Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sapo with Marco

Well, Marco came over for his medicine today at noon. Sapo medicine. It's the stuff the Matses shared with me 24 years ago and the medicine I've since shared with the world--not literally, but through writing about it. It's the medicine that is collected from the Phyllomedusa Bicolor tree frog--it's natural protective secretions--that turned out to be bioactive when studied. I don't just mean a little bioactive, I mean 100 percent bioactive, which means the 144 or so proteins thus far discovered in those secretions interact with the human body as if the body created them because all of the proteins fit neatly and perfectly into human receptor sites.
In the animal kingdom, the way it works is this: A tree snake, most of which are non-venemous constrictors in the Amazon, decides to eat the bright green frog with the white underbelly. It takes the frog into its mouth. The frog freaks and gives off these secretions. The secretions enter the snake's blood through the mucous membrane in its mouth. The snake freezes, the frog backs out and escapes. Of course, if the frog is a split second late, or has utilized those secretions a couple of days earlier and not fully replenished them as yet, well....goodbye little froggie.
Now what the Matses/Mayoruna do is collect and dry those secretions, that frog sweat so to speak, on pieces of split bamboo that look like tongue depressors. When they want to use it they liquify a little by spitting on the dried varnishy-looking stuff and then scrape a little of the material into the spit until it's good and moist, like wasabi more or less.
Then they take a little piece of tamishi, a jungle vine, and heat it till its trip is bright red, and make a burn, generally in the upper arm, of the person to receive the medicine. They might repeat that several times, each time reheating the tamishi to red hot. Then the burned epidermous is scraped off, exposing the capillaries beneath it and the frog sweat is put on the open wound. It quickly makes its way into the blood stream. As it does, your body heats up, you start to sweat, your heart begins to race, your skin jumps out of itself, you wonder why the hell you did this in the first place and you wish you could die. That all happens in the first 15 seconds after application. From there it gets worse, speeding up and speeding up until you are incoherent and probably rolling on the floor and praying for someone to put you out of your misery.
At the 9 minute mark you peak. You're going just as fast, you hurt just as much, but you don't go any faster. That's when you realize you're going to puke and maybe poop yourself. And then you do. You clean out like nothing in this world. No emetic can do this job.
At about 14 minutes you realize you're not going to die and you find yourself cursing the person who gave you the medicine, screaming, or just laughing at being alive.
And then you're tired. And then you realize--maybe in an hour, maybe in three hours if you don't have experience--that you are cleaner and stronger than you have ever been. You see and hear better than you have ever seen or heard. And that will last days to weeks, depending on your subsequent diet and such. And that's why people utilize the medicine. Because it cleans them up, eliminates toxins stored in the body, in the pores, in the blood stream, in the kidney and liver, in your glands.
I won't go into the various Matses uses--you can look that up by looking up an old Omni article of mine called Making Magic. But for my family, it's used when people have bad colds, just ache, have no strength.
Marco was over because he's just been under the weather for a few days. And I had just the medicine for him. I recently was given a stick of sapo collected by my old friend Alberto, the Matses man who used to share a camp on the Galvez river with my friend and medicine teacher Pablo. I knew that stick would be something else. Pablo, who died recently, and Alberto were antiguas, Matses who did things the old way. Which meant they understood that you don't collect a lot of sweat from any given frog. You just collect the most potent first secretions before you set the frog free. Which means it takes a lot more frogs to get a good stick full, but it also means you have the best of the best.
And I actually got two sticks from Alberto.
So Marco, who is used to having four burns worth, was surprised when I told him I'd only give him two.
"Why dad?"
"Because this came from Alberto, an antigua. This is the shit's shit. Not 10 people in the world collect like he does. This is just going to be stronger than anything you've ever had by far.
He challenged me but I held my space and gave him two, then began to chant a little to give him a lifeline to cling to as he fell into the difficult work.
And difficult it was. He cursed and screamed until, at about 4 minutes into it, he couldn't even do that. All he could do was suffer. Inside, I hated to see him suffer like that but jungle medicines are harsh, just like the environment. And since it's all bioactive material, his body would know when to shut down the receptor sites, so he wasn't going to die or anything, but it still hurts to see your kid in the most excruciating pain he's ever been in.
At about 10 minutes he began to puke. And kept puking till bright orange bile came up. His eyes were rolling around in his head, his body was flailing pretty uncontrollably.
At 14 minutes he shouted: "I hate you, dad! That was the worst thing I have ever been through!"
At about 19 minutes he sat up and started laughing. "Man, that was strong. I feel like I'm beat to hell. But wow. That was fantastic! I almost want to do more right now."
At 30 minutes I drove him home. And now, two hours later, he's called to say he's never been stronger.
That's the part I like to hear.
And he'll repeat that for two, three days.
And he's clean from the inside out. No disease will dare touch him for weeks, maybe months. Which is good because if you remember he's my son whose kidneys inexplicably failed and became nefrotic when he was just seven, and so I like to keep them clean.
Worth the pain. I love keeping him whole.


Johnny the Dagger said...

I could use that sort of cleaning out/up.

Mr. Irascible 2 u said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Irascible 2 u said...

I wrestled an alligator in the 90s. That frog kicked my ass.