Sunday, December 01, 2013

First Missive, February Group, Amazon Trip

I think I did this a couple of years ago and if so I apologize for boring you a second time. I've just finished the first missive for my upcoming February Amazon group. I'm not sure it's what people expect, though most of the guests have had time to talk with me on the phone and so it's not too too out of the blue when they get this. Still, I'll bet some of this material surprises people and makes them wonder: What the freak did I sign up for anyway?
Here's what I just wrote and sent out:

Dear All: Well, hope you had a wonderful holiday if you were here in the states where we had a holiday, and hope you had a great weekend if you're elsewhere.
     Time for this, the first of two or three missives about our upcoming trip. We are, at the moment, a small but hopefully spectacular, group. I suspect three or four more will join us by end of December but I don't want to put this off any longer. So here goes.
      Any idea what you signed up for? You signed up for a very intense, very earthy, very deep jungle trip that will teach you loads while having a great deal of fun. But there are some things you need to know.
      First off, I am no one's guru. I don't wear flowing robes, and I'm far from perfect or even a role model. I'm 62, getting over a really really nasty flesh eating infection and will be in good shape when you meet me. I curse, I like to drink now and then--and I will do that on my own time and if I do, I don't want to hear about it, okay?--and I will work very very hard for you. I know the jungle, the rivers, the river people very well and will share everything I've got with you. But I still ain't no freaking guru and if you think I am, even for one second, you will be sorely disappointed.
      Then there are rules, and these are important.
      No cocaine on this trip. None. If you do it, look for it, ask too many question about it, you will be dropped from the trip. I've lost too many friends to the drug war in Peru and will not contribute to that and will not allow any of my guests, while the trip is on, to contribute to it either. No excuses. I've dropped two people over it and can tell you they were very surprised. The reason I bring it up is because Peru floats on the stuff and every shoeshine boy is liable to ask you if you want any. Say a polite no, okay?
      No sex with anyone or anything under 18 years old. Peru is hot. Iquitos is steaming. Courtship takes about the time you need to drink half a beer. During the first two days in Iquitos--which will be full of fantastic things to do to get ready for the jungle--I don't really care if you want to have sex with a man/woman/dog/chicken. But I will not contribute to the rife underground of pedophelia and probably--though I can't prove it--chickenphelia as well. So go with your urges but make sure they're 18. Telling me you thought the 13-year-old was 18 will not cut it. Punishment? See punishment for cocaine. Off the trip. No refund.
      Third: No complaining. No complaining that I'm not younger, that it's raining, that it's too hot, that you're tired, that you were bitten by mosquitos. Complaining in a small group is like a poison: It only takes a little to poison everything, and I will not put up with it. YOU MAY, however, punch me as hard as you want in either arm, between the shoulder and the elbow. You don't need to warn me. Just do it, and as I get up off the ground, you will have my full attention. And while you have my attention, you can tell me what I should be doing that I am not doing, or tell me what I am doing that I should not be doing. And I will do my best to accommodate. I'd rather be punched than listen to complaining. And I can solve the problem more quickly if you just punch me and explain what needs to happen. 
     Fourth and last: If you are someone who absolutely cannot live without marijuana, do not try to find it. You will find it, but then whoever sold it to you will go to the police and say that Peter Gorman's group is buying pot and I will go to jail. And I am not doing that. If you have to have it, come to me, I'll try to get it for you--on your dime--and generally will be able to. But go through me, okay?
     Those are done. Good. Please please take them seriously because your trip depends on those rules being followed. 
     That out of the way, lets get to this: I will need you all to email me your passport numbers, name as it appears on the passport, country of origin of passport. I will not share them, keep them, remember them. But I will need them to finish paying for the hotel and riverboat cabins I've gotten with your deposits. Peruvian bureaucracy likes to know what foreigners are where. (I've already paid for those things and some other things, but we will not be allowed to use the rooms and might lose the riverboat cabins if I don't provide the info. If you are nervous, change a couple of numbers in the passport number and it will still be good, no sweat). 
    Our trip begins on Saturday, Feb. 1. We end after we return to Iquitos on the morning of Feb. 10. If you are staying in Iquitos the night of the 10th, you'll need to pay your hotel that night. But we won't abandon you: We'll get you to rooms that morning and such. We'll also--by we I mean my team and I--be around all of that day and most of the next to help anyone who is staying on for a few days to decompress (a good idea if you have the time and money). We'll get you to the market for the medicines you want, to the post office, to something cool you want to do. So while the trip will officially be over, I'll pay my guys an extra day to make sure you have what you need, okay?
     My team: With one or two exceptions, my team is made up of my late teacher Julio's kids, grand-kids and in-laws. They grew up where we are going and know it fantastically. The other members of the team are indigenous Matses who are my friends and have been friends for years and years. We will outnumber you, so that if one day one of you doesn't want to do a hike we're doing, you won't have to come along: I'll just leave a member or two of my team with you and they'll get you somewhere else: You might want to sketch or take photos; you might want to get up at 5 AM for birding--no sweat, we'll make it happen. 
     Airlines: You'll all need to come into Lima and then get a flight to Iquitos (there is one exception: Copa Airlines flies directly into Iquitos but last I looked it was very expensive). Most of you will arrive around midnight and be stuck--like all of us-in the airport until the morning flights start. Don't sweat it: The airport has restaurants and shops open all night on the second floor and is pretty safe. I wouldn't leave my camera on a table unattended while I went for coffee, but no one will try to grab your camera from your hands, okay?
     The airlines that fly into Iquitos are;; peruvian airlines. Star is the least expensive while still being good. Peruvian is cheap but sketchy. Lan is the best but expensive. Email me and I will show you how to get good tickets, okay?
     Vaccinations: I'm not a big fan of them. We will not be in typhoid or yellow fever country so you won't need those. There is no vaccination for dengue fever, so you won't get that. Malaria is the big one but we'll be on moving rivers with little to no malaria on them. If you want to take malaria prophylactics, go ahead. They will not interfere with the medicine at all. For hepatitis, you can take a shot at home if you like, but please be aware that we'll be drinking bottled water the entire time, so it's not really an issue.
    What is an issue is if you are on any mood-altering SSRI drugs. They can seriously interact with ayahuasca. I need you all to each send me a list of any meds you are on so that I can check them for interactions, and I'll need you to be honest. Again, I won't keep the info, don't personally care about it, but do want you safe, so please be honest on this issue.
     For things to bring: I will send out another missive in a week or so. Just know that you already own everything you need. I will outfit for the jungle from boots to mosquito nets to sleeping mats to hammocks and blankets and towels and even a flashlight if you need it. I will also make and give you each Gorman's Jungle Juice--the best after-sting I know. It is antibacterial, will cool, stop itching and all that jazz. You will need to bring strong repellant, but even then, I will have enough even if you all forget to bring it.
     I will be arriving in Iquitos several days before the trip begins and if anyone wants to come a day early, you're welcome to: you pay for the room and food that day but you can shake your jet lag, hang out with my team, have a nice time before the work begins. Just letting you know that before you buy your international tickets. 
     And when it's time to buy your Lima-Iquitos ticket, if you're coming in on the day we start, I recommend you take a very early flight because by noon on Saturday, we'll start doing things and I don't want any of you to miss any of what we do. Oh, and we will be picking you up from the airport in Iquitos, no matter wen you come in, okay?
     If you have any questions about anything in this missive, or want help with tickets, don't hesitate to ask.
     Remainder of funds are do no later than Jan 1, 2014, though you're all welcome to get them to me as soon as you like. Remember, if using paypal, you need to add $4 US dollars per hundred, because that's what paypal charges me to receive it. If they don't charge me for some reason, I'll refund the extra, no sweat.
     Okay, that's plenty for now.
      Thanks for joining. It's gonna be a great trip.
Peter G
Capt'n of the Stinkin', Sinkin' Ship

No comments: