The first time I heard about Ayahuasca was about two years ago. I heard it is a magical plant through which one can heal old wounds and find a connection with all there is and with our higher self. I had questions, I needed answers. I went through years of therapy, 12 Step Programs, hypnotherapy, yoga , meditation yet there was always a slight sense of disconnection looming over me like dark clouds. I knew about some shamans performing ceremonies in Topanga Canyon and all around Los Angeles, but I wanted to give the plant the respect that it deserved. Going back to the source, to the Amazonian jungle in Peru with my list of questions prepared and with my heart wide open.
If you wanted a quick read, this isn’t going to be it. You could perhaps go on TMZ for more disconnection or get some swift tips from a vegan recipe site. I am going to share my journey and get personal, at times uncomfortable, perhaps even graphic. I will require a little bit of your attention and hopefully you won’t get distracted by your messages pouring in from Tinder.
After a couple of months of research I chose Kapitari as my retreat provider, a small center in the middle of the jungle, only accessible by boat and on foot. I watched many videos of Don Lucho, the Shaman who during the day teaches the community about sustainable agriculture and works on his own banana and cacao farm. The facilitator is a soft-spoken Englishman, Andy- with kindness in his eyes and a desire to lift consciousness all around. You are probably wondering what my list of questions were. I love transparency and for you to understand the answers, I don’t want you to keep guessing. Here they are:
- How can I channel my love and help humanity more than what I am doing?
- What is my purpose?
- How do I cultivate self-love?
- What keeps me away from attracting the right partner?
- Do trees and plants feel?
- Can you help me break down the moral dilemma that prevents me from eating fish?( I am a crazy vegan)
My departure gate at LAX resembled a warm beach with bodies lying all around like sea lions on a lazy afternoon. The boarding took hours but somehow the Avianca ladies’ blood red body conscious outfits made up for the wait.
I noticed a handsome young man in the crowd. The flight was beyond full and the odds of this man sitting next to me was like snow in Jamaica. Yet he did. He started a conversation with me through which I found out he was 19, from Costa Rica and madly in love with his Colombian fiancée. His infatuation with his girl was beautiful, enchanting and inspiring and he proved to be a fantastic 4 hour travel companion.
The woman on the other side of me was a spicy Peruvian, who after finding out the purpose of my journey, proceeded to tell me about her 23 year old daughter going to the jungle on an ayahuasca spirit quest – who instead of visions got gastritis. The preparatory herbs made her so sick that she couldn’t stop vomiting for four months. After a few more horror stories about the plant, I thanked her politely and turned to my travel companion who blew me away with his spirit and love for his land. His wisdom way excelled his 19 years. I got bumped up to first class twice on my connecting flights which I thought was quite a cool move from God.
After landing in stuffy Iquitos I was mobbed by a herd of cab drivers yelling “Ayahuasca!! Ayahuasca!!”. My driver from the hotel picked me up and as we drove to the city, I couldn’t help but notice the incredible poverty and the infinite amount of stray dogs roaming around with their ribs showing. There isn’t much diversity in color when it comes to strays, it seems like they were more or less fathered by the same male- as most of them are simple variations to tan and white, if they are lucky enough to have hair. The majority of them are mangy and disease ridden, barely resembling their U.S. canine counterparts. My heart was heavy with the sight of their suffering. Here and there a billboard would pop up where Giselle would advertise some South American maternity brand I have never heard of. I would see dogs and cats laying together in the dirt. The outskirts of the city looked like the Apocalypse was upon us. Yet the people of Iquitos looked happy.
The smell of diesel fuel proved stronger than the humidity in the air. ‘Motorkar’ is the most common means of transportation there. It is a three-wheeled motorcycle converted into a riksha- a fascinating sight when 40 of them congregate at a red light all at the same time, creating an omnipresent festival atmosphere.
As for the locals, they just ask you where you are from instead of your name so when they see you again they call you based on that. The whole afternoon I could hear “L.A.! L.A.!” coming from the boardwalk every time I passed the mingling familiar faces.
After checking in at my hotel for the night, I paid a visit to Belen, the floating shanty town of Iquitos. There, people live in make-shift plank homes, to us Westerners it looks like a desperate place, to the locals it is what they know and love. The kids were playing with the floating garbage, you could barley see the surface of the water. The favelas of Rio almost feel like Palm Springs compared to the floating houses on the plastic covered river. Yet, the people of Belen are happy and smiling. I looked into one of the shacks and noticed some hand weights and a young man doing bench presses while the blaring techno provided the most unusual sound track to the outskirts of the Amazon. Before I knew it I was escorted out by a concerned local who told me it was way too dangerous there for a “solo gringa” even during the early afternoon hours.
Above Belen city is the Mercado, the market, where vultures compete with dogs at closing time for the leftover meat the vendors couldn’t sell. That includes turtles, caymans, chickens, pig’s head and blood. The vultures patiently wait on neighboring trees or electric wires, then when the closing ruckus ensues they hit the blood and mud smeared concrete for one last bite.The market is massive and you can find anything there. The locals seem to truly enjoy haggling with the vendors meanwhile I was on the verge of passing out walking through the never-ending meat section.
I saw a beautiful man at the market. He was tall, interesting, perhaps Indian, perhaps Peruvian. I passed by him about three times. I noticed him because he towered over pretty much everyone and had a unique glow. What were the odds that I would see him again, I chuckled.
A few minutes later, on my way to the hotel I ran into him again. This time he asked if I wanted to join him for a drink. We talked for some time about life, spirituality and the jungle, we agreed to meet later, since I needed a nap. Our phones weren’t working, thus our conversation went something like this “ I will see you at six”- he said. “ “There’s a chance I might not come but you’ll that because I won’t be there.”- I responded. That night I showed up an hour late- He was still at the bar waiting for me and gave me a little souvenir for my ayahuasca experience : Palo Santo , Aqua Florida and some crystal for protection. What a kind man- I thought, then fed another stray dog on the way home. As I walked down Plaza de Armas, I knew I would never be the same again after my trip.
Our group of seekers was to meet the next day at the Dawn of the Amazon. I would eavesdrop on a few conversations from fellow travellers: “the last time I did it, I was tripping so hard” said one American tourist. Then there was the brutish Russian man whose girlfriend brought a rolling Tumi suitcase to the jungle. I chuckled and marveled at my incredible backpack. When our group was finally together, we loaded the minibus to go to the boat that was to take us through the river to the jungle. My new family of sixteen brothers and sisters jumped on the small aquatic bus.
The town grew smaller and the river got bigger, there were a few villages we passed. We caught glimpses of natives, barefooted humans and happier dogs. After we disembarked we were greeted by a vast red, mud covered road. I was beyond excited to be walking knew deep in the murky water with my heavy backpack and light heart. We walked for about an hour in the jungle heat, making friends along the way with Fatma, a Kurdish optician living in London, Ranita a Nubian princess from Sacramento, Kim an Australian wild child and Izabella, a Polish expat.
The sign ‘Kapitari’ is almost hidden. We walked through the road leading up to the maloka – our ceremonial hut- where we were to spend the next 7 days. We all gathered there and Andy, along with Carolina, the Argentinian soul-woman and Martin, the psychologist went through the suggestions and facts for the ayahuasca ceremonies:
- Try sitting up the whole ceremony
- Don’t fight the plant and visions
- Don’t talk to your neighbor or try to help them
- Ask for guidance
- Don’t sit next to someone you know (spouse, friend etc.)
- You will most likely throw up – hence the bucket next to the mats
With that my journey began. After nightfall we all gathered in the maloka where the shaman’s son, Wagner was to conduct the ceremony. My heartbeat louder than the jungle crickets, I walked up to him and drank the brew. I am used to ‘earthy’ flavors, so the slight yerba mate-esque bite wasn’t disturbing to my taste buds. I waited for all 15 of us to drink our share. When Wagner blew out the candle the ceremony began. We waited in silence at first, then the icaros started along with the rhythm dictated by the chakapa, a rattle of bundled leaves. After a while, people started throwing up, but not me. I felt the snakes crawling up my legs with their flaky, cold skin. My consciousness remembered the time I took acid and how much I didn’t like the onset and now 12 years sober I was getting ‘altered’ and the thought terrified me. My friends continued purging and I decided to prematurely ask for a second cup. The shaman handed it to me. The moment the brew hit my mouth I knew it was too much and that I would pay the price for my greed.
I asked the Plant Spirit my questions and set out a general direction. But with ayahuasca that’s not exactly how it goes. The plant knows where to take you. So after asking my questions this was what I got back “Those are great questions, my dear but that’s not where we are going first. We have to clean out some shit before I answer those”. And with that my agony began. My heart and insides were aching. I was in so much physical pain I almost couldn’t stand it. With my last bit of strength I asked the Plant Spirit “What keeps me away from the right relationship?”. “Your mind!” -she said. “It’s your mind. You worry too much!” Then images of my father popped up (he passed away when I was 11). A long gruesome agony ensued where I thought I was dying. I wanted to throw up just like the others but I couldn’t. In my altered state, with Andy’s help I staggered to the bathroom. While the others were throwing up I purged on the other end. It felt like I was dying and giving birth all at the same time, while my mind was flooded with images of my dead father. That’s when I realized even after years of therapy I still didn’t let go of him. I built my life around longing for him and for his image and was so comfortable being the little orphan girl, that I just wouldn’t want to let go. But the plant thought otherwise. My fight was gut wrenching. I called out for help – my neighbor, Martin leaned in to console me- as I cried uncontrollably. The shaman walked up to me to take away the dark energies with his icaros. His song contained the word “padre, padre, padre” and he sang it hundreds of times. How did he know that it was “mi padre” that I was dealing with.
I wept like never before under his chakapa. It felt like he was brushing away my old, clingy self, my dark energies and with each rattle he was bringing me closer to wholeness. That’s when I finally threw up. 28 years of sorrow straight into my bright yellow bucket. Hallelujah! Purging never felt this good. And with that I fell backwards onto my mat, took a deep breath and I could hear myself say out loud through the stuffy jungle air “Dad, you can go now!”.
“So what’s your question” the plant asked. “Was Nick the right guy for me?”- I asked referring to the man I was seeing last year. I broke up with him – but still had doubts about my decision. “Let’s see” –the plant said.
And with that I saw myself in a multitude of forms. I saw myself bending backwards, doing pirouettes and backflips, shape-shifting and all. “You see” –the plant continued – “You could be doing all sorts of things, you can turn yourself inside and out or bend backwards, he will NEVER be the guy for you”
“How about self-love?” – I asked the plant. In my altered sate I looked for my face held it in my hands and just kept repeating “I love you, Ursula! I love you.“ Within a few minutes the shaman came over and squatted next to me. He whispered things to me in Quechua and Spanish. It felt like he was telling me, “I love you, my beautiful child” and gave me all the love I have never been given as a kid, while I rocked back-and-forth as if in a cradle. I slept like an angel that night in the maloka, I was reborn.
The next day during the ceremony I was stationed in between Kim and Jesper, a Danish young man resemblingNordic gods. It was a long night of twisted confusion. Kim was having a difficult time with her visions. Her primal scream cut through the night like a sharp blade. I wanted to help her but remembered one of the Rules: ‘don’t talk to your neighbor or try to help them’. I felt so bad for her as she was struggling. I felt her internal scuffle seeping into my consciousness and as an energetically sensitive being, I soon realized the confusion in me wasn’t truly mine. She kept screaming as if burning at the stake. “you can’t help her” my mind kept echoing. In the meantime, I would hear Jesper’s frustrated sighs on my left. Each time he sighed I sighed with him. At some point in the night I decided to jump ship. I thought my mind was going to crack in half. I jumped up and started dragging my mat across the maloka, my arms drawing light each time I moved them. I wanted out and away. Carolina, the Argentinian soul-woman who was also one of the facilitators, stopped me. “ You are a strong woman, she needs you, we will get through this together, you aren’t going anywhere” I realized at that moment that the selfish cunt inside of me had to die- I cradled Kim with the affection of a mother until my little body couldn’t hold itself up. I felt sober and aware of all the sounds and all the bullets the shamans were shooting at the dark spirits in the maloka. There were many in the room that night, I saw them.
When the morning came, I staggered back to my tambo, parakeets marking my path and a giant toad gloating on the narrow passageway leading through the pond. I collapsed onto my bed with my insides dancing to dark insidious techno tunes. There was no way I would participate in the looming tobacco purge in that state for I would purge all the way to my death or so I thought. I passed out on my bed and lost track of time. Many hours had passed when I heard Andy’s soft voice break through the mosquito net “ We are doing the tobacco purge in 10 minutes” –he said. I lifted my heavy head – “ Not today Andy, my tummy hurts” and with that my existence faded into the sounds of the jungle. I had one last thought though. How absolutely infantile the word “ tummy” was and how never in my life had I used it before – or that I never will. Just like I don’t use “gnarly” or “tush” or “bitch”- I take “cunt” any day over that. I just do. I eventually staggered to the dining room, just to be harassed for the 100th time by Morena, bird of hell, a razor-billed curassow. By then she had attacked me, Fatma, my beautiful optician friend from London. She also tried to pick a tattooed flower off of Valery’s foot ( a stunning yoga teacher from the East Coast).
After lunch the Bora tribe popped in for a visit with their uncovered breast and beautiful hearts. One of the tribesmen asked me to marry him . His bronze skin framed by his bark skirt and wood staff. While I was contemplating his proposition, I overheard him pop the same question to one of the other girls in our group. I smiled and proceeded to bury my heartbreak in shopping. Their simple yet soulful jewelry instantly filled my slightly cracked heart.
After the Bora, we had a visit from the Shipibo tribe, Their gorgeous embroidered pieces inspired by visions during ayahuasca ceremonies were soothing to my eyes. Then our mud bath followed during which we turned into Amazonian warriors. We ended the night with an intimate and inspiring women’s circle.
I was secretly jealous of my mates tobacco purge from the day before as all of them were glowing proceeding that ceremony, plus I felt like I really needed to purge my many years of darkness and negative self-talk. My solo tobacco purge was enlightening. I sat in the maloka with Carolina, who administered the brew, and what it seemed like hundreds of gallons of water. Throwing up never felt that good. Half a bucket of old emotion masked as liquid right in front of me. I thought about my mother, who probably would have gotten a heart attack at the sight me doing all that I was doing, part of her was slushing in the bucket along with all the exes, all my discouraging elementary school teachers, all the ones who bullied me in school for being fat and a ‘roma’. Later that day during my consultation with the shaman we decoded the reason for my inability to purge during ceremonies. The truth is, as a former bulimic, my body created a natural blockage, a resistance to throwing up. It is a defense mechanism to hold things in. The shaman suggested to just accept that reality. I was relieved to know that there was nothing wrong with me. He also gave me plant medicine(diluted resin and some leaf extract to soothe my stomach)- which eased my discomfort. I asked him how much brew I should take during the night’s ceremony. He told me to look him in the eye when it’s time to take the cup and he will know how much to pour. I trusted this kind old man and felt so much ease and warmth in his presence as if he was family. I went for a long walk in the jungle in the pouring rain with Matt, a brilliant Polish expat, Jesper and Kim. On the narrow path we ran into two of the shaman’s students, Connley and Andrea who gave us a cacao fruit -a total flavor bomb, sweet and acidic, soothing, uplifting, exciting, sexy- the three of us marveled at the existence of such perfection as our dripping hair created fresh creeks on our faces.
I didn’t realize that that day would be the happiest day of my life. In the ceremonial hut when all went dark and the faint candle light hit Do Lucho’s face, I looked him in the eye, just as he told me to do, we smiled, he poured me a cup filled with magic then I disappeared into the darkness with the crickets, the ocelots, the trees and the moon.
I sat up straight, just as I have been told, only to realize that my blankets were tangled -all three of them twisted like the minds of people in Babel. I struggled and tried so hard to unravel the diabolic mess. That’s when I heard the Plant’s voice. She smiled and said“Ursula, you have a choice: you can let go now or keep on fighting.” I smiled and rested my perpetually moving legs that mimicked confused merry-go-rounds. I sat in a lotus position when the first vision arrived.
I saw what seemed like Oompa Loompas in a polished, rigid kingdom with plastic walls and plastic furniture decorated with giant plastic mushrooms- super modern, sterile and soulless. In the middle of their kingdom there was a checkered, black and white perpetual moving walkway turned towards the sky. The white parts of the lateral walkway were gaping holes. I saw the little creatures trying to climb the walkway as a ladder, only to fall through and disappear in the white holes. Some of them just slid back as they kept climbing. I didn’t like how I felt in this city, the whole scene made me uneasy. So I asked the Plant if we could go somewhere else. “This is life where you live” –she said.
“ Do you really want to see the truth- the World as is?” –she inquired. “Take me! “ –I replied, with the exhilaration of a child.
Instantly everything went dark. I could feel the cold, moist soil around me, I could feel little creatures crawling through my bones. I could discern the maggots eating me. I was dead. Dead dead. Six feet under. Yet, I was happy. See, I have always been afraid of death, but now I was at peace. Even in my death, I was smiling and I wasn’t scared any more – not for one bit.
I saw a seed spring from me, slowly I turned into a sprout, then a sapling growing strong roots, then into a tree. I sat up, my arms formed branches in which snakes appeared and pulled me upwards. The mature tree that I became had a smiling face, lightness and grace. I just witnessed the cycle of life. Sometimes I am a tree, sometimes a person, sometimes a bird, sometimes a rock, our spirit is in everything all the time.
Then the birds came with their dark wings bringing dark forces. I told the plant I didn’t want to go ‘there’ tonight. “Okay”- she said. “Do you want to see more?”- she asked. I said “yes”. She pointed to a thread that connected all our bodies, one single thread, running through all of us. I could hear someone fighting the devil on the other side of the maloka. I felt his struggle and sent him so much love from my heart. I couldn’t stop smiling as I was still enchanted by my being a beautiful tree.
She put me on a hang glider and we flew above the world painted in orange light. I was so happy, so incredibly lighthearted that I couldn’t believe such joy was even possible. I remember touching my face and I was smiling from ear to ear. It was true. I was happy for ‘seeing’.
“Do you want to see more?” –asked the plant. As we were hovering above, she pointed to a golden thread running through animals and humans straight through trees, rocks and glaciers. Then she showed me all the trees with faces, the cheerful plants whose intelligence was beyond ours. I saw gorgeous shapes and patterns. The mere human that I am occasionally interjected this orgasm of vivid images with questions. “How would I know who’s the right man for me?” “You will know!”-said the plant. “I will tell you.”- she said. “I will work through and for you all your life.” I kept asking about one guy in particular who I never had any ‘real’ contact with. We just spoke a few times here and there. “Anthony! Tell me about Anthony!”- I said. The plant just smiled and waved her hand as if dismissing my question.
Then the ravens came again, I told her I still didn’t want to go there. “You see, there is always a choice. You can always choose. Light or dark, happy or sad. It’s just recognizing that moment and for that”-she said “you need to be quiet, you need to be still, so you can make the choice that best suits you and best serves the world around you.”
“What do you want me to do?” I asked “Should I focus more on yoga or music and DJing?”. “Your life is perfectly fine, you don’t need to do anything else, you do don’t need to change who you are you are perfect.”-she said . “If anything” –she continued -“Maybe you could study the plants to expand your knowledge and continue healing people.” I smiled and I looked out at the trees, they were all dancing. I would hear a baby’s distant cry and react with tremendous sadness. “Is that really what it is?” –she asked. I listened closer for the truth. “Inquire!”- she said, “Ask questions! Don’t assume!” she continued. As I listened the baby’s cry turned into the actual sound of cooing peacocks. The plant said “You see, it’s all about perception. You have to learn to see clearly, to not assume and react. To take the time to truly see.”
“Are you happy now”- she asked. “Yes.” “Do you want to see more?”-she asked. “Yes”. Some fish and reptiles appeared. The fish looked happy and playful. Then one of the fish put their giant mouth around my head trying to swallow me – and it hurt, it hurt really bad. The plant said “Just let them be, that’s what it feels like to be eaten. Fish feel the same way. “ And with that she answered my fish dilemma.
When they called for the 2nd cup my addict mind immediately said: “Yes, go have another. And a third and fourth.” But the right side of my brain inquired: “Aren’t you happy, aren’t you content? You’re so happy and so perfect just the way you are in this moment, why would you want to change that?” So I decline the 2nd cup. The plant complimented me: “See it’s always about the choices you make.“ The shaman came to do his final blessing. His chakapa above me felt like millions of tiny snakes hissing in unison. I was standing underneath a giant baobab tree marveling at life, smiling from ear to ear looking at the shaman. “I love you, I love you, I love you, “ – I repeated. The happiest day of my 39 years. “Work on loving you and remember you always have me with you, in you!” – she said. For one last time she allowed me to hover over the whole entire world and I could see that everything was in perfect order. “You don’t need to worry so much- everything is perfect” – said the plant.
I looked over to the Shaman as he was singing his last Icaro. He had wings, immense wings. He was an angel, a stunning white angel protecting all of us. “You have seen it all, the cycle, the creation, the connection, you know it all; you have known it along” –said the plant. “You don’t need me anymore.” – those were her last words and with that I disappeared into the of valley of my dreams.
At night during the ceremony I didn’t drink the brew, since the plant told me I didn’t need her anymore. Through the night I felt like I was making love to the whole world. I was overcome with an astonishing feeling of love and openness. I wanted to pick one lucky man as a point of my affection and I kept going back to Nick, the man I had questions about. “Didn’t I tell you he isn’t the one? Stop wasting your mind on him” – she said. Instead I continued loving the whole world. Despite the fact that I didn’t drink that night the plant was still working inside of me. Halfway through the ceremony I caught myself swaying my hips on all fours and performing basic asanas and marveling about how perfect the world was while the others proceeded to partake in the communal vomiting. I saw the shadowy figures and the little sparks- the shaman’s efforts to keep the dark forces away.
And there in the midst of this sacred ritual I realized why I felt so close to Don Lucho. As the faint light of the mopacho hit his face, he turned into my long lost grandfather. His tone reminiscent of my gypsy grandpa’s wavering voice solidified why I experienced Don Lucho as blood, as my own DNA. He was a part of me, I was a part of him. I watched him grow immense wings again to protect all of us while Carolina sang her ode the plant in hindi. Time was no longer present, we could have been sitting there for centuries, for thousands of years surrounded by the jungle under the heavy moon shining its light on the trees with faces. I saw a thread connecting all of us, running through every single body in the moloka, through the trees into the earth. My body shook, my heart mimicked the rhythm of tribal drums when Don Lucho came over to perform his limpieza (final cleansing). I sat under his chakapa and ate up his words and sounds. I saw him slowly grow wings again, the angel that he was. Two his words echoed in my head “padre” and “amor”, two of the things I came for. He didn’t sing that song to anybody else that night. It was my song. I was stone cold sober, yet high on love. The bewilderment of oneness permeated every cell of my being.
After the ceremony some of us gathered with Don Lucho’s son, Wagner who helped his father conduct ceremonies and at times leads them as well- his signature chuckle forever engrained in my mind. We spoke about his offspring in France and how it feels to be the son of a shaman. When I realized I was speaking Spanish the entire time, my jaw dropped. I learned Spanish overnight. I never studied it, let alone spoke it, until that night. The plant gave me “una otra idioma”- another language. I spent the next two days speaking Spanish to my and the group’s utmost surprise.
Saturday was our last day at Kapitari. After another private tobacco purge where Wagner played his guitar witnessing my insides pouring out, I felt so open, so willing, so ecstatic. The day was spent walking through the mud barefoot, visiting a wildlife sanctuary while wanting to release the animals, the jaguar, the ocelot, the raccoons and sloths. Later that day, back at Kapitari we were given the great news of another ceremony that night. But since the plant told me two nights prior “you don’t need me anymore” I obliged- and with that I realized my addict mind was gloriously defeated by the plant. The ceremony was more of the same, except that Don Lucho gave me permission to record his singing . The most meditative tunes I have ever heard. I have listened to Tibetan chants, Gregorian chants, ohms, chakra balancing tones, binary sounds, singing bowls but nothing came close the omniscient peace and love in the shaman’s voice. I spent my last night in the maloka only to realize that I have not used my tambo for anything other than to store my clothes and to take one sorry nap.
The next morning I said goodbye to Kapitari, to Loca, the dog and her five daughters, to Violeta the macaw, to Pablo the parakeet, Morena, the bird of hell, Pancho the cat, then I gave my breakfast to a stray dog. Through the mud our whole family set out for the river where our boat was waiting to take us back to civilization or the lack thereof. On the boat Don Lucho sat next to me, we held each other for many minutes and finally I was brave enough to look into his silver eyes. I cocked my head to the right, held his gaze and hugged him again. I could feel our hearts reaching tentacles in each others’ and with that we hit the city. The energy was confusing, the sounds too loud the scents too harsh the dogs again too hopeless. Our group met up at Karma café to say our final goodbyes.
I made a pit stop at the sight of another desperate dog. Mange ridden, bloody and bruised, scabies and dried ooze all around him to the point where you could have mistaken the poor soul for a reptile.I squatted down his broken bones too tired to run away, I reached my hand out he took a wavery step forward and gently leaned into my palm. I wanted to tell him that everything was going to be ok- but I don’t know if it will be for him. I gave him my lunch and walked back to the café with wet eyes. And there on the desperate streets of Iquitos I found my purpose: to love the unlovable , to help the hopeless and here I am pleading for your compassion and help.
I am now fully convinced of the existence of God, the Great Spirit, Allah, Brahma, Jah or whatever you wan to call her, him, it- and let me prove it to you with one last story.
When I finally arrived to my gate at the Iquitos airport the airline put me on an earlier flight to Lima. I also ran into two of my group mates, Joe and Izabella. We sat at the café when I noticed a pair of fiery, dark eyes staring at me. I man in his early 30ies stared at me as if asking permission to look into my soul. I allowed him to the “gate “ then shyly turned my head in the other direction. I could feel that the connection was made. On the flight I was seated separately from my friends, but eventually Joe came over to let me know that there was an empty seat next to him. When I got to his seat I saw the pair of dark eyes staring into my soul again. The man from the café sat by the window in Joe’s row. I chuckled and shyly looked away but saw that he was intrigued by our conversation- so I pulled him in. Before I knew it, I was sitting next to him. God plays an incredible chess game at times-the great tactician that he is. The man with the dark eyes told me he organized yoga retreats (and btw I am a yoga teacher) at a nature reserve close to Puerto Maldonado, where parrots come every day to eat clay. I asked him about the stray dogs of Iquitos and if he knew of any organization I could contact to offer my help. As it turned out, his friends recently set up a rescue group to help men’s best friend. My mind almost shot through my skull. What are the odds that I would be sitting next to this man and that his friends were the very ones I was looking for. God is miraculous or just knows how to put kings and queens together. Manuel and I talked until we landed about love, life and spirituality. He asked me to open my heart to him. No one has ever asked me that, I smiled and said “ my heart has been open all along- it’s just that people missed the entrance”. “I feel like I know your soul”- he continued. “I met you before. I’ve known you all along” –he said as we parted. Maybe it’s true, maybe we did, maybe it’s all an illusion, maybe it’s an act. I don’t know. If I didn’t have 39 years of experience on this planet I would think that I met the man I want to spend the rest of my life with…But I don’t know if that’s true.
What I do know is that the Queen of Plants opened up my eyes, my heart has turned into an endless ocean of love , I know that Don Lucho is an angel and Kapitari is my home. I came to Peru with questions. I got more than what I bargained for. I got a blueprint for life and I know my DNA has been changed forever.
I know that love lives in every single one of us, that we are all one tribe. I know that happiness is a choice but we are too distracted to notice. I know that the trees have eyes and that they are just as sensitive as us, I know that it’s not too late to stop fucking up our planet. I know that we have the capacity to heal what we have harmed. We have it …in ourselves…to come from …love.