I write this now, as we sit in Pucallpa’s port, waiting for the boat to leave for Iquitos: Perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow, or the next day. Things just work a little differantly here… We arrived in steamy Pucalla straight from the cool central Andes after a long eighteen-hour bus ride though what is supposed to be the most drug-infested area of Peru. About two in the morning, the bus was boarded by a police officer armed with a semi-automatic machine gun who asked for a “protection donation”. We knew we were going to be in for something interestesting in this deep jungle town… Pucallpa proved to hide adventure and interest in many unexpected places, and heat, humidity, and mosquitos aside, and incedibly beautiful place to interact with the people, the culture, and the landscape of the jungle.
Our first few days in Pucallpa, we were lucky enough to be introduced to Lucho Romero, a curandero from the area who has been working with medicinal plants and conducting Ayahuasca ceremonies for over 38 years. We spent a few days with him and his family in a truly unique Peruvian experience. He and his family welcomed us into thier home, and indeed, it felt like we had found our family. We ate fried bananas for breakfast, strange river fish for lunch, and were also able to participate in two beautiful ceremonies during which he worked with some of his local patients. It was a beautiful insight into traditional Amazonain plant medecine, and I feel like we left there with a new sense of meaning to our journey: Both where we had gone so far, as well as where we are headed (SOON HOME).
We also had the pleasure of visiting the nearby Shipibo community of San Francisco on Yarinacocha (lake). The Shipibo people are an indiginous culture in this area who use Ayahuasca culturally and medicinally from a very young age. They are incredibly warm, friendly people, and once again we were welcomed into the home of a beautifully smiling woman named Lastenia who mothered us like two of her own. Her husband is a Shipibo Curandero, and she works weaving beautiful embroidered textiles which are said to represent the canciones (songs) of Ayahuasca, which are said to come directly from the plants themselves. I have to admit being as bit of a toursit here, as I left with more ‘souveniers’ from here than in probably all my previous travels combined! The fabrics made by Lastenia and the other Shipibo people are simply beautiful, and I couldn’t resist taking a few memories of this beautiful culture home…