We have been spending the past week and a half or so finishing up the new camp for La Familia Medicina. I am not going to lie to you, building a camp deep in the Amazon jungle is hard. We had problems such as suppliers cheating us, items “walking off”, workers not wanting to work, a hundred year flood that covered the camp in a foot of water (no damage, just a halt of work) and shockingly large appetites of workers (10 kg of rice was lasting only 2 days for 4 workers). All that said the process was an incredible learning experience with a truly special camp as an end result.
We have built a huge octagonal ceremony house 48 feet in diameter, large private sleeping quarters that can fit 15 people, a swimming platform in the river and a large kitchen/dining/lounging area. All of this sitting on an picturesque small bluff above the river. I can’t wait to move in next week.
To celebrate my return and this milestone we just had our first ayahuasca ceremony in the new camp a few days ago. It was an intimate affair with just Maestro Gumercindo, his brother Marci, an older gentleman, Paolo, who is a patient of Gumercindo, and myself in attendance.
We left Hererra a bit late in the day with a chilly wind and a dark overcast sky that threatened to rain. I was a bit concerned about it getting dark as we headed out on the big river, the Ucayali. The currents are always strong and unpredictable with lots of large debris popping up. I felt some consolation that we were in our big boat and that no one else seemed at all concerned about the conditions.
As it turns out the locals have no problem navigating the waters at night. They know the rivers very well and I was reminded that they have an amazing ability to see in the dark. I assume this is a trait developed by not having electricity (light) much of the time. They are just more comfortable moving around in the dark. That said, once we were on the smaller Aucayacu river I felt much better as it is a very calm “clear” water river. We (maybe just me) gringos are so soft.
Upon arrival to the camp it took some time to settle in as we essentially had to carry Paolo to the ceremony house. Paolo has been having trouble with one of his ankles and was having a hard time navigating the steps up the bank of the river.
When Gumercindo first started to treat Paolo, his ankle had a softball sized swelling on the instep that extended throughout the foot. He could not walk nor move the foot at all. After the first treatment by Gumercindo, the swelling had gone down significantly in a matter of minutes and Paulo could move it with minimal pain. He was also able to begin walking again. This was all done without ayahuasca. Gumercindo had done a “ventiada”, performed some sucking to remove some of the bad energy in his ankle and prescribed some additional medicinal plants to apply to the affected area. The ayahuasca ceremony was to provide additional cleaning and healing.
As we walked into the ceremony house I was struck by how large it is. I already mentioned that the diameter of the house is about 48 feet and when you combine this with a “vaulted” ceiling that goes up at least another 30 feet the effect is quite impressive. This was particularly apparent with only four people in attendance. We had a small candle giving off a lovely soft light and the jungle sounds surrounded us. It felt perfect. It was like crawling into a warm blanket.
It had been about two months since the last time I had drunk ayahuasca. I actually felt a bit nervous, something that I had not felt for quite some time. I was concerned that I had picked up some dark energies while I was in the states. As I mentioned in my last post, my time in the states was not “all roses”. There was an expectation that some serious cleansing needed to be done.
Of course trying to predict what will happen with ayahuasca is absolutely ridiculous. In my experience it never turns out as expected.
Ayahuasca was so gentle and actually generous with me. The night was spent with lovely colorful visions, listening and singing along with Gumercindo’s amazing icaros, and joking around during the breaks.
About half way through ceremony I noticed a large green snake in my visions. I could not see the head nor the tail at first and something told me that it was not a snake. It had odd coloring, a shimmering forest green that I had never seen on a snake. The body started to turn in a way that I knew the head was coming around towards me. In the next second I was face to face with a dragon that had smoke coming out of it’s nose and a menacing glare. “Whoah! WTF!?!” I thought to myself, a bit scared. Then in an instant the glare turned into a broad smile and soon after, raucous laughter. He was just fucking with me. We chatted without words for a bit before he took off flying playfully across the sky in every direction. On one of his passes in front of me he invited me for a ride. Of course I accepted and was instantly barreling through various worlds at warp speed on his back. I was so grateful to have met such a fun new friend.
After hanging out with the green dragon, I started to think about the other dragon spirits…more specifically the red dragon. Poof! There I was face to face with another menacing dragon, this one less “solid”, as his body consisted of red flames. This time I started laughing first as I knew the trick. He soon joined me in laughter. I spent the remainder of ceremony flying around and chatting with my new dragon friends. Towards the end of my time with them, they said that they would always be with me now that we were friends. Needless to say I was quite happy about this and they were true to their word. When I would check in throughout the rest of ceremony they were there hovering above my head.
Ceremony ended. I spent the rest of the night chatting and joking around with the group. I absolutely love post ceremony. It is such a wonderful time to connect with friends in a way that just does not happen in daily life.
The next day we were up at 5 AM for the trip back to town. Everyone had smiles on their faces as we all agreed that it was a great inaugural ceremony for the camp.