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Amazonia to Banos

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Amazonia to Banos

After my last Desayunos in the Amazon, I traveled by bus to Tena and then to Banos, a five hour trip in total. Managed to hitch a ride with a college school group on their way back to Quito. Along the way a Primo sat with me and practiced his English. We talked about reggae music, Bob Marley and how to successfully propagate cannabis plants. Lol. Primo is Spanish for cousin, it's a friendly way of connecting with some one. I have a lot of Primo in Ecuador. Banos, a town on the outskirts of the jungle in the mountains, known for its picturesque waterfalls, volcano and hot springs. This tourist destination is a bustling spot full of colourful murals, colonial architecture and street vendors. Banos is to hostels as Vancouver is to Starbucks. A bit of an adjustment from being in the middle of the Amazon. Tourist destinations aren't usually my scene, but the chance to experience the local cuisine and soak in the volcanic hot springs is worth it.

I spent the day wandering the streets of Banos. Soaking in the sights, sounds and smells. Dinner was accompanied by a procession of mourning for a passed loved one by their friends and family. I managed to send off a few post cards as well. Finishing off the day with a soak in the intensely hot, hot springs. Feels good to have a couple days to recoup from tree planting.

Tomorrow I prepare to head west the following morning to the coast.

Big love,
Seth

Posted by Islandboi99 18:20 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Days 7 & 8 & 9 in Amazonia

Day 7, 8 & 9 in Amazonia

"Love is the means of travel, not the destination"

Well, my time here in the Amazon is coming to a close. I'm excited and a bit sad to be leaving this amazing space of rainforest sanctuary and moving on to other parts of this beautiful country. Thursday was a day of preparing to sit with the Curandero Quichua medicine man. The ceremony and journey was terrifying and incredible. Hands down, is the most important thing to happen in my life so far. I'm not the same person I was before. It has totally changed how I view death and how I will continue living my life. Check out the Ayahuasca blog post if you haven't already.

The day after the ceremony was a day of integration. The English group from New York left the reserve in tearful goodbyes. Their presence will be missed. Later that day we sat with Jonas, the medicine man, to talk about our journeys and listen to his indigenous perspective of what it all meant. I explained what I had seen and heard during my experience. Jonas said with a smile, that the Ayahuasca spirit had fallen in love with me. That is why the spirits said I could stay with them, if I wanted. And if I had stayed, I would not have come back to my body. He said it was very good that I had such personal control and sense of responsibility to the land of the living.

That night one of the women, named Merle, that I had sat with during the ceremony, was preparing to leave the reserve the following day. We only knew each other ueda week, but we all feel like family, the ayahuasca familia. A group of us headed down to the local "pub" in the jungle. Drank one too many beers and danced like no one was watching. Well, the locals were watching. These crazy gringos and their weird dancing! Was a skookum time!

A bit hung over some of us this morning. Saying goodbyes to Merle. Short afternoon trip to Masahualli. Monkeys, epenadas, sunshine, and a sandy river beach!

Ps. Was just having an incredible conversation with an elder who has been living in this area for over 40 years. He was telling us about how it's changed through the years. We continued on about how young people see how things need to change and how as people from a privileged country, we have a responsibility to do what we can. The conversation quickly turned sour as one of the ladies who I'd confided in, outed me to everyone at the table. Fucking straight privilege at its finest. It went on about how gays corrupted the word because it used to mean happy. Feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable.

Pss. After chilling my grill. I went back to talk to two fellow travellers who obviously are not aware of minority sensitivity. I offered a crash course on straight privilege 101. They were apologetic, and understood.

Big love,
Seth

Posted by Islandboi99 10:33 Comments (1)

Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca

Last night I, along with three Women, sat together with a Quichua Medicine man at his cabana in the forest.

We spent the day preparing our minds and our bodies for the journey through ayahuasca.

This is what I can remember from my experience. But first, a short intro to Ayahuasca for those unfamiliar. Ayahuasca is a sacred tea that has been used for thousands of years in the Amazon by the indigenous peoples. It's key component is DMT or Dymethyltriptamine. A substance found naturally occurring in our bodies, and is only released in small amount when we dream or when we die. This psychoactive medicine allows a person to heal from past trauma, heal from addictions as well as learn about the nature of life and death. The medicine men use it in their shamanism to learn about new plants in the Amazon as well as journey outside their bodies.

The bitter tasting tea is a tough pill to swallow. Jonas, the medicine man, talked about what to expect during the experience and said he will be there to help with any bad spirits or troubles. He said the tool of ayahuasca was passed down to him, to help people.

After I drank a cup, it took about maybe half an hour before I started to feel something. First small visions came, fractals, ants, spirits. Then it came on like a ton of bricks. I was rocketed out of my body into a completely foreign world. The spirit world. My thought at this point was how everything was connected. There was no separation between myself, what I was experiencing, and what was happening in the forest around me. I remember, when cars would pass by on the road not too far away, we could sense it before we could hear it. The entire forest around us reacted to this intense shift in energy. If you started to have inhibitions about what was happening, you would throw up. I learned quickly it was best to totally surrender. And keep breathing! The breath was my life raft in a sea of consciousness. It came in waves, of intensity, then peace, intensity, then peace. What was interesting was the ebb and flow of our groups journey was amazingly in synch. I was more fond of the peace, but I realized, like the land of the living, was just an experience.

We are so incredibly privileged to have a body. What can be called the land of the living is a temporary dream. Bit of a paradox. A creation of concepts and language created by humans. We are nature. I can say, I am no longer afraid of death. The only concerning thing was how I will choose to transition back to the spirit world. I was given a choice by the spirits, to stay in the spirit world, or go back to my body and the land of the living. They said, it's always up to us, but only a matter of time before we all must come back to the spirit world. I said I must come back to my body. I have a responsibility to the living people for now. I've only come to learn. The spirits showed me many things, about what it meant to be a human and what the Truth really was. Human hearts are precious and fragile things. It's a work of divine love the way certain spirits are attracted to having a body, dealing with everything that entails, and leaving it in the end.

A part of, at this point, no longer being in my body, I was free to go anywhere. But, I had this note of caution in my mind, that if I get lost out there, I may not be able to find my way back into my body. So, I stayed close to my body, listened to it. They showed me how to care for my body, as temporary as it is.

I started wondering how this experience was going to change me once I came back. We are like babies, us humans. Most of us couldn't care for ourselves outside the culture of processed food, heated homes and automobiles. We are a species on life support.

In the end, I feel incredible amounts of love for every human I have the possibility of creating a connection with. This is an integral part of being human. It's bittersweet, because it's only temporary. If you attach too much to this place, you will have a hard time leaving it. I'm going to make the most of the time I have here in this body.

I love you

Seth

Posted by Islandboi99 10:33 Comments (0)

Day 5 & 6 in Amazonia

Day 5 & 6 in Amazonia

It's the little things, like a cold shower and some soap, to put a big smile on a brother. Yesterday, at breakfast, the local Curanduro (Quichua Medicine man/Shaman), asked if I would like to go hiking to a remote jungle cabana ( is there even a more remote place then where I already am?) I was totally into it. And yes, it turns out it can get more remote. I, along with the Quito university group and another woman from the states and our guide, ( 7 people total), headed on a 4 hour trek through thick jungle to get to this cabana. I guess there was a report made that there was illegal logging being done on the reserve, the purpose was to gather evidence.

When we got there, we didn't see any clear evidence of illegal logging. So, we set up camp, kept our eyes peeled and made some lunch. This cabana was completely off grid, no electricity no running water.

After lunch we headed out again to scope out a parameter to see if we could find any evidence, still no evidence was found, so we went swimming in the rio. Along our hike, our guide was explaining different traditional uses for plants. We came to a rather small tree where he gave us a spilt twig from it, we thought we were going to taste the bark. He explained it was the ants inside we were to eat. They were lemon ants, that give you more energy. They totally tasted like lemons! Later, as we were swimming, our guide walked into the local tribal village to bargain for some fermented sugar cane. 80% alcohol! That'll put some..er.. More hair on my chest

That evening after dinner, our guide made us his special jungle juice. A blend of the everclear and a super sweet fruit that only tastes good when combined with the sugar cane alcohol. Soo good! Later we found out there were four mattresses, and seven of us. Oy! A couple paired up and I and the guide were the last ones to call a mattress, so we were to sleep on the hard wood base of the bed. Not comfy in the slightest, but makes one appreciate home. That night a storm came in, thunder lightning and monsoon rain, Amazonian style. It literally sounded like we were under a water fall.

The next morning it continued to rain on and off. We cleared some trails and decided we didn't have enough food to last another day. We trekked another couple hours to come to a road where we walked for what seemed like eternity to try track down a bus to take us back to Jatun Sacha. Hours passed. He chopped down some sugar cane and gave us each a forearm sized piece of the cane to suck on. Delicious! We eventually decided to try hitch hike a ways, to a more popular bus route. We hailed a truck, and hopped into the back. Finally!

Tomorrow, I prepare to sit with the Quichua Curanduro medicine man at his house, and drink Ayahuasca.

Big love!
Seth

Posted by Islandboi99 10:32 Comments (0)

Days 3 & 4 in Amazonia

Day 3 and 4 in Amazonia

Holy doodle! Another great day of tree planting. The heat just sucks the energy right out of a brother. The English University group fell asleep in the hammocks and even on the lunch benches after lunch. We continued our planting of Yuca and Banana trees today. I'm hoping to work on another project soon, we've planted almost 3 acres of trees in two days. I must have been a tree planter in a past life, I dig holes twice as fast as the others. I've been itching to get into their nursery and botanical gardens tho!

Sunday was a lazy day around Jatun Satcha. In the morning I took an hour bus ride to Tena to catch up on emails and have some lunch. I came back just in time for second lunch. After second lunch, I enjoyed an afternoon siesta, followed by a swing session in the hammock with a Lonely planet Ecuador book. Decided, next time I travel, a week in one spot is long enough, I am already feeling the urge to move on and see more. The work we are doing here is very close to my heart tho, so I will stay 11 days, until next Monday the 25. Where I would have been leaving the 28th. I keep hearing about this Banos. A town in the highlands. Apparently it's known for its breath taking waterfalls, volcanic hot springs and epic view of an active volcano. So, I will head there for some much needed TLC after all this hard work. From there I will head straight to the coast for the three S's of west coast life, Sun, Seafood and Surfing, for almost a week before I fly out to the Galápagos Islands.

Just before dinner this evening, the Quichua woman, who I had chatted with on the bus over here, randomly showed up to ask me on a date on Saturday to Misahualli, a sandy beach town on the Rio Napo known for its yummy food and friendly monkeys. I said yes, of course. She doesn't know I'm gay. I don't think I'll tell her, just keep it friendly. There is a bit of a language barrier, so it should be interesting.

Fun fact. The indigenous peoples of this place all have similar relationship traditions. For example, when a couple get married, the women can leave anytime, but the men cannot. The woman's family will literally drag him back. Also, it is acceptable to practice polyamory as well. Men may have a wife and a few lovers, same with the Women. It seems, so far based on my research, most pre Christian shamanic cultures practiced some form of polyamory. Still interested in finding out what role queer people play in this fascinating culture.

Love you all!

Seth

Posted by Islandboi99 10:30 Archived in Ecuador Comments (1)

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