broken hand he got in a fist fight with a Brazilian transvestite hooker in the night while back. David was pretty drunk when that happened, and because of it he now has his third “denuncia” from the police. Any more trouble from David, like another fight with anyone who crosses his path, and David will find himself dumped across the nearest foreign  border. That would be unfair, David being a good guy who just had some bad luck  a few years ago that resulted in him killing a fellow by accident. It was unfair too that David had to spend time in prison for that. He was really sorry about it all. If David is sober enough and hasn’t had too much cocaine, and if he isn’t in gaol for something, then he will go to Javier de Silva’s place to drink ayahuasca.

We have to thank Juan Maldonado for this visit to the brujo. Juan is a good guy, though knowing that he spent some time in prison in Mexico would spoil this impression if one didn’t know as well that Juan was put there by mistake, a friend of his being up to no good and Juan being imprisoned unfairly because of his association with this criminal.

Thank the gods I’m a straight arrow. Otherwise this trip to craziness could turn out badly.

David, David, David, and I are off to see the Wizard.

What could possibly go wrong?

Part Five

Ok, dear reader, you and I both know that trip to drink ayahuasca with Javier de Silva was bound to be a fuck-up. It just didn’t turn out to be the fuck-up I feared it would be.

David and my evil twin Adrian Walker took a 12 hour boat ride up the Nanay river to check out a creepy ex-con who has been squatting on Adrian’s jungle property, cutting down Adrian’s trees, selling them on the black market. Adrian sold his laptop computer and a pair of fancy binoculars for a hundred bucks to finance the trip. It’s been ten days now since anyone has heard from them. Folks all say, “They’ll be OK. These things happen.”

David did indeed skip town, last I heard, David was living in an all-night laundrette in Madrid.

David and I did go to drink ayahuasca with Javier de Silva. David had been drinking all day prior to that, eight litres of beer in the afternoon, so by evening he cut back and only had two more before we left to see the witchdoctor.  De Silva, to his credit, wanted to throw David out, but David paid the man a lot of money and he was allowed to stay and to drink his cup of ayahuasca. I had some, too. Within an hour David was puking and then, minutes later he was shouting about there being snakes in his puke bucket. That was me having fun. I got five for a dollar at a toy store. If I’d known David was going to freak out like that I would have bought some plastic spiders as well.

Otherwise, the evening drinking ayahuasca with Javier de Silva was the usual boring shit for me. I got sick, all right, but mostly I laid down on the cold concrete courtyard, if you will, the laundry space between the meeting room and the toilets, where I sweated and dozed off until David went to use the toilet and stepped on me. This ayahuasca is not working for me. David was out of his head. I got nothing from it.

One reads horror stories about Javier de Silva, many of them from a Canadian metro-sexual who carries on about de Silva being Satanic. The man is at worst a cheap hustler, but reading about him on the Internet without having met the man, one is stuck with what can seem to be authoritive pronouncements. I shrug. There’s nothing scary about the man at all other than that he can smoke a whole cigarette in one go.

I am carrying on with this ayahuasca voyage, not giving up just yet. My next adventure will be with Peter Gorman. If that fails, then I must call it quits. But I have deep hopes here that Gorman is the man.

Ayahuasca With Javier de Silva

Guest post by Dag Walker

If you enjoyed this article you will want to purchase Dag’s book Iquitos Peru: Almost Close; by D. W. Walker at Amazon.com.

“Wild and wonderful tales from the Amazon jungle city of Iquitos, Peru, Almost Close brings this fascinating city to life for the ages, a collection of stories of places, people and events that will thrill and entertain the reader with indepth views of an exotic land and its eccentric and adventurous characters: colourful locals, expatriot residents, and romantic drifters all looking for paradise, having found it in Iquitos, if not forever and for all, then for some and for a while, perhaps not exactly, but almost close.”

You will also want to read these articles in a series about Dag Walker’s on-going search In Iquitos Peru, with Ayahuasca;

Iquitos Peru, Ayahuasca, What Happened To Me, Part One;

Iquitos Peru, Ayahuasca, What Happened To Me, Part Two;

Iquitos Peru, Ayahuasca, What Happened To Me, Part Three;

Seating Ayahuasca At The Cannibal Banquet Of The Soul, (Part Four);

Two other articles by Dag about Iquitos;

Iquitos Peru, A Really Dirty Story;

Black Days and Red Nights, Riot ’98;

More great stories about Iquitos on Dag’s blog; No Dhimmitude;

Another book for your consideration by Dag at Amazon.com, An Occasional Walker, by D. W. Walker

Hi Bill Grimes here. As always, the views expressed by guest authors are not necessarily the views of Bill Grimes, Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, or the Captain’s Blog.

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