(CONTINUED from Previous Post...)
Aarron and I went out into the cold, pouring rain. I was shivering a bit and coughing. I squinted from the raindrops coming in at an angle and my legs felt wobbly. Green pus was already starting to ooze out of the corner of my right eye. I’d gotten some kind of eye infection and if it wasn’t better after the ayahuasca ceremony was finished, I was going straight to the hospital.
We couldn’t find a cab on the Plaza de Armas. It was first time in 26 days I had ever seen the plaza without any taxis. Even in my weakened condition I couldn’t help but notice how lovely it looked, all lit up by the numerous, tall streetlamps, the stone composition of the plaza reflective in the rain like a granite mirror.
“Let’s head down Ave. El Sol,” I suggested and Aarron nodded in agreement. I was jealous. He looked healthy as a horse even in the inclement weather. I noted in that moment that Aarron had rather large eyes as is often the case with painters. He seemed giddy as a child, in stark contrast to my mood.
We walked about three blocks before a cab picked us up and took us to the location designated on my phone. We were already fairly soaked when we got into the tiny car. It was only a five minute ride to Juanma's apartment.
We arrived at the location and there was a thin man in a hoodie standing near the curb in the rain. At first glance, he didn’t seem different in any way. Perhaps I was expecting some kind of wizard or an albino or a man with two different eye colors. Something to mark him as a powerful shaman. A man who knew things most people would never know even if they lived to be 130. But he was just a regular guy in a black hoodie standing in the rain, slightly slouching.
He greeted us enthusiastically as we exited the car and studied both our faces, then turned to me.
“You are Scott?” he asked in English. I could tell the words didn’t come to him easily.
He looked at my eye and said nothing, but motioned us toward the apartment with his arm.
Inside, I noticed that it was a comfortable place, but messy. There was an adequately sized kitchen, functional, with a modern gas stove. Next to the stove and sink there were many jars of plants and fruits marinating in some kind of solution. Small, almost childlike paintings of shaman and cacti lay against the wall waiting to be hung. There were clothes strewn about the multiple couches adorning the perimeter of the room and a very large window that looked out into a courtyard of the complex. The apartment didn’t have any particular smell which made sense, no one lived here most of the time. Juanma was probably in Puerto Maldonado for most of the year.
I looked at Aaron, mostly with my left eye because the other one wasn’t functioning very well. I couldn’t hold it in any longer.
“Juanma, what do you think about my eye. Are you worried?” I asked pointing to my eye in an exaggerated manner in case he couldn’t understand my English.
“It’s fine,” he said with no emotion or concern.
Aarron and I looked at each other again, puzzled.
Juanma gestured to a blue door with peeling paint, past the kitchen.
“There it is,” he said. “Open.”
A slight shiver went down my spine as I opened the door.
What world were Aarron and I about to enter?
Could physical or mental harm result from an ayahuasca ceremony?
I hadn’t really been that concerned until that moment.
We were about to find out from a real shaman who, presumably, had seen things in the Amazon jungle that would scare the pants off of Clint Eastwood.
(TO BE CONTINUED)