Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Big Boat Ride

The other day I posted regarding my last two Amazon Jungle Jaunts, where I take people out to the deep jungle and we do some walking in high jungle while learning about local medicines, some swamp walking with ancient trees, some jungle medicines that include (for those who want them, never pushed on anyone) Ayahuasca, Amazonian magic mushrooms, and the indigenous Matses medicines, Sapo (aka Kambo), and Nü-Nü, a snuff. We also collect the frog with some Matses friends of mine, bathe in a beautiful tributary of the Amazon, eat ridiculously good and healthy food, laugh up a storm, learn a lot about life on the Amazon. Those dates are Jan 18-27, and Feb 1-10.
BUTTTTTT!!!!!! I didn't explain why they will be the last trips. Here's why: With the rate the jungle is trying to kick me out — whether it's dengue, septic spider bites, poisonous snake bites, flesh eating bacteria — coupled with my age, a measly 68, I only have a limited amount of trips left in me. Maybe 10, maybe 12, I don't know.
What I do know is that I have some legitimate exploration left to do, and that can't be done if I'm entertaining guests. I love guests, but this Spring, 2020, I'm gonna try to raise about $25 grand to find, rent, rebuild to my specifications, outfit a boat to take from Iquitos down to Leticia, and then up the Javari river, and into the Alto Javari and the Galvez rivers.
I'll have 7 crew beside myself, and I'm planning on the trip running about 42 days from setting off from Iquitos to return. Now this is a trip I've done twice, though they were slightly shorter trips at 29 and 30 days, so my ambition is up this time. And I've never gotten bored while piloting my own boat in the Amazon.
On this trip, 25 years since the last, i want to record for the record the changes that have occurred on the Javari since I last ran it. I want to return to the villages I collected medicinal plants from -- for a pharmaceutical house -- to see if the sons and daughters of the headmen from whom I collected plants are still working that trade. I want to revisit some old friends and make some new ones.
I'll be honest: I know this is a selfish expedition. But I also think it's valuable as very few rivers in the Amazon have a record that stretches 26 years. How much development has occurred? How much larger are the military outposts and the villages around them? How far have the indigenous villages moved and have any disappeared altogether?
I'm going to need a lot of money for this, and i don't want anyone giving up their lunch money or money they were going to send to the local food bank sending that money to me. I'm going to need angels, four or five or 10 who have capital and want to be part of something special. Who want to be there when it's time for the boat painting party in Iquitos, or spend the first 4 or 5 nights with my crew on the first leg of the journey to Leticia (where we'll drop you off and send you back to Iquitos with one of my team). There will be an accounting of every damned penny spent and people can hold me to that.
Anyway, I hope I can pull this off and that it will be the first of several genuine explorations that I will do before the jungle gets me for good, or I just get too old to do the work.
I just wanted to share that. Thanks. Peter G

Friday, October 11, 2019

LAST JUNGLE TRIPS COMING UP

What follows is absolute self-promotion, so proceed at your own risk. I'm going to be taking two more small groups into the deep Peruvian Amazon. The dates are Saturday, Jan 18 through the morning of Monday, Jan 27, and then Saturday, Feb 1 through the morning of Monday, Feb 10. The trips run $2200 US per person and cover everything but airfare and walking around money.
I've been doing these trips for 21 years and love introducing people the the Northwest Amazon, her rivers, her peoples, and her medicines. But I'm coming to the end of the line on them and it's nearly time to turn them over to my friend Devon, who has been apprenticing with me for several years. So these two will, in all likelihood, be my last.
So if you have dreamed of spending a night on a flat-bottomed riverboat heading up the Amazon beneath an Amazon sky, this is the time to join. If you have dreamed of being offered Amazonian magic shrooms, or doing the indigenous Matses medicines Sapo (aka kambo) and nu-nu with a Matses headman — as well as collecting those medicines with the same headman — then now is the time to join. If you would like to utilize ayahuasca in the same setting as I have been drinking it for 35 years with the nephew of my old teacher Julio, then now is the time to join.
This is not a trip to a luxury lodge. This is swamp walking, high jungle medicine walking, nighttime trips in dugout canoes, bathing in a beautiful tributary of the Amazon, getting plenty of dirt under your fingernails, and doing all that while having a rollicking good time.
If any of this piques your interest, you can message me or email me at peterg9 at yahoo.com and I can answer your questions.
Trips are limited to a maximum of 12 guests, and my crew will always outnumber my guests to ensure a safe trip.
The trip is not physically difficult, but it is the real deal.
Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Full Day, Doing Nothing

Full day, doing nothing. Today was a surprisingly full day, though it seemed like I didn't to anything at all.
Chepa, my ex, came by at 8 AM for coffee and regaled me and Devon with stories while I flirted with her. She left at 9 and I rewrote a story for Fort Worth Weekly that was going to press tonight.
Then a guest who was here at the house needed sapo, the indigenous frog sweat medicine, which always takes a lot out of me, and the Matses snuff, nu-nu as a follow up medicine.
I was pooped after serving the medicines.
Then it was time to go to the store to get food for dinner, came home, and the person who was staying here for three days for medicine had a friend show up. He was cool, but stayed for three hours, so there was some entertainment in the way of stories to provide. I did.
At the same time I was entertaining the new friend, I had to wash clothes for a speaking engagement at a movie theater showing a film about my work in the Amazon tonight in Fort Worth. So I had to figure out what I was going to speak about.
Then Devon and I went to the theater, I spoke in a meet-and-greet for an hour, then spoke to the audience for 15-20 minutes without notes, then came home.
I am tired. It's only 9:30, but I am tired.
Didn't do nothin' but did a lot. I hope I helped a few people along the way.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Someone I know Defended Trump...

Someone I know posted on a forum that if the Democrats keep messing around with Trump he might switch his allegiance from them to Trump in 2020. That's such horse shit that I had to respond. Here is my response, though it's way more abbreviated than I would have liked.
 
The democrats have passed more than 100 bills that are common sense things that McConnell is sitting on. They are working their tails off trying to put together legislation that would be a no-brainer for the Senate if Mr. M would let them get a hearing. So they are not causing any gridlock. That is all on McConnell. Thus far President Trump has passed a tax cut for the wealthy and corporations, locked kids up, separated families, raised the rates of the incarceration of those kids to over $700 per night per child while accepting that there is not enough money for toothbrushes for them out of that $700. He has lied 10 times a day, spends several hours a day by his own admission watching Fox News, then spends the night tweeting about what Fox News said that day. The action against President Trump should have come with emoluments, the Mueller Report, his publicly asking for election help from Putin, his roll back of dozens of environmental protections, his putting utterly unqualified people in cabinet positions, having his family be his closest advisors, or even putting tariffs on goods from China which exclude his own products and the products made by his daughter there. That's a very partial list of reasonably impeachable offenses. To that add the Kashogi murder that he ignored, secret meetings with Putin wherein he takes the translators notes so that there is no record of the conversations, giving classified info to Russia's foreign minister during a visit in the White House (that info released by Russia subsequent to the meeting because Trump did not allow any US people to stay in the room)..... Well, you get the picture. He's never produced a vision of policy, never come up with anything concrete. If he did, I'm sure the Dems would have worked with him while still going after his high crimes and misdemeanors.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Short Exerpt from one of my books

Someone on Facebook exerpted and posted this from my book, Ayahuasca in My Blood. It's not bad.

"I said I was tired of people who visit one curandero, listen to what he or she says and repeat it as if it is true. That is how bullshit gets spread around."
"So what is irking me are people who get part of a story and repeat it as rote, rather than stepping back and trying to see how that story fits into the larger world picture."
"How many people have I met who have spent a month in Peru and told me they were called to open an ayahuasca center? Ten? Twenty-five? One is too many. Get your ass down there. Learn. Spend some years, two or three or something more than a month or two before you think you know how to serve people medicine."
"Want to write that book? Talk to three or five or fifty ayahuasqueros who have 1000 years among them serving the medicine and ask them what the spirits look like: You will probably wind up with a mosaic with a couple of archetypes rather than a list of animal totems that is really meaningless."
"And me? I do not know anything, except what I have seen and learned but I know that 1) that is a very small window on a very large universe, and 2) my perceptions are colored by my life experience and should never be taken by anyone for reality, just my perceptions of what occurred."
"And I guess I am just old enough to be tired of people who are spreading falsehoods in the name of truth. Even if they think it is the truth, it is just their truth, or the truth of their curandero/curandera, not some measurable truth. I think, and I am sorry I have been rude in getting here but have also enjoyed it, that is important to remember."

Monday, September 16, 2019

RIP Ric Ocasic

Ric Ocasic, leader of the Cars, died last night. That's sad, because for people like me he's still part of the New Wave of music of the 1970s and early 1980s. So I guess both he and I are old. RIP Mr. Cars. You brought a lot of joy to this world, so you did your share and more. Thank you. I did not know you. But I did meet you. 
My sister Pat, the woman who designed the MTV logo--with help from Frank Olinsky--designed a lot of albums, from Duran Duran to Billy Idol, to the Cars Greatest Hits. For the last one, Pat, who had been jealous of my sister Peg's legs her whole life, used Peg to sit on a car in sexy red high heels and photographed her from the knee down. What people don't know is that Peg was 40 at the time the photo--album cover--was taken. 
 It was my sister Pat's way of dealing with her lifelong jealousy of her younger sister (by two years). 
I ran into the Cars and a lot of others when Pat hired me to cater a party for the Gorman-Olinsky Manhattan Design company. I didn't have much money for it, so I made great food, but decided to serve it in small plastic pails, so that when the guests came in, everyone from Sting to the Cars to, I think, the B-52s, and The Talking Heads, they had to go garbage pails picking for the food. 
It turned out to be a wonderful success, and I went on to use the same idea for things like the Yul Brynner redo of The King and I Broadway opening. Brynner wasn't thrilled until he got the idea that the cast was dumpster diving for food. 
RIP Ric: I hope you have a fast trip to the next stage.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Sometimes the Kitchen Calls Me

Hell of a day in the kitchen. My friend Devon, who is currently living here -- I wrote about him in glowing terms a few days ago becuse he's like one of my sons -- went away for a couple of days yesterday. My daughter Madeleina came home from university but had to return there today for somthing, so her live in boyfriend, Adrian, didn't come. Madelaina and I had a great meal of salmon with sliced red peppers, garlic, green onions, ginger, and Sesame oil on a bed of fresh spinach, watched a movie — something with Matt Dillon with a mustache that was REALLY wordy and I finally gave up — and then I went to bed.
Today, with Devon gone and Madeleina going to be gone for a few hours, I wrote a couple of recipes in the cook book I'm trying to get done, sang for everyone, stretched my back, wrote a blog piece or two, looked for a story for my newspaper, the Fort Worth Weekly, that I want to write, and then thought that I really felt like cooking.
What I wanted to cook was Sauce Espagnole, the basis for every damned French beef sauce, stew, soup, and anything else. It's a beef stock reduction done twice and it takes a lot of veggies, work, patience.
I thought I'd make that while I was cooking my fajita stew for dinner. that requires yellow jasmine rice. And then Boots the wonder dog's food, chicken livers, meat trimmings and a chicken leg had to be cooked as well. And I only have two working burners on my stove. So it was gonna be a day.
For the Espgnole, I bought about 10 pounds of beef soup bones with lots of marrow. I put those in the oven at 350 for two hours. Took them out, hammered them to loosten the marrow, then threw them in a stock pot with one head of organic celery, two organic sweet onions, 20 teeth of rough cut fresh garlic, five organic carrots, slice, and olive oil.
When all was brown, I added 6 liters of water, sea salt and cracked black pepper, brought it to a boil, then reduced to simmering.
While that was cooking, I trimmed the flank steak for the fajitas, a painstaking task, then marinated them in garlic, olive oil, fajita seasoning, black pepper, Peruvian achiote for color and taste, and white vinegar.
When the beef stock was done — reduced to 2 quarts after 3 hours — I strained it. Then I put 20 more fresh garlic teeth, two more onions, four more organic carrots, another head of celery, a half pound of Baby Bella mushrooms, a half-pound of very good ham, chopped, a full brace of parsely, chopped, four fresh beefsteak tomatoes and 6 ounces of the best tomato paste I can buy into the stock pot. I added the stock I'd made after the veggies browned, then added four quarts of organic grass fed beef stock (I was cheating a little, okay?????), brought it to a boil, then reduced to simmer. It's been on for three hours and probably has five more hours to go to reduce to one pint, which is what I am after.
While that was cooking, I cut the marinated flank steak into 1/4 inch slices and put them into a pot with their own marinade, plus two more heads of garlic. Thirty minutes Iater I added two onions slices into half-circles, achiote and white vinegar. Let that cook for half an hour, then put it on the back burner and started the yellow jasmine rice.
When the rice was cooking I stirred everything, washed all the used pots and strainers, got the chicken/duck food ready, fed the outside birds hummingbirds.
When the rice was nearly done I put it on one of the non-working burners and started the dog food: A chicken leg, beef trimmings and a pound of chicken livers.
When Madeleina comes home soon, I'll put the fajita mat back on the fire, add the red, orange, yellow, green peppers, the scallions, veggie stock, and later, a bunch of chopped cilantro. Vinegar to taste.
Also mde smoothies, a peruvian juice drink. I'm freaking tired. Feel like I was back in a Manhattan restaurant kitchen. Dang. But I still feel good.
I hope you all eat well tonight. Nice way, if slightly frantic, to spend a day now and then. Just you and veggies.

Small Bushmaster Bite

Someone asked about me being bitten by a bushmaster snake. It was just a baby. Still dangerous. Here's what I wrote:
Dear X: It was nothing. When I had my bar in Iquitos, Peru, people would bring in all sorts of animals and we'd buy them in exchange for a meal, then give them to a friend who would take them out into deep, non-inhabited rivers and set them free in their own environments every week or so. One time this guy came in with a small, two-foot long baby water snake he called it. It sure looked like a baby shushupe — bushmaster — to me, but I couldn't tell because he had it in a bag of water in a pail. So I took it out — I was pretty good at handling snakes, having worked with Rom Whitaker in India and watching him do it — it exposed it's fangs and I told him never to pull that nonsense on me again. Water snakes are often harmless, this was a baby monster. I put it back in the bag but he fumbled tying the bag off and the petrified snaked jumped out of the bag and onto the bar. It got past me and I realized that my baby daughter, Madeleina, was about 10 feet to my right, so I quick stepped and grabbed it before it could fall off the bar and kill her. Unfortunately, I missed the perfect catch just by the head by just half an inch, enough for it to snap into my right forefinger. I snapped it off quickly and killed it where it fell with my heel, but I knew I had a wet bite. My wife, Chepa, was called and rushed to the bar and took me to the Ana Stahl Clinic where my friend Jeremy Lenigan was volunteering. He shot me up with adrenalin, cleaned the wound, drew blood, and watched over me for hours. The venom was not injected in sufficient amounts to kill me — the bushmaster, even juveniles, can be deadly — but did get me sick for a few days. And I lost the ability to bend that forefinger for a few years. I almost have it back now, 19 years after the bite.

If I Take Jungle Medicines, Why Do I Get Sick

Sickness has come up in conversation
Several times in the last year, people have asked why, if I've done all this Amazon medicine, have I gotten so sick. They question the bite by the bushmaster, the septic spider bite that opened sores all over my arms and legs; they ask about my hemorrhagic dengue fever, my exploded intestines, my two serious bouts with flesh eating bacteria.
The crux of the questions seems to be: "If you do all these Amazon medicines, why do you get so sick? Maybe they don't work and you are just kidding yourself."
It is a legitimate question.
The answer is two-fold. One, if you play in the jungle as I have, every year for 35 years for a couple of months or more, walking from the Ucayali to the Galvez, or the Rio Midi from Tamishako, or from Herrera to Angamos via the long route, and then spend a month more on each of 20 trips in the jungle, you will expose yourself to some things you cannot imagine. Yellow fever is the only typical disease from the area that I have not had. Malaria, to me, is just like a bad freaking flu. Normal dengue is normal. We don't count that as serious. Bot fly infestations in my private parts and legs is to be expected when I rebuild a boat and take it out for 31 days on the Yavari, the border between Brazil and Peru, and tie up on trees overhanging the river.
My answer is this: If I was not using the Amazon medicines in the jungle and here at home — I did sapo, frog sweat, also called kambo in Brazil twice in the last two days, for instance — I think any of those issues would have killed me. They are all mortal infirmities. The medicines have kept me alive and ticking. No, the jungle medicines did not ward off the diseases and bacteria and animal bites, but they allowed my body to cope with them without succumbing. That is the medicine value.