Iquitos Peru, Ayahuasca, What Happened To Me, Part Four
A guest post by Dag Walker
“Only when the dusk starts to fall does the Owl of Minerva spread its wings and fly.”
G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Right, “Preface” (1820)
The philosopher who wanted to explain the nature of things, to create, to shape, to make the world in his own image, finds that it is only at the end of his history that he is able to see that story at all; and then it is too late to do more than at last understand. Wisdom comes when all else is over.
John and I took a mototaxi across town for the third trip to take ayahuasca at Low Town in the shack with local ladies looking for cures for curses and relief from harmful spirits that plague them. Our taxi nearly spilled us as the driver sped reckless down the flooded street in the pounding deluge, missing sight of a hole hidden by the flood, the rear tyre falling deep, smashing into the ground, jerking the little buggy sideways hard and threatening to toss us all into the lake of mud that is the street. Then we sank in the mire and could go no further except on foot to the ayahuascero’s dumpy little house in the dark. Sometimes wading knee-deep in mud and flowing water we went to the man’s place for me to seek enlightenment and wonder from ayahuasca, soaked and cold and expectant of greatness. Having taken only a cupful of ayahuasca last time out, this time I was determined to do it right, taking two cups and maxing out the higher limit of the possible. Grim but smiling I entered the curandero’s place and took my seat and waited my turn for a cup of foul ayahuasca. John explained to the man in far better Spanish than I can manage, that I would this evening take two full cups. The curandero objected, saying it’s too strong and that I would be in danger. I shook my head and insisted. The old man shrugged and passed me the cup. I drank it down and held it out for more. He shook his head and said I should wait, and if I really needed more he would give it to me later. And so I sat and listened as the maestro sat and with him sat ladies come for his healing prayers, his sacred chanting and his mapacho blowing, the smoke being a terror to daemons, his presence enough to cast out evil from the worried ladies who brought their children to sit with strange foreigners taking drugs in an old and decaying building in the night. The rain pounded on the tin roof like an army of mad pagan fists.
The first hour went by for me as I amused myself thinking of Child Services agents swooping in from America like golden eagles to catch up and soar away with little children safe in their claws, removed from this hellish scene of abuse where dark-skinned Indians sit in the dark to be saved from spirits. My stomach almost rumbled, and so I had John fetch me another cup, though the curandero said it would be too much. I took the first mouthful and grimaced at the taste, far worse than ever before, the lingering aftertaste of the first cup still making me sick of it, and then two more gulps to the point I could hardly stand it. But down it went. The ladies and their sleepy children one group at a time got up and left as their prayer sessions ended, leaving me and John and a couple of young men to remain and deal with ayahuasca itself. Shortly thereafter the Peruvians were puking up bucketloads while I sat waiting, listening to the curandero chanting his sing-song icaros.
In every group of twenty ayahuasca drinkers, it seems, there is one person who spends long hours in terrible boredom while all around are in various states of mental weirdness. That one person who is bored is perhaps one who has “blocked chakras.” Or he might be anal retentive. Perhaps he is chakra retentive and or anally blocked. For some, ayahausca does nothing. For a few it is nothing at all.
Blocked chakras? I suspect it is a matter of physical strength, as the curandero tells me in his inimitable way, mapacho cigarette in the corner of his mouth, his large uncovered belly sagging over his pants, his raspy voice chuckling that “I am very strong.”
Ayahausca is a delivery system for chakruna and other DMT-containing drugs. The ayahuasca is not a hallucinogen itself. Ayahausca is meant as a purgative, to rid people of worms. It is the DMT that produces the “visions” that the drug tourists come to Iquitos and take ayahuasca for. Talk about “ceremonies” is a cover for the cover. It is all about DMT. For DMT to enter the bloodstream to affect hallucinations, the ayahuasca must sneak it into the body’s system before the body breaks it down. It is not the blocked chakras of anally retentive people that prevents the DMT effect. It is a strong gut. Thus, to fool my own belly, I took a cup of ayahuasca and let my body destroy it and the DMT; and then, being a clever fellow, I took another cup when the body had done it’s work on the first.
Shortly after taking the second cup, the first had a mild laxative effect and I relieved myself in the adjoining space (i.e. the bathroom) containing a 50 gallon drum of water meant to flush the hole in the ground that doubles as a shower drain and toilet. I returned to my cot and laid down, waiting for the visions I was so keen to see, for that entry into the undiscovered land of altered consciousness that would give me hope of a better world on the horizon, or at least some insight into why such a world as our is as it is, a “cannibal banquet of the soul.” I laid down and closed my eyes, waiting.
John had curled up and gone to sleep and the other Peruvians were gently swinging sideways in hammocks, a couple of young men who would occasionally spit and vomit in the plastic paint buckets they kept handy. The curandero chanted icaros and whooshed mapacho smoke at me. I closed my eyes and saw a neon embroidered soccer ball hanging in front of my vision. I mentally kicked that one down the road and it was replaced soon after by endless shelves of indistinct cookie tins. I was then greeted by the welcome sight of a science fiction movie scene of massive blobs of puke bubbling on the walls and floor. Taking this as my cue, I stuck my finger down my throat and puked up a record amount, spitting to make sure I did as well as the others around me.
My vision will be a sorry disappointment to most, I fear, though it is as true as I can make it:
I saw in the jungle by the river a beetle rubbing his legs together and making a lion-like roar to attract all the hottest beetle babes for miles around for great sex all the night long, just with him. Other beetle guys were standing off in the darkness, worried shitless that all his big noise would attract as well as the babes all the beetle predators possible, that he first would be eaten and be no more. Some beetle guys tentatively rubbed their legs together, and a few huddled nervously round the guy with the cell phone putting in a futile call to 911. There is no law in the jungle but life and death. But the big guy carried on as loud as living, his roar that of the Beetle God of Eternal Life. “I am alive, and let us together make beetle babies to cover the earth!”
That vision, I hasten now to add, did not come from ayahuasca, it came from being stranded in the jungle for a few nights on a broken-down boat in the wilds of Bolivia. That vision in the night showed me life lived at a frantic pace so fast that there is only life and death, eating and breeding, living to breed so others can eat ones children, too. The meaning of life? It is life itself, not anything more or less.
Healing ceremonies of Mother Ayahuasca? Life is about living, however long at this cannibal banquet of the soul, and having babies, however long they live and whatever they might do; babies living and growing and having babies in turn; the Plaza filled with little babies in parents’ arms; children living; boys and girls wandering; adults striving to keep them all alive till they all die. Babies and beetle babies and bugs and living things I cannot see, all of life is living. This wisdom comes a bit late for me.
Not much of a vision, and none of it from Mother Ayahuasca. I ate Mother Ayahuasca, and then I slept.
In a fragment from one of Aeschylus’ lost plays, The Myrmidones, he writes of an eagle finding itself impaled by an arrow. Seeing himself thus, the eagle says, ”Thus not by others, but with our own feathers/ are we undone.” My body defeats me when I drink ayahuasca. I’m unhappy with that, and I feel that I have so far failed to win this battle I set out for. I don’t like failure; and thus I won’t stand it forever. I will keep drinking ayahuasca till I receive the right effect. I might go so far as to make my own ayahuasca and learn from those masters who know it’s secrets. I’m a lazy guy, and I don’t like the idea that I have to live for decades traveling, listening, reading, thinking, experiencing the world, the earth, life itself to find enlightenment. I want it now, like others who drink ayahuasca. So, I might sit in jungles for a long time learning till at last this instant enlightenment in a bottle works for me. Mother Ayahausca? I’ll defeat it even if I have to beat that bitch to death with a two by four. Ain’t done yet.
Seating Ayahausca at the Cannibal Banquet of the Soul (Part Four)
A guest post by Dag Walker
This piece is an excerpt from my up-coming book, “Iquitos, Peru: Almost Close,” a popular account of Iquitos, its history and people.
You will want to read;
A gentle reminder that my book, An Occasional Walker, is available at the link here:
If you would like to read more about Iquitos Peru, click this link to my blog, No Dhimmitude;
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.
I do think you will be interested in these articles by Dag Walker posted here in the Captain’s Blog;