Night fell within minutes of our arrival at the Shaman hut. He gestured towards a plastic container filled from an old petrol can. Within it, lay the magic potion.
‘How much should I drink?’ I asked Jorge. ‘All of it’, he replied. I sunk a huge and deeply unpleasant draught of the rank liquid. It took several difficult minutes to work my way through this bitter medicine. Shortly after, I found and used – in the fullest top and bottom capacity – the garden outhouse located about 10m from the backdoor.
Despite enormous efforts of mental and physical will, I was never to reach it again. It’s not just the taste that makes vomiting a natural reaction to Ayahuasca – it’s part of the process apparently. I followed the ritual religiously. Something happened about ten minutes later. Not quite sure what, but its effect on my ability to move and think was profound enough for me to forget most of my Spanish, bar the lie: ‘Toda esta bien’ (everything’s fine!) to the inquiries of Jorge. My English was soon reduced to the more honest ‘Urgah, naah!’, which sadly, my mono-lingual hosts were unable to fathom.
With these communication difficulties, it was easier to explore the depths of my soul, alone, in the middle of a jungle, under the spell of an overpowering hallucinogenic. My senses heightened to the myriad jungle sounds, my eyes accustomed to the moonlit sights. A lot of shimmering went on within the thick teeming canopy.
Communion with the spirit world is the aim of these trips. They say you meet the animals you deserve. Shamans are thought to inhabit the bodies of the elusive jaguar.
I did not see any jaguars.