Archive for the ‘Peru’ Category

Iquitos, Peru

Posted: September 14, 2011 in Peru
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From Lagunas I caught another lancha towards Iquitos. The thing is that in these small towns you never know when the lancha (boat) is going to show up since timing depends on when the lancha left from Yurimaguas, on the speed of the water and the height of the water. During dry season, sometimes the lanchas stop during the night and only navigate during daytime but that all depends on the captains. Either way, I was ready to leave at 10am but the lancha showed up around 8pm.

This lancha was a lot bigger than the one I took up to Lagunas. It had 3 levels, better bathrooms with showers and also serve to it’s passengers 3 meals a day which were included in the passage price of around 30$. The thing is that the lancha was so packed that I had to set-up my hammock on top of some stairs and had to climb a metal guard to get in and out every time.

Here is some of the cargo at the bottom of the boat. The first floor was for food and animals such as cows, pigs, chicken…

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And more awesome sunsets…

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This is what the 2 in 1 toilet\shower looked like. It was actually pretty clean…

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Arriving into the Iquitos port

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And here is Iquitos…

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Like in most towns\cities of Peru, you will find thousands of mototaxis…

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The main and best part about Iquitos is the market. Some awesome ceviche I had there…

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The market in Iquitos also has one of the best witches sections. You can find here some of the most powerful plants and drinks from the Amazon and beyond. You can find perfumes that are especially designed to drive the opposite sex crazy, you can find spiritual plants, drinks for good luck, drinks for bad luck… etc… You can zoom in on the pictures in Flicker to see all the labels and try to google them up if you want.

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Especially designed perfumes to drive men\women crazy…

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Bones, skeletons and other tools with all kinds of different energies that Shamans use.

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Ahyawaska and San Pedro in powder

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Other roots and plants

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None of these remedies are FDA approved… 😉

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Here I bought some Guarana (main ingredient in Red Bull and energy drinks), some Maca and some magic mushrooms along with some Toe.

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While walking through the witches part of the market with my buddy Gianni we met this Shaman that was reading cards. He gave us a deal at 3$ each so we thought it could be fun. It turned out that he was actually really good. During his readings, he kept drinking small sips out of a special cocktail that contained ahyawaska. He was somewhere between our world and “the other world”. He could see into the future and the past. He told us dates and numbers that only we knew and he had no way of knowing. I tried to find him the next day for a more in depth reading but he was gone.

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He offered me to buy this amulet to keep me safe but I refused at the time. I wish I would have bought it.

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Anyone wanna cook some monkey meat?

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We bought some locally made Puma shoes for about 12$. Right away we had to take them to shoe repair guys to glue the sole in as the inner part of the sole doesn’t come glued out of the factory. Less than 1$ for the work was money well spent.

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We talked to the shoe repair guys about Belen, the poorest part of Iquitos and like everyone else, they told us that it was WAY too dangerous for us to go wondering in there by ourselves. So the solution to that was to go and talk to the chief of Police for the region and ask for help. The Chief hooked us up with a couple of his guys to give us a tour of Belen. How cool is that to have our own body guards?! This gave me a chance to pull out my Nikon camera and shoot tons of pictures in an area I would never dare to bring in electronics to.

The first part didn’t look too bad…

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This older gentleman had his cell phone stolen and was happy to see some police in the lower part of the city. The 2 officers told him that they were busy guarding us and that he should just go to the office and file a report.

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The streets started looking worse and worse. As you can see, we were able to walk there now but during the wet season, these streets are flooded and can only be accessed by small lanchas.

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Garbage, garbage and more garbage. Once the water rises, all this gets washed into the river.

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The homes are built to float

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The small covered up cubicle looking things are their toilets. They are a bit smaller than North American cubicles, but they do have access to natural light and fresh air…

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Remember, houses are made to float

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Trying to catch some dinner

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We rented a small motorized Kayak from a local for a ride around on the river

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Remember their poop cubicles? Next to them they bathe, wash their dishes, wash their clothes…

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Their church

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Guys playing by a floating bar

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And if you thought that all that garbage was the main reason for the pollution in the river, you were wrong.

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Signs of the Amazonian deforestation can be seen every few dozen meters. Wood is cut, treated, shipped and not a single tree is replanted. Most of it is done by foreign companies from countries that have laws against deforestation without replanting… but somehow the Amazon is part of a different planet and the same laws don’t apply.

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Here is the water treatment plant that “purifies” the water from the river

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The 2 cops that rode along with us. Funny thing is that the Shaman in Lagunas told me he could see 2 cops with me in Iquitos. He told me not to go alone in Iquitos and to ask help to the Police. I didn’t know what he meant back then.

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Gianni tired after a long day.

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The next day, I got on another boat heading to Pucallpas and Gianni was headed into the jungle for a few days. I hope that everything went well since the Shaman in the market told him that he’s gonna get robbed during the exact time he was headed into the jungle for.


Ahyawaska in Peru with a Shaman

Posted: September 9, 2011 in Peru

(image copied from internet)

After my canoe ride in the reserve, I went back to my wood-board bed to relax before the ahyawaska ceremony. My host walked me over to the Shaman’s house around 8pm after we stopped on the way to purchase some items: pure tobacco, brand name tobacco, and some home made super strong alcohol. We looked inside the house through the opened window and said hi, but the Shaman kinda ignored us as I don’t think he realized who we were. Finally he opens up the door and lets us in. He is just laying in his hammock like a lazy bum. Then we start talking and he keeps bringing up women and how much he likes them. His house didn’t look like much and with him talking about all these subjects I am starting to think that he is quite unprofessional. There is another fatter guy there too. Turns out that he is from Lima and he’s learning to become a Shaman. He will be joining us in the ceremony as well. I am thinking that the house is not that welcoming to perform a ceremony in there but after about 30 minutes of useless talk, the Shaman invites me to go outside in the back yard. He puts wooden chairs and benches in a circle and lays out all his tools on the floor. There is the bottle of ahyawaska, a perfume, a pipe that he packs the pure tobacco into, the bottle of alcohol, a necklace and a thing made out of leaves. We wait for a bit and more people join in, his brother and 2 more local guys. It is normal for another member of the family to join in so that the control energies gets stronger. It’s usually brothers that run the ceremonies as the knowledge is passed down for centuries from father to son.

The shaman packs in the strong pure tobacco into his pipe and starts talking to it and blowing on it. Then he does the same to the bottle of ahyawaska. He lights up the pipe and uses the smoke to “bless” everything and everyone. After a few minutes of this, he pours ahyawaska into a half a small coconut shell. He hands it to me to drink it but does advise me to ask the ahyawaska what I want it to show me. Before you drink the plant, you need to ask for what you want it to show you. You can ask to see the future, the past, a solution to problems, etc… I think for a minute and then I drink it. Everyone drinks the same amount in the circle, including the Shaman himself and the apprentice. Then he tells me to relax while him and his apprentice start singing. I am waiting and nothing is happening. The backyard is pretty quiet while the only sound that can be heard from the outside is a disco a few streets down. Probably about 30 minutes pass by till I start feeling a bit different. When I close my eyes, I can see hundreds of other eyes in a really colorful scheme. When I open my eyes, it looks like our circle is within some kind of a room, although I know that we are outside. The shape of the trees in the dark form the walls and the ceiling. I close back my eyes and lay back. The hundreds of eyes are there and I have to get passed them. I keep going through them although they seem to be friendly eyes that just want to guide me. The Shaman and his apprentice keep singing. Their songs are relaxing and somehow they seem to guide me in my “trip”. There is also a lot of smoke in the air from the pipe and a mist of alcohol from the apprentice taking it in his mouth and blowing it up as a mist in the air. The senses are all challenged. Meanwhile I get passed the hundreds of eyes staring at me and end up “there”, that other dimension. I feel like I am out of my body, floating in the air, seeing everything from above. I feel like everything is one, all at the same time. I see our world, our universe, our planet and the people all at once. I have been in this place before. It’s not that new really. I have been there for a really short period of time when I smoked Salvia Divinorum. It feels nice to be back. I start looking into issues facing us, from natural disasters to wars and death. When looking at the size of things, none of these issues actually have any value or importance. I start talking… 6 languages it seems out of which one was an old version of Hebrew. The thing is that no matter how much I was trying to concentrate, I couldn’t tell which language I was speaking as it seemed to me as one universal language. In other words, I could be talking English or French and I wouldn’t know as it all sounded the same. I know it’s hard to understand since even when we consciously think, we do it in a language that we are most comfortable with.

Now how to explain that other dimension I was in? Many religions talk about it, even temporarily dead people who return to tell their stories. It’s the dimension that our universe sits in, therefore making everything in ours one. How is that possible? It’s kind of like in the Matrix movie. You could also look at our current technology to try and better understand the concept. You can take a memory stick and put a bunch of movies on there. While the movies are on there, they exist all at the same time, from beginning to end. If you decide to watch one, then you create a time line depending on the duration of the movie, but even then, the other movies exist on that memory stick and any part of them can be accessed at any point in time. This is why ahyawaska shamans can see into the future and the past. While you’re in this other dimension, the future and the past are there at the same time. All energies that make up this universe can be seen and understood. The interesting part is also that the Shaman enters this same exact place with you. If a person is hallucinating, what are the chances of another one having the same exact hallucinations? Also, different people from different parts of the planet (or universe) can see each-other and talk in this 4th dimension. Makes you wonder if the Incas were really visited in the past by other forms of life and if the ahyawaska was used as a form of communication?

The shaman and his apprentice are singing while I’m doing my traveling. I am also feeling cold. He puts a shirt on me. He shortly after hands me the pipe and tells me to take 3 big puffs out of it. I try to take one and I feel like I can’t hold anything in and that I’m going to throw up. He tells me to take another one. I take it and right away everything comes out. What a normal person would have seen would have been most likely me throwing up. What I saw was a bunch of energies coming out of my mouth, mainly bad ones and in the shape of snakes. More alcohol is blown into the air, and some of that special perfume. I feel better and relieved. It felt good to have all that come out. Needless to say is that before doing a ceremony, you shouldn’t eat for 12 hours. I only had a light breakfast that day and only water afterwards. One of the many uses for ahyawaska is for cleansing.

I go back into the other dimension shortly and slowly the effects of the plant are mellowing down. A bit of disorientation is present and the feeling is similar to the effects caused by magic mushrooms. The shaman is still singing and shortly comes by each person and one on one tells a short part of the future. What to look out for, what might happened and who to watch out for.

Shortly after, we move into the house to relax and to wait for the effects to wear off. At around 1am, the guy I was staying with was supposed to come and pick me up but I think he fell asleep. The Shaman hands me a lantern and kinda explains how to get back. I am still a bit off from the effects of the plant but I start walking back, or where I think is “back”. It is dark and quiet. There are no street lights and everyone is sleeping. All the houses look alike and I am totally lost. I try to find the only paved road in town since from there I know how to go back. I think it took me about an hour to find that road and close to 2 hours to do the 10 minute walk back to the house.

The next morning I had a headache like if I were hung over. After taking a couple of advil pills, it was all better. I was ready to get back on the boat and head over to Iquitos.

Needless to say that it was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. I am not sure how powerful this shaman was compared to other ones since I can’t really compare. His father was supposedly a pretty powerful one and the powers and knowledge are passed down through generations which is why most of the time there will be a brother joining into the ceremony as well. Either way, what I have experienced made me look at things a bit differently and raises even more questions in my head than before.

Here is the Shaman’s house. What you see on the table is pretty much all him and his family owns. When you go to see a Shaman, you wont see usually too much stuff or a well dressed place. If you go deeper into the Amazon, you will see even lees. Usually a small hut and that’s about it.

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From the left, shaman’s daughther, wife, the shaman and on the right the fatter guy is the apprentice.

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If you google up images of Ahyawaska visions, you can see some really cool art by ahyawaska visionaries. Here are some cool examples

Welcome to Peru

Posted: August 30, 2011 in Peru

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After crossing into Peru, I slept in a small town called Jaen and the next day I headed over to Chachapoyas. In Jaen, I also bought a new rear tire, a Pirelli MT 21, which happens to be my favorite tire and got it at a killer deal from the Honda dealer for 52$ or so.

On the way to Chachapoyas, the road looks something like this

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While in Chachapoyas, I didn’t visit much of the ruins or the big water falls. Seen soo many water falls all over the place that I didn’t care that much anymore. I just spent a couple of nights to relax. Right above the city, there are these tiny ruins though.

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And a view of the town

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I also had some of the best seafood of my life

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Look of the town center

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Back on the road towards Tarapoto. I had no idea what I was going to do there and the road from Tarapoto to the south wasn’t too clear. Some said that it was dangerous, others that it was bad, others that it was ok. Something about the amazon was calling me so I was heading over as close as possible without a real plan.

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I spent a couple of nights in Tarapoto where I met Adam who had just come back from the Amazon. Went out for a few drinks and exchanged some stories. His was quite interesting as he had been bitten by some bug that laid eggs under his skin on his legs. The eggs had hatched and there was larva in there. The doctors tried to get it all out and gave him a tone of medication without knowing exactly what to do. Lets just say that you don’t wanna end up having to go to a hospital here. Better look up information online, buy your own medication and maybe do your own surgery too. So yeh, he had eggs and larva under his skin with infections. The jungle started to sound interesting.

After talking to the nice lady in charge at the hostel and buying a Peru map, I found out that you can take big boats down the amazon rivers for days at a time to go pretty much anywhere you want to. She offered me to look after my motorcycle in the hostel’s parking lot while I would take up on a journey for a couple of weeks through the Amazon.

Here was the plan: First go to Urimaguas with a “bus”, then to Lagunas with a big lancha, from Lagunas to Iquitos with an even bigger lancha and then maybe return with a plane or go to Pucalpa with another boat. It was kind of an opened plan.

I tried to find a bus that goes to Yurimaguas but it turns out you gotta take a collective taxi for 20S (about 7$) or a collective truck where if you wanna sit in the back of the truck it’s 10S (3$) or in the front for 15S. I sat in the front and was able to watch the crazy truck driver go all over the place. Once I got into Yurimaguas, I quickly caught a moto taxi to get to the port just to see the boat leaving. Oh well, gotta spend the night. I took advantage of the extra time to buy water, rope for my hammock and a couple of other things. Meanwhile I got approached buy a guy trying to sell me on buying guided days to go into the reserve which starts in Lagunas. At 60$ I found it quite steep for my budget so I declined nicely. While talking, the Shaman subject came up and it was something I was a bit more interested in than doing the tourist stuff. He said he knew a guy that would do a ceremony for 80S (About 28$) and he could arrange everything, even a free place for me to stay at his friend’s place. Cool, that sounded pretty good.

The next morning I got up early and went to check out the boat I was going to spend about a day on. Here it is:

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And some other examples

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For these boat rides, you need a good comfy hammock! It’s the best way to travel!

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Here’s mine

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Picture of the fancy port when looking from the boat

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So relaxing riding on these boats! Oh, and I forgot to mention that I also scored some green herb from the guy in Yurimaguas for 20 soles. At about 2.8 to 1 exchange rate, that’s about 7$. Money well spent! It’s pretty much a must have in order to travel around the Amazon on these boats for days at a time.

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Another boat we passed

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Loading and unloading stuff and passengers

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And then this happened! I have seen sunsets, but noting like in the Amazon. I couldn’t stop taking pictures…

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Finally in Lagunas. The guy that I was going to spend the night at was waiting for me and somehow I can’t remember his name anymore. Super nice guy! I’m just horrible with names. Bought myself a booklet and a pen now to write them down. Anyway, It was already dark so it was nice to have someone there. He brought me to his house where he offered me a room with a bed. No mattress though so I was sleeping on a piece of wood but I guess that’s how they sleep there. I didn’t bring my inflatable insert for the sleeping bag either so it was a bit rough. Good for the back though? Anyway, the next day I had a whole day to spend before the ceremony night with the Shaman so I decided to check out the expensive reserve for a day. Took a moto taxi there that cost me 15S (6$) then paid 40S to enter the park where I got screwed cause it’s only 20S and paid a guide 40 more Soles for a few hours of rowing.

Here is the entrance to the reserve. You can only go into the reserve by lancha.

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And here is my guide with the “lancha”…. notice anything strange?

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If you go into the reserve for just one day, it’s kind of a waste of money cause you wont see much. In order to see animals and big birds as well as mammals, you gotta go in for at least 4-5 days. At 50$ or so a day, it can be expensive! I still shot a few shots of the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve.

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Oh yeh, if you hadn’t noticed, the strange part was the rear part of the lancha that wasn’t really there… but we made it back ok and I gotta say that the old man had some strength. He rowed for about 5-6 hours out of which 3-4 were against current.

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Some kids at the entrance to the reserve.

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I went back and rested for a bit while a bit excited and really nervous about what was waiting for me that night with the Shaman. I was going to drink ahyawaska for the first time in my life…