Monday, July 30, 2007

Something Short on To-E

The subject of To-e (brugmansia grandiflora) came up recently on a bulletin board, and I put my two cents in. One of the 7 Master Plant Teachers, To-e is one of the world's most powerful psychotropics and NOT something to fool with.
With that disclaimer, here's a very short piece on it from my little experience:
There are dozens of uses for to-e. Adding leaves to ayahuasca certainly makes things intense. I'm not a fan of the additional hours or intensity of the experience, though. Too much for me. Chiric sanango root material, is similar and also can add hours and intensity to the ayahuasca experience.
I've never done a pure to-e experience, however. My old teacher, Julio, once made me a pint of it but said he wouldn't be serving it to me as the spirit of to-e and he were not on the best of terms.
Richard Schultes said the problem with datura was that the plant's alkaloid content didn't just change season to season, or morning to night, but that it changed hour by hour, making it very very difficult to judge the potential strength of a to-e brew.
On the other hand, my right-hand in Iquitos, Jhonny Java (correct spelling), knows a to-e curandero that he regards highly out on the Napo (I think), and a friend of mine once went to do dieta with the curandero. If you were going to try it, that would be the way to go: As many of you know, ayahuasca can be very difficult sometimes. To-e, as probably the most powerful of all jungle medicines, is said to be much more difficult, and in my experience with leaves added to ayahuasca, or root of chiric sanango, I'd think that would be right. So I think it's not something to play with unless you've really got the right curandero to help with things.
But to-e's other uses are also interesting: it's used as a love potion that will make your unwilling would-be partner not only fall in love with you but cling to you for several years. I don't want to give up the recipe for fear someone will utilize it, but I've met two men in jail on the Peruvian coast who'd used this pusanga and gotten their wifes and then finally killed them because the women were clinging so much they wouldn't let the men alone, even to go to the bathroom. Not for a week, but for years.
Then to-e was used in brujeria to make my mother-in-law go completely crazy for a couple of years (a rival for my father-in-law had it prepared for that by someone whose specialty were those sorts of things.) My mother in law eventually came out of it, with no recollection of the previous couple of years whatsoever.
Then I used it once in an altogether different fashion. I'd been in the jungle with my jungle teacher Moises Torres Vienna (the father, not the sons) for about 5 weeks. I'd pressed some plants, among them various varities of datura I'd seen along the Yivari river. Unfortunately, the plants got moist and by the time I returned to Iquitos they were shot.
In any event, I guess the vibe was there, because within an hour of returning to Iquitos (this is probably 1988), an old woman came lurching up to Moises and I (having coffee at the Cafe Express on Prospero)) and told Moises that she'd had a to-e dream the previous night and had seen my apartment in New York and that it was all torn up, like a burglar had been there.
Then she gave me three to-e leaves and said that when I went to sleep I should put one behind my head, one on my forehead, and roll the third into a cigarette and smoke it. Then I would dream who robbed me and where my stuff was.
Then she left.
I thought she was just a crazy lady--I'd never met her before--but Moises said she was a to-e curandera, very highly respected by locals in her neighborhood in Iquitos.
I still told Moises she was crazy because she had no idea who I was and so couldn't possibly have dreamt someone she never met, and more than that dreamt their apartment in a city she'd never visited 3,000 miles away.
Nonetheless, I was curious, and later that morning I called my brother Mike, a New York City cop who happened to be in the burglary unit in my Manhattan neighborhood. And sure enough, Mike said he'd just come from my apartment, where someone had jimmied open a kitchen window-gate. He'd been called in to investigate on a day off because the responding cops (they responded to neighbors who called to say things were being taken out of the windown and down the fire escape) knew me and knew Mike was my brother.
I was astounded and therefore did with the leaves as the woman had said: I dreamt the whole burglary, and saw the stolen goods in an apartment with a lot of other stolen goods. I couldn't place the other apartment though.
Two months later my brother's unit busted a burglary ring which stored stuff in an apartment just down the block from mine (while waiting to fence it), and I got a television back.
To-e is also utilized--infamously--in Bogata, Colombia, on unsuspecting people to make them do the bidding of the person who gives it to them. Long before GHB or Rophynol, a little to-e was the standard mickey given to tourists who would later realize they'd gone to the bank and taken out their maximum and given it to a stranger--and couldn't remember why. It was also the medicine utilized in those famous cases where people have woken up to realize one of their kidneys was taken during the night.
And there are lots of other uses for it as well. Dr. Solomon Melchor Arroyo, who used to run the Museum of Natural Healing and Health in Lima (and who was a cuy curandero) for the Peruvian government, once gave me a list of more than two dozen uses for the plant--an awful lot of them having to do with the plant's ability to make people susceptible to suggestion: like falling in love, giving all your money, allowing a doctor to take one of your kidneys, going crazy and so forth. (Unfortunately, the Peruvian government shuttered that museum in 1987, and Dr. Arroyo moved to a private practice far from the city center. He was already quite old, and I've been told that he has since died.)
It's certainly considered one of the Master Plant Teachers, but I also think it, like Amanita Muscaria, are difficult to use by novices, and perhaps best left alone unless one were to find just the right situation with the right curandero.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Marco Moves Back Home, Quite a Disturbance...

So a few days ago my son Marco, who's been living with his mom mostly for the last several months, asks if he can move back into his old room. He says he needs discipline and that I provide it, insisting that he help with the house and yard chores, and now that he's going to college he's going to need more discipline than ever. Well, we love our kids even in the worst of times, so I said okay, but you're going to have to help with the house. And you're still going to have to help mom some, considering that she's pregnant and you've been--generally, as the boyfriend only appears occasionally--the man of that house. Worse, with my stitches still in and my belly still subject to reopening from the last operation, I still can't really help much physically for another couple of months.
He says No problem and I say as long as you understand the rules, I'd love to see you more often.
So he begins to get his things from Mom's and then Italo and his girl Sarah, who live here, say: Hey! Marco only moved back because Mom cut off his Direct TV, his cell phone and the computer last night.
Man, so I've been had again.
The worst part is that Mom, my wife Chepa, has been really really sour the last few days. Most of it might be that she's near 5 months pregnant and the baby is riding low and large already, and she works on her feet 12 hours daily. Some of it may be that I didn't happen to die in Peru when my intestine burst (that's at least half-a-joke), or that she's tired. Or that her old man is not around often enough to kiss her till she's drunk with love. But I'll bet that part of it is that Marco moved back here. Man, I didn't mean to cause confustion in this already broken and busted up family. I just said okay when my kid asked if he could move back home.
And Chepa's so sour that when I told her I was offered a 1995 Mazda in great working order (with 199,000 miles on it) by a pal and that if she wanted I'd buy it for her as her four cars are all busted and not really fixable (she uses one of my old Ford Rangers at the moment) she yelled at me that she didn't want an old car. Man, you offer me a car in working order with a good body and great interior for free and I'll bet I say "Hooray!" not "Who wants an old car like that? Why don't you buy me a new car?" (The answer to the last is that it's her boyfriend's job, not mine, but even if it was my job, I don't have money for a new car).
So Marco moved back home for the time being. Italo and Sara are upset. Madeleina is positively angry because Marco picks on her all the time. And Chepa is so angry that she doesn't want a free car.
Man, if no good deed goes unpunished, imagine what's waiting for me for all this???????
Still, I'm smiling. Ain't life crazy and still grand?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Why I Didin't Speak at the Shaman Conference in Iquitos This Year

Opening night of the conference: I'd had serious surgery for a busted gut--holes in my upper intestine--21 days before the conference was to open. I did eight days in the hospital, then a day getting to Iquitos from Cuzco,
then three days to prepare and then took a small pre-conference trip out into the jungle for eight days. I didn't do much and when I came back on day 20 and had the stitches removed, everything was good. But on day 21, the day the conference was to start, I took off my protective girdle and began to open the dressing when I realized I'd come open. Worst personal shock of my life. If there is such a thing as a trauma for a middle-aged guy, seeing my stomach coming out of my stomach was it.
So I closed the dressing and girdle and in a panic went to the Parthenon, where the conference was being started, thinking my Iquitos doctor, Rubi, Alan Shoemaker's sister-in-law would be pitching in--and sure enough, there she was. By the way, she was looking way way way too fine to be a doctor.
(For those who consistently think Alan is a bad money-hungry guy, you should know that Alan, with the help of a friend, paid for Rubi to go to University and Medical School and now she's a major doc in Iquitos. So tip your hat to Alan S and Bruno in New Jersey , who made it possible, as well as to Rubi, who actually used the funds for what they were earmarked and is now helping thousands of people a month in the regional hospital in Iquitos.)
And Rubi was there, helping her sister Mariela--Alan's fantastic wife--out, and I told her my stomach burst again and she didn't believe me and pulled me to a quiet corner of the Parthenon Hotel and had me take off my girdle and told me to unwrap my dressing. The minute I got to the dressing she said: "Oh, that's not good. Let me call a surgeon I work with at the hospital."
Two hours later he was there. In the meantime Rubi had taken a few bucks and bought what he needed to do the emergency surgery on site: gloves, medicines, suture kits, creams, alcohol, iodine, local anestheia, an antibiotic drip-kit, gauzes, and so forth.
Then we rented a room--nice rooms at the Parthenon--and did the surgery there.
The 12 needles to the stomach with local anesthesia hurt a bit, but overall it was a great great surgery.
Two hours after the suegeon arrived I was on the main floor, girdle in place, talking with Alan, who asked if I would still present that evening.
I chickened out. I was in pain, exhausted, on demerol, very recently stitched and simply couldn't think of anything to talk about except my pain. And I didn't think anyone would want to hear that.
I did stay around and talk t o several people who wanted to speak with me, but I didn't have the voice, ideas or anything else to talk to 150 people.
And now a couple of people are giving Alan nonsense about "Peter Gorman didn't speak. Can we get some money back???"
The answer is no. Deus ex Machina--the hand of God interfered. So leave Alan alone. No funds returned. I really couldn't talk above a whisper and had nothing to say. By not presenting that night I saved you all an hour of boredom.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Any questions?

Life Keeps on Getting More and More Complicated

So I get back to town two weeks ago today, stomach stitched up from the blown-holes in my intestines and feeling weak. Wearing a girdle and can't lift a thing. Then there's my wife Chepa--my estranged wife--looking pregnant and I ask if she is and she says "Four months," which is okay except that I still love her and wish the baby was mine. It's not.
So I get through a couple of weeks of reacclimating and start to get down to work: My regular gig in Fort Worth needs some stories from me to fill out my annual production, for which I get an annual stipend. I get lucky with Skunk Magazine, for whom I write the Drug War Follies column, when they forgive the lousy column I wrote a few weeks ago the day after my second sugery, under the influence of pain killers and pain, and say I have a new column due in 10 days. Thanks, fellas.
Then this weekend Chepa's boyfriend showed up in town and suddenly my haircut--that she said she wanted to give me--went out the window (I understand cause I know that love can make you forget everything else, and it's her right), and my kids say he's moving back to Fort Worth. Great. I'm in love with his and her first baby, 19-month-old Sierra, whom I've written about and whom I've pretty much raised--at least for 12 of the 19 months--and suddenly I'm going to lose her if her dad comes back into her life full time. Which he should, for her sake, but it's still a heartbreak for me.
And because he's moving back, my son Marco, who moved in with his mom several months ago, asks if he can move back with me. Of course: A dad loves his kids forever, not just on the good days. But then my son Italo says "If Marco comes back is he going to help with the work this time?"
Legit question as Marco doesn't generally help until you're screaming at him in the "Dad" voice, which I'd prefer not to take out too often.
I tell Italo that I've talked with Marco about his responsibilities if he returns full time.
And then today I'm told that Chepa's boyfriend isn't moving to Fort Worth, he's actually moving to Connecticut. Which means I'll get to play with Sierra for a while longer but also means that with Marco back at my house I'll have to mow the lawn at Chepa's and I'll be buying diapers not just for Sierra but for the new baby as well.
Ain't life mysterious and fantastic? I'm lost in all of this, of course, but I'm still loving living.
Hooray! Confustion at the Gorman household! Insanity of the sweetest kind reigns.
OH, and the goats escaped while I was gone in Peru and a neighbor took them in. Now Italo's girlfriend Sarah wants them back. Why not? A full house is a fun house. Maybe a crazy Coney Island, Brooklyn fun house, but a fun house none the less.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

If You Had to Land in Texas

If you had to land in Texas, Joshua and surrounding areas might be the best place to land. Not politically, as Johnson County, in which Joshua sits, is a snakepit of old boy screwups, from the police to the DA to the Narco squad: AS the mayor of one of Johnson County's two big cities recently told me: "If a jury has the option of giving someone 2-to-20 years, they'll often ask the DA whether they can add a few to the 20. That's just Johnson County."
But aside from that evil, the physical is freaking bucolic: lush rolling hills, large farms, horses nibbling flowers everywhere you look, cows and goats and rabbits and you know you hit Joshua when you smell dead skunk--which is a scent I've come to love as it represents home. There's possum and raccoon, fish in every one of the 40 lakes in the surrounding 20 miles, dogs running in gorgeous packs on the roadways, roadrunners scuttling along the highways, more hummingbirds, cardinals and bluejays than I've ever seen before; scissortail blackbirds feasting on the trash left in the Walmart parking lot by drivers who dump their half-finished slurrys under their cars. And trees: when it rains enough, as it has this year, Johnson County, and Joshua in particular, can rival any urban forest I know, outside of the Amazon.
That said, because it's so gorgeous, and because Fort Worth, one of the fastest-growing cities in the US, is so close--just nine miles to the city limits in a couple of directions--the developers have come in since I arrived in 2002 and built maybe 25,000 homes here. Old 500 acre farms are divvied up into 8 homes per acre and the McMansions--small ones going for $80 grand, the larger ones, at 3,000 square feet on a 5,000 square foot lot going for $150-$170 grand--can get squeezed in by the thousands. So in many places where there were wide open spaces just 5 years ago there are now hundreds and thousands of homes built so closely together you can hear your neighbors argue. Or watch them shower, if that's your thing.
And because the building boom is going on so heavily here, a new road needs to be built to accomodate people trying to get to work in the Fort Worth area. And that road has caused the county to come and condemn a 30-foot swath across my front yard. That's 30-feet by 300-feet and it's not only eating the distance between our house and the country road in front of it--taking out 13 tall red-tip bushes and two beautiful trees that have given us privacy from prying eyes--but eating our very very beautiful large front yard. We'll still have the side yard, the back yard, the very back yard, the garden on the hill, but none of them will be private anymore once the road's been widened. And in their generousity, the state found it possible to give us $14 grand for the land, the fencing, the bushes, the trees, the driveway, the basketball hoop area and the yard.
Now I'm not saying I'm against progress--though I've been called a Luddite more than once and still can't get a DVD to play on the television--but I think that taking the Gorman homestead is a step in the wrong direction. Obviously, I'm only a force of 6 here, assuming I'm backed by Chepa, Italo, Marco, Madeleina and Sierra (though at 18-months she's not eligible to vote yet, I'm still considering her in my corner as her tree swing will be falling under the axe and I know she's ain't gonna be happy about that).
So bucolic Joshua, because it's so lovely, is becoming less lovely as people who want to live in this physical beauty cut trees and develop farms to give them access to it all. But when it's all said and done, there won't be any trees here. It will all be McMansions and everyone will be listening to everyone else's arguments and toilets flush and in ten years they'll be wondering why the hell they came to such a desolate place.
Ain't life full of ironies?
I'm just hoping someone will want to buy this place, even after it's been cut to ribbons, and that I can find a place further enough out that I don't have to worry about new roads for another 25 years.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Political Comment on Hunting Endangered Species

For some reason, while just sitting here at the desk after getting dinner on the stove (a nice pork roast, saurkraut, good barbequed beans cooked in beer, a warm spinach and fresh corn salad with balsamic vinegar, and roasted new potatoes) a television special I saw a couple of months back popped into my head. It dealt with some secretive chef who bases out of Los Angeles. He doesn't run restaurants; rather he does private parties for wealthy folks at which he specializes in serving several courses that include endangered plants/animals/seafood. He also appears to have his own large walk-in-refrigerator where he has several beef carcases ageing nicely and a quite lavish lifestyle.
Most of the program centered on his illegal hunting/acquiring of endangered organisms. There were shots of him and Ted Nugent, the most atrocious, soulless (but fantastic technical) guitarist who ever lived, going out to shoot baby seals and other animals, and all the boastive camaraderie that goes with a good hunt.
It bothered me. And I'm not that sensitive: I was a chef in New York City--in some pretty good joints--for 18 years, and during that time I killed countless potatoes, carrots and onions, boiled living lobsters, shucked fresh clams and oysters, served living mice covered in chocolate sauce and must have sliced and diced a million pounds of formerly living cattle. I once cooked a party for the New York Explorer's Club at which I served Mastadon Marrow, Lion Steaks and Human Blood Pudding (everyone had to eat their own blood pudding as this occurred during the early rage days of AIDS when every restaurant in town lost a waiter a week to pneumonia or cancer or some other atrocious disease--a truly sad sad time that I'll write about another day). The Mastadon Marrow came from Siberia: An earthquake had ripped a chasm in frozen tundra, exposing an area where more than a dozen mastadon had died, and the freezing cold of probably the last ice age had quick frozen the meat and bones. Some crooked zoologist had made the marrow-filled bones availiable to a number of people, including my contact at the NY Explorer's Club, which is how I got my hands on some of them.
I also work in the jungle of Peru and in the course of that work over the last 25 years I have eaten dozens of monkeys, armadillos, macaws, parrots, sloths, caiman, paiche, manta rays, wild boar, mule deer, tapirs, rodents, slugs, termites and so forth. So I'm not clean on this count.
But I will say that I've never eaten those animals when there was something else available. I learned--was taught--early on that in jungle heat and humidity a person needs genuine protein. Fish is good when you're on a river. But when you are walking across a jungle, you take what you can get. Electric eels and manta rays are not tasty but you'ld be surprised in just how shallow a little rivulet you are libel to find them. Bugs stink of course, but nothing beats the available protein of of slugs and grubworms. But three days without protein and maybe every day losing a pint of blood to insect bites, many of which are infected, and you'd better believe that a Trumpetero--a gorgeous jungle turkey--or a howler monkey, despite how fantastic they are--is what's needed by your body to keep going. Bee pollen and canned sardines simply won't do it if you need to keep walking for another several days.
Now given that, I still resent and dislike that chef, who goes out of his way to discover what animals and plants are considered especially endangered, then hires jets and helicopters to take him to those places where those plants and animals are so that he can hack them down with a machete or kill them with high powered rifles to bring their carcasses back to people who have a yen for the exotic, money to burn, and no consciences (no consciousness). And that he does this and brags about it on television irks me. And that he's got Ted Nugent hunting with him--not skilleting roadkill but killing things that have already been rendered nearly extinct, mostly by man's cruel hand--irks me also.
I think they're cowards. I'd like them to show up at my door tonight; me with my stinking surgery and I'll still bet I'd make them cow.
I hope they're they're reading this.
I mean, evolution already eliminates the weak. Who ever said Darwin's theory needed freaking help, eh?
And I don't mind that the Aluetions eat baby seal or whale. I think that's okay. I think it's okay that I have a pork roast and potatoes in the oven and on the stove. I know that living involves relentless killing. I accept that.
But I don't think you ought to inflict yourself on other species--or even your own--for the fuck of it.
Just my opinion, but I am ashamed that I'm part of the same species as those people with so much money that they get off on that type of thing. And I'm glad I never bought a Ted Nugent record.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Been Home a Week and Still Lost

Returning from Peru has always taken more time emotionally than physically. Physically, it's about 24 hours from the time you head to the airport in Iquitos until you're actually home. Emotionally , on the other hand, it generally takes me a couple of weeks.
This time that's compounded by the damned surgery--the one that saved my life, actually, when my intestines blew a hole and spewed nearly three liters of muck about my insides--that has me feeling so listless and useless that it's hard to get anything done. I wake at 5 AM, check the email, make some coffee, wash last night's dishes, maybe get a load of laundry in and then I'm pooped again and go back to bed--the counch really, as that's where I sleep--for an hour or so until Chepa's baby Sierra, and my and Chepa's Madeleina wake up. Make some breakfast for them and then I'm washed out again.
In Peru, on the other hand, two days after the initial surgery and the eight days they kept me in the hospital I was taking a group out into the deep Amazon forest.
And in Peru I managed to get a column written for Skunk the day after the second surgery.
But here I just feel lifeless. Some of it's the physical. There really isn't much a person can do if they can't lift, push, pull, stretch, walk or run. I lift the baby anyway and hope that god and the angels don't let the surgery get ruined by something as nice as that. Nobody should be penalized for picking up babies, regardless of their physical condition.
The part I'm not keying into is how far my head is from being home, however. I can't seem to t hink straight. I've written several blog entries that are so tedius I fall asleep reading them and so trashed them before ever putting them up. And I havn't got a single good interview under my belt since being back. And I should have several by now as I've got some stories coming due and my new rep (The Houston Press Club recently awarded me Print Journalist of the Year for Texas (circ under 100,000) to try to do honor to.
And instead, I'm this freaking blob. Slow moving, slow thinking, useless waste of space.
I'd better get on the ball soon, eh?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Different Eyes See Different Things

It's Sunday afternoon and I've been home from Peru for about 4 days now. It's been a week since my second surgery--held in a hotel room at the 3rd Annual Shamanic Conference in Iquitos--and I'm still weak. Not thinking too clearly either, and what I'm thinking about is the big trip I had in June. 22 days in the jungle and the mountains, with lots of traditional medicine, from ayahuasca to San Pedro. The medicine, in fact, was the point of the journey, and I thought my 13 guests knew that.
Somehow, they didn't. At least not all of them. Now that we're all home, several have written the company that secures the guests for me: thus far three have written notes of extreme appreciation: They thought I essentially did magic, putting them in close proximity with wonderful curanderos who were able to affect great changes in their lives in a very short time. They found wonder in bathing in the river, seeing dolphins surface for air, in the night time jungle sky, in wandering in the streets of Lima and chewing coca leaves in Cuzco. They found Ayahuasca and San Pedro to be both agents of enlightenment and fantastic visceral medicines. In shourt, they found the trips well worth while and didn't spend a whole lot of time during or after them thinking about me, the trip leader.
But there were also four letters, one representing a couple, in which I was not just a demon, but someone who endangered them, offended them, and who must be stopped like a virus.
Their complaints run from the quality of the hotels we used to the fact that we had no showers in the Amazon, from my choice of eateries--the best in each city--to my unwillingness to allow them beer while in the jungle.
And those I can live with . They indicate people who simply didn't read the brochure, and three admit they didn't. But then there were also complaints with no foundation in reality: One woman complains of what she claims I was thinking about her--she can read minds and knows what I was saying to mysel, and it wasn't nice. Huh? Another waltzed in on a conversation about the age at which some girls in the jungle have their first babies--often very young--and turned that into a complaint that I was discussing a peurile fantasy. What? One complainant suggests that she was barraged by sexual innuendo... Wishful thinking maybe, but pure projection. These complaints get to me because there is no way to stop them. They are such inventions that I can't get them out of my head.
Two friends of mine who were along on the trip understand my frustration and have told me to just forget it. I suppose I should, but my heart has almost never been heavier from words alone. These people pay an enormous amount of money to come with me out to the jungle and into the Peruvian highlands and and when I fail so utterly with them I feel awful. Can't change things, but I feel awful.
And getting angry at them for their emotional baggage, their refusal to see the magic around them on the trips wouldn't do any good. As far at they're concerned they bought into a bogus trip.
So I'm left with this: That people going on the same ride will wind up seeing it very differently from one another. Some call it magic, some call it wretched. It's no wonder it's so darned difficult to make peace in this world. Different eyes see the same things differently.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Well, the Stomach is Finally Gone...

Well, my stomach, which has been getting huge over the last five years, is finally gone. All the tens of thousands of sit ups didn't do it, though. And all the hikes in the jungle couldn't make it disappear. Ditto the fasting, dieting and all the rest.
I've always been a fairly slim and reasonably in-shape guy. But about five years ago I suddenly came up with a BIG belly and I couldn't fathom why. I mean I was suddenly up 20 pounds, hovering at 200 or 2005 and nothing I did was making a dent. I gave up ice cream. I fasted three days a week. My malaria would come and get me annually and those bouts meant 3-5 days without water or food and they hardly made a dent. I drink, yes, but I ain't the worst sinner on the planet. And there are hours of yard work weekly, including raking 1.5 acres and so forth.
And then three weeks ago, in Ollantaytambo in Peru, my stomach disappeared in less than an hour. What happened was I was with some clients at the ruins and my friend Victor was due to appear to make a San Pedro ceremony--one of my favorites--and I'd been sick for a day, trying to dislodge this old pain in me that had taken the shape of something like a cat. I'd gotten the tail out of me, but the darned demon refused to leave and once its tail was gone I saw it rise up to my intestines and sink its claws into me.
So I shoved my fingers down my throat to force it to be vomited up and instead it sunk its claws deeper into me and in the next second I saw my intestines with holes, seeping muck into me. I also felt a pain--a lot of different pains--shooting through my stomach area like I was on fire. It got so bad that for a few minutes I wished there was some way I could simply separate from my body.
That didn't happen. Instead, one of my clients called a doc who said it was just gas but who got worried when three pain killing shots had no effect. So he called an ambulance and they took me to the local hospital where they got scared when more pain killers didn't do the trick and then they sent me by ambulance to Cuzco where I was given a battery of tests, after which a good looking guy in sports clothes announced that I was having surgery in two hours. I questioned that and he said I should go seek another opinion but that if I didn't have surgery in two hours I'd be calling a morgue. I opted for surgery.
What happened was that I'd gotten an ulcer on my large intestine. I had no idea, no pain, nothing but my big stomach to suggest it. And when I tried to eliminate the old pain it dug in and made a couple of holes in that ulcer which then released 3 liters of poisoned goup and old stomach acid into my upper body cavity, causing peritonitis.
I was lucky. The surgery got it done, even if it had to be redone this last Sunday in a hotel room in Iquitos because it split wide open when the stitches were removed.
Three freaking liters? I know and knew I was full of it but I had no idea I was carrying around a three liter soda bottle.
So now I've returned to the states to recouperate and my daughter Madeleina wants to know how I got so skinny so quickly.
And while the rest of it feels lousy, just her saying I'm skinny again might be worth it.
And that's the story of How the Stomach is Finally Gone.

Wish I Could Hide Sometimes

Well, just got back home after seven weeks in Peru. Lot's to tell, but right now the only thing on my mind is wishing I could hide. Had two trips booked: a three-week mountain/jungle trip and a one week jungle trip.
The second trip, the shorter one, was fantastic. Seven strangers became seven friends and I thank them all for coming.
The first trip didn't go so well. And the hate mail from some of the participants proves it. Others found it fantastic, but the ones who resent me have really shaken me. I mean I do these trips to allow medicines and the Amazon to do profound work on people. And when that works it's good. When I become the focus of the trip then I've failed completely. And when I become the negative focus--which mostly happens when I drink too much--I not only missed but caused pain. That's not just missing, that's deplorable.
Which makes me wish I could hide sometimes. Cause I don't want to read what people are writing about me when they're saying what a rotten trip they had because I was such a freaking drunken bum.
I understand why people in show biz don't like to read their reviews. But my trips are more intimate than a movie or show. You spend three weeks with people and they usually can get you pegged pretty good. And when they say you're a bum, you probably are.
And if you are you want to run away, like I do now. But I can't. I got to face whatever is coming and deal with it head on. Even though that's gonna hurt.