Tuesday, July 31, 2012

One more time on food before ayahuasca

I know this topic has come up before, but as someone has brought it up to me again, I thought I'd touch on it. The subject is how important is it to have an empty stomach when drinking ayahuasca. The person who wrote me said they were having a tough time not eating for most of the day prior to drinking the medicine in the evening and wondered if I ever had folks with a similar problem on my jungle trips.
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I told the fellow that on the ceremony days out in the jungle, I like to get the guests up early and have them take a short hike after a cup of coffee or tea but before breakfast. On that hike we collect the ayahuasca vine we'll be using to make the medicine and the admixture plants that will go into it as well.
Back at base, at about 10 AM I serve everyone a big breakfast. Lots of fruit, veggies, rice, beans and a couple of eggs if they want them. And that's supposed to be it for the day. A little liquid as needed (not as wanted), and they always need some because at noon I send them all out on a beautiful 2-3 hour hike in the lomas, the hills, in first growth forest. It's a hike that will burn up nearly everything in their stomachs.
When they come back from that they can rest, meditate and so forth but they are supposed to not eat anything until after ceremony. And yes, they get hungry. And for those occasional guests who have a fast metabolism, I allow a tangerine. For the others, I prefer they drink water or unsugared/no-milk tea of they need it.
I mean, it does no one any good to come to ceremony dehydrated, physically weak, or so hungry that all you can think of is food. On the other hand, the reality is that each person, when they purge, vomit, on ayahuasca, is going to be allowed to throw up the bile of their lives, the pain they carry around needlessly and often unwittingly. They won't understand that until it happens, but once it does, they will. And they will see the value in lightening up their soul-load so to speak.
Or, they can cheat and eat three granola bars or whatever they have stashed in their bag and then they can throw that up later.
For my money, you can throw food up anytime. The chance to through up the bile of your life, well, that only comes along now and then. So my recommendation is have just enough food/water to keep from being dehydrated/weak during ceremony, but leave it at that.
That's my take on it, anyway.


Monday, July 30, 2012

This One's About Italo

This one is about my son, Italo. This is not a knock on my son, Marco, or daughter, Madeleina. No, this one is just to celebrate Italo.

After I came home to find the AC not fixed, among other things, and then got really really sick for a few days, I had some time and so did Italo. He was as pissed off as I at the thought that the people who'd come to fix the attic AC unit had said it would be $3,700--especially when we looked up the units and saw that they ran, new, from $500-$1,200 for the very very top of the line. Heck, the condenser is outside in the stand up unit so the attic unit has coils, relay switches, a fan, a pan to collect condensed water and a tube that runs to and through the outer wall of the house to release that water.
So he decided to try his hand at it. Well, he fell through the ceiling into Marco's old room, which was a pain in the neck, but gave him great access to the fan/fan motor and relay switches, so he worked from there. He yanked the fan and its motor and housing and off we went to a local store and for about $257 bought all that new. Then he installed it with a little help from me, but mostly it was his work.
Unfortunately, the unit still didn't work. So we called an AC guy--a different one from the one I've used in the past, the one who wanted the $3,700 for the $500-$1,200 unit--and had him take a look. Turned out one of the relay switches was out. He went home, got one, came back, installed it. Still didn't work.
So he took a look at the thermostat and guess what? Of the three wires there, one had been put in a position that was a wrong position. Who could have done that? The guy trying to sell the whole unit? Could be, cause he was the only one touched that thermostat.
Then the thing worked. Worked like new. Took some hours to drop from 102--the temp at which we turned it on--to a pleasant 72, but it got there and I wound up having to use a light blanket.
Today, Italo came to close the hole in Marco's old room's ceiling. He left lots of plaster on the floor so I trailed behind him, scraping it up and cleaning the kitchen and hallway tiles. But as I was cleaning up I realized I was getting dripped on. Through the kitchen ceiling. So we turned off the AC and up he climbed. Guess what? Someone had moved the drip pan, the pan that collects the condensed water and sends it out the tube outside, so that the water could not collect in the pan.
Now I know Italo didn't do that because he worked from the hole in Marco's ceiling through the back of the unit. Which leaves whom? Ah, yes, the fellow who said we needed a whole new unit.
Well, Italo got it squared away, checked for leaks in the pan, made sure the tube running to the outside of the house was working and now we're back in business.
So someone tried to job us. Tried to get us to pay $3,700 for a unit we don't think we need. They said the coils were shot but they seem fine. They said the motor was shot but it worked great until he showed up to find out why it was putting out hot air instead of cold (I thought it just needed freon). Turned out it didn't even need freon. But the sabotage, well, I'm not happy about that. Changing wire positions, moving a pan nearly a foot off center--heck, these guys are pros. I could make those mistakes but they shouldn't. I'm not even thinking they were mistakes. I think it was deliberate.
But my kid, my Italo, he's a pitbull when he decides he wants to fix something. And it's done. And he did it. And if it turns out we still need a whole unit, well, even adding $600 or so for the unit to the $500 we've put into it we'll still save $2600.
I'm gonna owe my son a new set of tires for that.
Way to go, Italo. Thanks for being my kid.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Sisters' Birthday

Today is July 28. It's Independence Day for Peru. There are fantastic celebrations going on down there in Iquitos right now--though I am not there--I'm sure of that. It's also the birthday of my Irish Twin sisters Pat and Regina. They were both born on July 28, Pat in 1947, and Regina in 1955. Same day, years apart, is called Irish Twins. I guess it happens quite a bit in the old country--not unreasonable given that so many had so many children and the cold snaps, the time you might just want to cuddle up, are fairly predictable and very regular. Until the speeded up global warming, anyway.

My sister Pat is the gal, who, with here partner Frank Olinski, designed the MTV logo. It was the first logo that changed constantly while keeping a few established elements. It earned their company, Manhattan Design, a slot in Time Magazine's 100 Top Designs of the 20th Century. She's been ill for quite a while now, but she's a fighter and I hope she pulls through.
When she was a kid she gave us younger kids--I was four years younger, Barbara six years younger and Reg eight years younger--horse rides on her back through the house and had different names for the different personalities of the horses she pretended to be. I generally liked her bucking bronco horse.
I love you, Pat. Thanks for being my sister.
Regina was my baby sister. She was the one I was just old enough to baby when she was born. I mean, I was 4 1/2 to her birth, and so I got to take care of her a lot. Gosh, she was one of the most beautiful women in the world. And she's got an Irish heart of gold. You need something? Before you asked it was at your feet. That kind of generous.
Unfortunately, coming last in a fairly long line, all of whom were very smart in school, her personal defense was to be lousy in school until she dropped out of high school. We didn't care. She was plenty smart but preferred to go to Manhattan and wait tables and make money to doing math.
Until she married Tom Leonard--my great, late brother-in-law whom I have written about several times on this blog. He pushed her to get her high school GED, the diploma equivalent. And when she did, he pushed her to go to Hunter College of the City University of New York--a great university and a great college--and she did and she finally got through and graduated at about 37 or so, then got her Masters, then began teaching in Harlem, New York when it was still tough and while there her school awarded her Teacher of the Year honors twice.
She's still teaching, but I don't think she has to teach too much longer to get her pension. She's been doing it for 20 years by now I think. Or close to it. And putting up with New York City public schools as a teacher, well, you earn every cent of that pension.
I love you, Reg. Thanks for being my sister.
Pat and Reg: Both of you, along with Mike, Peg and Barbara, were the best team I was ever on, and I boast about my current jungle team all the time. So know that you were not just good, but you all helped shape me, for better or worse.
Happy Birthday, Pat and Reg! I hope this is your best year yet!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Something About the Peru Trips

Without going all grandiose, and I mean that sincerely, there is something about doing the Peru trips the way that I do them that is very intimate. My guests know that our circle is inviolate, and that any stories emerging from the trip must never include names or particulars that can identify anyone. I mean, who wants that funny story told about how they pooped themselves and had to be changed by the Gorman team? Or who might be in a child custody case and then someone posts a youtube video of them drinking ayahuasca and that winds up costing them custody of their children. No. None of that is public. And my guests have been very very good at keeping those stories nameless over all these years.

That's one kind of intimacy.
There are others. One of the others is that my team and I, watching out for the guests, not-interfering but making sure they can make it off the platform hut without breaking an ankle or to the bathroom most of the time in time, are encouraging people to eliminate the bile of their lives. We're working with the medicine to give them an opportunity--and it is deliberate, not happenstance--to get rid of the pain they are carrying needlessly. I mean, you lied to your mom about selling her car 20 years ago but she died 12 years ago---well, carrying that guilt is not helping you become a better person. So botale, throw up the pain you no longer need. Remember to never do that or lie about it again, so hold the memory, but throw up the pain associated with the guilt. It's past time to toss that and stand just a little taller with a little less weight on your back.
Unfortunately, my team and I, and I am the freaking specialist, wind up catching just a bit of that pain, anger, guilt...we wind up eating some of those sins though we don't mean to. And those sins, that pain, they have a life of their own and once it is in you (me) who knows how it will show itself?
This trip it showed up as simply conjunctivitis. Painful, nearly blind for a few days, but gone in two weeks with the right antibiotic shots and antibiotic eyedrops. But that turns out not to be all. The last three days I've sat in my home in Texas sweating, sweating, sweating. Cold showers but still sweating. Not a relapse of malaria, just the grippe. But nasty. And today I've got pink eye, styes, in both eyes. And the air conditioner we just fixed is not getting any electricity. Why? Don't know. Just interference from some nasty bit of filth I picked up from someone who was letting it go--a nasty bit of filth with a life of its own and which outsmarted me when I thought I was putting it somewhere where it could do no further harm.
I'll get better, and the second air con man in three days is coming over to repair things. But the things he is going to repair don't need any repair. They just need a choking force pulled off their wires. Because we know we already changed all the wires and everything worked.
So I'm not complaining, just noting that once again the universe is having a bit of a laugh at my expense. I'm sure I earned it.
Sounds like I've lost my mind to most of you, I'll bet. I haven't. I just see the life force in everything--and I mean everything--and none of it wants to die. And all of it will do any and everything that can be done not to leave this plane of existence. It's not a game. It's just the way life works: Life comes with an unwillingness to die.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Back Home Again, Again

So Madeleina and I made it home from Peru yesterday. A long haul after 51 days there and neither of us wanted to make the move. We did three jungle trips and all went well or better than that. I managed to escape the worst of the physical disasters, though I got conjunctivitis twice and the second time was a freaking bear, lasting two weeks and still causing me to wear sun glasses because the light hurts my eyes so much. But that beats flesh eating bacteria, exploding intestines, near fatal spider bites and so forth. Perhaps I simply didn't work hard enough this time to earn a near death experience--though even as I write that I realize I sound so catholic and guilty that in just saying it I might earn something terrible tonight.

Well, tonight is going to be terrible anyway. The day we left the air conditioner for the house shut down. Replacement was estimated at $3,700, more than the house is worth. Plus, I just changed the outside unit for two grand last year and don't feel like borrowing more money to keep cool. So Italo has been working on it for two days and replaced a lot of parts. He also fell through the ceiling yesterday, so now I not only need a new air conditioning unit, I also need a new ceiling in Marco's old room, which is now the guest room, though it's currently so filled up with sticky mouse traps and insulation that came down with Italo that I can't imagine a guest really wanting to stay there.
Then there was the stove that broke while we were gone, and the cat that ran away, and the scorpion laying in wait just under my keyboard for me--tiny nasty one that I managed to get before it got me. Then Chepa brought the babies over and all was right with the world. I mean all was right. So what that my trucks don't work anymore, or that it's 104 degrees in the house, or that Chepa borrowed everything I had and someone spilled ayahuasca all over the fridge and that it took me five hours to clean it out today? None of that matters in the face of having the babies around. And none of that matters in the face of Italo and Marco--who did a fantastic job of mowing the lawn while I was gone, thank you very much--hanging around since I got back. And none of that matters in the face of Madeleina staying with me and backing me up for the last seven weeks. Those are the things that matter.
Oh, and I fell for a woman in Iquitos. Let's see where it goes--and Madeleina says she'll burn the house down if I bring here here for a visit--but so far it was great. A pretty woman thought I was not the ugliest fat white old man on the planet. She actually thought I was handsome and wanted to kiss me in public. Man, that part of me, the man part, has not had input in nearly 12 years. I don't mean I have not had girlfriends, but I do mean that they have been few and long in between and then suddenly this beautiful woman is kissing me and I'm kissing her back and it was fantastic. Felt like I was just 60 all over again......or 34.
Madeleina didn't talk to me for days, but I hope she'll get over it. We'll see. Cause I'm gonna invite that gal down to visit and she says she's dying to come. All quite new and unexpected for me. I can't quite get my breath.
I'm not gonna kiss and tell, but I will say I love the kisses.
And that's my hello to you.
Anybody got a spare house air conditioner, let me know.
Glad to be back with you all. Thanks for putting up with the long silence.