Wednesday, November 07, 2012

If you ever came on a trip with me, you would get a letter something like this

Okay, so my January trip is officially on now that I have enough people. Could use more but will not bitch about that. When people sign on, I talk with them on the phone. I like to hear their voices and I want them to hear mine. We get a feel for each other that way: I wind up suggesting that about 3 out of ten not come because my trip is not going to be right for them. And then some people drop my trip as well. So I'm not a great salesman.
    But just to make sure they know what we're about, I also send out a couple of missives. And I never use the same one. I just like writing a new one to each group, the same way I like doing one or two things differently for each group: That way it stays fresh for me, my team. That's vital. Anyway, someone responded to the missive I sent out yesterday, so I got a chance to see what I'd written. Damn, I'm surprised anybody comes with me after getting notes like this!!!! But then, those who come are generally the very coolest of the cream of the crop. So we're always small, but delicious as a group.
    So just for fun, here's the first missive I wrote to the Jan. group.

Hello W, X, Y and Z: Well, aren't we a small but merry band? I hope the merry part works and at the same time I hope a couple of fence sitters join us. I just bought my international tickets and paid for the boat cabins to run up the river with us from your deposits--and did a couple of other things like paid for a new roof on the kitchen and paid for an emergency operation for someone, so thanks. I'm leaving on Jan 7 and will be in Iquitos at about 9 AM on Jan 8. You all are due on Jan 12, early in the morning, preferable. We're such a small group for the jungle--we've got a couple of people joining us for the mountain portion of the trip--that you are all welcome to come a day early--or two, if you want to help us shop for dry goods--which include food/shotgun shells/new hammocks and so forth. If you want to, by all means: My team and I generally have a party the night before the trip starts and it's fun. So come a day or so early if you like. We will pick you up at the airport in Iquitos whether you come on Saturday or earlier.
   Okay: Here's the drill: I do not walk on water. I don't wear white robes. I'm not anything but who I am: I smoke, drink, cuss. I also take your trip very very seriously. This is a life changing experience for a lot of people and my job is to get you in touch with the people/places/medicines that can facilitate that. But I'm nobody's guru. I don't think any of you are under that illusion, but I've had some bad luck in the past so I want to make it clear: I'm me. I'm one of the good guys. But I don't have no secret powers. What I have going for me is nearly 30 years in the northwest Amazon--I know it like I know a good hot dog in New York. It's in my blood. So I'll ask you to go with me on that: Once you meet my team and realize they are all family of my late teacher Julio, and that they all grew up where we are going, you will have faith, no sweat.
    Our itinerary: We're starting on Saturday, Jan 12. We'll be in Iquitos for two days--they are vital days to get your diet proper, to get over jet lag and to get in the rhythm of us. We will fill those two days with fantastic stuff. Some of it will be dirty: We might visit the local jail or do a ceremony at Julio's gravesite. We will also take you out to the river to see where the Amazon officially starts, and to my friend's animal shelter and to Belen, the largest market for hundreds of miles in any direciton. You will be introduced to Amazonian medicines, the brutality of the jungle, to the beauty and the horror of the place. The jungle is not pretty: As much death goes on as new life. That's what it's about and you need to have that in your blood before medicine. 
    At the same time, you will have decent/good hotels, great food, a wonderful team that outnumbers you by maybe 2/1. 
    There will be time to talk about airports and such. I just want to say hello and introduce you to one another in this email. I'm gonna put a couple of standard things below: A note on vaccinations and what to bring and what to leave home. Aside from that, know that this is definitely a dirt-under-your-fingernails trip: We bathe in the beautiful river--no showers allowed. We will live like people on the river live for a week. (Don't sweat mosquito nets: You will all sleep on mats beneath them. Or, if you prefer to sleep in a hammock, we'll have military mosquito nets that make a cacoon around them. We also will have some beds available for those who prefer beds.) Our walks will take us to high pristing rainforest, to a fantastic swamp, to collect the medicine we'll use in ceremony. I will have enough team members to allow those who want to fly through the jungle to do that and for those who want to just sit and draw a leaf, they will be able to stop and do that too, without interrupting anything. We will accomodate all of you at all times. We'll go out at night in dugout canoes and collect sapo frogs and use the Matses' medicines sapo and nu-nu. We'll spend an evening/night on an overcrowded riverboat under the Amazon sky, on the Amazon river. We'll have magic mushrooms appear when the time is appropriate. We will have magic around us.
     But there are rules: And these are inviolate.
1) No cocaine. None. No asking about it and if I find you bought some you are off the trip. Lost your money. Gone. Done. I am not going to go to jail for you--and they will let you go but put me in jail. And I'm not even going into the fact that I've lost dozens of friends in Peru to the stupid drug war. It ain't happening on my shift, okay?
2) Iquitos is hot. Courtship lasts about as long as half-a-beer. I don't care who you want to have sex with, but   whomever it is better be 18. I don't care if it's a dog or a chicken or a boy or girl. If they are 18, it's your business. If they are younger than that, off the trip. Again, not going to jail for you.
3) If you have to have marijuana--and as for former editor-in-chief of High Times I understand that--you must must must go through me. I'll do my best to get it for you. But if I find you're going to a shoeshine boy or girl, well, you're gone. So go through me, okay? I'm really easy, except for these rules.
   And the last rule: I don't like complaints. If I am not doing something you want, don't bitch. Just punch me in either arm between the elbow and shoulder. Hard as you want, without warning. Then you will have my attention and you can just tell me what I should be doing that I am not doing. Clear? I say this because I don't want anyone holding anything in: People who silently seethe can poison a whole group. I'd rather it be Whack! Whack! "Oh, now that you have my attention, what can I do for you?" 
   I'm a dad and happy with that. Don't hesitate.
Okay: Last note for tonight (and I expect you to memorize these because there will be a test!!!!!) is that I need you to give me your international flights once you have them. Remember: We start on Saturday, Jan 12 and finish on Friday, Feb 1. You want to come early or stay late, that's fine. It's on you but I will make certain you are well covered by my team both in the jungle and the mountains. But I cannot help with interior Peru tickets until I have your international tickets. I will recommend as a place to get affordable tickets, but that airline might not line up with your international flight. So please get to me once you have those international tickets and I can help from there. As noted, I already have my international tickets, so there is no turning back at this point. We're in. And we're in for a fantastic trip.
   OH, sorry. One last note before I put on the "what to bring" and "vaccination" and "food" notes: If everyone would get me the remainder of the fee by Dec 1 that will allow me to get the hotels, secure the trains in Cuzco and entrances to Machu Picchu and contract for ceremonies in the mountains and have my people fan out to find those beautiful little sisters, the magic mushrooms. As well as to collect some sapo and for me to buy my interior plane tickets and so forth. Sooner the better because I prefer to have things done early. But Dec. 1 at the latest, okay?
    Next missive in a couple of weeks. You all have my email and my phone if you have any questions. And you're welcome to pester me.
   And thank you all for joining. It's gonna be great, for real.
Peter G

1 comment:

Christi and Bill said...

"But I don't have no secret powers."

I've got to agree with that double-negative, Peter!

Your guests are in for an amazing journey. I truly wish I were joining again. Maybe some day . . . .