Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Naive Gringos Pay the Price in Peru

Someone wrote on a forun I occasionally visit that they'd had a very tough time with some curanderos they worked with. They paid them for a month and only got a week's work. They had a curandero stop a ceremony and ask for help with paying for a son's schooling. They paid a curandero in the day and he showed up drunk that night.
    The person found it all unsettling and felt they were ripped off. I don't think they were. I think they were just trying to put the Western way of thinking on people who don't think like us. Here's what I wrote on the forum:
DEAR X: I'm sorry you had such a series of lousy events. But your note should serve as a yellow caution flag for others, not because these people were bad--I don't know if they were or not--but because naive gringos--and if you are not, I apologize--don't understand the culture.
   The Padrino incident, for instance: It's an honor to be a padrino, a god father, to someone. But it always involves  you paying for something: A wedding, school, a house. It's a deep and regular part of the culture, not a scam at all: You go to someone with money and ask them to pay for something in return for becoming one of their children's godfathers. I've been padrino for several people and turned it down several other times: Depends on what they want and whether I know them well enough and whether I happen to be able to afford to throw a wedding or pay for an operation at a given time.
   In terms of payment: In Peru it's best to pay as you go. If you are going to make a deal for hundreds of dollars or more for medicine over a period of time, pay some up front and the rest as you go. Even if the person is very well intentioned, if anyone finds out they have money, or if they get drunk the first night you give them money, they will probably not have it long. And once it's gone, they are no longer obligated to you. So if you give them $1000 for a one month dieta and they manage to spend/lose it in the first week of a one month dieta, no one is seriously going to think they owe you three more weeks of dieta. So better to pay $150 up front, then $150 a week for three weeks, then the final $400 near the end of the last week.
   Some of this is simply the culture of the area and would not apply in Lima, for instance. But it is important to understand that people in Loreto do not think like people from New York or Australia think. You can ask for a 3 month healing and they can say yes, but when they are tired of it, they're gone. The issue isn't them--though you might have run into a particularly selfish crowd--it's our thinking that they think like we do that's the problem. We cannot put our framework on that culture.
    In my own experience, Moises always had me bring the best Czech seed beads to the Matses, but he also always made me painstakingly fill tiny bags with them. He said no one would share. The one time I gave a Matses headman a full kilo of beads--and indicated it was to share with his family, who were all there--he took it, ran away and left the village immediately. One of his wives told me I was an idiot to think he would share: He would use them instead to get another wife!
   So I'm sorry you suffered all of it, but hope others can gain from your experience.

6 comments:

Tamara Gonzales said...

Hi Peter, trying to contact you about upper amazon trip next January, may I have your email

Tamara

Tamara Gonzales said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Gorman said...

Hello, it's peterg9 at yahoo dot com

Siebie said...

I hear you, Peter, but with the rise in Ayahuasca tourism, and the internet which gives everyone a voice, surely by now there should be a clear indication of who is trustworthy, and who isn't...

I certainly wouldn't trust a "curandero" who "doesn't share", since that role is all about taking care of others.

Gokul Chand said...

Black magic kamdev vashikaran mantra is used in most of the south Asian cities to generate love spells and to get the endorsement of the parents for the matrimony.

Peter7966 said...

My experience on last summer's tour with you was good, but you have a trustworthy crew built on long-term relationships. I'd do a lot of research before hooking up with any ayahuasca tour group or anyone professing to be an ayahuasquero. Yes, major cultural differences can cause problems... but so can major economic differences in a place where money is scarce.