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Ayahuasca Round 2
by Kelsey

July 6, 2009

I must tell you all about my best day at Casa Machiguenga so far. I started by taking a morning walk down to the Cocha Salvador viewing dock, alone. I was scared but I really wanted to make the one and a half kilometer trek by myself. The walk there was challenging. I didn’t see any animals but you can bet I was carefully watching and listening for any danger, like peccaries or jaguar. When I got to the lakeside, I felt a bit of relief. I figured if a jaguar charged me I could just jump in the water to evade it. Much less scary, right? Or so I thought. Right before I made it to the dock I came upon a huge group of monkeys, pay dirt! I took some great photos, probably the clearest ones I’ve gotten of any monkey species. The lake was calm and peaceful as usual. I boarded the docked catamaran to sit on the benches and wait for otters. Cocha Salvador always puts me in a great mood. I sat and meditated on my travels and the things I wished to accomplish. I also thought about all my family and friends and laughed because I knew they would flip out if they could see where I was. About an hour later, the otter family appeared. I had previously wrestled with the challenges of photographing them so I had the bright idea of taking video for all to see. Check it out, it’s epic.

I returned to the camp safely, although not without sprinting a few times when I thought I heard something big crashing through the bushes ahahah. We had a group arriving that day with my new shipment of supplies: more food, coca leaves, beer, and a guitar. I was ecstatic. They showed up around three o’clock and we greeted them, “down by the river!” (R.I.P Chris Farley) Miguel bid the passenger a good afternoon, something I had taught him, and I was proud. Sadly, I was disappointed when the guide, Vanessa, told me there was no room for beer in the boat and I would have to go without. No big deal, a guitar was all I needed. Darwin and Cristiano were with the group so we played a rematch, me and the Machis versus them and a new cook, Jorge. Once again, the Machiguengas carried our team to victory. I scored two goals too. I was stoked to see Darwin and Cristiano again, they are some of my best buddies down here.

After the game, I spoke with Vanessa who seemed very excited. I asked her why and she told me we were all going to take ayahuasca again. Oh no! I knew Samuel was preparing some but I had anticipated taking it the next night! I say oh no because I had already eaten two big meals, not my typical psychedelic ritual. On top of that, some of the travelers and the second guide, Javier, and Jorge also wanted to join. Shit, I barely felt anything my first time and I was worried this time I wouldn’t even have enough to get going. Oh well. I abstained from dinner in hopes of ensuring a good journey and waited.

The hours leading up to the ceremony went quickly, and by dusk we were preparing ourselves for soul flight. Jose Luis and I set up two mattresses in an empty room; one for Cristiano, Darwin, Javier, and Jorge, and another for Vanessa and the tourists. I was to sit with the Machis on the wooden floor. When we were all seated I realized I was going to be one of the last to be served. We went through the typical introduction. Jose Luis welcomed everyone and bid them a safe journey. Then he warned them not to turn on any lights during the proceedings and Samuel began to serve up the potion. I sat in quiet contemplation, trying to clear my mind. Everyone before me drank two cups and then it was my turn. Miguel asked me if I wanted three, I was stooooooked. Obviously I said yes and proceeded to consume. After the Machis drank theirs, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed just one more. It was blocking my thought process so I asked, and received. We all waited quietly. As normal, Jose Luis and Samuel played the violins to calm us. I quietly asked the ayahuasca spirits to clean me and teach me what they would over and over. I wanted to experience their power so badly. I think forty minutes or so passed and I wasn’t feeling it. Neither was anyone else. I drank another cup. A small while later it started to kick in. I felt the familiar vibrations and interior body movements I had when I once took acid and mushrooms together (San Francisco is a crazy place!). My friend Ford told me these were the feelings one experiences in the beginning stages of astral projection. Yes. This was a good sign. Slowly, I felt the energy of ayahuasca creeping into my body. It was warm and full of vibration. It started in my legs and moved up my torso into my chest. My body felt heavy and I was closing my eyes to concentrate. Just then I had a mental block and my concentration was broken. The ayahuasca spirit receded from my body. I was bummed. I felt almost sober after five more minutes. I could tell Cristiano and Darwin weren’t feeling much either. They weren’t as giggly and outgoing as last time. I asked Jose Luis, “noviikakempa pashini? (Can I drink more).” He replied, “Taina (come).” This time I was going all the way, I drank three more cups for a grand total of six. I went Back to my seat and waited.

Vanessa was the only one who seemed to be heavily affected and kept saying, “Oooh muy fuerte (very strong).” After more time, I started to feel its presence again. I felt giggly and happy and my body was lazy like a ragdoll. I laughed as I told Jose Luis, “Yagabiakena eekeesanarah (I’m drunk with ayahuasca).” All the Machis laughed and so did I. Jose Luis asked me to play violin for everyone. I was nervous and totally psychedelicized. The pressure was on. Two days before, I had been practicing with him and not doing so well, but he told me the next time we took ayahuasca, it would teach me how to play. I lubed up the bow with my saliva and hit it. I truly couldn’t believe it, but after a minute or so I began to play better than I ever had. Jose Luis was laughing so I stopped. He clapped and said, “Perfecto! Igual como Machiguengas (perfect, equal to the Machiguengas).” I was so happy! I laughed for a good minute. We all laughed. Now the medicine was coming on strong. I think the burst of positive energy helped it along. I kept playing and Jose played along with me.

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