Visiting a Shamans house, our guide describes about what he does and the history of the shaman. I ask to stay and try the ayuaska plant that he talked about. A hallucinogenic drug that is supposed to ‘purify’ the body, giving you visions about facing your fears, the Shaman also declared it can also cure diseases. The guide tells me that he had cured someone from AIDS.
So I stayed behind whilst the tour continued on back to camp. I was taken to a room with a hammock and some 3 year old magazines. Which is where I would stay for the following 5 hours, until darkness set in. The Shaman himself came out with a candle (as there was no electricity out here) and sat down in front of me, he begins asking me questions, which frankly I could not reply to, as his jungle Spanish was not the Spanish I had taught myself. Figuring he could not get through to me, he beckons me to another area of the house where the drug taking will begin. If you want to feel uncomfortable, going to a shamans house, somewhere in the Jungle, accessible only by boat and not having the foggiest idea what anyone is asking you is just great.
He sits me in front of him and starts swirling dry palm leaves around in front of me and either side of my shoulders chanting something, ‘calling the spirits’. Pointing at a cup in front of me, I guess it was time to drink. The brown liquid, is a mixture of the ayuaska root and some other plants, it smells like fermenting toilet water. Upon drinking it, your gag reflex will want to activate. It is probably the worst tasting substance I have ever experienced. However controlling myself as to not puke it up as I need time for it to work its way into my system. After 40 minutes I started having some strange sensations. It felt like there was something scraping through my veins and rushing through my intestines. I guess this was the ‘purifying’ element taking effect. Making my way to the toilet as it did give me the sensation that I ‘needed to go’ I find the outside toilet, lifting the lid to the loo, suddenly everything is chucking itself out of my stomach. I ended up not ‘needing to go’ or maybe I did, just a different end (the stomach). Trying to find my way back to my ‘sleeping area’ I experience some of the effects, especially your perception on events, like time and physical touch. When walking back it felt like I was floating, putting my hand out to grab the wall, I thought I had touched it before I had and likewise with placing your foot on the ground for each step, it feels like you should have hit the ground but it happens moments later. Regarding time, I thought it was very late in the morning, but once getting back to the house, looking at my watch, it had in fact only gone past 2 hours. Somehow I had been finding my way back for a very long time. I must have walked incredible slowly or got lost. Laying down to sleep, I then experience what can be described as an opening to a James bond film. Where shapes and colours blend together creating strange patterns and shapes. Unfortunately I did not have any strange or vivid visions. I remember talking to an old guy back in Bolivia, who whilst taking the same drug, he told me of his experience of seeing insects crawling out of his veins in his arms. Now that sounded cool, all I got was a bunch of colours and shapes. I was probably not in the right state of mind. Which actually was probably due to one of the Shamans brothers constantly coming and checking up on me, which made it very difficult to concentrate on my ‘visions’.
The following morning the whole family come to say good-bye, the Shaman even embracing me with a hug, I say my thanks and head off in a moto canoe back to my group. Powering through the waterways through the jungle, a rainbow looming over head and the morning sunshine brightening the day, helps make me feel a little ‘purified’.