Monday 6th May 2013
Finally I met our Currandero Percy Garcia. He asked about why I’m here and what I want out of Ayahuasca. He doesn’t speak English but his friend and assistant was there to translate. We’re about to have a flower bath ceremony in readiness for tonight’s ceremony. I’m now nervous as hell. But I guess that’s part of it.
Carl and Percy at the flower ceremony
The flower ceremony has now been done. We washed in the river and a bowl of flower petals, perfume and water was poured over us one at a time while Percy blew tobacco smoke around our bodies. We stand there air drying while being given instructions for tonight’s ceremony. I am cold and nervous while standing here air drying. But I guess that’s part of it.
I don’t want to feel scared, empty and unhappy. I want my life to have meaning. I’m tired of always feeling empty and alone.
Less than one hour until the first ceremony and I’m making myself anxious thinking about it. I’m on edge and cant sit still. Partially because we’re so isolated and have been left alone out here for two days, I don’t have a connection with any of the staff or with Percy or his translator Jose. There will be 10 people in the ceremony tonight and I’ve really only met Carl, Javier and another guy, Olie. This will be an internal journey anyway but I would like to feel more of a connection with the people I’m doing the ceremony with. After all, they could be even more messed up than me!
Tuesday 7th May 2013
At 7pm we entered the ceremony room which was lit only by two small candles. There were mattresses and purge buckets set in a big circle around the room. We brought with us a bottle of water, a pillow, blanket and torch. All was quiet and still as we took our places.
Half an hour passes when Jose lights a small brazier with some kind of (sandalwood?) incense. He then brings it to each of us in turn where we waft the smoke over ourselves. Then all is quiet and still again.
At 9pm, 2 hours after we first sat down, Percy entered dressed all in white. He sits down at a little altar with bottles and other paraphernalia laid out in front of him. He goes through a little ritual blowing tobacco smoke around him then the first person is called up to take a drink.
My name is finally called and my heart starts racing. I take the small wooden cup and try not to gag as I swallow the liquid. It is thick and in the dim light I get a sense of a pale green colour. It tastes of burnt shampoo and pickled plant bits. It goes down in three swallows and it’s horrid stuff. My mouth is tightening now just thinking back to it. I go back to my mattress. The last candle is blown out and we are left in darkness. The only sounds I hear are the insects and the night birds in the jungle all around us, the river running under us and one or two people purging into their buckets already. The drink feels heavy and warm in my stomach. I feel nauseous but have no urge to purge.
About 9.20pm Percy begins to shake a rattle made of a bunch of dried leaves in a steady beat. 1,2,3 _ 1,2,3 _ it makes a soft, pleasant sound. He then begins to sing his Icaros, his Ayahuasca song. Having heard others on youtube, It was not what I expected. He started the first verse by whistling the tune. Light and friendly almost like a children’s song then he’d sing two or three verses “Ahayhuasca mama…” before repeating it all again.
A medicinal tea we had to drink every day – garlic with a lot of other unknown ingredients. It was hard to get down after the first 3-4 cups.
My nausea passes and I lay back on the mattress. I really don’t feel much of anything. The energy in the room is very low. I try some slow meditation breathing. Five seconds in, hold for 2 seconds, 6 seconds out. Nice and slow. I start to focus my mind on the present, ‘heal me, teach me’, breathe in, hold, breath out. I was falling into a light sleep.
At about 10.15pm Percy’s assistant Jose came around to ask each of us how we were feeling. Some people were clearly on cloud 9 ‘Wonderful. Never been better!’ All the people who responded this way were familiar with the drink and had done it before and seemed quite familiar with the proceedings. Four of us were first timers and they seemed to be in a similar situation as me. Sitting quietly, nothing much happening. We were invited to drink a second cup and this time it was really tough to get down. It had lumpy bits and I wasn’t able to drain the cup fully. This was not sitting well in my stomach.
10.30pm. Not a lot happening for me beyond a lot of nausea. There was a lot more purging in the room after the second drink but I still sit here with a heavy and nauseous feeling in my stomach. Finally it starts to come back up. Painfully at first – I’ve never been an easy vomiter. After one or two noisy and painful false starts, it all comes back up tasting sweeter and sharper than when it went down. I’m surprised at how much came up as we fasted for dinner so there wasn’t much food in my system.
Once it was all out, I became suddenly hot and cold in waves and I was covered in sweat, it poured off my face. For a good five minutes I was completely disoriented and felt I might fall into a deep hole if I dared to lay down. Then it passed. Carl to my right was snoring. People to my left were exclaiming “Oh my!” “Incredible!” and giggling at some private experience.
At 11pm Percy went to each person one at a time and sung a song over them and did a ‘personal healing’, involving tobacco smoke or flower scented water or other things depending on what he felt was needed.
At 11.30-11.45pm it was finished. As we made our way back to our rooms Javier was smiling and asked me how it was “I didn’t feel anything” I said. “You were fighting it.” He said matter of fact. There was nothing to fight I thought to myself.
I went back to my room and immediately vomited while I watched a big spider crawl around behind my toilet then I slept. No dreams, no crazy visions.
Percy did warn me not to expect anything on my first ceremony. The medicine is being introduced into my body and I shouldn’t try to force the visions. I can’t help but feel deflated. I guess that’s part of it.
This is a video I found of Percy’s ceremony from 2009. It looks very similar to my experience and the Icaros is the same. Watching this makes my stomach tighten in memory of the drink.
Local cat from a nearby farm
And another documentary which also features Percy: http://youtu.be/MG4pDYTuC_c?t=24m