Monday, October 10, 2016

Before We Begin...

Many of you might ask what would drive me to fly to the jungles of Peru to spend 10 days taking part in an ancient native healing ceremony involving hallucinogenic plants.  Believe me, it wasn’t for fun.  You should know that this recounting contains a lot of deeply personal information and things that may be difficult for my loved ones to read, and TMI for everyone else. You have been warned.

A little back story:  I have wrestled with suicide many times in my past, and even when I wasn’t actively thinking about it I always felt like I would prefer being dead.  In fact I can say with certainty that if it weren't for religion and fear of eternal damnation or some other cosmic punishment for suicide, I wouldn’t be here today.  My ex-wife, Rachel, thought my propensity for doing dumb and dangerous things was because I had toxoplasmosis (a sound theory), but really it was because I just didn’t care about being alive.  Also for as long as I can remember I’ve had self esteem issues.  I just flat out didn’t love myself, as any well off person should.  I’ve always carried around a lot of fear, anxiety, and shame as well. While the marriage was a mutual failure, my mental state was a large contributor to it’s demise. I had absolutely no respect or love for myself, so it was foolish to expect her to have any.

When our union was ending we briefly saw a councilor and while it did nothing to save our marriage, it informed me that the abusive history I had with my stepfather was likely the root of a lot of my issues.  I was encouraged to see a therapist that specializes in trauma.  I took the advice and saw a wonderful woman who treated me with EMDR therapy for 6-7 months.  While I did find it helpful, progress was slow and it was quite expensive.  Eventually it got to the point where I felt we had plateaued and I was just wasting money, so I stopped.  

Around this time I saw a post about a miraculous native medicine called ayahuasaca on Facebook and started to research it.  I discovered that it allegedly had the ability to heal people of trauma issues way better than any western medicine or therapy.  Feeling like I really had no other option at this point, I decided I would find a way to make it happen.  Luckily I was told by a good friend about a presentation by Dr. Joe Tafur on ayahuasca, and the healing center he helped establish in Peru called Nihue Rao, at a bookstore in Mesa. I went and he further convinced me that this was something I NEEDED to do.  The following is the journal I kept throughout my journey. May it inspire you.

If you’d like to skip straight to the ceremony stuff, it starts on DAY 4.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

09.23-24.16 DAY(S) 1

I awoke on time and got on my way to the airport two hours early per my friend Dan’s advice.  Dan works at the airport.  My girlfriend, Toni, stayed the night and drove me… what a sweetheart!  At the airport I learned that my first of 3 flights is delayed 1hr or so, which concerns me as I’ve never had to deal with this before, and I really didn’t want to miss my connection in Houston.  An hour turns into an hour and a half, so I get a little more worried and reach out to Dan and my friend Adrian (a seasoned traveller) for advice.  They both reassure me that if I missed my connection United would take care of it, and that it was out of my hands so no point in worrying.  We finally get going, and as a mea culpa they gave us free access to their in flight films.  I watched most of Captain America: Civil War, which I’d been dying to see.

Arriving in Houston the captain implored the passengers without connections to remain seated so those of us with connections can get off first. Almost no one listened, or maybe everyone had a connection.  As soon as I got to the terminal I asked the first United employee I could find where I was supposed to go, as I’ve never been to George Bush airport (*spits on ground*) and my boarding pass didn’t have the gate on it.  Luckily I didn’t have far to go  and I got to the gate just as they started boarding.  

The flight to Lima was about 6 hrs, and was the longest I’ve been on since I was a kid.  They had a free selection of films, TV, audio books, and music to keep us busy, so I finished Captain America: Civil War, then watched Jungle Book and Whisky Tango Foxtrot before trying to get some sleep, as I know sleep will be tough in the Lima airport.  The in-flight meal smelled really good, though I couldn’t have any due to the incredibly restrictive diet I had to follow leading up to my ceremonies.  I packed some shredded wheat cereal and apples, though.

We get to Lima without any complications.  Now I’m faced with a 6hr layover.  They passed out customs and immigration paperwork on the airplane.  I didn’t see anyone filling it out, so I thought that since I wasn’t immigrating and I had nothing to declare that maybe I didn’t need to do it.  Wrong!  After disembarking we get herded into the customs checkpoint.  Luckily while the plane was clearing out I took the time to fill out the paperwork.  The clerk I got mumbled and may have had a speech impediment.  On top of the language barrier, it was a frustrating exchange for both of us.  We made it work, though.

Once past the expansive duty free area I saw a currency exchange so I decided to convert my money.  As I approached, the guy manning it just took off!  I just kinda stood there like, “What the hell”?  Fortunately he came back after not too long.  I brought $200 with me as advised by the folks at Nihue Rao, though Adrian suggested I wouldn’t need more than like $20-40 worth.  I ended up splitting the difference with $100.  I was a little worried they wouldn’t accept my bills as they weren’t brand new and I was warned that because of counter fitting they may not take them if they were less than perfect.  It went fine, though.  A little further down the terminal there was another exchange booth, only with slightly better exchange rates, so I decided to convert the rest of the $200 I brought.  I mean if I have a lot left over I can always change it back, right?

The Lima Airport international arrivals dumps you into a relatively small area and I couldn’t figure out how to get to the domestic departures.  The only way out seemed to just go outside. Turns out that’s exactly what I needed to do.

Immediately outside the doors was a gauntlet of pushy taxi drivers.  They were relentless!  Finally I was approached by an information guy who told me that I needed to go down the sidewalk a ways and re-enter the building to get to domestic flights.  After he found out how long my layover was (5hrs) he got real excited to tell me about nearby hotels and that he could take me there.  This was a taxi driver disguised as an airport information clerk!  Very clever.  I told him no thanks, as I had planned on just hanging out at the airport for the duration, and proceeded to the terminal.

Surprisingly the lead in to the terminal was filled with american chain restaurants.  I found that a little disappointing, though it got my stomach going none the less.  I hadn’t had a proper meal in 18hrs or so.  I read online that the Starbucks had the best wi-fi in the joint so I headed over to buy a bottle of water and get the password.  I spent a while texting with Toni which was nice.  I also sent messages to other loved ones to let them know my progress.  I really wanted to keep chatting because I was feeling pretty isolated and really bored, but Toni needed to get to bed, so I let her go.

A couple weeks prior to leaving I started watching Robotech, and my big plan was to get on some wi-fi and watch it for a few hours.  Starbucks was small and uncomfortable and I didn’t think they’d put up with me taking up space for the remaining 4hrs.  I noticed that the cafe across the aisle had (along with many delicious looking pastries and pies) a long padded booth-style seat.  I noticed a few people laying on it so I decided to set up camp too.  Unfortunately one of the employees came over and started harassing some of us, so I decided to move to the food court.  

Im not sure if it was on purpose or not, but the food court chairs were ok as long as you stopped sitting in them after 15 minutes of so.  I paid for the airport wi-fi and set up camp again.  I loaded up some Robotech on the iPad only to find out it’s region blocked! I was so disappointed.  I looked online to discover that most of Amazon Prime won’t play outside of the US.  Bummer.  I switched to netflix and discovered region coding in my favor: Regular Show and Gravity Falls were available here!  I was having a hard time staying awake so I shut it down and tried to find a comfortable way to sleep, but it was impossible in those metal torture chairs.

I decided to walk around for a while since I couldn’t sleep.  I found a corridor where many people just laid on the ground and sacked-out.  I didn’t think I’d be able to do that.  The complete lack of any comfortable seating was really starting to piss me off.  I knew that there’d be some in the boarding area, but I was warned by several people that they wouldn’t let you in more than an hour before your flight.  I decided to try anyway, and I only had a little less than a couple hours to go, so why not?  I got in!

There wasn’t enough room to lay down, but I put my backpack on my lap, set an alarm for 5am and put my head on my pack and passed out for a little bit.  I woke before my alarm and saw the line had formed for my flight.  Good timing.

The sun rose as my plane took off.  I slept fitfully during the 1.5hr flight because I was wearing shorts and my legs were cold.  

We landed in the tiny Iquitos airport and outside I was once again harangued by taxi drivers.  It took a few minutes, but the Nihue Rao driver, Marco Antonio, ID’d me.  He took me and a french woman via  motorbike-carriage to the retreat.  

our ride
The scenery reminds me of rural Thailand.  Definitely 3rd world.  Had it been raining the dirt road we traversed would have been near impassible.  The woman who I shared the carriage with told me that on one of her past trips they had to get out and push because they got stuck in the mud.  The drive took an hour or so, but it went quickly, as there was so much to look at… beautiful jungle, dilapidated buildings, shanty towns, other “cabs” with garish paint jobs (including Thundercats).  I was left wondering if there had been an election recently because there were a lot of campaign murals on the buildings.

When we arrived at Nihue Rao we were greeted by a guard with a pump shotgun.  There were several other guards armed with single shot shotguns.  I guess the boss gets the good gun.  My butt was glad to finally be off of the bone-rattling ride here.

We were shown around briefly and processed into the retreat.  Our cabins are very bare bones.  A bed with mosquito netting, a desk, and a shelf.  All made with raw, rough wood.  I love it!

Part of getting us ready for the retreat is ingesting a “vomitivo” to cleanse the system.  I drank down the cereal bowl full of bitter white liquid and chatted with the guy who administered it (Joel) about video games and Phoenix/Tucson until the medicine started to work.  Man, I hate throwing up.  After it appeared I had purged all of the vomitivo (there wasn’t much else in my stomach) I still felt pretty queazy so I took a nap in a hammock until lunch.  After the nap I felt much better so I went to the mess hall.  They had a buffet of a couple different kinds of rice, lentils, beans, and grilled fish.  There were also what I thought were breadsticks, but turns out they were baked or dried plantains.  I did not enjoy them.  
Mess Hall

Being my first proper meal after a day and a half, I went to town.  On my way back to my cabin it became clear that the vomitivo wasn’t done with me yet.  There goes lunch!  I rinsed my mouth out and went back to the hammock outside my cabin to rest and read while my stomach settled down.

I woke in time for dinner and thought I’d try again.  This time my stomach was ok, and everything went down and stayed down.  I met and chatted with some of the other guests and admin.  They all seem like a nice lot and come from all over the world: Australia, Italy, France, New Zealand, Canada, US, Germany, etc.  An admin named Cvita told us more about plant medicine and what I can expect.  For example, each plant has a “culture” around it with specific flowers, insects and people.  When you’re taking it as medicine it infects your dreams and visions with those flowers, insects, etc.  Fascinating stuff.

I was also informed during dinner that there was 24hr power!  The literature said that power would be very limited, so it was a welcome surprise.  Unfortunately the wi-fi was down and there probably wouldn’t be a way to reach my loved ones back in the world.  I hope they don’t worry.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

09.25.16 DAY 2

I woke surprised by my surroundings and unsure what time it was, as it was overcast.  After just laying there for a while, I got up and did some tai chi before going to the mess hall for breakfast.  Breakfast was porridge with a sauce made from bananas, plus most of the same stuff we eat for lunch and dinner.  Some of the guests were talking about going to the “the beach”, which was a sandy spot along side the river.  I agreed to go along.

We took a long, covered motorboat to get there, which was fun.  As I write this the world is still rocking back and forth.  The beach was nice and I dipped my feet in the water and hung out with some of the other guests.  I got to know a dutch woman named Lieke and a couple of americans named Jackie and Derrick.  An older gentleman named Howard shared his sunscreen with me, which was nice.  A vulture landed and paid us a visit, which was cool.

Front to Back: Derick, Jackie, Lieke, & Elodie

Mushrooms growing in the bottom of the boat

On the way back to the center Lieke said there was a spot where you could get reception, so I tried getting a message back to the world.  As far as I know no one knows I made it here ok.

Lunch was the same, and from what I hear doesn’t change much.  Bananas were on the no-eat list I was given so I’d been abstaining.  They serve them here with every meal, so I’ve been enjoying the fresh, ripe bananas quite a bit.  They have a variety that is about a third the length of the bananas we’re used to state-side, and they’re delicious!  After lunch I wandered around the center taking pictures.

pets or food?

Maestro Ricardo's pet parrots

the giant chicken run

futbol field

The maloka where the ceremonies take place

my cabin

my cabin 

parasitic plants

bathrooms - shower side

bathrooms - toilet side, and the ceremony maloka on the right

Where laundry happens

All day they have been erecting a tower to get a better wi-fi signal.  It’s 30 meters high and hopefully when they're done I’ll be able to get a message home that I’m ok.

At dinner the kitchen must have been short staffed, as there wasn't enough fish to go around, the filtered water was really low, and they were out of hot water for tea.

After dinner I hung around the lounge because I knew my meeting with Ricardo (the shaman) would happen soon, and I wanted to see if the abysmal wi-fi had improved at all.  Nope!  At my meeting with Ricardo I told them in a very short and sweet manner about my divorce and stepfather.  Mostly because I didn't want to break down.  I have a feeling I’ll be doing plenty of that in the next few days.  Afterwards on my way to the bathrooms I did end up crying for a bit.
the lounge

So I composed myself and rejoined the group in the lounge to try the wi-fi once more.  Success!  I was able to touch base with Toni and chat with her for a bit, which was nice and calmed me down.

While I was texting I overheard the two chattiest members of the group talking about a myriad of topics including US politics and the American Civil War (by way of the film Lincoln) which I found interesting considering one was Australian (Damien) and the other Canadian (Jason).  Eventually the Canadian relented and went to his cabin.  I didn’t want to get cornered by the victorious Australian, so I took my leave as well.

The cabin I’m in is a duplex and unfortunately the separating wall doesn’t go all the way to the ceiling, so if I turn on my light it spills over to my neighbor’s side (the nice french woman I arrived with; Natalie), so I write my journal by candle light so as not to disturb her… which is actually pretty great.

The shamans are singing in the Maloka (the building in which the ceremonies take place) now, so I shall let them sing me to sleep.

Friday, October 7, 2016

09.26.16 DAY 3

I woke up kinda late (8:30) and had to get to the mess hall before they stopped serving breakfast at 9.  Then I relaxed for a little while, did my morning meditation and some tai chi.  Today was pretty low key, as tonight was my first ceremony.  We were encouraged to take it easy and focus on our goals and intentions.  At lunch I sat next to Joe, who did the presentation in Mesa that got me to sign up for this place.  He arrived last night amidst a rainstorm, having to traverse the muddy roads on a motorbike.  We, and some of the nearby guys, got on the subject of music which I find to be an easy topic to converse about.  I think it broke the ice between us a little.

After lunch I hammock’d for a while before going to get my first dose of plant medicine, piñon blanco in my case.  I was assigned piñon blanco at my meeting with Maestro Ricardo for it’s ability to open the heart and bring in light.  It was administered in a double shot glass and tasted like wheat grass juice.  Joe came over and showed us a few of the plants they used for medicine, including the ayahuasca vine.  It was interesting. 

We had a meeting with one of the facilitators, an Italian named Markus, about what to expect during the ceremonies.  It wasn’t anything I didn’t already know from my previous research.  The verbose Aussie had to add his 2¢ a few times which I could tell was annoying Markus.  After the meeting I took a nap in a hammock for a while.

mushrooms are everywhere out here!

After I woke I went to see if anything was happening in the lounge, where I ran into Joel.  Joel reminds me A LOT of my dearly departed friend Tony, only hispanic.  They look similar, they like the same kind of music, they have a similar temperament and sense of humor… it’s really cool.  Needless to say we get along pretty well.  Lieke came in while we were talking about music and started talking about how she didn’t want to “drink” tonight.  After she left Joel explained that it was because one of the other visitors, a french guy named Sasha, professed his love for her (after having known her for all of 5 days) and drama ensued.  Joel said it was like Melrose Place out here.

Joel and I continued our conversation about music, comics, Dune, and Jodorowski until Joe needed him for something.  Now I’m killing time until 8pm when we start.  I’m not really nervous at all.  I just want to get started.
cabin visitor

A big honkin’ wasp just found its way into my cabin!  The battle was epic, but I managed to defeat him with the ol’ hat/shoe combo.  That sucker was sturdy!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

09.27.16 DAY 4

Last night’s ceremony… First I’ll describe the process a bit.  7:45 pm everyone comes to the maloka (preferably dressed in white) and sits on their assigned mat next to a bucket for vomiting until we start at 8.  There are three shamans: Maestro Ricardo, who is the main guy, Maestro Miguel, and Maestra Maria.  To help out during the ceremony there are a few facilitators.  Felipe doles out the ayahuasca.  Joe, Markus, and Cvita watch the room and help people out that are having trouble.  Joel keeps track of a lot of the operations and logistics.  
inside the maloka

When everyone is in place, one by one they go up to Felipe to get their dose.  The measuring is very scientific.  Ricardo has this glass that was probably part of a dinner set, and it has some pointed lines moulded in the glass that start at the bottom and go an arbitrary distance up the side.  A pour all the way to the top of the lines is a full dose, but almost no one does that much.  A more standard pour would be half way up the lines and called “medio”.  All of the new people were served a bit less than a quarter.  It tastes very earthy like Chinese herbal medicine, only very thick and sludge-like.

After your dose you return to your mat and wait for everyone else to get theirs, after which the lights are turned off and everyone lays in the dark quietly waiting for the medicine to take effect.  When the medicine start to hit, Maestro Ricardo begins singing, and throughout the night the shamans sing, sometimes one at a time and sometimes harmonizing.  The facilitators help people that are having a tough time by sitting on their mat and talking with or singing to them.  The songs, or icaros, are in the plant language and are used to control the energies in the room and in the individual people.  As the night progresses everyone gets called up one by one to sit in front of one of the shaman for a personal icaro.  If after an hour or two you aren’t feeling a strong enough effect, you can go back up to Felipe for a 2nd dose, but if you are too late they won’t give it to you because you’ll drag the night out for too long.

You can hear people throwing up all around you in the darkness, as the ayahuasca causes them to “purge” negative energies.  It also can cause one to purge out the other direction as well, in which case you’d have to make your way to the bathroom structure across the way from the maloka.  If you can’t make it on your own you’d get Joel or one of the facilitators to help you get there.  

At the end of the ceremony, when everyone has finished their journeys, Maestro Ricardo declares the ceremony over.  Usually around 1-2 am.  A candle is lit and people are encouraged to hang out and socialize if they like.  You can also spend the night in the Maloka if you want.  Joel then brings a basket of fruit around for everyone who wants some.  

So my first ceremony was kind of anticlimactic.  From a combination of a weak batch of brew and a small dose for the new people, there weren’t any visions or revelations.  It was, however, a vivid trip.  I saw all kinds of shapes and colors along with strong body sensations.  Sometimes they would approach an object from the real world, but not quite.  I also dodged purging.  I came close, but stopped at the miserable edge.  When I was called up for my personal icaro, which on the first night is to link you to your plant medicine (piñon blanco in my case), my visuals and bodily sensations were amplified 2-3 fold.  This is when I came closest to puking.

I was getting very frustrated by my neighbor, a Belgian named Arthur.  He kept turning on his flashlight (which we were warned not to do, as it’s disruptive to everyone else in the maloka) in order to spit in his bucket, instead of doing it by feel in the dark.  He also struck up a lengthy conversation with his other neighbor (another talkative Aussie named Sharna) which is also a no-no.  Just as I couldn’t take it anymore and asked them to keep it down, Markus came and told them to can it. 

Towards the end I was just doing my best to stay awake, and when they called it I was definitely ready for it to be over.  I retired to the seclusion of my cabin, as I really didn’t want to be next to Arthur for another minute.

Each morning after a ceremony there is a recap meeting at 9am.  At this morning’s meeting the general consensus for the new people was that we need to take more tonight.  Everyone else had varying degrees of success with the ayahuasca.  
One of Maestro Ricardo's parrots

After the meeting I wasn’t feeling great, so I did my tai chi and stretching which helped a lot.  Lunch helped too.  Today we had three new items!  Mashed potatoes, cucumber and tomato salad, and chicken.  The change of pace was very welcome.  

After lunch I tried contacting some of my loved ones but the wi-fi wasn’t working again.  Like Joel said, “It’s so hard to get good wi-fi in the jungle”.

There’s a liquid called Agua de Florida that you can use to make your ceremonies more pleasant.  I originally thought it was to drink, but I discovered in ceremony last night that it is a fragrant liquid you put on yourself.  I thought I smelled it on other people last night and it was lovely.  I decided to get some for myself, unfortunately the shop was out.  Maybe someone will share.  I have a feeling tonight will be tough.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

09.28.16 DAY 5

Last night before the ceremony Jason and I got our hands on some Agua de Florida.  Unfortunately neither of us realized how freely it poured and we both ended up with way too much.  Turns out it smells and burns like cheap aftershave.  This was not what I smelled last night.

The ceremony began and I drank my ayahuasca and laid down and waited.  After 20 minutes or so I felt energy fill me then focus at my lower dantien (AKA the navel chakra).  It was very intense and it was like the energy center had a core to it that was hotter and brighter than the rest of it.  After that I had visions of traveling through space as imagined by early 80s sci-fi artists.  I saw spaceships, stars, planets… I saw a mining colony on the moon of a distant planet.  I saw a penal colony working off their terms harvesting minerals in an asteroid belt.

Then I saw a hi-tech armor that was like the scales of a reptile, but thicker and geometric and made of a space-age polymer.  It adhered directly to the skin and spread out covering the outside of ones body starting at the hand.  If you looked at its profile on your arm just right you could see the stylized face of an alligator.

Many of the visions were technology themed.  Whirring clockworks, gears, mechanisms… eventually I found myself a part of a HR Giger style bio-mechanical machine, neatly and efficiently compartmentalized within the pulsing tubes and viscera.  It felt comforting.  

Unfortunately there were no life altering realizations to be had.  The closest I came was I saw an abstract wooden object that represented Rachel.  It didn’t look like her, or any human.  It was an assemblage of found old wood bits, rusty wire and bits of photos.  My chest cavity was an old, tarnished brass cage.  The Rachel object was contained within the cage, that didn’t appear to have a door of any sort.  The vision looked like it was right out of a Brothers Quay film.  I’m sure this speaks to my difficulty moving past my divorce.  There was no resolution offered, however.  I also had a message that was like a slap in the face.  quick and jarring: don’t be a misogynist!  and it disappeared as quickly as it appeared.  I never thought of myself as a misogynist, but I’ll have to take a closer look at this.  

I realized at one point that I had a fair amount of control over the state I was in.  I started feeling cold, so I just decided I wasn’t going to feel cold anymore.  I started having a disturbing vision that I was trapped in the crawlspace, or like a secret dug-out under a house and I started to feel panicky.  I realized that I could just turn it off, so I did.  I also figured out the nausea I was feeling was tied to the vertigo that the ayahuasca caused, and if I rooted part of myself it was no longer an issue.  I think that because of my controlling the experience so much, it was stymied.  Unfortunately when I tried to force myself to stop controlling it, I was still imposing my will on the experience, which also caused it to fall apart.  So I think next time I will get a larger dose in hopes I can overwhelm my conscious mind and lose myself to the experience.

Arthur was in rare form last night.  The way he kept fucking around with his flashlight, it was like a Laser-Floyd show happening next to me.  And every time it happened, it pulled me out of my experience.  The final straw was when his cell phone went off.  Why the hell did he even have it in the maloka?!  Instead of turning it off and putting it away immediately, he started farting around on it.  I couldn’t take it anymore so I barked, “HEY! Turn your phone off!”  He apologized and eventually put his phone away.  I’m going to ask Markus if he can move my space so I’m not next to him anymore.

This morning I feel surprisingly good.  I also no longer have any fear of the ayahuasca process.  I really want to go all in.  I want the medicine to take me to my hell.  To tear me down and rebuild me from the ground up.  It really seems like the people who have the hardest time reap the greatest rewards.

Today has been very lazy.  We had our morning meeting about last night’s ceremony.  I skipped breakfast, as Maestro Ricardo said that it would improve the effects of the plant medicine.  Right after the meeting I took a shower to get the Agua de Florida (translation: Aqua Velva) off of me, as well as the grime I’d accumulated over the past couple of days.  

I ate a pretty large lunch, and inadvertently sat across from Arthur, which I immediately regretted.  Also there was a rubbery worm-like thing in my fish that really put me off.  I’ve never run across veins or tendons in fish before, so I don’t even want to think about what it was.
In the rafters of the mess hall

Lunch left my stomach feeling less than ideal, so I loaded myself into a hammock for a nap, which lasted a couple of hours.  The rest of the day was spent writing in my journal, dinner and a little socializing.  I hung out with Joel and Jason and talked about stand up comedians.  For a while Jason tried his hand at the pro stand-up game.  He says it was a tough life and all comedians are miserable and addicts.

We got another Phoenician yesterday.  A guy named Chris.  He expressed disappointment at how “plugged in” people here were and that he came here to unplug (for his big 5 day stint).  Jason also expressed a similar sentiment about unplugging, and wondered why everyone else wasn’t doing what he was.  Some of these people have been here for months and they need to check their email.  If you want to unplug, fine.  Don’t get preachy about it, though.

After thinking about it for a while I came to the conclusion that I spend a lot of my life looking at screens.  Maybe it wouldn’t kill me to go without for a few days.  Perhaps Jason and Chris were right.  Although I really want to chat with Toni and play Metroid.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

09.29.16 DAY 6

I got kind of stuck in bed this morning thinking about all of my issues and how much I’d like to be rid of them.  When I finally got my ass up it was only about 9am, so not that bad.  I spent the morning looking for a stick to practice the bo with, but came up short.  While that was going on I saw a really cool looking bug so I grabbed my phone from my cabin and captured it.  Since I was at it, I decided to wander about and take more photos.
cool bug

parasitic plant

these butterflies were iridescent blue on the other side of their wings

an old foundation

more mushrooms


more mushrooms

something has been eating up this tree


I ran into Joel and he told me it wouldn’t be a problem to move away from Arthur for the rest of the ceremonies.  He said to remind him later or talk to Markus.

Lunch was the same, of course.  After lunch a few of the cafeteria women snuck up behind Joel and started breaking eggs on his head!  Then they started singing happy birthday.  That’s a Peruvian thing apparently.  Glad it’s not my birthday.

After Joel left to get cleaned up, I approached Markus and Cvita about my maloka transfer and they completely understood.  Cvita asked how I was doing and I gave my standard dismissive “fine”.  She actually wanted to talk so we sat and discussed my goals and my history with my stepfather and the divorce.  It was hard not to cry.  It would have been fine I’m sure, but I still have a hard time crying in front of anyone.  Especially if I’m not comfortable with them.  She told me about her history of abuse and her healing journey.  It was inspirational and uplifting.  She mentioned having Maestro Ricardo do a special song to reunite me with my soul.  Apparently your soul can leave you when you experience more trauma than you can handle for long periods of time, and she saw the traits of it in me.  I thanked her and retired to my cabin and proceded to cry for a bit.

I spent most of the afternoon reading and relaxing.  Around 4pm Arthur approached my cabin and I was like “oh great”.  He just wanted to get a volleyball game going, though.  I felt kinda dumb for getting all worked up.  

I wandered over to the volleyball area when I saw Chris taking pictures of something by the mess hall.  I went over to investigate and it was a HUGE grasshopper that looked like a leaf!  I went back to my cabin to get my phone so I could get some shots myself.  

That's a piece of banana on the right for scale

Eventually we got the volleyball game going with Chris, Jason, and myself vs Arthur, Damien (the talkative Aussie), and Marko Antonio (the driver).  We won by a small margin, and had a good time.  I forgot how much I enjoy volleyball.  There were sand courts at my high school, and I spent a lot of time there.  During the match I scuffed my knee and ankle on a couple of dives.  The ground wasn’t quite sand.  

Afterwards I realized I was pretty smelly, so I took a quick shower so as not to be offensive to my new neighbors at tonight’s ceremony.  I’m really planning on going hard tonight.  Cvita mentioned a couple things that reminded me of the EMDR therapy I underwent back home.  She said I should try to connect with the emotions of the visions that are brought to me.  She also said it was  good idea to set up a safe place to go to when things get hairy.  Hopefully my months of EMDR will help with that.  It’s pretty similar.

I have a good feeling about tonight.  Hopefully it’s a nightmare.  I didn’t poo today.  This may come back to haunt me.
cabin visitor