Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Effect Jungle Trips Have

It's about 6:17 AM. I haven't had coffee yet as it's still brewing. It's late for me to be getting up but I had a fitful night from about 2 AM on. Dreams and dreams: I apparently was suckered into buying all sorts of insurance for people in one of them and suddenly found myself being asked to pay for huge children's bouncing houses that had been torn by tree branches; cars that were driving themselves in a crash-derby; women's breast implants that were deflating; badly manufactured football helmets. Heck, I didn't even know I was the insurance carrier, much less that those sorts of things could be insured!
And there were jungle dreams, including one that had Pablo, my old Matses friend who died some months ago, pulling a section of bark from a large downed tree and eating it while he explained that it was what the Matses ate before they had yucca. That was a real event, and when it happened a couple of his wives cringed as he ate it dry--so did I--because they said it was much better when mashed in boiled water. But that was the only time that ever came up and as the tree was down I couldn't take a leaf pressing to find out what kind of tree it was. And while I've still got some of the bark here at home, and still take a bite once a year (it's amazingly filling stuff that seems to expand to the size of a loaf of bread in your stomach) I've always wondered what tree it is. And none of the younger Matses know anything about it. That was from the old days and so I sometimes dream, like last night, that I'm frantically trying to identify it and can't.
And there were a lot of dreams that were nonsense and so I kept having to sit up to get rid of them so I didn't get much good sleep.
But then this morning, I looked into my email and you know what? There were letters from four former guests of mine, people who'd been in the jungle with me. And there were letters from three guests coming on the June trip. Those are good, and they're filled with questions.
But the letters from former guests are better: One was a note to say I would be getting a new piece of art he's finishing up for Madeleina; another was to invite me to lunch this week; another was from someone about to try some nu-nu (the Matses tobacco snuff) that I'd given her at home in Europe and wanted me to go over how to use it. Another was from someone who just wanted to say hello.
Yesterday, I was in touch with two or three other former guests.
I think the fact that so many of my former guests--and I've only had maybe 150 in my whole life--remain in touch is an indication of how deeply the jungle trip I do with them affects them. I mean, it would be silly to say it was me: I'm just the connection to that space, the front man for the magic that begins to happen when we meet in Iquitos and I put them in the open-air motorkars for the drive back from the airport to town. The magic that begins to grow as I take them around that odd little city I love and show them some of my favorite spots and then really begins to move through them when I put them on that overcrowded riverboat and we start heading up the river under an Amazon sunset, green banks at our flanks, into the deep and mysterious jungle.
Each trip is different in a number of little ways. And each guest is different in little ways: Some hate the idea of bathing in the river; others say they're too old or fat to hike. But the magic changes that. With few exceptions--and I did have one trip I'd take back in a minute if I could--everyone is doing everything with joy just one day into things. Eating foods they'd never imagined they'd eat; swinging on vines and having medicines blown up their noses, and frog sweat burned into their arms.
And when they get home and forget the itch of those million mosquito bites, or anything else that might have made them uncomfortable, they still remember the magic. They still remember being so quiet they could hear soul-silence. They remember the medicines we did that helped them access parts of themselves and the universe that were perhaps never accessible before.
And those things keep working on them, not for weeks but for years. And them writing me a little note sometimes is their way of staying connected--or reconnecting with that. And so I love getting those notes. It reminds me that something good and deep and profoundly changing occurs out there. And that's what it's about. My own teachers are all but gone now, with just Hector and Victor, up in the mountains, still alive. But Julio and Pablo have passed and Moises' isn't himself after getting hit by a car some years ago. But what they taught me I'm lucky enough to pass. And that's a wonderful gift.
And now I'm going to go get that coffee. Have a great day, everybody!


Arbol said...

Thanks for the wonderful experience Peter, yes both of still talk about those wonderful day in Peru with you.

Morgan said...

Ya Pedro!
These past few days/weeks, as spring starts to creep and peek through around here. Pushing it's way through nasty, cold, snowy weather. As I tend to the little sprouts that will soon go into the garden. As I read your blog. As I'm down to the last pack of Una de Gato...

I'm thinkin' "damn I need to get back in the jungle"





Morgan said...

Sad to hear Pablo passed on.
I was actually looking at a photo of him a few days ago, as I was telling some friends about Sapo.

Your stories of Pablo have fascinated me. When we were out on the Galvez, I was hoping we could meet with Pablo. But I guess that was some way down (up?) river from Remoyacu. And of course we had to get walking...

It just amazes me, astounds me and I am forever thankful that you've been able to be that connection to these wonderful, amazing, magical places, people and plants.

Gracias, gracias.

Jamie Kawano said...

The magic of last July's trip is always with me Peter, and I think of you and the group often. I feel the pull to get my butt back down there, breath that fresh jungle air and I yearn for that first sunset where everything comes alive within minutes. I can't thank you enough. Muchos gracias, Peter.

The Grudge said...

I still have great memories from the jungle. Sad to hear that Pablo died. What happened?

Take care Peter.