Posts Tagged ‘Ayahuasca’

Truth! Truth! Truth! crieth the Lord of the Abyss of Hallucinations

– Aleister Crowley

Sunburnt freckles and wispy-flamed hair accompanied a Dutch accent as she inquired if I was on the Ayahuasca diet. Her eyes were black dilated moons and her rusty-blooded smirk was an enchanting entangled viper: lips suggestively askew, dangerous, vexing, pleadingly desirous or perhaps just evidence of foot & mouth disease or something. I mean, that shit happens. “No.” I told the waitress with a stern delivery. “No, I am not on Ayahuasca. I am a scientist. Damn it.”

But wait!, I am getting ahead of myself. I first learned of “Grandfather” and “Grandmother” from an Acupuncturist in Centralist Florida. But no, before that, yes before that I went to see an acupuncturist. She asked what ailed me. Nothing. What was I there for? For her, of course, but I couldn’t tell her that. Not yet. Her business card had been residing in some tossed aside book of mine for some time, marking that book, holding the page to a story I dared not finish, but a page I always came to to thumb that card and ponder the number held within. Anyway, I told her I was there, or I was here, for enlightenment. So she stuck a damned needle between my eyes and it gave me a headache. So fast-forward and there is this quasi-second date and my acupuncturist is drinking the tea she bought for herself (it was caffeinated) and I am drinking tea I bought for myself (not caffeinated, else I’d never sleep). In this teahouse, she explains how a Peruvian Shaman inducted her towards the “Truth” courtesy of Ayahuasca and San Pedro – also known as “Grandfather” and “Grandmother”, disrepectively (narco-adventurers and their bloody code-words, I am not sure which means which). My acupuncturist spoke to me dreamy-eyed, as if a cat’s paw had overturned a saucer of milk onto a marble floor to create the color that resided in my acupuncturist’s eyes as my acupuncturist told me the Truth she found deep in the bush of ever-centraler Florida. After an evening of purging “Grandfather” and “Grandmother” (vomit induced from the Ayahuasca and San Pedro), she woke under a ceiling of palmettos with ticks and chiggers tearing away at her flesh, but this much wasn’t a hallucination. Next time, she admitted between caffeinated-tea sips, she wouldn’t wander into the wilderness after ingesting hallucinogens without bug spray. Lesson learned, Truth obtained. She told me about her wish to visit Peru where Peruvian shamans literally grow on trees. It was uncanny. There were jugs of Ayahuasca ripe for the taking. Just sitting there, waiting to be gulped and eventually vomited back out – perchance into other jugs. Peru: Mecca of Ayahuasca purging (a t-shirt begging to be printed).

Alas, she never made it to Peru. I did.

Iquitos: gateway to los Amazonas

Iquitos: gateway to los Amazonas

Iquitos: Gateway to the Western Amazon. There is a distinct Narco-Tourism trade here, where northern hemispherians flood in by the dozens to find some Truth in the jungle. I was no different, albeit, I was a scientist for fuck’s sake, not some long-haired hippy-douche bored of the suburban basement he lived in with his parents. My furrowed brow must have demonstrated some deep-seeded philosophical disposition many recognized in the drug-adventurer as I was asked repeatedly if I was in town for the “show” and handed menus that catered to pre-ceremony dietary restrictions. A week prior to the Shamanistic ritual of Ayahausca ingestion, the initiate is not to consume fatty food, spicy food, sugars or salts. Oh yeah – and (s)he must abstain from sex. I think I’d rather be a scientist for fuck’s sake. Pun not intended, but yeah, maybe, kind of, it is.

Ayahuasca menu for initiatives pre-soul purging

Ayahuasca menu for initiatives pre-soul purging

Ayahuasca is Quecha for “vine of the soul” and is the result of shamanic efforts to cook down various plants into a foul-tasting hallucinogenic cocktail. Ayahuasca users call the elixir more medicine than drug (it is illegal in the United States because of the dimethyltryptamine (DMT) contained within, which is the hallucinogenic agent), however, historically it was only taken by the shaman in order to have visions to predict the future, etc. The rest of the village would abstain. There are those who claim Ayahuasca can cure cancer, depression, drug-addiction and a host of other ailments. Should I ever be so afflicted, perhaps I will be less cynical.

Between pisco sours, Ayahuasca-inspired art with shape-shifting python mermaids

Between pisco sours, Ayahuasca-inspired art with shape-shifting python mermaids

So who are these narco-tourists? Are they all depressed cancer patients who’ve run out of blow? After a few days in Iquitos, you can certainly identify these A-Heads from afar. Apparently, even I look the type. As I have mentioned in my guide to the jungle city: Drunken Shrunken Heads and the Mosquitoes of Iquitos, I hired a deviant of a driver. I met this driver through a drug-trade pimp named Armando. Armando is a slick-haired scoundrel preying upon the wayward lost-soul tourist. He picks his way through the disembarking passengers at the airport, sending the scientists for fuck’s sake in one direction and the narco-tourists in another. Armando wasn’t too sure of what to make of me. He and I smoked Mapacho cigars together before I convinced him I was indeed a scientist for fuck’s sake. It was Armando, however, who informed me of the healing qualities of the jungle, “If the Earth was a woman…” Armando began. “The Amazon would be her bush. It is the hottest, moistest and it holds the cure to everything.” Indeed.

Amazingly enough, dear reader, everything this far is not even an exaggeration. The quotes that follow, as those that came before, are as my ear heard them.

Soon after my arrival in Iquitos, I learned that the days were best spent keeping cool in the hotel pool, submerged as deep and as long as you could stand amongst the primordial dragon flies and beetles drowned alongside you. Next best bet was to put on a pair of pants and a shirt and drink beer along the Boulevard until you are tired enough to sleep. My first full evening in Iquitos, I met a pair of middle-aged Narco-Tourists, British ex-pats whose diabolical demeanor was evidence enough to explain why they left the comforts of the first world. Both had just arrived and were eagerly awaiting their first meeting with their shaman. One was pony-tailed and goateed with a glib English accent and a Thailand address. This dude’s eyes were like Lake Nicaraguan bullsharks, hungrily devouring anything in their path. Dude was seriously perverse, thus his need to relocate to Thailand. He asked if I was a fellow “searcher” in town in pursuit of “a Greater Truth”. His companion, another former prisoner of Mother England who had his head bent over the café table all evening out of exhaustion, resided in Qatar. A pervert who has to flee as far as Qatar to practice their own brand of perversion is a pervert well worth the designation. Pray ye gods his “greater truth” leads him away from whichever perversities that forced him to Qatar.

SCIENCE f.f.s.... Vic of the Vines

SCIENCE f.f.s…. Vic of the Vines

After a week of performing science for fuck’s sake in the bloody jungle, I returned to Iquitos. On one jaunt through town, I found Armando guiding the Thailand and Qatar pervs through the streets (aye, supply has met demand). I returned to the famed waterside restaurant, Dawn on the Amazon, where a local Peruana waitress saw me for the second time in as many weeks. In her cute hesitation, she asks, “You are Victor?” This charming muchacha remembered me from one visit 8 days prior. Fortunately, I jotted her name in my book at that time and had recently come across it. “Yes.” I confirmed. “I still am, Gabriella. Como estas?” Smiling & blushing from ear to ear, she found me a great table overlooking the water and conveniently located beside a beehive of Ayahuasca initiates. The following is the dialogue I overheard as I consumed: coffee, cervasa, patarascha river-fish steamed in bijao leaves with a side of heart of palm, then muy cervasa por favor y una mas y una mas y una mas cervasa por favor.

The threesome of narco-tourists looked like a traditional slacker crowd in a mall food court, taking a break from their job sign-dancing in a banana suit to advertise the new Fro-Yo joint. They were early 20s and would not strike you as people that come from money, yet to live the Narco-Tourism lifestyle that will keep them in the jungle for more than a month, money they must have.  Dude 1 mentions the “terror” of seeing “demons” as they discuss their inability to sleep over their recent ordeals – fasting, drugging, hallucinating and purging in the jungle. Dude 1 describes, “other worlds… gigantic beautiful spirits.” I decide to take out my journal and begin documenting their experiences. Dude 2 carries around his intellect in a box formerly holding raisins, “traumatizing, fucking traumatizing.”

Let the fun begin:

Dude 1 describing one of his dreams: “… there was a snake in her body and it shot up into her head, or something like that, and then she shape-shifted into an aborted fetus in a ruined womb and she was in there with stomach juices and stuff.”

Dude 2, “fucking traumatizing.” He seems certain. “It is shocking after such a hardcore intense trip that I would want to go back.”

Dude 1, “When you drink there is something that needs to come out.”

Girl 1, a strange Midwestern dame who seems lost in her summer dress and idiotic eyes, “I was vomiting for two hours and I know that wasn’t it and once I finally got it all out it was like… pure clarity.”

And here is a gem that forced me to put down my fork of river-fish and start scribbling like a maniac:

Dude 1, “… like, I puked, and I puked up a dagger, like, I had a dagger inside of me and then I puked up the dagger and I watched it come out. It was really painful and I was like, ‘whoa’, why did that happen and I looked into the bucket and there was this festering evil.”

From my understanding of the Ayahuasca, “Grandmother”, ritual, the purge is an important part of finding clarity. It is supposed to rid you of your guilt and insecurities so that you might confront the self without the burdens of such emotional loads. The purge is a necessary part of the ceremony and there is even retch bucket placed before initiates.

Dude 1 continued, “I was puking up rotten eggs, what does that symbolize?”

Girl 1, isn’t certain, though she hypothesizes, “I think there is a lot of symbolic stuff.”

Dude 2, “Straight-up messages, you know what I mean?”

It is easy to pick out other A-Holes (Ayahuasca devotees) as they are the ones in bars smoking cigarettes like an aquanaut breathes off his hose and they are drinking cokes instead of booze. Their meals arrive with slim protein and heavily unflavored rice and when your dish of river-fish that tastes and smells like the fats and acids and spices and oil and sex they cannot have, they hover with their salivating glands on overdrive because they are seeking the “Greater Truth” while you are just a scientist for fuck’s sake.

Dude 1, still eye-balling my lunch, “the Ayahuasca just old me, like, straight-up, like ‘find a new shaman’. So I decided, maybe, Oscar wasn’t supposed to be my shaman. Y’know?”

Girl 1, still looking like the wide-eyed door-knobbed wit of a twit she was three minutes prior, “You’re getting messages for a reason. Follow them.”

Follow them…

Illustration of Chullachaqui

Illustration of Chullachaqui

Ayahuasca is not a recreational drug. Even the locals stay away from it, preferring a South American variant of crack cocaine and gasoline huffing to get their fix. Still, I have to wonder if my antagonist, Chullachaquithe dark sorcerer who hexed me soon upon my arrival, corresponds with the demons with a little help of the DMT within Ayahuasca. My uncle, Captain Dick Neverman – who amassed a small fortune smuggling seashells out of Latin America, says there exists a sub-species of Homo sapiens, some lingering Cro-Magnon man in South America, and that every jungle and beach village he has been in, from Colombia to Brazil, has had its bestial madman howling at the moon. Were these social outcasts, unable to cope with frenetic pace of contemporary jungle urban centers? Or… are these the narco-tourists of yesteryear, wayward Beat poets and musicians, who took too strong a pull off of the vine of their soul and are still living out their purge? Perhaps, one day I will return to Peru to find a naked witch barking at me from the gutter and upon closer inspection I might find the idiotic eyes that once belonged to a Midwestern girl in a summer dress.

if the worst came to worst, a heaven for mosquitoes and a hell for men could very conveniently be combined.

-C.S. Lewis

he who makes kittens, put snakes in the grass

-Jethro Tull, Bungle in the Jungle

“Ahh, good day Vic.” The German-accented silhouette greeted me from his place before the window. Behind him, the trespassing daylight was neither good nor welcome. I buried my face further into the tumultuous bed-scape, unwilling to accept morning. Beneath my sweat-soaked pillow I could still hear Wolfgang doing his morning calisthenics.

Wolfgang poses before the shrunken gringo heads of yesteryear

Wolfgang poses before the shrunken gringo heads of yesteryear

The equatorial jungle sun shines from 6 until 6. I won’t shine until the sun returns from whence it came – somewhere on the other goddamn side of the world. If I were on the river, I would be up by now, breaking my fast on some Peruvian grain oatmeal, coffee and papaya juice. Here in town, in Iquitos… there is fuck-all to wake to. There are the Belen markets, should you have a hankering for bush-meat – monkey tenderloin, manatee veal steaks or a shrunken head souvenir to bring back to Mumsy (sorry for ruining the surprise Mom, happy birthday!). There are also casinos in Iquitos – it is a bloody river town, after all. Mostly, there is just the Boulevard where I will likely spend most of my daylight hours at some café, drinking, reading, and guarding my beer from the thieving mitts of Chullachaqui, the dark shape-shifting warlock bastard.

Looming over my bed, my tall bunk-mate dressed himself in a matching khaki suit and announced his intention, “So, Vic, I will be leaving now.” My pillow-muffled voice asked if he required milk money. Wolfgang ignored my unintelligible gibberish, “I will be seeing you then.”

“Ja.” I respond. I figure he is kind enough to speak English to me, I can at least respond in Deutsche.

I poked a single eyeball out of hiding to look at the clock. 7:34. Beside the clock I see a pile of mapacho cigars. They are a subtle reminder of the previous evening’s transactions. Shit… recollections remind me I hired a driver for the day. For the same price as a McDonald’s Uber-Sized Value Meal back home (with half the potential for fatality), I hired Jorge the Pimp to cart me around in his gladiator-cycle for the day. Before long, he would be downstairs, scaring the tourists and bellboys while calling out my name with his nasty jungle snarl. It had become time for me to prep for the day and meet Jorge the Pimp before my genteel gringo reputation became tainted by association with that duplicitous scoundrel.

Iquitos by Night

Iquitos by Night

When I come to these parts of the world, the first thing I do is find a driver. The less trust-worthy, the better. In Ho Chi Minh City, I found a real bastard, a blind mute who navigated his scooter by the sound of other honking horns alone. In Siem Reap, I found a tuk-tuk driver who would sell his sister if the price was right. In Managua, I had a guide who was absolutely heartless, he had enslaved Nica orphans to crawl inside his chest and pump blood. Habana, Quito, Nassau – all my hired drivers were atheists because to believe in anything else would be to believe in their own assured eternal damnation. Scoundrels are good to purchase because you know their ill intent upfront. It’s best to keep the worst characters on your payroll – the promise of future reward keeps them from cutting your purse strings. Just don’t pay them up front.

Vic smoking mapacho from the comforts of Burro del Fuego

Vic smoking mapacho from the comforts of Burro del Fuego

Here in Iquitos, I found Jorge, the seventh bastard son of a seventh bastard son. His eyes were full of hunger for my shoes; he would have taken a machete to my ankles if I hadn’t included the shoes as a part of negotiations. The first three things I learned about Jorge the Pimp: 1) he has an amigo in Orlando who sells “blow”, 2) he wanted my shoes, 3) he possessed a machete. At one point Jorge the Pimp mentioned a father who lived in a far off village where they still shrink the heads of their enemies for shits and giggles. At another point, Jorge mentioned his father was long dead and he was the provider for all the other bastard sons of his seventh bastard of a father. If I gave the liar enough time, I am sure Jorge the Pimp would have claimed he had no father at all, that he was raised by jaguars in the jungle. I couldn’t trust Jorge any more than I could my malaria pills, but that was exactly where I wanted him. A gringo’s best traits are paranoia and mucho dinero. A few handy Spanish quotes don’t hurt, either.

Hay una pirana en mi inodor.” I practiced my Spanish before the mirror. “Enseneme a sus ballerinas.” Should I be captured by cannibals, I can assure them of a nice ransom, “La embajada Americana le pagara mucho dinero por mi liberacion.” I even had a phrase for describing the infamous candiru catfish swimming up my uretha, “el pez nado dentro de mi palo de hombre.” When all else fails, claim ignorance; I swear I didn’t know she was… “No sabia que era tu hermana… esposa… madre… hija…

**Spanish phrases were courtesy of my Puerto Rican Psychic Sidekick from Milwaukee who also gave me the Portuguese equivalents should I drift too far downriver**

I made myself ready for the day. There would be no insect repellent, in the Amazon DEET was little more than a cocktail mix. In the rest of the world, mosquitoes would be most drawn to Type-O blooded pregnant women wearing black, exercising at dusk under a full moon after eating a lot of bananas and drinking beer. In this part of the world, however, the mosquitoes are so thick they will suck-off anything with a pulse. Most of my flesh was either covered with synthetic whatever or bearded; the leftover bare flesh was already turned to leather by the sun and a zillion generations of the mosquitoes and flies that found their way there. I did try a little deodorant, figuring I could at least smell pleasant for half an hour.

Belen Market - snake skins and pirahnas

Belen Market – snake skins and pirahnas

Jorge’s motokar, “Burro del Fuego” roared to a stop beside my hotel. “Victor!” was the calling card I could recognize Jorge from the umpteen dozens other motokars zipping along, asking, “Taxi?” I bid Jorge a buenos dias and sat in the carriage that was attached to his scooter. He helped me light up a mapacho cigar of sacred jungle tobacco and then sped off, asking questions over his shoulder as far as what might appease my appetite: girls, blow, weed? He already knew I sought none of the above, but these were his cash crops. Always the gentleman and pimp, sweet Jorge. He held out that I would eventually cave in to some primal perversity and opt for one of his available vices. If I wanted boys, he could find them. If I wanted the Ayahuasca, he could make do there too. The A-drug trade was a booming business here in Iquitos. All I wanted, I told Jorge, more than anything, was to be far the fuck out of Iquitos.

Jorge took me to the zoo. The animals looked desperate, but south of the cages was a lovely lake beach where I could let the piranhas nibble on my toes (I abstained) and where a waterfront café offered plastic patio furniture. I bought breakfast for myself and Jaime. He had some fried plantain mash with boiled egg and other obnoxiously scented obscure edibles. I had a liter of beer.

We would return to Iquitos as Jorge reminded me how excellent the “blow” was. “Most gringo – they buy one gram, snort, buy five more gram. Haha!”

Iquitos is something of a third world Venice. The lagoons stink just as bad as they do in Italy’s armpit, the café coffee is just as strong (thanks to the river water adding that extra umpf!) and half anything worth getting to is worth getting to by boat. The floating markets are just slums on stilts where you can buy a tapir kabob, boa skin, giant otter pelt or a captive monkey. Similar exists in the street markets. Jorge piloted Burro del Fuego through Belen again, past the mapacho tobacco merchants, through the fish aisles and the fowl aisles (the local chicken farms are actually saving the rain forest by taking demand away from bush-meat). Once the afternoon markets closed shop, the mongrel dogs and the black vultures swooped in to grab the excess scrap meats, chomping at each other’s throats to claim some abandoned turtle carcass. The markets are more foul-smelling than they are foul-looking and they appear as pretty as the diarrheic shit of a flux corpse. The olfactorially-gifted should absolutely avoid Iquitos.

We paused briefly at the jungle pharmacy where potions for impotency, lost loves, pox, hemorrhoids and various brothel infections were available for purchase. The same cure for paranoia – a strange and cloudy brew – was ironically the same cure for the hopeless romantic. God knows what sort of fermented casava and saliva elixir lied within.

Breakfast with Jorge the Pimp

Breakfast with Jorge the Pimp

Without doubt, the jungle is preferable to the jungle city. Iquitos, however, is not without merit. The Boulevard produces a fine combination of intriguing characters – travelers who have come here for refuge, drugs (Ayahuasca tourists) or science. Wolfgang and I were those of us gringos who were here for science – both of us competitors for rival pharmaceutical corporations in pursuit to the ultimate cure for chigger bites. Wolfgang had met Jorge the Pimp and quickly decided to not join in such company. His mistake. Wolfgang is something of an idealist, he will never last in Big Pharma.

Iquitos has its merit. There is a rich history, from the Gondwana days through the Rubber Boon and eventually to the free love Ayahuasca revolution. Out on the river, I stay aboard an early 20th-century steam ship and while in Iquitos live within a hotel that was a rubber baron mansion from the early 1900s. And there are escapes from the bungle in the jungle urban scape. If you tire of Iquitos as much as I, just grab a friendly chica and take a peque-peque water taxi to the outlying areas or to the floating restaurants beyond reach of the Iquitos filth. There is splendor to be found, as long as you are a gringo with enough dinero.

The dry heat ate at his skin like hot coals searing yesterday’s dinner drippings – the smoke polluting his consciousness and lulling his wherewithal. Like a Western traveler lost amongst Saharan mirages, all he could find in his memory bank to gasp was,
‘Water!’ …but the barkeep’s reply was, ‘No tenemos agua. Cerveza, hombre, cerveza.’
‘Si,’ Neverman replied, ‘That’s what I meant.’ And it was, too.

– Think Tankstress, Freida Johnson, recounting her time with Vic in North Little Rock, Arkansas

Iquitos, Laredo District of Peru

My eyeballs are sweating. From within this concrete cavern of an internet café I press my face against an ancient computer whose warm hum shakes the beads of moisture off my brow as its frenzied machinations offers coolness in comparison to the surrounding air temperature. There are Soviet-era lawn mowers latched to the walls to send warm currents of death to the patrons whose ill-fate brought them here to this lone den of the Grid, where internet transactions may speed across the globe as quickly as the hamster wheels can power them. Welcome to the jungle. Welcome to Iquitos.

I move to the street, my hands plunged deep within my cargo-panted pockets, tightly grasping the few soles I have left. My boots are muddied with the fecal trophies of rabid primates and stray mongrel. Under my shirt resides a synthetic chest hair vest under which is hidden my passport duct-taped to my actual chest hair. Above me the sun dodges the billowing cumulus congestus vapor in order to radiate my skull with its menacing beam. From out of a cargo-panted pocket, my hand withdrawals a plastic water bottle as weathered and beaten as a Moscow mule. The last few drops of agua minerales sin gas fall from the plastic orifice in the direction of my gaping maw, yet are stolen by the humidity like a horned owl on your pet Chihuahua. Across the Plaza de Armas, the Boulevard is in sight and beyond it the wet dreamy mirage of los Amazonas. Along the Boulevard resides Gringolandia, where my fellow ex-pats dine on Jurassic catfish and sweet plantain.

Balcony view over the Boulevard and into the Jungle beyond

Balcony view over the Boulevard and into the Jungle beyond

Breakfast is served. A Pisco Sour is mostly pisco, a grape brandy made in the deserts of Peru, but it has enough lime juice to thwart off scurvy and is topped with egg whites beaten to the edge of their wits. It’ll do.

The Boulevard spreads out before my feet – a pedestrian pathway separating urban decay from the outright jungle posing menacingly beyond my toes. This morning I am hungry. Malaria always gives me appetite. I order another Pisco Sour. The egg white protein will do me good. To my left there sits a Canadian A-tourist (Ayahuasca drug tour). His mind is bent, throttled, distorted on the hallucinogenic vine which brought him and his un-enlightened amigos here seeking enlightenment. His mind is bent, as is his knee. Below the knee, which rises above the café table like a pale dorsal fin, along his shin, sits a black mole. This mole is more pronounced than tits on a snake, its ominous presence the result of a festering wound and the fires meant to drive free the parasites that cohabitate there. The Canadian’s sunburnt A-tourist friends are sucking on their Mapacho cigars of sacred jungle tobacco and blowing the black breath upon the dark egg sack. I wait, between sips of Pisco Sour, for the orb upon his shin to explode in a cloud of glorious pus and bot-fly. I eventually bore of waiting.

Chullachaqui conducts his black magic fuckery upon the edge of civilization

Chullachaqui conducts his black magic fuckery upon the edge of civilization

And then I see him, the local madman. El hombre del mal. El hermano del diablo. He is mestizo, some half-blood jungle child grown dark on machato, coca and venom. His eyes are as dark as viper’s sin; they are both alive with menace and dead to the world. His lips curl with an ever-ready curse. This is the first I have seen him clothed, though he is barefoot as usual. I leave my spare soles on the table and rise from my seat. Fighting my way through the fear, I follow the warlock as his makes his way down the boulevard.

I’ve heard he can shape-shift into a jaguar or a black vulture. The locals call him Chullachaqui, after a Quecha legend of a bog devil with monstrous feet. The Chullachaqui is translated from the Quecha language as “uneven-feet” and the evil being was a demon who could change his appearance to fool mankind, steal children, molest kittens and fornicate with your great-aunt. As Chulla made his way along the Boulevard, those aware of his presence gladly stepped out of his way.

My first experience with Chulla was a over a week ago. I had recently arrived in this frontier town, preparing myself mentally and emotionally for a journey into the Pacaya-Samira Reserve in search of the mystical pink river dolphin. The mental and emotional prep involved a few tall cervezas along the Boulevard. I was contented with my solace along this river café when suddenly I see the dark angelic face of Chulla drawing a long index finger across his throat as he made a hissing sound. His cut-throat gesture and his diabolical glare were pointed quite decisively in my direction as he approached my table. My attention was caught.

Bwaauuucck!” Chulla barked at me before spitting a spittoon of evil bile upon my café table. He took from his wrist some red band of elastic evil and as he chanted his incantation he dropped the band around my bottle of beer. Once the beer was properly surrounded by his band and freed of the gringo cooties left by yours-truly, Chulla picked up the beer and snarled at me. He walked across the street to the edge of the Boulevard where he danced like a thieving monkey with his prized bottle held over head. He then drank the remnants of my backwash from the bottle before dropping the glass to shatter upon the ground.

“Uhhh…” I turned to the waitress who hid in the doorway and the bartender who shouted safely from behind his bar at the Evil One. I asked them, “Que el Fuck?! Una mas cerveza, por favor.” I watched the wake of the warlock’s departure – he had torn flowered leaves from a bush and blessed two American Protestant missionaries by swatting at their shoulders. I opened my journal and began to record the recent events.

Chulla faced with Policia

Chulla faced with Policia

The new beer placed before me had barely a chance to perspire before Chullachaqui returned. I was distracted with my journal, scribbling in haste my encounter with the sunburnt bastard and his viper tattoos when that very bastard reappeared. I was not expecting such a quick return, but as soon as my pupils laid sights on his snarled lip, I postured my body in a position to grab the dirty scoundrel by the armpits and hurl him into passing traffic. He was tall and sinewy, but he had the weight of a bulimic drug addict. From my crouched position, I could easily squat-lunge him into the path of a tuktuk scooter taxi. As expected, Chulla again confronted me, cursing me in his mix of Spanish and jungle tongue. I moved my hand to firmly grasp the new beer bottle, curious as to what Chullachaqui would do. He finished his diatribe with a growl and walked away. I took my first breath in 90 seconds and laughed at the waitress who came out of hiding from behind a bush. Chulla was gone, only the mongrels and vultures of the Belen Market remained in his path.

I too would disappear into the ether for some time, coasting along the Rio Maranon in search of dolphin and caiman. A week later, though, I would be back upon the Boulevard. This time, I was on a balcony overlooking the street and the jungle waters beyond. As the storm clouds past, Chullachaqui shifted back into human form, put on just a pair of soiled skivvies and began to walk the Boulevard. From my safe vantage point, I observed Chulla take leaf and flower and perform further incantations at the edge of the Amazon to appease the malevolent River God, Yacurana. I was tempted to descend into the street, but waited from the balcony as Chulla began digging into the garbage bins for beer bottles he could begin breaking upon the ground. It would not be long before the Peruvian police came to march him off.

Chulla - the eyes of a madman

Chulla – off to give your great-aunt a proper buggering


I had feared that would be the last I would see of this dark warlock who had cursed me. Lucky day, here he was before me again, screaming in his feral tongue at the local snake-oil salesmen peddling their jungle-wares. I gathered my trusty camera and followed Chulla. It wouldn’t be long before he removed the shirt. Soon, he was sitting upon a park bench with a skullcap on and preaching to the Rastafarian bead necklace sellers about the evils of their trade. If only the jungle bastard spoke a lick of English, I might have engaged him further. I did pass by him several times and each time I fixed his gaze, my fear and paranoia from our original encounter replaced with disdain. His nostrils flared as he squinted back at me. Chulla pointed at a passerby and counted him, “Uno!” he then pointed to himself and counted himself “Dos!” he then pointed to me and counted, “Tres! Tres! Tres!”

I followed a few paces behind him until he was safely gone from the Boulevard.

Tres, tres, tres. Yeah, Vaya con dios, dickhead.

Vic and the dark warlock locals call Chullachaqui, the streets of Iquitos

Vic and the dark warlock locals call Chullachaqui, the streets of Iquitos