Puerto Maldonado, Boca Pariamanu’s community. 15th-20th June 2017
After all the heights, intense days in the jungle await us. At the Puerto Maldonado Port we meet Alberto, president of the native community where we are headed; Elena introduced him to us, a dear friend who got to Peru eight months ago and that, after thorough and patient research met the Ayahuasca maestro she hoped for.
Alberto greeted us with a smile, with that sweet and frank kindness that we would get to know in the coming days. A long and narrow ship is waiting on us to set sail, we jump right in; replenish fuel from a near platform, someone jumps in the boat. Alberto comes to sit next to us and it is pretty clear to me tha will have a loving and solid guide.
After almost two hours of a pleasant ride upstream the Madre de Dios river, that after unites to the Piedras river, Stefano goes to the bow of the boat to photograph the gold mines that Alberto points us to. The birds, travelling across the river banks, pre announce the dense jungle awaiting to be explored. We arrive to the community in the afternoon: it’s warm and the is a heartwarming light.
After the struggle to get enough oxygen on the mountain tops, so much lively vegetation, alive, green and luxurious, exudes nourishment and oxygen, that I absorb voraciously: I feel like a lion!
I devour with enthusiasm all the steps that from the mooring separate us from our Maloca, deep in the community, and I feel that my fellow travelers are in good shape as well.
The place dedicated to us is maloca, typical jungle wooden hut with a foliage roof, open on the sides; there are bunk beds and the children of the village greet us and help us to settle, put up the mosquito nets, essential to live in harmony with the insects present.
In front of our maloca, another one used as a kitchen and dining room.
At 17 it gets dark, in an hour or two we’ll eat.
Days of peace, of communion with vegetation, of friendly exchanges with children and adults from the community, that ever so often come to meet us at the maloca or that we encounter during our long walks in the jungle.
We sleep comfortably during the night, the lullaby is composed of jungle sounds, of chirping of night birds, toads and who knwos which other animal.
Life in the maloca and in general in the community is rather spartan and yet so essential.
The community of Boca Pariamanu, with support from the government and especially from a few NGO’s, is dedicated to plans of creation and implementation of services, like the trade of chestnuts, the improvement of the well for drinkable water and educational plan.
To school they only go a few days a week, when the teachers, one of them of Amahuaca, an indigenous language from the jungle, that is getting lost but the kids are keeping it alive, they learn it in school.
The is a unified class for all nine kids from the village, all of different age.
We visit the children once during class, they look at us full of joy and surprised, as we were aliens, with these sort of telescopes pointing at them. The teacher tells us about her work in an interview.
Our days went by between excursions in the forest and in the woods, guided by Alberto that tells us about the plants and trees we find along the way, of their medical use, of the open and constant dialogue between plants and members of the community, and dreamy moments of deep and peaceful rest: we are regenerated.
It’s Friday, our second day, and finally also the time dedicated to the toma of Ayahuasca.
Many people described their experience with the Maestra, the profundity of dialogue, the potency of hallucination to service reality.
Useful directions, that I blessed during my trip because they contributed so I coudl count on a clear map in which I could move confidently despite the trail being completely new and unknown.
The ceremony is done in the same maloca were we slept, there is not much care for the ritual or spatial aspect, but I feel safe, I trust Alberto, I’m excited and a little bit scared, that is more a taste for the unknown that is about to be revealed.
Sitting next to me my travel companions, pass Alberto, guardian of the community and chaman, that readies himself to guide the ceremony; in front of us, leaning on the pillars of the maloca, next to the garden, his brothers.
It was explained that every now and again “they too drink, when they are ill, to heal”.
“Salud con todos”: we drink.
Ayahuasca is bitter and a bit sour, has a woody and slimy aftertaste.
For some long twenty minutes nothing happens, afterwards I start to notice a soft tingling to my lips.
The reality, darkness, starts to give way to intense sensations, I feel it in my stomach and in all my abdomen, like waves that star moving me.
Little by little, and kind of suddendly, the visions start.
So much novelty in the stesure of images, of codes, and of meaning almost scare me.
But She doesn’t want to scare me, and nor do I. A sweet voice from within starts reassuring me, I’m surprised to catch myself caressing my chest and stomach, taken by a great desire to let myself be lead.
Finally I feel that I’m not alone, e that what I just started is a deep dialogue.
A presence in form of a plant, of a liana, a helix that wraps around me in spirals that invite me to enter, it is her the one I’ve been told about.
“Stai calm, everything is ok, stay serene” continues to repeat a voice, my voice, sweet and reassuring. I feel a big desire to let go.
Like a dive, everything begins.
Whirlwinds, colors, shapes of unprecedented density that I individuate as spirits that welcome me; many of which I know, they are spiritis that manifest themselves in my reality, as people, as dear friends, as my mother, my father, my brother.
Meanwhile, the background story doesn’t stop vibrating, made of vegetable presences, consistent, friendly.
I can see and feel the souls of my dear ones, of my friends, of characters that have given me instructions a long time ago and that I find again with joy; everyone that I meet gives me protection and contributes to make my trip, while intense, soothed and reassuring.
I understand tha only with the deep presence and concentration I can have a dense and lively dialogue; I’m always more immersed, and present.
The plant starts talking to me, explaining, giving me clear and unmistakable instructions.
individuates a wound, a value empty that i myself created, with sweetness it shows me a bow, that turns into a knot, that closes the wound.
Even when later I would like to get back to it, it will say: “We closed it already, it’s healed, it has passed”
The wonder is to the stars, sometimes I’m surprised to express it with full and out-loud laughter.
My body, after a first long extremely intense phase, to the limit of excitement and fear, asks me to lay down; the plant rewards my courage, to grant myself without reserves, con capillar pleasure, while it convulses, with my mouth wide open and heavy breathing.
I oscillate between self perception and visions, then I totally give in.
The birth of humankind, of the ocean masses, universe, the center of breath build to be stimulated and access amplified states of consciousness, spirits, death, textures, spiderwebs, plants: everything that swarms in my world right now.
In the meantime Alberto refreshes me with fumes of Mapacho, curative tobacco, and starts singing sweet melodies, delicate, of healing; invokes the doctorsito, “to take away all evil, take it out, all evil be removed”
I do not believe in the power of that song, so soft, to the effect it has on my body, which starts to agitating in the direction of Alberto, as if it were sucked in, ready to surrender all the “evil” it has accumulated; it’s pulled out of my legs and belly, gently, as a doctor would operate on a child, and in the meantime a lullaby is sung.
But the plant makes me understand that it will not use a scalpel on me, that the operation will be delicate, it doesn’t even make me see the kind of “evil”, it just takes me away, surely; is kind, and although we are deep in the depths of the soul, he is playing with me.
It also calms me that I will not vomit, that this is not my excretion channel, and that I should not fear nor protect myself while others emit contractions from who knows what abyss, but rather I must support them; it teaches that to me in a split second.
Always more comfortable, ever more serene and pampered, the Maestra begins to answer even more clearly to issues that, before rationally, and now directly during our dialogue, I ask.
Do I have to continue my studies? Should I become a psychiatrist? Did I choose the right path? Am I celebrating my talent?
Do I have to dedicate myself more to music?
The Maestra, like stroking me, as the sweetest of Mothers, responds to my fragmentary questions with a simple, unified and powerful message: You are a spirit of Earth, come from Earth, you have dark hair like Earth. You have a protective soul, a homemaker, to everyone around you. You are enabled to give life and to protect it, and these are the tools you have available. People all have an ancestral need to be cradled, to be reassured, kept safe.
You have invested with such skills, no matter how you decide to use them: you can be a doctor and heal with plants, with words and caresses, you can be a musician and lull with sounds, with the magic of a melody, it doesn’t matter. You can do whatever you want, choose what feels best, this is your responsibility. Do not be afraid, but go to the bottom of your calling, listen to your voice with extreme attention.
The message is simple, powerful, unifying: I feel even more wrapped in a maternal womb, fertile, I feel accepted and celebrated by life, I feel at the center of the universe, and from this center I can emanate love and tend bridges. At any latitude, and especially at home, where there is actually everything; I feel the importance of remaining, after going, to build where my and ours roots sink.
With the same unequivocal clarity, the Plant tells me, turning, turning back with her lianas, her helixes, that I do not need to continue to meet her, that this message is precious but I do not have to look for it again,there is no need, it really answered my doubts.
I understand why I continue to see, that in reality, and even more so in more subtle dimensions, we move along with others by throwing signals, such as dolphins in the abyss, like forest birds. It is shown to me the importance of seizing these signals for orientation, and the more precious thing that is tending a bridge, throwing a signal to those who are scattered, those who still can not go, or maybe they can not go back.
I understand in a flash the words of my mentor, psychiatrist, when he said to me:
“The psychiatrist is the one who is capable of creating a mind of a couple, who can go where the other is trapped, to enter that Other dimension and, with appropriate signals, with love, can bring it back to a more human dimension, more healthy (maybe) “
I keep seeing and feeling souls, I see and feel even those of my travel companions, who I always perceive near me and I sense they are safe, despite the destabilizing experience. It continues to reinforce the message of comforting, of lulling; it shows me who I have left alone, though not willingly, who I did not comfort enough. It clarifies that no one should be judged, that I must move with extreme respect in the lives of others. I come natural to ask forgiveness. I feel it in my heart.
It’s one and a half, we’ve been drinking for 5 hours now, all of them are already in bed but Alberto is still singing and fuming me “porque la chica està todavìa borracha”, he tells his brothers who were waiting for him to go home, tired and even they are loaded of fresh visions. I calm him down and let him go to sleep, it’s 2 in the morning, I’m still out of my bed and the visions are still alive.
The forest speaks, and I listen.
Slowly I look for the balance to get up, I get it, go to the bathroom, take a look at the stars to guide me and then I dip in a deep sleep, protected in my mosquito net, and happy in my heart.
The next day Alberto does not let us sleep in, but early, as agreed, we begin to squash the liana with a specific wood, to squeeze the active ingredient, before cooking it for eight hours in the heart of the forest together Chakruna’s leaves, which he tell us, are useful for a clearer vision. I have a headache but will go after two showers, Alberto says. And so it will be, in fact.
The days take shape with very slow pace, more than human; we sleep so much and dream unceasingly! We do long, humid walks in the jungle, then we play with the kids of the community, sweet hazel eyes, then we still visit the well, the officinal garden. Alberto fulfills all our curiosity, he is an attentive guest, continues to nourish in me a great affection for such a gentle soul.
I could not have desired a better Maestro for my first, and perhaps last, dialogue with Ayahuasca; a humble teacher accompanying me, aware that the teacher is the plant. Presence and sweetness are the code and portal through which I can face and learn anything.
Many other visceral sensations and research impulses go trhough me, I still feel them now, and I’m going to keep the fire alive, especially when I return to my native village, where it will restart, renew, sow. We salute Puerto Maldonado on a cold day, after a night of wake, listening to the Presences that populate the jungle.