The Peruvian Ayahuasca Retreat – 12 Days of Healing and Hallucination
May 1, 2019
Lima, Peru, South America.
At about 03:00, Not Larry and I went through security at the airport in Lima, Peru. If security asks if you have any liquids of over 100 ml in your bag, you can tell them no and then you can always get a 237 ml bottle of sunscreen and a 140 ml bottle of moisturizer through the scanner with no questions asked. I got the moisturizer through Edmonton, Calgary, San Jose, and Lima. The sunscreen went through San Jose and Lima. I am a cream smuggler!
I was so tired during our 05:15 flight from Lima (LIM) to Pucallpa (PCL) that I fell asleep on the runway. When I awoke, we were over-top of the Peruvian Amazon. It was so gorgeous, green, and thick that it looked to be impenetrable. The plane landed in Pucapalla, we got off on the tarmac, and that Amazon air felt amazing as it hit my nostrils. The air was very heavy and it almost had a smoky scent. What a feeling. As we entered the airport, Lucia from the ayahuasca retreat was there and waiting for us. She knew we were us because we were the only white people on the plane. I knew it was her because there was only one strange lady waving at us.
We needed supplies, so, Lucia put us in a rough-looking taxi driven by a man in his 60’s, and we went to a store that sold fruit. Not Larry and I are in Peru and we realized that we are at the source of the fruit supply to Canada. A real perk of that is that the fruit is ripened on the vine here and the samples we tried were a starburst of flavor. So that is what it is supposed to taste like! Then once we were stocked up with fruit, water, and toilet paper, we stopped at a bank machine. From there Not Larry and I loaded up our money belts with hundreds of dollars to head into the jungle in the Amazon, to spend time with some indigenous Peruvians who will give us a drink concoction in combination with strange ceremonies several times through a week to try and clear up our minds. Sometimes life is not planned.
The drive to San Francisco, Peru, was awesome and Peruvian San Francisco is a far different San Francisco from the one that Not Larry and I have visited. On the drive to Peruvian SF from Pucallpa, kids were on the roads with 5-gallon pails full of dirt that there were using to fill the potholes before they went to school and learning work ethic before their ABCs. The winding road was red dust and potholes full of water. Our old taxi used the road from one ditch to the other while sharing the pass with many many tuk-tuks. Save for the occasional taxi with no exhaust and some visible parts hanging below it with a Peruvian family inside bouncing along somewhere, we were essentially the only car on the road. The sides of the road were dotted with shacks that required a lot of pot-hole dodging to be able to focus a camera on. Traditional Peruvian music played on the taxi-man’s CD player for about 35 minutes until Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ misplacingly came on. Both Not Larry and I looked at each other when that started playing.
Eventually, we arrived at Lucia’s house. She is from the indigenous Shipibo tribe. We are staying at her place called the Mai Niti healing center, which is Shipibo for ‘Clarity of the Earth.’ The Shipibo are said to be the best on the planet with ayahuasca and the use of the plant-medicine for healing. The Shipobo are one of 12 indigenous trips living in the Peruvian Amazon. They are shamans, and their lives revolve around the strength in plants, animals, and what nature offers them. So, that seemed to put us in good hands.
Lucia took us to a hut with four individual rooms where Not Larry and I were bed-separated. We will share the place with a Colombian named Alexandra and an Irishman named Dominic. Alexandra has volunteered here and will act as the translator for Not Larry and me, while Dominic has been here for four months. He just spent about a month completely alone here on a plant diet, and accidentally burned his passport when a battery in his bag started on fire and now he is not sure how to get to Lima as all buses require a passport for a ticket if you are a foreigner. He is also not sure what is going to happen when he goes to the Irish embassy in Lima…if he can get there. All he has is a small corner of his passport as the rest is ash. He is concerned they will just throw him out of Peru and send him home on an emergency passport rather than give him a new passport so that he can travel to Brazil and Bolivia.
When we had a talk with Lucia after, through Alexandra who translates for us, we told her that we will stay until May 12th. It will be my 40th birthday and maybe it will be a bit like a re-birth when we come out of here. Plus, there is no point in trying to get out of here on the 11th to try to find some place to be to celebrate the day. So, this will be a 12-day retreat. That is what Lucia originally wanted us to do and if we are here we may as well do as much healing as possible. Not Larry gave Lucia 2100 Peruvian sols for the two of us ($634 US/$848 Canadian in total) for the retreat, which is part of my birthday present. Not Larry has wanted to work on things in her for a long time, and I have some things to tackle as well. My concentration is awful, and my short term memory has become terrible. Perhaps if I clean up some of my brain-spam, the hallways of my head-space will clear and I will be a better preforming machine.
As it started to get dark, we were to have a ‘Bath with Plants.’ I had no idea what that was going to be, but in the shower was a large bowl with pink/maroon liquid. I did not know what to do with it so I went to ask Dominic. He said that we were supposed to shower with it, and to get as much of it on our bodies as possible to help remove toxins from us. He said to dump it on our heads and let it run down. I asked him if we shower it off after. He said to leave it on our bodies and to dry and to not rub it off. I was thinking about that and going to bed covered in fruit juice so I asked him if it was sticky. He laughed and said it is a little like tea. That seemed much better than my imagination had made it out to be.
So, Not Larry and I went to have our bath with plants. It felt really good, just to be clean after the long journey to get here. I have felt so greasy here all day. Earlier, I told Not Larry and Dominic that I am probably sweating out margarine that I ate back in 1997. The plant shower had a lot of plant matter in the bottom of the bucket and a lot of that was in my hair. Actually, it was stuck in my hair all over my body. I was pinked and refreshed.
We are staying in a cabin style open shack. There are mosquito nets in our rooms, which makes me okay with the tarantula above my head. The common area of the shack is sort of over-top of a small stream and it is just a roof without walls. That shack has a wooden floor that comes with a cat which Not Larry is having an allergic reaction to, and a dog with a massive scar on his head from some kind of blow which has given the dog daytime-nap leg-kicking nightmares and sleeping fits that resemble seizures. In the evening a bat flew into the cabin common area, made some circles to introduce itself, and it flew away again.
When bedtime came, at about 21:00, and I went to tuck Not Larry in and make sure her mosquito net was in place. I talked to her for a long time. She was concerned about sleeping alone with all of the jungle noises. Part of her concern is that she does not have a screened ceiling above her head. I only mentioned the tarantula to her when she admitted that she is not scared of spiders. Well that mention quickly taught me that spiders at home are ‘spiders’ and tarantulas in Peru are understandably something very different. She was uneasy and truth be told, I am not fond of massive, hairy, tarantulas myself. So, I told her before I went to bed that if she got really really scared and could not sleep that she could come and crawl into bed with me. I went to bed and about 30 minutes later Not Larry was crawling in beside me. It made me giggle as it was really sweet and innocent.
The sound of chopping wood right outside of my room woke Not Larry and I this morning. The wood was being chopped to build the fire so that they could start cooking ayahuasca today. The chopping actually woke me from a fairly vivid dream that I was having about having some kind of family gathering at home where Not Larry was eating eggs and smoking cigarettes with some old and very tall man who was a stranger to me. I was angry with Not Larry in the dream as she was ignoring me to eat eggs with this man, and that fact that she was smoking was upsetting me. Strange… I told Not Larry about the dream. She said that it was strange as I never have vivid dreams. I guess it was the plant bath last night that has had some effect on me. It is interesting how just washing your body with something can cause a lucid slumber.
Not Larry and I slept pretty tightly all night. I am a little worried that we are going to be told that we can not be as touchy while we are here so that our energies do not mix. I would love to have sex and really mix the energies, but we have some bigger fish to fry while we are here. In connection to that, this morning when I went to the ‘dry-toilet,’ as Alexandra calls the outhouse, I had a look at my doodle and it was covered with plant matter from last night’s bath with plants. It is certain that I have never awoken with a flower petal stuck to the side of my wiener before… I suppose life is really about trying new things.
The first part of my post-flower-petal-covered-wiener-discovery morning was spent moving Not Larry and her mattress into a room more centralized to the hut. With this stealthy maneuver she will have a screen above her head to help keep the tarantulas off of her mosquito net, should one be interested in her skin in the night. After the big move, the rest of my morning was spent laying in a hammock and reading. It is a treat to shut off. The trouble with this is that Not Larry does not know how to shut off. She has been going nuts with the nothingness. I have offered her a book to read. No interest. I have offered her my Brain Power magazine to consume. That did not seem to engage her either. It is troubling for me when she is not happy because I can not relax as I am busy scanning my mind for ideas to make her feel better or be more comfortable. She is grumpy right now. I just wish she would adapt somewhat to the surrounding.
The ayahuasca was cooking in a giant cauldron outside on a fire. It requires 8 hours to cook. The wood in the concoction is beautiful as it has five spots in formation through the center of the branches. When the ayahuasca chef pulled all of the wood and some of the leaves from the cauldron, the wood was soft and I was able to split it so that the spots would individually separate from the rest of the branch in lengths.
Not Larry and I are not eating much. We could share just one of the plates brought to us and be content with that. Neither of us can stomach so much food. The result is that the chickens have been very happy to have us here. All of a sudden after the meal, there was a mad scramble of movement and I saw chickens come out at full speed from every single tree on the premises as they ran for the leftovers of Not Larry and I. Those chickens have it pretty good with us here.
Dominic was pretty quiet this morning but in the afternoon I got to talk to him. Lucia gave him a spoonful of resin from a tree called ‘bobinsana’ last night just before bed. Dominic said that it gave him sleep-paralysis and he had incredibly vivid dreams. He said that he went through electrical currents from his chest to his shoulders and he was having hallucinations that were coming off the back of his head. Some of the dreams were about his mother who he has some lingering issues with. I asked him if he thinks the bobinsana helped in some way. He does not know if it did at the moment but guesses so as it brought up some old and dark memories that he feels he needs to face. He told us that one of the dreams had him smoking meth in a house somewhere in the US, and the cops came. He wanted to escape but he could not get away. He wanted to fly because sometimes he does fly in his dreams and when he does that always tells him that he is in a dreaming.
Just after supper, our bath with plants was ready. Tonight it was dandelion, and the water had a yellow tinge with dandelions floating inside of it. I washed my whole body with it and I rather enjoyed it. I felt refreshed and the smell was stimulating. We have been told to more-or-less drip-dry as to not rub the bath off, so I dab the wettest parts and air-dry the rest. After I got ready for the evening and then went to the dry-toilet, I found bits of dandelion stuck to my wiener. Clearly, life has taken a bit of a turn when you find bits of dandelion stuck to your doodle.
At 21:00, I changed into clothes to cover my arms and legs. Then, Not Larry and I followed Alexandra to the maloka. The word maloka means ‘communal hut’ in the Shipibo language. The maloka here is a round building with a small tin top on the point where the ayahuasca ceremonies take place. Inside was Lucia who is a shaman, her husband Augusto, Leonardo who is Lucia’s father and is also a shaman, plus a family member named Jose who had spent the whole morning using a hammer to bust up pieces of the tree used for ayahuasca. On the floor in the maloka were mats strewn about and at the side where Lucia and Leonardo sat were used plastic bottles filled with the brown ayahuasca substance I recognized from my time trying this before in Brazil. Leandro is a very man who looks fantastic for the age of 85, and he seems to have very gentle energy.
Not Larry and I were told to stretch and to relax on the mats. Leandro was handed an orange pitcher of ayahuasca that Lucia seemed to ask him to bless. Leandro held the pitcher and spoke into the liquid for about two minutes. Once it was returned to her, Lucia poured out the first shot-glass for Leonardo, then Jose, then Alexandra, and then she had one. The lights turned out and they smoked a type of tobacco called mapacho as we sat there in the dark and in the silence.
The reason for the ceremony tonight was for Leonardo and Lucia to drink the ayahuasca and they try to feel what is wrong inside of me and what is wrong inside of Not Larry. From that observation, they will try to determine what plants we need to work on us and break down our ailments. So even if we were not participating, our presence was required for the ceremony. I was between Jose and Not Larry, who was next to Alexandra as the four of us we were all facing everyone else.
When the ceremony was taking place, I noticed in the near pitch-black that Not Larry was laying down. I sat up. My eyes watered a little as I thought about things like old resentments and women who haunt me when they enter my mind that I just want to dissipate. I do not need any of these intrusive thoughts in my head anymore. Eventually, I laid down as well when Leonardo started to chant and sing songs which are called ‘icaros’ in Shipibo. Icaros are healing songs or chants that the plants have send to the Shipibo tribe for times like these. They are songs for curing that are full of animal symbolism and come from visions while under the powers of ayahuasca ceremonies. In the darkness Leonardo sang, and then Lucia sang. They smoked mapacho which is sacred jungle tobacco of high nicotine and a tobacco species which differs from that which everyone knows from home. My mind raced through things and I felt a bit of power from the moment, even though I had ingested nothing. I was in and out of sleep, waking through some of the singing and the silence and the singing again until 23:30 when Lucia asked Alexandra if we were awake because we could go to bed if we felt like it was time to sleep.
Not Larry was not sleeping, but she told me that she had been deep in the middle of thoughts when I rubbed her leg to get her attention. I thanked Lucia and Leonardo as Alexandra, Not Larry and I headed for our cabana. I tucked Not Larry in and went to bed myself. I could hear the chanting and singing which continued to take place in the maloka as I fell asleep moments after I laid down.
I awoke at 05:00 and fell back asleep until I heard Not Larry moving around at 08:00. I did not feel much like getting out of bed. When I went to talk to Not Larry I asked her how she slept she spoke of lousy sleep. She told me that she slept under an elephant’s foot all night, but that she thought it was a nice elephant and it did not squish her. I wonder what the parallel of that dream represents…
Lucia arrived to talk to Not Larry and I about her perceptions from the night. She took Not Larry to the maloka first and was gone with her for about 30 minutes. Not Larry came back and it was my turn to head to the maloka to discuss the evening. Alexandra was there to translate. Lucia told me that I have a very busy mind and that I need some control. There is a lot of truth to that. However, she said that I only have little things to fix. She told me that Not Larry and I do not always connect on things, and that is true, but I suspect you could say that about any relationship. She told me that I am lonely sometimes. I told her that is not accurate and that I am never really lonely. Not Larry and I have spoken about that before and how I am comfortable alone and do not yearn for people. Lucia said that I am very strong mentally and she mentioned how I will be a very good father someday. I told her that I am not sure I am interested in ever having children. Lucia is determined that I will have children when I am ready. I told her that we are here for Not Larry to experience healing and she is my main reason for being here, though there are things I certainly need to work on. Lucia understood. I explained that I need some help: my focus is a real problem for me lately as there is too much going on in my brain and I need some control over that. I said that I am a writer, and I am not as good at it as I used to be because my mind is everywhere. She said some of that is because of my relationship with Not Larry and how I am somewhat distracted by the relationship. I told her that my short term memory is a disaster right now and as I struggle to remember things from day to day and I can feel this slipping from reflective point to reflective point in my life. Another thing that needs some work is that I just do not care about people like I used to and I wish I had that back. I feel that I am very self-centered right now and that is not the person I want to be. And finally, I have lingering things in my mind that I want to clear up. For example, I do not want to feel angry about an argument that I had with someone seven years ago who I will never see again in my life. I do not want to continue to hate a high school teacher who does not matter in my life anymore. These intrusive thoughts are wasting energy and precious time as well as taking up brain space that could be much better served elsewhere.
Lucia said that she wants to keep Not Larry here for 20 days, but that I will be done in 12. She said I can stay the entire time as well, but that I will be done on my birthday. She said that she wants to run the same cycle with me as she wants to with Not Larry, but that mine will not be as intensive. As well, she said that we can condense the program to be finished in 12 days, but 20 is better. This was a discussion she said she had already opened with Not Larry earlier. She said for me, it will be another 300 sols ($90 US/$121 Canadian) and for Not Larry it will be another 900 sols ($272 US/$364 Canadian) to pay for everything. We can either stretch the retreat out over 20 days or condense it into 12 days and it will be the same price. But she needed an answer soon as she has to order plants for us and we will be busy if we chose 12 days; there will be something in the morning and sometimes there will be something in the evening. She said she will dedicate her energy to Not Larry. I explained to her that Not Larry and I will need to discuss things.
I went to find my girlfriend. We headed to the maloka to talk it over and make a plan. I said that she can stay for all 20 days and that I will come back for her in 8 days after I leave. She said that she would like to stay for the 20 days but that if she does that she will have to walk out of here and we will end up directly onto a plane headed home after with no rest or time to decompress in between. Staying for 20 days will put her on a plane from here and directly into the rat race of life again. With that, she said that the last few days here will not be rewarding because she will be thinking about the tasks she needs to do, and plane tickets, and lining up life again before she even arrives back into it. So, we have decided to condense our healing into a 12-day cycle while we are here and we gave Lucia the extra money she mentioned asked for. Even at this price, it is still less money than at any other tourist trap retreat we had found.
Lucia brought us a drink called liane, which is Portuguese for the word vine. The liane was a clear liquid in a glass that tasted like water with a strange flavoring. Lucia said that it is good for the mind and good for calming down. Not long after she left, Not Larry and I were hanging out with Dominic. He showed us a bottle of rapé, the Brazilian sniffing tobacco which I had the only other time I tried ayahuasca. Dominic loaded the straw, put it to Not Larry’s nose, and blew the rapé inside of her nostril. It made Not Larry jump back and her eyes started to water. I wanted to have a go as well, so Dominic loaded the straw and blew the dust up my nose. I was sitting on the edge of the floor that is above the nearly empty creek bed and I had to move towards the center of the room. The rapé started leaking back out of my nose and I got incredibly dizzy. When I tried to stand up and had to hang onto a pole in the room. Then I had to lean on the table. Wow, I thought the Czech sniffing snuff was strong. This rapé took me on something of a journey. It made me dizzy for about 5 minutes, and then I was so relaxed that I did not want to move. Intense level – 10. Some of that will be coming home with me to share with my pals…
Lucia’s brother, Mishako, took Alexandra, Not Larry and I to a lagoon close to our retreat. Alexandra was trying to explain how there are animals in the trees there with long claws who move very slow, and as she was saying that, Not Larry got so excited that she screamed out, “SLOTH!?” It was hilarious. Not Larry has been talking about how she wants to see a sloth for a week straight. We did not catch a wink of one, nor did we see the pink dolphins in the water because someone stole Mishako’s boat, but we did go for a swim. There are small fish that in the water, called beroshon, that like to nibble on humans. Mishako got a nipple bit and Not Larry has a big mosquito bite that is scabbing over that they kept on going for. They hunt for the weak spots and those bites hurt!
It was dark when we came got back to the retreat for a bath with plants. I told Not Larry how much I liked the smell of it. She was surprised as she could not smell it but I could. Then as we got ready for dinner, I could smell the potion that Not Larry had on her body which Lucia had made for her bites. Not Larry said, “You can smell again!” She is right. I have not really been able to smell anything since I have known her. It is great to be able to smell. Maybe it was the rapé? Maybe it dusted off the smelling part of my sniffer?! Not Larry told me I had better enjoy that while it lasts and I should be sniffing everything. I started sniffing her. Then I reminded her that if my sniffer is going to start working again that she might need to start wearing perfume…
Not Larry went to bed at 20:00 and I went at 21:30. But, I could not sleep so I laid there and thought about how my life would look as lines on a globe with a year constantly listed on the linear line.
At 03:00, I could head Lucia say, “Chico y chica,” as she was there to have Alexandra wake us up. When I got up, I just walked out onto the grass in front of our cabana to pee. A bat came swooping in and was making circles around my head. That was a spooky and uncomfortable feeling. I am not just talking about a circle and gone…this thing made several laps around my personal cerebral area.
I had been in the middle of a very strange dream when I was awoken. I had been in a Seinfeld episode, where Kramer and I were in my friend Beaner’s garage in the winter, but it was Kramer’s place, and Jerry Seinfeld’s TV parents arrived. It was peculiar, but my dream was boring in comparison to Not Larry who had a temptation dream that brought on the desire to masturbate which she was battling against through her dream because she knew we are not allowed any kind of sexual activity here. I suddenly felt embarrassed by how boring my own dream actually was…
We walked to Lucia’s house where there were two measuring cups on the table full of a green liquid that both Not Larry and I were to drink. There was about 400ml of the green mystery. It was a vomitive that we were told it would make us throw up which would get some of the bad energy out of us. I asked why we were doing it at 3 o’clock in the morning. Lucia said it was the best time because there was no one around and no one else awake to pick up the bad energies we would release. Reasonable. The vomitive came from a tree and whatever it was made out of had something of a lime or a lemon finish. The taste was not bad at all and if it was a hot day and I was dry, I would probably drink it without complaint…initially.
Alexandra and I carried two chairs outside to the grass. I realized they were for Not Larry and I. Partner puking! But, the vomitive was not making either of us immediately vomit, so we had to drink a lot of water. I drank at least four cups of warm water that held at least 400ml each. I was so bloated that I was in pain. When the vomitive did not actually make us vomit, Not Larry and I had to finger our throats. We had to finger our own throats, just to be clear. Then we both let it go. I have learned that altitude matters when partner puking. I was a little further down the incline from Not Larry and I got some of her vomit splashes on my flip-flopped foot. That is something I will keep in the back of my mind should we ever end up partner puking again. After I was empty and getting to the cabbage I ate for supper, we were told to drink more water and have a second round, to which we both complied. When I got to the cabbage again the second time, I was through. Not Larry and I had naked and exposed showers that were essentially in front of Lucia and Alexandra. It did not bother me and I did not mind showing off a little.
At the cabin, I saw Not Larry brushing her teeth with toothpaste to get the vomit out of her mouth. We are supposed to be very natural here so we have just been brushing our teeth with water. We have zero sugar, so non-toothpasting a brush is not so bad, but I followed her suit with the paste. After a couple of days of being paste-free, that minty-fresh feeling was freaking awesome. I felt like close-talking with my girlfriend!
Not Larry and I went to sleep together until about 08:00 when Jose started chopping wood right outside of our window. Then some kids started playing there. Their fun did not seem to stop…
Breakfast was a vegetable soup without salt. Not Larry could not even eat it. I ate some of the soup and then asked to get her some oatmeal and a couple of hard-boiled eggs.
The problem for us is that nothing seems to be happening. We have been waiting and waiting. I could really care less as I am enjoying just reading and laying in a hammock, but Not Larry is going bonkers with all of this waiting time and that is what is driving me bonkers. My struggle is her being so frustrated. She had an extra bath with plants today. That was it. I am not sure where all of the extra money is going. My approach is to just put my trust into the situation. Maybe the things in our minds need to fester to a boiling point before we really dive into the ayahuasca. Perhaps that is Lucia’s prerogative? There are a couple of people here, like Dominic from Ireland who has been here for four months, and Alexandra from Colombia who has been volunteering here for a month, and they obviously believe in something here… To give Not Larry something to occupy her hands and her mind, Lucia gave her a manta, which is a blanket that has incredible Shipibo designs and art on it. The small lines on the mantas are actually scores for the songs that the Shipibo sing during ayahuasca ceremonies. The Shipibo do not have a written language, but they are able to draw scores for their traditional songs. Artistically, the shapes on the mantra are elaborately traced with colored string to give the geometric shapes vibrancy. That has become Not Larry’s task to tackle the spaces of time. Phew!
There have been splendid talks that I have been getting miles out of and it has been nice to sit at the table for meals with Dominic and Alexandra to try to understand the world a little better. They are good and sweet people who were brought here by something in life. They are the harmless types of people who are on the hunt for the good in life. Not Larry was discussing how happy the chickens are here. I realized how accurate she is as I have been watching jubilant hens show their chicks how to rustle up the ground to expose bugs. Not Larry stated that chickens are a depressing animal where we come from. She is absolutely right as no animal on the planet is more abused than the poor old chicken as a large percentage of them spend their entire lives in a small cage. The majority of the rest of their species are in some sort of condensed pen. But here they are free to run about and raise their young. They seem to be joyous birds on this retreat. Dominic said that the Buddhists believe it is very bad to eating the suffering. There is probably a lot of truth to that. Those stresses are in the blood and throughout the animal, and that is what we are consuming. There is no way that can be healthy.
Speaking of Dominic, last night when he took the bobinsana he had a dream that he was in Dublin and he was naked in a supermarket where he was shopping. He said that he got arrested. Dominic is becoming one of my new favorite humans that I have encountered.
Lucia brought Not Larry a green drink that is supposed to be good for her stomach and her gas. It was around 20:00 when I tucked Not Larry in and it was 21:00 when I went to bed myself. I fell asleep quickly and then at 02:15, Not Larry let out a blood-curdling scream. It was like a death scream. It scared me and I shouted out her name. I did not know if something had attacked her or if it was a nightmare, so I shouted her name two or three more times until she responded. She finally asked, “Stephen?” I asked her if it was a dream. She said it was. I thought she probably needed me so I went to lay in bed with her. She was sort of in and out of sleep but at least she knew I was there. I tucked the mosquito net in beside us and lay with her.
Mosquitoes had taken a lot of me earlier in the day and I was extremely itchy. So, instead of sleeping, I spent the next two hours laying beside Not Larry as I scratched, tossed, and turned. Eventually I decided to just go to my own bed around 04:00. Not Larry was asleep, and I tried to sneak out, but she awoke and asked me where I was going. I told her I would go to put some of Lucia’s potion on my mosquito bites and then I would go to my own bed. She did not want me to leave but I said I would see her in the morning.
I was not away from her for five minutes and I had just climbed into my own bed when I could hear Not Larry making noises as she was having a nightmare. My intention was to wait it out for two minutes but she was making a lot of sounds. So, I went back to her room, and when I pulled back the mosquito net, her eyes were wide open and she was staring at me, sort of partially sitting up. It was not just a stare, but rather it was something very bad in her eyes. I knew she was still asleep and I was telling her to wake up. She was just staring at me with this Exorcist kind of look and I did not know what she was going to do. I have never been afraid of her before, but I could not tell if she was going to bite me or hit me or attack me in some way. It was very dark and very scary. I just kept on talking to her as my eyes started to water from the fear. I kept on telling her to wake up. Suddenly, her eyes changed and I knew she was awake. She asked me, “Did you just growl at me?” “No, I didn’t…” She moved over and I crawled into bed with her. I told her I loved her and held onto her as we went to sleep.
Not Larry and I slept until 09:00, which is late for here. There was no wood chopping outside of our window or ayahuasca branches being busted up with a hammer to de-slumber us. When we woke up, Not Larry told me that she felt me come after she screamed, before I even came to her. She said she felt a presence. Maybe it was something else that came to rescue her before I got there…
Lucia arrived with a hot drink for Not Larry once we were having porridge at the table. Somehow she already knew about Not Larry’s nightmare when she arrived and was asking her questions about her dreams. Lucia had something for Not Larry’s allergies, something called oregano, but not the oregano that acts as a herb. It is something with the same name that comes from a tree. However, it is hard to know what things are really called as they are being translated from Shipibo to Spanish by Lucia and then from Spanish to English by Alexandra. Last night, the drink Not Larry had was something called Granadji, which is another type of tree with the same name as a fruit that is called the same in Spanish. I may never really know what we are taking, but I am trying to learn. Lucia keeps on giving Not Larry raw plants. Today Not Larry seems more confident that we are actually getting treatment, which is good for her and good for my mentality. Healing is on the way. Lucia said that the plants are clearing things up inside of Not Larry and that is the reason for her nightmare last night. We told Lucia that Not Larry has had them for a long time. She says they will improve. Lucia is pretty wise to nature and to the plants themselves. She spent an entire year in seclusion in the jungle, learning about the plants in nature and getting to know herself. Fascinating.
I spent most of the day playing some ‘rock and roll ukulele’ as Not Larry described it, and then I moved onto some Spanish lessons. Things may be slow, but my Spanish sure has had time to grow. In the evening we had a bath with plants and then a Czech girl named Nicola arrived as a volunteer. She went to bed early. She told us that she is tired, but she may have felt too much like an outsider as Dominic, Alexandra, Not Larry and I have become something of a family here in these past few days. Everyone has their role. Dominic is the deep one who is really trying to explore his mind. Alexandra is the home maker and the translator. Not Larry the seeker of an alternative way. Otto is the dog who resembles a cartoon character that annoys everyone. Mario is the tarantula that is always somewhere around that I do not want to know very well. Eddie is the rat who comes to Dominic’s hut to eat oatmeal. I am the evening entertainment. It is hard to know where Nicola is going to fit in.
Dominic told us that he spent two weeks at a Buddhist sanctuary in France, getting clean. This is a man who will never stop growing and trying to find answers.
Before going to sleep, Not Larry and I watched the documentary, Samadi, recommended to us by Dominic. That is something deeper than anything I have ever considered before…
There had been a dog barking not too far away from us in the night. The dog barked non-stop for 43 minutes. That is no exaggeration. I could not sleep so I started counting his bark’s per minute. During one of minutes that I timed I counted 64 barks/minute and the second time was 70 barks/minute for a mean average of 67 barks/minute…for 43 minutes. It was a lot. Non-stop. Bark-bark-bark, bark-bark-bark-bark, bark-bark-bark. A three pattern then a four a then a three, repeated for 43 minutes. That dog must have a very sore throat today as he barked over 2,400 times. And I am not talking little whoofs…these were hard and angry barks of warning.
Not Larry came and crawled into bed with me sometime in the middle of the night. She was sick and had been to the dry-toilet four times. In the morning when we saw Lucia, she asked how Not Larry was and asked if she had been to the toilet several times. I guess the pino-colorado drink last night that she had was something to clean her out. Not Larry had a bad stomach most of the morning. Luckily, all that I was given to drink last night was the liana to potentially calm me. Liana is a Portuguese word for ‘woody climbing vine,’ which the drink was made from. Pino-colorado might be Spanish for ‘your girlfriend will have to run to the dry-toilet all evening.’
Lucia arranged a bath with plants for Not Larry and I in the morning, and then we had another one in the evening around supper time, but we were not allowed to eat supper to keep our stomachs empty. At 21:00 it was time to go to the maloka for the ceremony. Leonardo, 85, the awesome older and tiny Peruvian man arrived in an old pair of high-top basketball sneakers that he took off and put to the side of the wall next to him. There were mats for Nicola, Not Larry and I together, where we faced Leonardo, Lucia and her husband Augusto. Lucia called Not Larry to her where she had some wood burning in a tray. She waved the smoke over Not Larry while she talked and then she called me to do the same.
I was called up to drink the ayahuasca first and I had about half of a 2oz shot glass of it. Lucia said she would not give us too much of it so that she could gauge how we would react to it tonight. The bitterness is something I remembered well from Brazil. Not Larry was next, Leonardo followed having the same amount as Not Larry and I, then Lucia had the last drink.
Leonardo started to sing, and he sang plant songs for a very long time. I found a lot of comfort in his songs and it made me feel really happy inside that this 85-year-old man who is in fantastic shape plays such an important role in all of this. Lucia would also sing, but I did not find comfort in her singing as much. Somehow, her singing would startle me through the ceremony.
My body got really high, and I felt a little drunk in the way it moved, but I did not purge and my head did not get involved. Perhaps the problem for me was because I was afraid I was going to fall asleep in the ceremony and as a result I could not open up to the ayahuasca which kept my inner consciousness on its even keel. I then willed myself to fall asleep, but I could no longer do that and ended up just laying there through the singing and the ceremony, body-high, but had nothing in terms of visuals or epiphanies.
Lucia called Not Larry up to her in the dark and she sang to her, and then she called me up when she sent Not Larry to her mat. I slid towards Lucia and sat face to face with her as she held onto my hands. She sang about three songs, loudly, at me, in the dark, and she did something of a dance with her hands and blew on my face. She had some liquid that she was putting in my hair and on my hands. It was very moving, and powerful enough to make me cry. It was so dark that I could not see Lucia’s face, and I was having a hard time trying to wipe the tears from my eyes as she held my hands and danced with them.
The ceremony finished soon after. It was 23:30. Not Larry and I fully stood up but I was pretty wobbly. We left the maloka and headed for the cabana. I was trying to not touch Not Larry so that our energies would not mix. She kissed me out of habit when we headed for our beds.
I went to bed, and just laid there in the dark, unable to sleep. I spent hours, not even really thinking about anything, but just laying there, frustrated that I could not sleep but that my body was so high. At 04:00 I got up to go outside to pee. It was a drunk-feeling walk and I nearly fell down when I stood up. My cell phone was in my hand for a flashlight, and the tracers around my hands when they would move were like something from a science-fiction movie. When I came back into the cabana and was kicking off my flip-flops I had to catch myself on a pole to keep from tipping over. My body was a mess. It was 04:30 when I last checked the time.
I woke up around 08:00 and Not Larry came into my room right after to crawl into bed with me so that we could talk about the night. She told me that the kiss last night before bed did not feel very nice. It also noticed that it had felt really peculiar. We tried it again this morning and luckily it felt normal again. Energies and different layers of consciousness truly impact personal vibrations.
Not Larry told me that when Lucia called her up to in the maloka last night, she initially cradled Not Larry like a baby. Lucia was pushing on her eyes, which was provoking very bright lights into Not Larry’s eyes. I was saying how I felt comfort in Leonardo’s singing, but was uncomfortable when Lucia did the same. Not Larry told me she felt the exact opposite way. Not Larry said that every time he would sing, it would nearly make her vomit. Leonardo vomited early and every time he would vomit, it made Not Larry very sick. This was in opposition to Lucia who brought Not Larry comfort. When we were discussing it with Dominic he told us that Leonardo was probably getting sick for Not Larry. Both Leonardo and Lucia got sick at the ceremony, but neither Not Larry nor I orally purged. Their experience must bring it on early for them, and they are able to easily release, whereas Not Larry and I are still holding in repressed feelings from a lifetime.
In the afternoon, Dominic took Not Larry and I on a field trip. We left the retreat! Dominic wanted to go and see a Peruvian family in town that he has befriended. When we arrived at the house, three children, a boy of 7, a girl of 10, and a boy of 11, came out to hug Dom and then they came to hug Not Larry and I as well. That was really sweet. Before we were lead to the back yard of the house, their mother and father came to meet us as well.
As Not Larry and I sat on the bench, the two boys took a stick and knocked two pieces of fruit from the tree above us, which they gave to Not Larry and I to eat. It was awesome how that happened. ‘Need a snack? Here, I will get it from this tree!’ The oldest boy had the purest smile I have seen in a very long time and there was incredibly great energy in this family. They knocked two grapefruits down from another tree that Dominic and Not Larry ate. The girl, 10, was very excited to have Not Larry there and she was braiding her blonde hair nearly immediately after we sat down. After she finished and Not Larry stood up, the little girl found one of Not Larry’s blond hairs in her hand, and she handed it back. The girl seemed to think that the blonde hair was special and was not something to be wasted or thrown away. Not Larry thanked her for giving it back and then discreetly dropped it on the ground.
The 10-year-old girl, showed Not Larry a couple of embroidered dresses. Her mom explained that she draws on the dressed and the little girl embroiders them. The little girl was proud of her work and wanted Not Larry to try them on. They looked awesome on Not Larry and she loved them and could not resist buying a dress made by a little Peruvian girl for 100 sols/$30 USD. Then the little girl brought some earrings that she had made. Not Larry bought them too and gave the little girl the pink-flower earrings she was wearing. The girl was so excited and then she gave me a bracelet. It was all so cute and sweet. When Not Larry had to go back later with more money for the dress, she took a Disney Tinker Bell necklace which she gave to the girl. Her father took Not Larry’s hands in his to thank her. The father thanked Dominic for bringing her to meet them. Sweet people, probably needing money, and the money could not be better spent.
I enjoyed meeting that family so much today. It made everyone so happy: Dominic was happy because we went to meet this sweet family, the family was so happy at meeting us, and Not Larry and I were so happy to have encountered such wonderful people. That experience today was so great.
Alexandra got back to the retreat today as she had been away for the night to see a friend in Pucapalla. She took her ukulele with her and she spent time playing and singing in restaurants to make a little money. Then she took the money that she made and bought herself a few things like a new pair of 15 sol ($5) sandals, coconut oil for her hair and fruit to have here. She has been living like this for six years, just traveling around and living a simple and wonderful life. It is inspiring and I truly appreciate her genuine happiness.
Not Larry and I had baths with plants in the evening. I was pretty grumpy as the mosquitoes have really been treating me like an all-you-can-eat buffet. And when the mosquitoes are not biting me, I am in the hammock and Otto the dog comes along. Otto is so full of fleas that you can see them jumping all over his body, and then he scrapes against the hammock where the fleas get on me to find the scraps of my hide that the mosquitoes have passed up. So, today was a bit of a tough day for me as I battled the bites.
But, Not Larry is changing. She is happier right now. She is finding things like cockroaches cute and talked to me when we were in bed about how they are really fragile and are really scared of us. They smash so easily and they are the absolute bottom of the food chain. Now she has a soft spot for them, and she has discovered some spiders here that have a back that lights up that she likes now too. I should probably now take some lessons from her in acceptance of everything.
Just before bed, Dominic, Not Larry and I had some rapé. It relaxed me so much that I was just laying on the floor beside Dominic’s hammock after he blew the dust into my nose. We were talking about different drugs in the jungle. Dom said, “You can find all kinds of things here in the jungle. Yourself. That is the ultimate paradox because it is the hardest thing to find, but it should be easy because you don’t have to go anywhere to find it.” He is a brilliant mind.
I had a really bizarre dream last night that someone was trying to shoot me in a nightclub. To get to that point in the dream, I was in the backyard of the bar where I watched someone back into someone else with their car and I wrote down the culprit’s license plate. One of the people who owned the vehicle tried to get me to come around a corner with them as they wanted to pay me off. As I moved in that direction someone stopped me suggesting it was probably a trap and they were going to harm me. They then tried to pay me off with some money in front of some others, and when I saw what they had, it was a bag full of $1 and $2 coins. I felt insulted and was very rude to them, slapping the bag out of their hands so the $1 and $2 coins went everywhere. A moment later one of them shot at me and missed. They had to re-load their gun, so I realized it was a single shot hand-gun. When they erratically shot it again in my direction, I made a break for it and got away while they had to re-load.
I am not sure what was going on there… I never have dreams like that, ever. I guess it was a warning from the plants about my general behavior towards people that I deem untrustworthy.
At 21:00 we went to the maloka. I pulled my mat to the back of the hut so that I could feel a little more isolated and I hoped that would bring stronger visuals through a more relaxation situation where it did not feel I was in the font line. At that moment a tarantula arrived on the scene and was hanging out in the back of the maloka. It was big, hairy, and he made Alexandra and I very uncomfortable. Not Larry, on the other hand, was totally cool with its presence. I was trying to act normal, but I just did not care to get to know it too well should it decide to come and visit in the darkness of the maloka.
I was called up to drink ayahuasca first. The taste gets a little worse for me each time. Eventually, Leonardo and Lucia started singing plant songs but it took a wile for them to begin. My body got really high, but my mind would not get there. I was having faint visions, but nothing that really stood out and nothing I have not thought about in the past couple of days rose to the surface. After about two hours, Lucia was calling the girls up to see her so she could sing to them for the plants. I started getting really bad gas and I was having to sneak farts while she was singing words to disguise my air movements in the otherwise very quiet space. Then, I got worried that there was more than just gas in me as I had something of a close call. My body was trying to decide if it was hot or cold, and I was taking off my sweater and putting it on at intervals. Then Lucia called me up from my mat. I actually did not want to go because I felt pretty lousy and just wanted to lay on the mat…
When I got in front of Lucia, she asked if I was having visuals. I said little ones. She held my hands and started singing to me. The movement was doing something to me and I started sweating profusely, having to take my hands from her to take my sweater off as I was overheating. I could not wait for her to finish as I was having internal issues. When she stopped singing, I said, “el banjo!” got up, cruised past where the tarantula had been lurking, and hastily headed for the dry-toilet. I had the shits. Lucia had pulled something out of me. As I sat on the out-house seat, shitting, and all I could wish for was that all of the bad things in me like the old memories of frustration, and the people who have gotten the worst of me, were being purged out of me and that will be the end of them as they left the end of me. Perhaps I will be at peace now with silly things I have hung onto for years that distract, waste precious memory space, and use up thinking times. Those intrusive memories do nothing good, and they need to be shed.
I felt a lot better when I re-entered the thatched-roof maloka from the little wooden dock that links the building and the dry-toilet for moments like the one just described. Almost immediately after I got out of the toilet Lucia had to go as well. She could barely walk and Augusto had to help her to the dry-toilet. Perhaps she took something from me and had to purge it for me as well. I found the timing of it all to be very interesting.
Augusto brought me a tea to settle my stomach and then Alexandra, Not Larry and I headed to the cabana to our dorms. I hugged Not Larry goodnight and we went to our beds. My balance was not very good and I needed to be horizontal.
It was 04:30 when I last checked the time. I was extremely restless for hours, tossing, turning, thinking about things I think about with regularity, and a little frustrated that I was not seeing a movie play with segments of my life as I experienced the first time I tried ayahuasca. I need to get into my brain to go through the hallways and sweep these floors.
Not Larry was moving around early, but I did not feel like getting up until later. She eventually came to crawl into bed with me and we talked about our night. When I stood up, there was still ayahuasca in my body as my balance was terrible. That feeling stayed with me for the entire morning.
We had our morning post-ayahuasca consultations with Lucia. I was first, and I spoke to her about my concern with a lack of visuals. She said she is cleaning out my body first, but that she could feel the ayahuasca vibrations through my entire body last night when she was singing to me. She wonders if I am trying too hard for something to come and I am not relaxing enough.
Not Larry went for her consultation. She asked Lucia if the plants will still work when we leave and we are away from everything. Lucia told her, “Trust the plants and stay with the plants. Believe in them and they will help you.” Not Larry told me that when she went to sit with Lucia in the night for Lucia to sing to her, she felt a presence. She said she knew where Lucia was, but it felt like she touched a different leg. Before she told Lucia about that today, Lucia said to Not Larry, “Your sister was with you last night. She was there to protect you.” Not Larry is not sure who her sister is in this situation, but it is pretty spooky that they both felt that same presence.
Lucia told Not Larry that she was having visuals of Not Larry working with many people, and that someone did not like her and they wished bad omens on her. These omens have been plaguing Not Larry ever since and have attracted negative things and lousy people into her life. As well, Not Larry told me after the first ceremony we had that she could see an eye looking at her, a bright blue eye, and she wondered if it was her father’s eye. Then this morning Not Larry told me that she had light visuals last night but she could only see them when she was laying on her side and they were just in her peripheral vision. Lucia told her that those images are the bad dreams she has been having and that they are going away. They were in the corner of her eye calling her back last night, trying to get her to look and bring them into her attention again, but that they are receding. Fascinating.
I spent the afternoon hiding from everyone who wanted to talk to me so that I could write. Not Larry found me to bring me a liana drink and a red drink that tasted a little like brandy and wine mixed together. Whatever it was, it gave both of us a shiver. The pair of us got a little light-headed from it as it is the closest thing we have had to alcohol in many days.
My body was wiped out from last night and I spent most of the day sleeping in a hammock or reading Shipibo mythology and history that I found in a book written in the 1980s. The Shipibo are a mostly matriarchal society. The men are technologists and building specialists while the women are the monetary keepers and artists involved in all crafts for the tribe.
Before we went to the ceremony for the night, Not Larry was playing icaros for us on Spotify. We recognized some of the songs from when Leonardo and Lucia sing them. It seems like the songs that Leonardo sings are songs to activate the plants and to get them going. Then, it seems as though the songs that Lucia sings are songs of healing and tranquility that the plants can bring. There is a certain difference between that which Lucia asks for in terms of her little projects and what Leonardo asks for from the plants.
At 21:00 we went to the maloka. There are a couple of new people here so it felt quite full in the ceremony hut. I was settling in next to the wall when Not Larry pointed behind my back. There, about a meter from my head, was a very large tarantula. It spooked me when I saw it and I jumped to the side. It is unreasonable how people often have such an innate fear of spiders, but this thing was a medium-sized rodent. Lucia saw my reaction and came to collect the tarantula in her vomit-bowl and took it outside so that it could not participate in the ceremony. I was glad to see it go.
We had our drinks, allegedly the strongest ayahuasca for our final ceremony, and I nearly got sick from the taste. My stomach had been churning just at the idea of drinking it before it hit my lips but I got it into me. It took a long time for things to happen. I sat up on my mat for some time and then eventually decided to lay down. After about an hour, Not Larry got sick and started vomiting, fairly uncontrollably. She would have a bout of it when Leonardo was singing, and when he would stop, she would too. Then when he would start singing some minutes later, Not Larry would immediately begin vomiting again. This happened three or for times when he would sing. It was an incredible phenomenon that was taking place with his singing being able to draw vomit out of my girlfriend. Not Larry was throwing up so much that Lucia was encouraging her to try to calm down. I was jealous of the vomiting, as all I wanted to do was purge what was inside of me. I have had ayahuasca three times before and I have never orally purged.
When Lucia would sing her icaros, it would make something inside of me very uncomfortable. And when Leonardo would sing, I could feel things inside of me move. It felt like the old shaman was right there with me, singing right next to me. I started to have visions where the skin on my arms was Navajo artistic-shapes which were moving as a snake moves its scales, but the shapes were in snake-slithering patterns. I wanted to vomit. My vomit-bowl was ready in the dark where I could easily find it, and I could feel things gurgling inside of me, but nothing was coming so I went to lay down. I started having animated visions of the ayahuasca in my stomach. It was like I was looking down into the water at a plant in the shape of an aloe-vera plant. I was looking at the plant from its top. The leaves were not thick but they were long and pointy. Their tips leaves were illuminated purple, in the way that a lightning bug has a glowing bum. The entire vision was animated and that ayahuasca plant was growing up inside of me, up to my throat in order to get to my mouth to get out of me. With the same will-power of the Itsy Bitsy Spider from the nursery rhyme my mom sang to me, the ayahuasca just kept on climbing and growing up my throat with a happy consistency as if it was following a beat. With zero warning from my body I immediately had to throw up. I am not sure if there was even a second and a half from when I realized that I was actually going to vomit to the moment where I was about to explode from my mouth and I had to scramble to find my bucket in the dark to get it in front of my face. In the nick of time I made it and I started vomiting very hard as Leonardo sang icaros. I had about four or five big vomits to empty myself. I heard Lucia say, “Wow!” as I was letting go. When I calmed down again I decided to lay back down again.
From then on I went through some things in my life that I am not happy with, like some of the relationships I have with some of my friends and how I have been to them. I thought about some issues I have that plague me which I am not happy with in life that need to be dealt with. It was a sort of personal analysis of what I value and the person that I have been at times who makes me unhappy with my reactions or my behavior. I needed to purge those things out of me and I need to be a better person. I realized that I am actually a fairly angry human, and that is not what I am supposed to be. Somehow life has hardened me to be a lesser person than I once was. A euphoria came over me and I felt like I had broken through to me somehow and maybe I can be as open and welcoming in life as I once was not so long ago. It made me smile and as I was laying there very happy with myself for a moment after I found some clarity.
Once the ceremony was over, Lucia went to bed. Not Larry and I stayed in the maloka for about another 30 minutes as I did not want to move yet and my mind was in a place where I wanted it to stay. Not Larry went to the dry-toilet and when she came back, I reached out to touch her hand. It spooked her and she asked, “What do you want?” I laughed and said it was me and that I just wanted to say hello. She asked me if I wanted to go to bed. I did not feel like doing anything, but I guessed it was time to go. We left the maloka together. Only Nicola was left inside. Not Larry and I were walking and my tracers were incredible. When I would move my hands in a circle, the circle just stayed there, levitating where my hands had been.
When Not Larry and I got to the cabana I had a drink of water and then went to her room to hug her and tell her how much she means to me. My stomach started gurgling and I knew I had to go. She was still hanging onto me but I had to break from it to tell her that I needed to get a move on. I had to get to the toilet! She asked if I needed her to help get me there but I was sure I was alright. I rushed off in the dark, got to the toilet, and sat down where diarrhea got me and I purged the rest of the bad from me that I did not get out orally.
As I was sitting on the toilet, I was watching my hand to make tracers in a small clockwise circle. In the moment after I started a small bird flew into the outhouse with me, terrified me, and flew off again. I wondered if I was doing some magic with my fingers and opening a dimension that I did not need to be a part of so I traced the same circle backward again. Who knows…
I stopped to see Not Larry at her bed on the way to mine, told her I loved her, held her hand for a bit, and then headed to my own bed. As I was laying there in the darkness, spooky sounds seemed to arrive as soon as I would think about unhappy thoughts. The sounds seemed to be on cue. I would dwell something, and a bat would go scurrying by my window. I would think over something else and a random noise would happen in the kitchen of the cabana. Another time something fell from the shelf in either Not Larry’s or Nicola’s room. It was weird and it kept on startling me, so I started thinking about positive things only. Perhaps that is what this is all about. Maybe a person will never totally get over resentments or fully forgive situations, but perhaps being positively mindful is an essential way to meditate your mind away from things that make you unhappy when something in your brain is bothersome. And then instead of dwelling, perhaps in time those things will fade enough if the memories are not refreshed so often and those intrusive things that do not really matter will nearly subside in full. Perhaps…
I woke up and went to talk with Not Larry. She said that a lot of people were with her last night. She told me that she got some things out of her at the ceremony. This is awesome. This healing we have found is what we were searching for, even if it took a long time to get to where we went to with this destination. However, we have not achieved a full-on arrival. This clarity is a work that a person must maintain and continue throughout their full journey.
Not Larry and I spent 3300 Peruvian sols to be here, which is $907 USD or $1,213 Canadian. That is a total for the two of us. It seemed like a lot of money at the time, but this experience came at a great value. We could have gone to a retreat in Iquitos where an American man named William is the shaman and he charges $1,400 USD per person. Not Larry and I actually had a conversation about going there and spoke with someone at the retreat. What a commercially dirty feeling that place would have provided. But luckily, just by chance, we found Lucia from a photo on Google which brought us to a website created by a man named Ricardo who lives in the UK who was middle-man communicating with Not Larry in Nicaragua and then to Lucia in the Peruvian jungle. Ricardo says that it is his duty to the plants to help people. Lucia, 28, speaks Shipibo and Spanish to a lesser extent that she does not read or write. So, Ricardo had to middle every part for us from the UK to get us here. We do not know this man, but we are very grateful for him being a kind soul to help with our arrival.
But, for what we are paying, we sure are getting an incredible amount for very little money. Essentially, it is costing Not Larry $250 a week and me $250 a week to be here. We are spending a little less than $20 a day to be at this retreat where we are being housed, fed, bathed in special plants, and attend ayahuasca ceremonies. This is done by a couple of people who host us, stay up all night to drink ayahuasca with us in order to see what is wrong with us, and then heal us. This is actually an incredible deal and we could hardly be anywhere else on the planet for this fair of a price. This is a very economical place to be at and live in with a mandate to self-improvement, for less than life would cost doing nearly anything else other than sleeping in the streets.
Things will slow down now as we finish up here. Not Larry and I had baths with plants in the evening, and then we had a sauna where a large cauldron with plants and water in it was brought to a boil on the fire. Not Larry went first, and I was second to be wrapped up in a blanket, the cauldron moved to the ground between my legs as I sat on a chair and the lid was removed from the cauldron to steam/sauna me. After that, Caesar, a worker here, gave Not Larry and I eucalyptus balm based massages for 10 sols which is $3 USD each. Caesar obviously does not know the value of his work as that $3 massage was freaking incredible.
Before bed, Alexandra told Not Larry and I that were are not allowed caffeine, alcohol, or sex for one week from tomorrow after our final plant bath. We had thought we were going to have to wait three days. One week! We have not had sex in two weeks already and now we have to wait another week. I asked about masturbation. Even that is not allowed. One week! I told Not Larry we may as well stay in dormitories in hostels from now on since we can not have any hanky panky. Temptation plagues me…
It is quite a change. Only once since I was about 10 or 12 years old have I gone this long without an orgasm and that was when I was on the sailboat across the Pacific. Basically, I have gone from full throttle for about 30 years to completely stopped right now for this retreat. My libido is probably very confused.
I woke up at 03:07, covered in new bites. I think there is something in my bed that attacks me in the evenings. It made me so itchy that I was going crazy. Eventually I went to Not Larry’s bed to crawl in with her, but she was dealing with some things that were lingering from the ayahuasca and needed some space to think them through, so she got up to go to the bathroom and then just went to my bed. I slept soundly in hers. When I awoke in the morning she said that nothing had bothered her through the night, though I suppose I was the exception.
We had our final bath with plants today. It was dandelion and I noticed that my wiener was quite swollen…like really swollen. It was a little itchy from whatever was in the bath with plants last night and I went to wash it off, but this morning there was some serious swelling. So, that needs to be dealt with now. I have been using the bath with plants on all of me, including under my foreskin. Apparently that area has decided to become sensitive today. Perhaps that is Lucia sending out vibes of energy to make sure I stay behaved over the next few days while Not Larry and I are supposed to abstain…
So, I now have coconut oil on my doodle. Hopefully that neutralizes things and gets it all in order again. I feel like I should be singing songs by Swollen Members all day. Not Larry went to town with Alexandra to go on an adventure and came home with raw garlic that she made me eat as an antibiotic. Perhaps that will fix this problem.
I played some volleyball with three others at the retreat which is the first sporting exercise I have had in some time. It was necessary to distract myself because Not Larry was busy in the kitchen of the house and I knew what she was probably up to. When she came to the cabana to get cinnamon, there was absolutely no doubt. Then at about 19:00, she made me go into my room to hide. Once she was set up she brought me a paper that said ‘Feliz Compleanos’ on it and said, “Umm, here is your invitation to your birthday party…” It was so cute how she said that. She put a crown on my head that she had bought.
When I came out of the room there was a string that ran along the entire cabana common area with blue letters tied to it that said ‘Feliz Compleanos’ and everyone from the retreat was there. Supper was spaghetti. I had been craving it and had mentioned it before. Not Larry said she could not find it anywhere so she bought tomatoes to peel, which she and Alexandra then made into a sauce. It was awesome. It has been a long time since we have had food with flavor. She even had a spicy pepper diced up for me as we have not been allowed spicy food for a couple of weeks for the retreat.
Everyone sang happy birthday to me and then Not Larry brought out a cake that she and Alexandra made in a pot which was the only vessel they had to try to make a cake in. In the cake mix, she added real pineapple. She said that Alexandra and Caesar, the Peruvian cook, were not sure about putting pineapple in the cake but she told them, “Trust me!” The cake was awesome. Not Larry said that cake was also was not easy to find. She and Alexandra found one little store with a cake mix and then they had to walk all over to find another one in a second store to have enough. The candle on top was one that does not blow out and re-ignites itself again. Those candles are the best and I got to make an array of wishes! Then Lucia’s little boys came for the fiesta, hugged me and wished me a happy birthday. It was so sweet.
After dinner, Dominic, Alexandra, Not Larry and I had some hits of rapé. It was too weird for the Czech girl, the German boy, and an American girl. The three of them hightailed it out of there to go and smoke some mapacho because they seemed to think we were doing some strange drugs when they saw the four of us were blowing rapé up each other’s noses. But, the four of us sure had fun! Who said you can not party at an ayahuasca retreat?
Alexandra played ukulele into the night while Not Larry and I visited with Dominic. Not Larry was asking Dom about Eddie the rat. Alexandra did not know that the rat had a name. Dominic said in his Irish accent, “Yeah, it’s Eddie. Eddie is the rat down at my place. He’s me roommate. He ate me tube of toothpaste too. I started sharing me food with him so he leaves me other stuff alone.”
Not Larry put me in bed and tucked me in at about 23:00. I had one hour of my 30s left to think about…
…I guess I had dozed off and awoke at 02:00. Then I could not sleep. At 03:30, Not Larry turned on her light. There was a lot of noise coming from her room and I did not know what was going on. I heard her say, “Stephen, can you come here?” When I went into her room and she was laying on her bed. She asked me, “What is under my bed?”As I got down on my knees to look, the pussycat was under there with a huge mouse in its mouth. Then it was batting the dead mouse around. I told Not Larry what was happening. She felt relieved as there had been a bit of a battle under there and things were bouncing off the bottom of her bed. I crawled in with her for a bit and we listened to the cat crunch bones as it ate the mouse.
When I headed for my room again, the cat came out to greet me, sort of looking for compliments and gratisfaction. I pet the pussycat, thanked it for saving Not Larry, and went back to bed.
I am officially old. That came quickly. 40 was basically a death certificate when I was about 21. Perception changes, but I no longer feel like I can be considered young anymore… It sure has been a fun run.
When I got up at 08:00, everyone else was already up and they wished me a happy birthday. Not Larry told me it scared her last night when the chaos in her room happened under her bed. She said, “It felt like an exorcism was taking place. My brain did not go to thoughts of the cat, so it was really scary.” Right after I went to bed an animal ran across the headboard of her bed by the mosquito net. When she shone the light to see what it was, it was the pussycat again who had another mouse in her mouth. Not Larry said the cat almost looked embarrassed to be caught carrying away another meal.
After Dominic arrived at the cabana Not Larry told him about the cat’s work in the night, the fight she had, and asked him if Eddie was still around. Dominic responded, “Yeah… I hope it wasn’t Eddie. If it was, I’ll miss him.”
Not Larry and I left the Mai Niti retreat around 10:00. We stopped to see the sweet family where Not Larry had bought a dress before from the little girl and today she bought another. Then we got into a communal taxi for $3.30 each for nearly an hour’s drive and headed to Yarina where we grabbed lunch at Cafe Elixir. It was really nice to have proper food again. Bread! We ate bread! Wild times are upon us. Then, we got into a motorcycle taxi for $2 for a 20 -minute ride to get to a hotel in Pucallpa, a city of manicured trees that all look like something they are not such as a tiger or a temple. Not Larry and I checked into Casa Andina, which is the nicest hotel in Pucallpa. The place is awesome. It came with a tub, separate shower, king-sized bed, huge balcony, bidet, robes, and slippers. That is luxury nearly beyond comprehension after being in the jungle for so long.
We went for a walk around town and paid a man 40 sols ($13) to take us for an hour on his boat on the river so that we could look at the jungle from the river. It was so great…feet up on the side, just watching the jungle. It is nice to be here and I am actually really happy to be in Peru right now. There is no tourism in this area of Peru, so the people are really sweet.
The thing is, I am in bad shape. The swelling has left my wiener, mostly, but I have a rash in my entire pubic region. My fingers and feet have been sore. Not Larry says that is my body depleting them of water to use to fight this infection I have. So, we went to a pharmacy. It was a lot of work to try to explain what was wrong with me. I showed the woman in the pharmacy my pubic area above my doodle, and then I explained to her that I have a swollen penis. That was actually fun to try to explain the swollen wiener to her. She gave me no-doctor-needed antibiotics and cortisone cream. Not Larry and I came back to the hotel and I applied.
So, this is how it is to be 40. Great…
Not Larry and I went out for supper and had pizza. I felt like eating like a pig, and then tomorrow we will start being clean again. As we were eating, some early-20s North American who was sitting near us wanted to have a conversation with us about where we are from. He turned out to be a Canadian from Vancouver acting like he was an American that did not understand the provinces. It annoyed me and I was a jerk, making it clear that I did not want to have a conversation with him about Canada or the USA. I just kind of shut him down and that was where I ended the conversation. I did not really care until Not Larry said, “I just paid $500 for you to be nicer!” She is right. I am supposed to be nicer, but nearly the last thing I want to talk about in Pucallpa, Peru, is North America. Perhaps the stranger and I could have an engaging conversation about the weather and how cold it gets in Canada? That would be just great… However, Not Larry made a good point and I need to be nicer and pretend I care to have those conversations or at least be polite even if I make it clear that I do not care. So, I apologized to the guy when we left saying, “Sorry I was a jerk. It just pains me to have to talk about Canada or the US when I am somewhere like Peru.”
We got home and Not Larry counted the mosquito bites on me and there are 217, just from my belly-button to my feet, including bites on my sack. I have 117 bites just on my left leg alone. I do not believe I have ever had mosquito bites on my testicles before.
As Not Larry was counting the bites, I played the band Swollen Members on Spotify. That entertained her. Then we snorted some rapé and something called Wilco that is supposed to have DMT in it. So, I am putting plants in my hair to help it grow, plants on my ass to control the mosquito bite itch, and plants up my nose to experience euphoria. We sure are in touch with nature.