Iquitos Musings


It buzzes, Iquitos buzzes with energy, with life with unrepressed urgency. It is in the middle of the jungle with no roads only river and sky. The motocarras buzz like a million mosquitos finding what? They are incessant and the main form of transport here. Three soles will get you just about anywhere around Iquitos in a mayhem of chaotic drivers all tooting for business, for your soles. There are no rules here it seems only the jungle humming all around announcing itself in ways that are alien to the gringo, to the blow in, until you have lived here long enough or come here often enough to smell and sense the profundity of the dense Amazon jungle.


Flying in this morning seeing the winding Amazon snaking below me I can feel the ground before I actually touch it with my feet. I feel the familiarity of having been here before and of returning. A welcoming that at once surprises me as I had no idea how or what I would feel or expect this time. I am home again, but home has over the years become many places and I am happy to be here. Happy to once again be in a space of not knowing what’s next in the realm of experiences on this new journey. A friend writes "I hope you find what you are looking for" and I find myself laughing and knowing I am looking for nothing. There is no outward reaching on this journey only an inward meeting of the experiences that find themselves into my awareness. This is how I like it, not knowing what to expect yet being awake to the moments that arise moment by moment... a creative paradise.


"Love on the rocks" is playing through the speakers, it’s been an afternoon of Bowie, Manu Chou and oldies mixed with Spanish ditties loud yet comfortably inspiring as I take in the surround sounds of kids swimming and diving, chatting simple enjoyment of togetherness. Comfort in their bodies that I rarely had until now, definitely not at their age anyhow.


Heading into La Madre Selva tomorrow so today is a welcome reprieve from two days of travelling and little sleep. The body clock a smidgon off but awake none the less. An oasis in Iquitos with swimming pool and hammock and space for being inspired to write. The mosquitos are beginning to gather a little as the late afternoon begins to come in.


Surround sound of jungle for the past while now. Immersing in the unfamiliarity expands the senses demands a little more of the self. Though comfortable in this terrain it is still not my territory, not my place of self. I am becoming more acutely aware of this of late, perhaps as I get older, though I resist the thought that this inevitable is indeed catching up on me. Sweet bird songs abound all kinds of unfamiliar tweetings. We have a few more days left in the jungle not too far out of the hustle and bustle of Iquitos. The tranquility of the distance from the madness is a complete contrast. Hard to think that such activity lies in the heart of the Amazon jungle. All manner of churches abound, Sunday I came across evangelical worship singing belting out on the streets, followers dancing and raising hand to the above as they demonstrated their passion for the divine. Then two blocks further on a Jehovahs witness church, then the obligatory catholic/christian churches all interconnected and living harmoniously with the surrounding Shamanic and metiseo cultures indigenous to this place. Such a gathering of creative chaos I have never witnessed and remember being awestruck that such diversity had made its way into this hub of activity deep in the jungle. Still the Shibibo women and children sell their fantastically coloured goods, bags and hangings so elaborately patterned with the Shibibo songlines of the Ayahausca visionaries intertwined and snaked patternings from which the musings of the Ayahausca experience comes from. The Shibibo are indigenous to the deep jungle a race apart which one sees immediately with dress and facial structure, with posture and attitude. A proud beautiful race very different to the Peruano that resides in Iquitos town itself.


A diet of no salt, sugar, tea or coffee has begun to have its affect this morning. Clear and alert its 5.30am and the sounds of luscious green jungle life, though never really stopped throughout the night is now announcing the day in an orchestra of many instruments. We await our second Ayahausca ceremony tonight a little reticent as the first experience was for some a little disappointing. The brew not strong enough to bring about visions and teachings. I for one was rested, deeply held and for me this was sufficient and this is what I had wished for to be held and nourished anything more would have been too much. One of our group has decided to leave but Billy and I will stay for a further ceremony and then decide if we will do a third here. We have made arrangements to go to another Maloca if this does not turn out as we would like. So we head into another day here, fresh Papaya for breakfast followed by Avena/Quinoa cereal, no trimmings, fresh and light beginnings to another unknown.


Iquitos continues to be hot, hot beyond comfort for us the blow-ins. But in the discomfort of the incessant humidity, day and night there is a kind of home coming a welcoming which makes the extremes of this place more tolerable. Our second and third Ayahausca ceremonies were incredible. Observing our 77 year old Shamana, Adele at work is watching the maestro at work. Adele was introduced to Ayahausca and the medicines of the Amazon as a child when at 11 years old she became ill. After being “healed” of her illness she asked her parents if she could stay on with the Shaman and learn the ways. She stayed with her teacher for 10 years where she herself became an Ayahauscero. She has been working with and sharing the medicines ever since. Skillfully directing the energy of the serpent, the being which is associated with the Ayahausca vine. During ceremony it is not uncommon to see or feel the energy of the serpent, the audible and visceral energy of “La Purga” or “vine of the soul” as the plant is also known as. The “Icaros” which the maestro sings carry the medicine deeper and deeper into the cells, the memories, the mind, to clear and to heal and to purge that which no longer serves, which one has outgrown and which is no longer necessary on the path to becoming, to awakening.


We are now in the valley, the sacred Valley of the Incas near Cuzco and Pisac. Pisac has become over these past five years a place that is another welcoming. On the second part of our journey, the valley welcomes our curiosity, our willingness to let go more, to be held and to be nurtured. This time by the plant medicine of San Pedro...