I haven’t eaten anything all day. It’s 6pm and I taken a short 2 hour nap.
Today we hopped in a van and embarked to the retreat center where we had an introduction ceremony involving chewing cocoa leaves. Then we got psychological profiles done by a shrink and a different doctor gave us a check up. There’s also a nurse here who preformed some sort of stress test involving the heart and she is constantly checking our oxygen levels with a little device that attaches to our fingertips.
Everything came out normal, I am good to go.
It’s now the next day. I ended up doing ayahuasca again. It’s incredibly hard to swallow. So so hard to swallow. I had to sit with my hand over my mouth so I didn’t spit it out. Our coordinator knelt down next to me saying “you can do it. You can do it.” And I did it with one fast and furious swallow.
Ugh ayahuasca, why do I keep drinking it? I don’t need to anymore. But it’s incredible. Really incredible. But it also sucks.
Our group consists of Corine, an Australian woman, Daniel, a very cute guy from South Carolina, Sipon, a white young man from LA, Deleon, Daniels friend also from South Carolina, and Hana and me.
We’re all completely normal, no weirdness or anything. I had meaningful conversations with all of them.
Corine hasn’t slept in 3 days so out of courtesy, I’m sitting outside our room while she tries to sleep. I’m not tired but I’d be able to fall asleep easily with my audiobook and then I’d commence with the snoring.
Corine woke me up last night because of my snores and I didn’t recognize her or know where I was, I still had my audiobook playing in my headphones.
Anyway, it’s a problem. I’m not terribly loud but loud enough.
Even when sharing dorm rooms on the Camino, I was the first to sleep and the first to snore. Not once did anyone else keep me awake.
Everyone is napping and I’m awake. In 2 hours we’re going to volunteer at an impoverished orphanage.
I’m listening to the soundtrack to Baby Driver.
There’s a little black crippled dog here. He yelps terrible cries whenever somebody moves quick. He was hit by a car and his front leg is clearly still broken but he wobbles on it. He follows me around. I never seen a dog with PTSD before.
My experience with ayahuasca last night was all about telling me how awesome I am.
Aya told me that scared people like to attach themselves to me because I make them feel safe. And I enjoy it because I love them back and want to feel needed. And I actually DO keep people safe.
She said I’m a healer but not in the medical sense. More like I heal hearts and give people strength and I do it by simply caring about them.
I’m supposed to do ayahuasca again today, but a larger dose of it.
I don’t want to. I really don’t need to. Oh god the taste….
I don’t know what else to say. Corine just came out of our room looking for a pillow. “Take mine, it’s clean.” She can’t get comfortable.
I asked the shaman what it means to see eyeballs. Apparently it’s an envious person who attached themselves to me and is trying to bring me down. It’s their eye watching over me. But I only seen the eye that one time, the first time I did aya.
Anyway, there’s absolutely nothing to do. I suppose I’ll just lay here on this couch with the cripple dog and listen to Baby Driver while everyone sleeps.
It’s now 8:30pm. I was able to say no to ayahuasca tonight. I’m proud of myself for that.
Earlier, me and the boys went to volunteer at the orphanage. Hana and Corine were too tired to move so they stayed put.
And holy crap. Holy freaking crap.
It’s a poor orphanage alright. Most of the kids have some sort of disability.
Upon entering the facility, there’s a sign on the door that tells you no photos allowed. I didn’t bring my phone so no problems there.
When you first walk in, it smells like shit. I mean real human feces.
There were two kids trapped in cages. One of them reached his hand out to me and said “Ma, Ma, Ma.” Over and over. Another child was in a straight jacket being led back to bed by a volunteer or paid worker, I don’t know. He was wearing yellow rubber overalls.
I didn’t see many helpers there. The ones I did see seemed like they also were suffering some kind of disorder, both mental or physical. And the facility isn’t that big. Everyone is jammed packed in there, using up every crevice.
Our first job was to pluck the dry clothes from the line and fold laundry in a small room with several clogged toilets nearby. I didn’t see a washer or dryer. Everything is probably washed by hand and outside they hang to dry.
It stunk but you get used to it. The laundry was a never ending pile and you hope whatever you’re handling was first washed thoroughly.
We didn’t get to finish. After about 30 minutes it was lunch time.
My second job was to spoon feed a severely mentally retarded boy, Angel. Lumpy cream of wheat. Quite possibly the only meal he’ll have all day.
I made sure he ate every bite. It was a large bowl too. He couldn’t wrap his lips around the spoon so I had to sort of dump it into his mouth like a shovel.
He couldn’t speak, couldn’t understand anything. He had virtually no quality of life whatsoever. At least, none that I could see.
One of the boys on the retreat was all for euthanasia after his visit to the orphanage. He was traumatized by what he seen.
I on the other hand, watched a documentary about exactly this. I was primed for it and didn’t phase me in the least other than the smell. I even knew about the kids in cages before seeing them with my own eyes.
But these people are doing the best they can with the little they have and they’re doing it without euthanasia as an answer.
Shit got real in there. At least 15 kids in diapers, all needing to get changed, bathed, fed, put to bed. Done by people who can barely walk and talk themselves. Not to mention the kids who didn’t need help.
I think the older mentally retarded patients, the ones that aren’t severely disabled, get recruited to help with the children.
I can still smell the shit. It’s stuck in my nose hairs.
Anyway, so that happened. It was perhaps the most lovely van ride of my life though. Other than the poverty, Peru is beautiful.
Okay, about the ayahuasca tonight…
I literally can’t swallow it anymore. The smell, the look of it, the way it feels in my mouth…I have trouble watching other people drink it. I had to close my eyes.
I’ve done it 5 times now. That’s enough. And I don’t like the set up here. There’s no fire and we can’t go outside to move around. I didn’t even try to drink it tonight. And they give you a lot. Not just a sip of it like the other places.
They have the traditional maloca (I think that’s the name) – a big wooden teepee with a straw roof. But it has a door they like to keep shut during the ceremony. It’s super dark in there.
Stray dogs bark all through the night and you can hear sounds from the village that echo off the mountains making it sound like a scary Halloween sounds CD. Basically it’s the most frightening scene to be in after ingesting the strongest hallucinogen known to man.
“Here, drink this cosmic porridge and enter into the most frightening scene imaginable. Don’t mind the accompanying puking sounds you’ll hear all throughout the night.”
But that’s exactly what I did last night. That’s just what I did.
I gave Hana my amethyst necklace to hold onto. I told her we can stay connected that way.
Last night she was laying next to me during the ceremony and crawled over to hand me a piece of wadded up toilet paper.
“Is this toilet paper used?”
Her- “Haha no, you hold onto it and it makes you feel better. It’s like inception.”
I look at her.
Her- “You know, inception.”
I still have no idea what she meant by that but I couldn’t help laughing.
Me – “Yes, inception. Okay, I’ll hold onto your precious gift of toilet paper. Thank you Hana.”
I stayed with her tonight for approximately 5 minutes. The time it took for the first person to vomit. I felt bad leaving Hana in there but honestly, having that necklace will help her more than I can. And we’re not allowed to talk to each other anyway. I hope she’s not pissed at me.
Damn, it’s thundering and lightening. Add that to the already terrifying atmosphere.
It’s now only 8:55pm but to the group stuck in the hut, it feels like 3 hours went by.
Poor Hana, I hope she’s okay. She still doesn’t like letting me out of her sight….but I’m not going to sit there with her for 5 hours. I’m a good person but a girls gotta have limits.
I need to go back down there at around 11:30. That’s the time we came out last night.
Oh no… I’m starting to get sleepy. I’ll set my alarm, no problem.
I can’t publish anything. There’s no freaking WiFi and they discourage all cell phone use. I can’t even listen to music. But I am though. Right now.
I guess I’ll switch on my audiobook and zone out a bit.
This will end up being a long post, I know it. I’ll add more tomorrow since I can’t publish.
I just need to say that above all else, writing is the only thing that keeps me feeling like myself.
I fell asleep last night listening to my audiobook. Then I hear a knock on my door around 10:30pm. It’s the coordinator telling me that Hana wants me and she’s in the nursery.
The nursery is the infirmary. She had a bad trip. I walk in and see her laying there with oxygen plugs up her nose and her vitals being monitored on the machine by the doctor.
She points at the oxygen and says, “this is good stuff man.”
She was all laughs and smiles when I walked in. She knew just by the look on my face that I’d make fun of her.
Ayahuasca is strong, people have no idea. And it really does connect you with the other realm. But you have to die first and dying ain’t easy. Your life and all your regrets, all your mistakes and demons flash before your eyes. And the happy parts too. You have to toss it all, let it go. People can’t do that.
I don’t know what’s going on. The boys went home because they signed up for the two day retreat and Hana and Corine are napping. We’re supposed to be hiking. I was really looking forward to it but it’s raining. So I’m just sitting here listening to my iPod.
If I nap too, I’ll snore and disturb everyone.
Screw it, I’m going in. There’s nothing to do here but sleep.
It’s the next day. Hana, Corine and I went to volunteer at an elderly home. It was actually a really nice place. Completely opposite the orphanage. We tossed a ball around to the elderly, all of whom were lovely.
Hana and I are bored as fuck. All we do is sleep. Especially today being that it’s cold and rainy out. The only way to get warm is to hide under blankets.
We’re getting massages today so that’s nice.
Seeing that I’m so bored, I’m considering doing ayahuasca again later. Hana said we’ll just do one sip, stay an hour and go back to our room.
I’m ready for Manchu picchu. We leave tomorrow.
I just had my massage and she totally massaged my boobs. Full frontal massage was what it was. Hard and vigorous the whole way through. Damn yo. It’s a good thing I got over my fear of being naked. My Nana instilled that fear in me when I was a kid and it evaporated over time.
I’m so glad it was a woman therapist and not some gross dude.
I need a shower. I’m glad I didn’t take one earlier. My hair is full of oil.
I did ayahuasca not once, not twice, but 6 freaking mother fucking times! 6!
I wish I can drink a bunch of it but I can’t. It’s now impossible for me to swallow. I’m happy I took the plunge during my first ceremony by taking two doses and I managed to reach the other side. It hasn’t happened since then.
No more aya, no more walk. Why do I keep doing these horrible things to myself? I just don’t get it. I don’t get me.
I’m now at a hotel at the bottom of Manchu picchu. Hana is in the shower. She freaked out earlier today at our coordinator because she thought she was getting ripped off.
I’m a bit weary of her mood swings but whatever. Most of the time she’s completely fine. I talked to the coordinator and straightened it all out.
She kind of reminds me of my friend from when I was 14, Margaret.
She has me following her around like a little puppy and won’t let me out of her sight. Even at night when I’m enjoying alone time outside, she comes out to tell me it’s time to come in. And I do. Just like Margaret did with me.
I’m a huge pushover that loves attention. A bad combo really.
It’s so pretty here in Peru. We took the train to Aquas Calientes and ate outside. It was perfect. We had mojitos and ceviche. I felt absolutely wonderful and light. Everything so perfect like it was written in a novel about somebody else’s life, not mine.
Tomorrow we hike up Manchu picchu and then hitch a ride back to Cusco where we’ll plan our last and final excursion before heading back home.