Quick update and shout out:
Wallet = gone. It happened, I'm over it, I still have my passport! I will be more diligent when wearing shorts with tiny pockets and riding in bumpy moto-taxis from now on.
Thank you Thank you Thank you to my mother who email transferred me some cash and took the sting out of the loss.
I promised monkeys and I came to deliver!
Cerelias is an animal rescue reserve run by one amazing man named Orlando 8 km into the dense jungle, on the side of a mountain (that requires crossing the same river 14 times to get to). Referencing my previous experiences with rivers back home, I was imagining something mild (where the streams came up to my ankles) and maybe that some of the 14 crossings were just trickles. I put on my rubber boots and some knee high socks (which I stuffed my pant legs into for good measure) and thought to myself "no
bugs, no water".
The very first river crossing came up to our hips! Never mind that we were carrying a couple days worth of supplies and also some fairly heavy tools for the creation of the dry toilet that was to be installed. This 3 hour (mostly uphill) trip, was the single greatest hike I had ever encountered. What kept me going was that Christina (who sometimes cries about a ten min walk) and Dave (a 55 year old carrying an immense pack full of tools) were not complaining one bit.
I actually switched backpacks with Dave for the last half of the trip, not because he wanted me to, but because his companion Rebeca kept looking at me- then his backpack- and giving me "the look" (like "TAKE IT!"). I offered three times before he finally took a much needed break where I absconded it.
For those that don't know me, I will share one of my traits: to find a personal lesson in just about everything I do. I had engorged myself on just about every survival and adventure show I could get my hands on over the years and one thing I heard over and over was PACK LIGHT! I stuffed my pack with just the basics and thought about how much easier I would have it. When I ended up with one of the heaviest packs, I at first reeled against the injustice of it all!
Then was reminded of another lesson that continues to pop up in my life over and over: "choose a challenge or challenge will choose you". Life is a roller coaster with ups and downs and twists and turns. The only thing I have any control over is how I feel about it, so I reminded myself of these facts and stepped up to the plate. When we finally arrived at Cerelias, it was like a piece of heaven- a medium sized hut completely covered in netting and monkeys EVERYWHERE!
We were told there was going to be monkeys but I had no idea they congregated and lived on site. I was greeted immediately by a Capuchin named Francisco (rescued from a circus) who jumped on my shoulders and started picking through my hair in some kind of grooming ritual that was actually quite peaceful and surprisingly delicate.
Our plan was to arrive, rest and then get some nice headway into the creation of this 2 story dry toilet on the first day. We began digging a 5 foot wide, 6 foot deep hole for the 1100 liter tank that would serve as a "biodigester" and four smaller holes for the wooden bathroom structure that was to be put up. Lunch (and dinner) was a hodge-podge stew of rice, beans, vegetables and spices- I noticed how much better food tasted when exhausted. The netting prevented the larger monkeys from entering the hut but tiny Tamarins were allowed in to check us out and eat. These tiny monkeys could be distinguished between male and female because the males had elaborate white mustaches :)
Sleeping arrangements were tight because there were 9 of us, while we had a tent to shield us from monkey droppings there was nothing really under us to shield us from the hard ground. When I got up in the morning I felt like a cranky old man and I wondered how much actual sleep was had (between the hard ground and the monkey chatter). The monkeys were very happy to see us again and everybody engaged in some playful monkey business, hanging off of our arms and jumping on shoulders.
Dig duty again and not one person was exempt from having monkeys randomly jump on their backs while working. It wasn't uncommon to shovel twice, have a monkey jump on your head, move the monkey out of the pit, shovel twice, have a monkey jump on your back, and so on it went. Tools that were put down were quickly scooped up by curious monkeys and then bartered/coaxed back with bits of banana.
I had an insight that these monkeys were the physical manifestation of the monkeys I carry on my own back from time to time
I realized that instead of being annoyed by them (as I often am), I could choose to see them as playful and good-natured. I also learned that healthy monkeys eat much more than just fruit like grubs and worms, frog eggs, termites and ants. We were informed that inspectors had been by recently, this particular reserve was the only place where the monkeys didn't have parasites. Caged primates are mostly fed fruit but without the other pieces to their diet they get parasites.
I wish I could tell you we finished our project on that trip but we didn't, the design and structure were flawless but we didn't account for one important obstacle... MONKEYS! These curious animals stress test everything- plastic pipes get yanked on and broken, metal sheeting walls get pulled to their limit and come unattached- another trip is planned back out to install metal pipes and the whole structure must be covered in netting the same as the hut. The military and university students here have actually been a great help on this project and will do all the transporting of the materials (they have made over 80 trips in and out of this area so far). My adventures are always personal, there is no such thing as fail and I look forward to having those monkeys on my back again.
|Dani with a 9 month old spider monkey|
Ayahuasca Ceremony at Katari
We did not bring a camera on this trip as Ayahuasca is done when it's dark and we do not own a camera that takes pictures of inner consciousness shifts. I hope to be as descriptive as possible (facsimile photos added) knowing that even trying to translate what happened into words does not even come close to the experience I had.
|(representation of experience, not actual photo)|
After the first ceremony here being so lackluster I didn't bring any expectations to this one. Though
I did take note that on the taxi ride over and the subsequent walk into the jungle, we saw (by far) the most beautiful scenery I have taken in, all highlighted by a double rainbow taking up most of the sky. Christina shared with me later that she had shed a few tears at how breathtaking it all was. When we arrived at Katari, we were pleased to see that our accommodations for the night were top notch with thick heavy cushions, long enough to lay full out on (16 in total in an open style hut), with light blankets laid at the foot and a pillow! We were greeted by a very pregnant mother cat and her previous kitten who were happy to receive head rubs. I saw my first "chicken tree", which was a large tree free of foliage but holding no less than 25 chickens in it's branches.
As dusk came on, others started to arrive and I got the sense that we were among some advanced psychonauts. I exchanged information with a gentleman who will be assisting me in another part of my journey which will be to experience Kambo (frog poison) and he made the comment that for him Kambo was the most powerful healing medicine he has experienced. When the Shaman arrived it was quite dark and everybody had made their way to the moloka, some of us laying full out on our cushions (many others in a half lotus meditating) setting intentions
for their experience.
I set my intention to have an experience that showed me more about myself and I included that I was also open to surprises. Across from us, our housemates Tom and Dani were putting away their pipe from which that had just administered Rapé (a healing tobacco blend taken up into the sinuses through each nostril).
The shaman greeted everyone warmly
While my last experience with a shaman had jaded me slightly (he didn't drink with us and his small grand-son sat beside me playing with his phone most of the ceremony) I could at least say that this man seemed to know many of the advanced clients present. He brought instruments with him including a guitar, ukelele, various drums and shakers. When he unpacked the rest, I noticed that his Ayauscha brew was some of the muddiest I had ever seen.
I have to admit that at this point, while I came with no expectations that my "spidey senses" were telling me everything was perfect for "something". After a quick Rapé ceremony with the shaman (people received it through what looked like the horn of an elk) we started to come up one by one in an orderly fashion to receive our cup of Ayahuasca. It was the least amount I have drank to date, like doing a shot, which I greatly appreciated because even thinking about the taste is cause to gag. We went back to our mats and began the waiting process...
The brew came on slow and I wondered at one point if I was going to have an experience at all.
I have done what is called a "heroic dose" in the past, where my mind and all its thoughts were whisked away to be left with silence with only me and Aya left, this was not like that. I still had my thoughts as I began to pick up on something happening- a mild change to the motif of the room- a descending of fractals that started from the roof and moved down the way a laser light show sometimes does a room scan effect from top to bottom. With eyes wide open, I watched as it happened and I felt the pull for me to close my eyes and I succumbed to it.
Visuals of jungle neon on a black background that seemed to breathe with life, my mind still intact, I let my thoughts wander and as they did the scene took on new flavor directly correlating to the essence of those thoughts. I allowed myself to think about death (visuals of maggots and jungle decay became the feature), I viewed it as though an observer watching a film, knowing that I am not these thoughts I am having and so am untouched by the scene in front of me. My communication with the female plant entity was peripheral, I could not see or talk directly to her but at the same time I was aware that we were in contact and were sharing this experience together.
I was aware that healing was being done on my body
I felt little tingles in the spots that were being worked on and I got the sense that while I have had major work done in past ceremonies that this was more of a tune-up. I am not a good judge of time in this state and I don't recall at this moment all the things that were gone over, but I do remember that at some point I seemed to lose connection in the natural way that happens, when Aya loses it's powerful hold and you slip back to 3D reality. I remember thinking that it was all a bit to quick and that I would request another drink when the time came.
The shaman was singing during parts of this experience but it was all background noise to me. My journey was done and my eyes were open. I was waiting patiently for another drink (I appreciated what had gone on so far: a fairly medium to mild experience with a medium to mild satisfaction), our friend (and a shaman assistant) Boris came over and asked me how I was doing, I responded "fine" and at this point I felt as coherent as I do now writing this blog.
The shaman and Aya were not done with me this night and it was the most surprising thing I have ever experienced...
I lay there trying to get into the music that was being played because I didn't know how long it would be until a 2nd cup was offered. One song, then another (wondering how many more it would be), when a woman started singing hallelujah. It was strange to hear a female start singing and there was only 1 word to the song- hallelujah- broken up into pieces and drawn out, sometimes a note would seem strangely high or there would a long pause where you thought the next part should go. I was laid out flat at this point hands to my side when all of a sudden I felt "something" happening and this time I could not control it with thoughts or analyze it. It was coming and there wasn't a thing I could do about it.
I started hearing other sounds from 360 degrees around me- clicks, snaps of twigs, momentary shakes of rattles and the womans voice was hitting notes that would be closer to the blue opera singer in the 5th Element movie. That's about the time I lost all feeling in my face, no that's not correct... it started off with a feeling in my lips like I had pursed my lips tightly together and created some tension/tingle in them. That tingle spread over my face and I lost the ability to feel my skin or air passing over my skin. None of this was concerning to me, in fact, the most common words I had all night were WTF! I had literally gone from normal to 100% locked into this within seconds and was now experiencing what I thought was impossible.
As I lay there, new songs would begin and I got the sense that each song was a different healing modality, because the energy would be completely different during each one. I had the feeling I was supposed to move and as happens with communication sometimes, your first try is not correct. I thought Aya was telling me to get up and dance but I felt locked into this lay down position (besides the fact that I wouldn't really be comfortable with doing that). I thought it was a stalemate until I decided to move my head to the rhythm and what happened instead was I started vibrating. The closest thing I can compare it to is when you get the shivers but it doesn't stop and I could turn it on or off at my discretion.
I laid there like a plucked guitar string
I was reminded that everything is vibration and while this not unknown to me, the experience of being vibration in this way added deeply to my knowing. Whether you know it or not this is happening to all of us all the time in our words, in our thoughts, in our actions. I had many experiences that night and many advanced classes with Aya but I share now only what comes to the surface. There is much more going on than most perceive and if you want to know more, you will. Desire breeds knowing, knowing becomes stagnant and breeds new desire and so it goes on without end. I desire integration now, to drop my shield and join you all where you are, with no desire to change you. It's a process I'm going through and it won't happen the way I imagined it, It will happen in a way I could have never imagined it.
https://soundcloud.com/herbert-2/mi-corazon (English translation My heart, I will love you, forever)
|(actual scenery -the day after Ayahuasca ceremony at Kitari)|