So I've got my regular January trip coming up. And one person managed to secure some others, making my job--considering that I don't advertise other than to mention the trips here or on Facebook now and then--considerably easier.
But when I sent out my second of three missives I send prior to the trip--regarding everything from how to get good airfare to what to bring, to trip rules and such--I had one of the guests write. He said he was disappointed that there were names on the email that he didn't recognize. He though the trip would only involve his friend, who'd organized some guests. And since I'd added people, he thought the trip would be too much of a group thing and so he decided to cancel--but in his cancelation he asked me what I thought made my trip special. This is what I wrote:
Hello, Gorman here. Yes, if K. had been able to put together a group that would have paid for itself, that would have been ideal. As it was, including you and your son, and K., there were six. Six people means a $7,000-$8,000 loss for me on a trip. I already lost $4800 in June and July and simply cannot pay for people to come on the trips by borrowing money. So yes, several people have been added. Two have been on previous trips and will act as assistants as much as guests. Two others are friends of mine. Another is a doctor--and I almost never turn down doctors, despite having a great med kit. They come in handy. Two others are friends of the friends who are coming and it's hard to say no to them.So at the extreme--though it will not happen--there might be 14. In real life, figure 11 or maybe 12. Without you and your son, figure 9-10.What's on offer traveling with me is the jungle, something no one else in Iquitos can offer. There used to be Carlos Grande and Moises Torres Vienna who could offer the real jungle but neither is working any longer. If people want a retreat with tiled bathrooms and showers, I'm certainly not the right guy. I'm the dirt under your fingernails guy. I might have suffered a few setbacks in the last couple of years--my intestines ruptured, for instance, and then last year I lost a large piece of my right calf to some nasty flesh eating bacteria--but I can still do what I need to do, and my team can certainly do what they need to do. My team includes 9-11 members of my late teacher Julio's family as well as some indigenous Matses. I've already told you about the private hike to the colpe that's available for you and your son. And sapo and nu-nu, the Matses medicines, are very special and served directly by the Matses to my guests. Nobody else can do that and they both work fantastically with the medicine.I don't really know what to say. I don't want to sell you on something you don't want. I do think that the way I do things makes everyone feel like they're the only one, and there are enough options to be alone that no one is stuck with a group. And the crowd that's planning on coming, though only 7 have actually paid so far, are K.'s friends, former clients, friends and two friends of friends. It's the same sort of circumstance in which I initiated my kids to the medicine.If it's any comfort, we don't sit in circle the day after ceremony and discuss things. We never wrap our arms together for group hugs. We don't have a talking stick. I was never good at those sort of group things and they never came up when I drank medicine, so I don't use them. Someone wants to talk to me at 3 AM, I'm available. Just them and me and a cup of coffee or tea. That's how most guests interact with me: one on one.What options do you have to go it alone? You could come early or late and connect with my team. They speak enough English to get by and could take you on a good trip. What you would miss are some of the things that I do that they can't: Organizing night canoeing in search of frogs or majas: Frogs for medicine, majas for food. You'd miss wild food collecting with Julio's daughter Lady: An hour with her and the jungle will come alive with a cornucopia of things to eat. You might miss the wama swamp, a very frightening place were black caiman, anaconda and jaguar live-and no one will go there unless I insist.So that's that. If you're already feeling claustrophobic, no sweat. I do have to tell you that I've already spent $1,000 for each person who sent a $400 deposit, figuring they'd come, so there is not much I can do to make you whole on that count. I've got hotel rooms, riverboat cabins, stuff sent upriver and so forth. I've bought my plane tickets and booked my room in Iquitos and hired the staff based on a dozen people. So I'm stuck on that one. But I will certainly help you find what you're looking for if I can. I want people happy/thrilled. This is never done for money, it's done because I'm obligated to the spirits and that's the damned deal, whether I like it or not.