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Written by DanielaZavala. Posted in Blog, Read The Backpacker

Published on December 04, 2011 with 5 Comments

Note: This post is an extract of the Amazon Diary. You can read the full diary at the Blog section.

It was a beautiful morning thunderstorm in the jungle! Breakfast was ready at 8am, but I stayed in bed with my eyes closed. I didn’t have a reason to rush. I couldn’t eat. Considering how much I like eating, fasting was a big commitment and only proved how much I wanted to experience Shamanism in its purest form.

Days before and after the ayahuasca ceremony, it is recommended that the person does a special diet refraining from alcohol, sweets, salt, spices, fat and pork. Also, sexual abstinence. It is said that all these could interfere with the receptivity of the plant in the body and the soul.

The rain stopped and I joined the group. Everyone was enjoying fresh fruits and generous breakfast while I sipped tea after tea.

“How are you feeling?” asked Megan.

“I had my doubts and felt anxious about doing the ceremony, but after meeting the shaman yesterday, I feel calm,” I responded.

Six people, including Megan, were going back to the town, while two remained in the jungle for one more day. Sonia from Australia was going to stay with me. I really liked Megan and wished she stayed. I was going to think of her when doing the ayahuasca. When I had moments of fears or concerts about it, she always made me feel confident. The day had come and I finally felt ready. I didn’t say anything to her, but I was so thankful to Megan for her supporting words and positive vibes in the last three days we had been together in the jungle; and also, for sharing her personal experience with me.

“Sorry for interrupt your nice conversation. Today we are all going to leave together, but one group will go back to Lago Agrio. Daniela and Sonia, we will go kayaking and do some fishing,” said Juan.

“How long the kayaking?” asked Sonia.

“Four hours,” said Juan.

Sonia and I started laughing. Sonia didn’t like kayaking and very likely I was going to be too weak to push anything.

“Don’t worry Sonia. It will be fun. We will go on our own pace,” I told her.

We all jumped in the boat. At one point, we had to split from the group. Sonia, Juan and I had to go on a canoe for the kayaking. It was time to say good-bye.

I was sorry to see Megan, Carsten or Pieter go. I really liked them and connected with them. However, I was relief that Shanon and Kristine were leaving… I was tired of their impertinence and constant complaining respectively.

“This is actually very nice,” said Sonia as we paddled into one of those narrow and very scenic water passageways. It was so quiet, peaceful and beautiful.

We could hear the soft sounds of the rainforest at daylight, the soft sound of our rows getting into the water. We had no rush. It was good that it was only the three of us.

Sonia and I chatted and we started to bond quickly. I hadn’t had the chance to talk to her much, but since the moment I first saw her in the park’s entrance, she seemed like a nice lady. She was so poised and kind to everyone.

She had also mentioned interest in doing the ayahuasca. She seemed genuinely interested in the holistic powers of the plant. Although initially she was considering joining the ritual, later she decided it was not the best time.

I liked Sonia. Even if she wasn’t doing the ayahuasca, I thought she could be interested in spending a night with the shaman and his family. I didn’t mind her to come along, as I knew she would be respectful of the shaman and my journey.

“Sonia, if you want to come tonight, it is OK. I already paid the US$60 for the boat ride round trip, so I don’t think you have to pay that. If you come, I think you will have to pay only for accommodation, which is only US$20. Juan can check out if you want,” I said to Sonia.

Sonia asked me if I wanted someone to look after me while I took the ayahuasca. She said she could do that if I didn’t feel comfortable of going alone. I appreciated her offer, but I genuinely wasn’t afraid. More important, the only person who could help me and I wanted to look after me was the Shaman. He was the one who was able to guide me on the process. I thanked her.

Juan, Sonia and I crossed some stunning passages, passed another lagoon. Juan insisted in going back piranha fishing. Although we told him, Juan didn’t seem to understand that neither Sonia nor I liked or wanted to do fishing. So while Juan did the fishing, Sonia and I chatted.

It was time to paddle back to the lodge.

“Faster, faster,” said Juan with the tone of army general.

But Sonia and I were enjoying the landscape and doing it on our pace. As the noon sun intensified, we got more tired.

“We are going to miss the motorboat that can give us a ride to the lodge!” Juan warned.

And we did miss it. We could hear it in the distance… on the other side of the canopy and thick vegetation. When we made it to the intersection of the vast lagoon and two water paths, the motorboat was longtime gone. We continued to paddle. It felt forever, but we made it to the lodge on time for the lunch.

Sonia joined for lunch another group that had arrived in the lodge two days after our group. I drank tea.

“So are you taking the ayahuasca today?” a young guy with piercing in his ears said smiling.

“Oh no! Another Shanon!” I said to myself.

He had heard that I was meeting the shaman and doing the ritual. Although I am pretty much an open book, the ayahuasca wasn’t something I wanted to talk about publicly with some random backpackers or people who took the plant so lightly. Talking to Megan, Sonia and Juan felt different because they either had taken it or understood my motives, or both.

I pretended I didn’t listen to him and left to the cabin. Juan had said we would go to the lagoon for a swim at sunset and that I would be taken to the shaman afterwards. I had all afternoon to rest and prepare emotionally and physically for it.

I lay in the hammock, relaxing, meditating, thinking of the reasons that brought me there and to that point… the answers I was looking for. I was so serene and assured that something positive would come out of this experience. I was looking forward to getting into the spiritual world.

After three hours in contemplation mode, I decided to talk to Juan to see if there was a possibility to get to the shaman before the sunrise. I wanted to have the time to spend some time with him and his family prior the ceremony. I wanted to feel familiar with the place and surroundings.

It was 4:30pm. It would take me a little bit more than an hour to get to the shaman’s if we went straight to it. I thought arriving there around 6pm would be OK.

I talked to Sonia and she was more than supportive. We would go to the lagoon for a quick swim now so I could leave earlier.

I talked to Juan and he was OK too.

However, Miguel, our boat driver, was drinking beer and doing swim competition with other lodge workers. So Juan drove the boat to the lagoon. Although Sonia and I wanted to go quickly to the lagoon and come back, Juan was going slow, trying to spot more animals to show us, but today it wasn’t about wildlife, it was about the shamanic experience. As much as I appreciated Juan’s passion and effort to look for animals, today, for me, it was more important to get to the shaman before sunrise than to see more creatures.

Sonia and I told him that we wanted to go straight to the lagoon. He sped up a bit, but he was still looking for wildlife. Sonia seemed worried about me arriving in the shaman’s home at dark. I was disappointed with Juan because he seemed careless of my request. We made it to the lagoon where the sun was disappearing in the horizon.

Sonia took a short 10 minutes swim so I could leave to the shaman.

On the way back, Juan continued to spot animals and go slow. We continued to tell him to please speed up because it was getting late.

We finally made it to the lodge. Our young boat driver was “lively”. He wasn’t very happy to leave the party to go to the shaman’s house though.

On my way to the shaman

“Bye Sonia. Thank you so much. I will see you tomorrow,” I said.

“You will be all right,” she responded.

Miguel and I left the lodge ultimately. If Juan was a turtle driving the boat, Miguel was Speedy Gonzalez.

Miguel rushed that boat into the river and water passageways as if he was in the Nascar. It was getting dark quickly and in his conditions, I wondered if he could actually tell where he was and where he was going. I hoped so.

It was going to be a long and cold ride (plus an exhilarating one considering the speed!) so I decided to just sit back and relax. I looked at my surroundings. Everything was so pure and stunning. I was loving the Amazon! If I was going to do something like that in my life (a psychedelic experience), I had to be surrounded by the wilderness. I felt my heart pounding with joy.

“Trust the plant. Listen to the plant” Jean Pierre, a French journalist had said those words to me a week before my trip. I remembered what he explained about the experience. Pascal had been involved with some indigenous communities in Latin America and Brazil. He knew about these ethnic groups and their rituals. He did the ayahuasca every year as part of a physical and spiritual detox. Although he was a journalist and a filmmaker, he never documented the ceremony because of how sacred it was for him and the people who performed it. He described it as a profound experience, a life-changing one. It was about finding another level of consciousness. He said each people’s journey was different and didn’t want to give me expectations. I just had to open my mind and heart… and trust.

Although this was really personal and I wanted to be alone with the Shaman, Pascal was probably the only person I would have been happy to have right there next to me during the ritual. The first time we talked about Ayahuasca, I told him that we would do it together, but circumstances had given me this opportunity now in the Amazon and he wasn’t able to come along. I could do it alone. At the end of the day, I was used to. I have always done everything on my own, but I missed Pascal inevitably.

We made it to the Shaman’s home at dark. I used the flashlight to find my way to the house.

A generator was on. Some lights were turned on in the house, and some reggaeton was playing.

“Hello?” I said as I entered an open-air area of the house.

Miguel threw our stuff on the floor.

“I will look for the shaman inside,” said Miguel.

A short man with brown skin and no frontal teeth came out. His name was Florentino. He was the Shaman’s brother. Although he was 33-years-old, he looked so much older than me.

“We thought you were not coming. My brother left to his home, but it is not far,” said Florentino.

I was a bit confused. I was under the impression I was going to stay and do the ceremony at the shaman’s house and with his family. It turned out that the person who prepared the ayahuasca was his brother Florentino not the Shaman, and that the place where the ceremonies took place was not the Shaman’s house but his brother’s house.

At that point, I didn’t mind to do it in this house, but I really wished I could have come earlier so I could have visited the shaman’s house and family before going into the ritual.

Florentino explained he lived in this house with his mother, but she was out of town. The preparation of the medicines and the rituals all took place in his house. He had learned about medicinal plants through his father, who also taught him how to brew the ayahuasca. He said it could take up to 11 hours to prepare the drink. He started preparing mine at 7am.

Florentino told Miguel to look for shaman Tomas Alberto in his house. It was supposed to be nearby.

“I am afraid!” said Miguel. Although it was dark and a heavy jungle out there, he was also very drunk. I didn’t think he would make it anywhere in that condition.

“Ok, he would go with you. Show him the way,” said Florentino to a 7-year-old kid who turned out to be his nephew.

Just minutes after Miguel and the little boy left, the generator died. There was a complete black out.

“I will look for a candle,” said Florentino.

I sat alone in the middle of darkness, listening to the sounds of the jungle until Florentino came back and we continued to talk about shamanism.

Under the candlelight, Florentino looked different. His voice was soft as his brother’s, but he lacked of that kindness or good aura that his brother, the shaman, irradiated.

As I tried to keep up on a conversation, an agitated cicada kept on crashing in the table and on us.

Florentino grabbed the cicada with one hand. It had fluorescent green eyes. As it was held in his fingers, the ugly and scary looking creature made loud noises.

“You know there is a cicada in this jungle that when bites a person, someone has to do the favor to that person in order to be saved from death,” Florentino said suddenly.

“What do you mean?” I was hoping I was misunderstanding what he said.

“Someone had to have sex with the ill person,” he said and I realized I had understood him correctly. “I know this girl in the town that was bitten by this cicada and she didn’t die because the favor was done to her. It could be anyone you know. It just had to be done before the person died.”

Since the moment Miguel and the kid left, I felt a bit uneasy, but I thought it was normal. I was in an unfamiliar place with a man I had just met and I was about to do something completely new to me and to my body… however, the moment Florentino made that comment I knew that the source of uneasiness was caused by something else. It was a natural instict. The whole moment (the darkness, the insects, the ugly cicada, the man with no teeth, the sexual comments) felt as if I was in a terror movie sans the cameras!

“Oh brother, I would prefer to die rather than someone does the favor to me. What a horrible thing. I would watch out for that cicada,” I said calmly. “I will have to bring my boyfriend next time just in case,” I added trying to lighten up the mood and make clear to this man I was a taken woman.

Mentioning the boyfriend or husband has always worked for me every time a local man had a crush on me. Usually after that, they stop flirting or pursuing me.

“I don’t know what boyfriend and girlfriend mean. I have never had a girlfriend. I hope one day a girl who come to visit, fall in love with me and stay,” he smiled. “I never get out from here.”

“My friend, you have to get out if you want to find love. Maybe you can go to the town and meet a nice girl?” I advised him pretending to be cool and again trying to lighten up things. “I met this beautiful girl yesterday, her name is Marisol. There are pretty girls in here.”

“Marisol is my niece,” he said.

“Oh well, then, Marisol cannot be. That is not right but there are many other girls you can ask out, don’t you think?” I said.

“Maybe you can trade places with Marisol?” Florentino smile suggestively. “Although in here, you can see cases of uncles with nieces, and even fathers with daughters.”

I felt my heart was going to come out of my chest. This was a man who couldn’t distinguish probably what was good from bad. Perhaps in his culture, these things were not wrongdoing (the rape and incest) or could be actually accepted or justified.

I was not safe and I was actually terrified, but freaking out would not help. I had to remain calm, confident. The best way to face a threat is not to show fear.

Florentino was shorter than me. I was thankful of my Krav Maga classes. I could defend myself. If he attempted to do something to me, I could get him off easily and probably get him seriously injured. The problem was that I was alone in the middle of the jungle. Where could I go? I could run away into the wilderness but he could probably find me there as these people know and can sense the rainforest as no one can. I didn’t know how to turn on the boat and Miguel had taken my flashlight, so that was not an option. If I had to run away, I would have to jump into the river. And at night, the caimans were on a hunt. Yet, I preferred to be eaten in this caiman-infected water than be victim of rape. Rape is my biggest fear. I had never been victim of it or no one has ever attempted fortunately, yet that is what terrifies me most in life. Not even death scares me as much as a sexual assault.

I couldn’t believe this was happening. I had come to this place for a spiritual enlightenment and now this was turning into a nightmare.

Florentino kept on flirting and making uncomfortable comments, fortunately NO physical moves.

“You know that tunic that my brother wears, it is so beautiful and when we wear it, it makes us look handsome,” he smiled and looked at me maliciously.

“There are good shamans and bad shamans” Florentino had said earlier.

I was positive that Shaman Tomas Alberto was the healer with the pure soul eager to help people, and his brother was evil and probably did witchcraft.

I kept poised. Said nothing about his comments and tried to turn the conversation back into the ritual. I had to look for a way to mention my boyfriend to reaffirm that I was taken.

“My boyfriend has done the ayahuasca many times. He has a lot of respect for it and strongly believes in the healing powers of the plant. He couldn’t make it today, but next time I come, I will bring him so you can meet him,” I said again trying to make this evil person feel a bit of compassion, consideration, some respect.

I had come here to look for divine revelation. I was here to learn about their medicinal plants, to experience their culture. How would he dare to harm someone who came with those sincere intentions? I wondered.

The tone of the conversation wasn’t getting any better. Once I told him how much I loved my boyfriend, he said that the end of the world was coming and in there, husbands would kill their wives, and horrible things would happen. Mother Earth was going to manifest in horrid ways and disasters.

I truly and honestly couldn’t believe my ears and the situation.

I was in such a peaceful state when I arrived in the house, eager to go into a spiritual world, and now all that peacefulness, sense of security and self-assurance had vanished thanks to this man and his sexual-death-aberration-end of the world comments.

I feared this sudden fear and level of alertness -that had just taken over me- could interfere with my receptivity to the ayuahuasca, which of course I was not going to take unless the Shaman Tomas Alberto showed up.

The atmosphere for this ritual was supposed to be relaxed, pleasant and positive, but Florentino had turned everything into a very heavy, scary and grim environment.

Exactly an hour later, Shaman Tomas Alberto, Miguel and the kid showed up. As soon as I saw the shaman walking into the room, I felt a relief in my heart.

“So sorry. I left because I thought you were not coming,” said the shaman with his sweet caring voice. I felt like a little girl being rescued by her father from the hands of a monster.

“I am the one sorry to be late. I told my guide many times I wanted to arrive here before sunset,” I responded.

“Are you ready?” he said kindly.

I didn’t longer feel calm or safe or ready. Although the Shaman was there, I still felt I had to look after myself because I didn’t trust Florentino. I was the only one responsible for my safety. Yet I wasn’t going to allow this evil man and his mischievous comments to disturb my quest. I had come here for inner exploration and soul healing. This man wasn’t going to take this journey away from me, or my trust in shaman Tomas Alberto.

I was going to do the ayahuasca! I didn’t know how my body or mind was going to react to it. I would trust the plant, I would trust Pachamama (Mother Earth) which I was hoping it would manifest to me through the plant. Yet, I was going to remain alert of my surroundings at all times… I had no choice. This had become as much a spiritual experience as a survival one.

“Let’s go inside,” said she shaman.

He wore the same necklaces and crown he did yesterday, but wore a bright green tunic.

Singing the Icaros

We sat in front of each other. He was on a higher bench. Florentino, Miguel and the kid stood on one side of the room.

Only a small candle lightened the entire room.

“Shaman, I trust you. As I told you yesterday, I have never taken anything like this before. I am looking for balance. I want to restore the balance in my body and soul. I feel emotionally and physically drained. I am about to start a new journey and I want to be cleaned from all ailments. I hope the spirit of the ayahuasca can help me and you can guide me,” I sat in this tiny bench in yoga position.

He looked at me with tenderness and listening to me carefully. Although there were others there, for me, it was only about him and I. It was not longer about anyone else, but the spiritual journey. I had just gone through a tense situation, the most uncomfortable situation in my life, but I had to keep strong and positive.

The Shaman closed his eyes. He grabbed the bottle with a yellow substance and poured some in a plastic glass. He started blowing air on the brew and singing icaros, magical songs inspired by the spirits. I closed my eyes and concentrated in the rhythm of the jungle. Then, the shaman took the branches and moved it up in the air. He continued to sing. Minutes later, he stood up and gave me the glass. I had to drink it all at once.

About to drink the Ayahuasca

I took the brew. I offered to God, Pachamama and the spirits. I was putting my life, my spiritual journey in their hands. I asked them for divine revelation but also for protection.

I drank it all. The taste was unpleasant and sour. I gave back the empty glass to the shaman, who stood up, walked towards me to sing and brush my body with the branches.

He went back to his seat and we waited for the ayahuasca to take effect. It was supposed to kick off about half an hour later.

Minutes after drinking the brew, I saw a cockroach the size of my hand crawling towards the candle.

“Shaman, I don’t know if this is my first vision, but I am seeing right there, a huge cockroach. Is that real?” I asked the shaman. I wasn’t afraid of the cockroach but since cockroaches are the only animals I hate, it would have been ironic and bad sign if that was the first vision or hallucination of my life!

“No daughter, that is actually a big jungle cockroach. It is common here,” he laughed softly.

“Oh wow shaman, I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it. Thank God it is not my first vision!” I laughed too and went back to my meditation mode.

Exactly half and hour later, I started seeing the shaman blurry. I was feeling my body so weak that I could no longer keep seating straight.

“Shaman, I feel very dizzy. I am going to lay down,” I said. I could hear my voice was just as weak as my body.

The face of the shaman looked distorted, almost ugly.

“It is OK daughter. Lay down. Concentrate in the visions. I am here if you need me,” he said.

I lay down on the floor with my arms open. I had never felt so fragile. A noise, a unique noise was vivid. I remembered both Jean Pierre and Megan had described that noise. It wasn’t the sounds of the jungle. It was something else. The ayahuasca was taking up my body. I could feel the root in my belly going through my blood stream. I felt numbness all over. It didn’t feel bad, but it didn’t feel good either. It was a strange feeling.

“I will go on another room daughter so you can focus. I will come to see you and check how you are doing. Do not be afraid,” the Shaman said and walked away.

I could hear his steps so intensely. Florentino, Miguel and the kid had left the room as well, but I could hear their laughs and chats in the distance. I wished they could shut up as it was distracting and didn’t feel right.

Finally it got quiet. I was alone in darkness. I breathed deeply. Although I was immobile, my heart was beating really fast. It made me remember how fast my heart beat when I had the adrenaline rush at the start line of the marathon or when I danced while listening to house music, or when I surfed or climbed a mountain; in those moments I felt free and empowered. Right now though, my heart was pounding fast yet I felt completely powerless.

I closed my eyes, and in that second I started seeing these fine fluorescent green and pink lines that moved quickly. Suddenly bright flashes of color rushed from one side, and a quick light from the other side. A part of me wanted to let go, but another wanted to keep conscious, to be aware of the surroundings. I had to make a decision right at that moment… and I decided to stay in this world.

Pachamama, you know why I am here for, you know what answers I am looking for. I cannot see visions. I need to see reality and be aware of my surroundings. Let the spirits manifest to me in different ways but no visions. I need to protect myself from an evil being and he is in this human world. I cannot let my soul go into the spirit world, leaving my body alone. I trust you. I trust the spirit of ayahuasca. I said in my mind.

The lights vanished immediately. I opened my eyes. I could see clearly. My ears were sharp and I heard everything more vividly as the minutes passed. My body was heavy, but could sense everything around it. I was supposed to be entering the spiritual world, but I was very conscious and aware of the human world.

The sounds of rainforest were deafening, but I love the wilderness and it felt as if they were serenating me just as they have in the past few nights, but they had just put up the volume a little higher. The sound of the rainforest at dark was just as beautiful and comforting as in the previous nights.

“How are you doing Daniela? Are you seeing visions?” asked the Shaman.

“Yes, I am,” I lied. I couldn’t explain to him why I have chosen not to see the visions. I would have to experience the ayuhuasca differently from other people, but I was certain I would get the answers.

“Shaman, I think I am going to throw up,” I said.

I felt the plant going up my body, passing my heart, going through my intestine and getting in my throat.

“It is OK. All bad is coming out of your body. It is part of the cleansing,” said the Shaman.

I stood up and stumbled. Each step felt really heavy but I made it to the large window. I started throwing up. It was only liquid. The more I threw up and felt the taste of the ayahuasca, the more nauseous I became. I tried to hold myself to the window not to fall.

“Daniela, would you like to go to the hammock? It may be more comfortable,” said the Shaman.

“Yes I would like that. Could you please help me, I am too weak to walk to the other room by myself,” I said.

The shaman held my arm and guided me. I walked as a 90-years-old grandma. I was conscious, my senses were sharp as never in my life but I was physically very vulnerable.

I lay in the hammock. A soft candlelight illuminated the room.

The shaman put a blanket on me.

“Are you confortable daughter? Please if you see a bad spirit, tell me. I will make sure to keep it away so you can get your answers,” said the shaman.

The only evil spirit was his own brother! He was the only one I fear, but said nothing.

The shaman left me alone.

Suddenly, an intense smell of flowers surrounded me. I could smell the giant cedar trees and the freshness of the forest. I felt as if the rainforest was soothing me and my fears with the most gentle and purest scents.

The jungle was so alive and I could hear them all so clearly… from the grasshopper’s performance to the soft snake’s move on a trees’ branch. Although I was several meters away from the shore, I heard the soft current of the river.

I remembered that the shaman had said that on his first ayahuasca experience he had seen the rainforest differently. My eyes were very open and alert. I had no visions. I was looking at my surroundings as they were, but I was certainly experiencing the wilderness differently.

Suddenly I felt and heard as if a large bird –like an eagle- moved its large wings just behind me as if it was about to fly. It didn’t scare me at all, totally the opposite.

I listened attentively. While doing the ayahuasca is not about the visions but also understanding the visions. I had asked Pachamama and the spirit of Ayahuasca to manifest differently to me, and they had done it. They had listened to me. They kept my eyes free of visions, but through the sounds of the forests, they had spoken to me and given me the messages I was looking for. I thanked them for it. Yet, I knew the journey was far from over.

“Daniela, are you feeling OK?” asked the shaman.

“Yes, I am,” I replied.

“I am going home with my family. I am going to leave now, but my bother is in the house if you need anything. I will come back tomorrow at 5:30am so you can tell me what you saw and we can interpret the visions,” said the shaman.

It had been about three hours since I took the brew. It could take another three to overcome the effects. It was around 11pm. I didn’t want him to leave, but how could I explain it to him? I understood he couldn’t stay up the whole night.

Young Miguel was sleeping on the floor in the same room I was, but he was completely wasted. From that moment on, I knew I was on my own. I had no shaman to look after me. I was in the same house and in the house of a man I feared and couldn’t trust.

“OK. Shaman, I will see you tomorrow. Have a good night,” I said.

The flame of the candle was fading slowly, but I kept my eyes set on the door. I had to be alert.

I have always been good at multitasking and at this moment I was really overachieving in that department. I kept on listening to the spirits through the sounds, but I was vigilant of what came into that door and I was also doing a defense plan in the case Florentino came.

I remembered what J.J, my Krav Maga instructor, had taught me. I tried to remember the two most lethal moves of my self-defense class. I was still very weak, so I need to make sure that if I was assaulted, I could act quickly and be effective. All my senses were sharp so I had to use that in my advantage. The only one weakened was my body, but if necessary I knew I could use all the adrenaline rush to gain strength. I knew I could do that. I was in the middle of nowhere, completely alone and weaken, but conscious and prepared.

Please Pachamama do not allow this man to come close to this room. Keep him away. Do not allow him to harm me and if he comes, give me the strength to fight back. When I have been weakened, you have given me strength. Remember Kilimanjaro in January? You allowed me to go up to its summit, see its beauty and come down. I got the pulmonary edema but you protected me and it didn’t worsen when I was still in the mountain. You always look after me. I am not afraid of this jungle, I am not afraid of the animals, I am not afraid of the spirits, but I fear this man’s intentions. Do not abandon me. Do not permit him to even walk close to this door I said.

I started shaking uncontrollably. I was so cold. Although I had brought a jacket with me, I didn’t want to move from the hammock.

The candlelight turned off. It was like a blackout, but I suddenly stopped shaking. I felt something around me. I could hear some soft steps walking around the hammock. It wasn’t Miguel because I could hear him snoring. It wasn’t Florentino. Whatever that entity was, I wasn’t afraid of it. I felt protected. I knew Pachamama was once again listening to me. Due to the circumstances, I wasn’t able to leave the human world to enter the spiritual world. And yet I could sense and feel that spiritual dimension. I felt the presence of a spirit looking after me. Florentino wasn’t going to come into that room. As long as this spirit remained at my side, he would not dare. As long as stay where I was, I would be safe.

At that moment under the protection of the spirit and surrounded by the sounds of the wilderness, I tried to think of beautiful and positive things. I thought of Jean Pierre. I remembered the shamanic chants, the icaros he played when we were together at home just a week ago. I remembered us meditating while we listened to the signing of the Brazilian shamans and smelled the indian incenses. I felt such a peace and joy then with him and at home, and I wanted to feel that now that I was experience the real thing. I remembered his funny tribal dance, his accent… in the middle of such darkness, I couldn’t help, but laugh. I wished Jean Pierre were there with me.

As the hours passed, I slowly felt that I was coming back to my senses, but I had an urgent need to go to the bathroom. I felt the ayahuasca rushing through my intestines like a tsunami. I had been able to control the visions, but I wasn’t quite sure I was going to control -or for how long I could control- the purge.

The toilet was in the patio and I knew I wasn’t going to leave that room and the protection of the spiritual entity that had come to care for me. I would prefer to shit in my pants than to take the risk of leaving that room alone.

Minutes later I heard Miguel moving on the floor. He turned on the flashlight and walked out of the room. I could hear him peeing.

“Miguel, could you please walk me to the bathroom please,” I said.

“OK,” Miguelito was probably worse than me at that point. I wasn’t 100% but I could walk straight. I was recovering my strength. Miguel was stumbling, but leaving the room with him made me some sort of control of the situation. I thanked again the spirits to have woken up Miguel so I didn’t have to go to the toilet alone.

Whatever bad energy, sickness or thing I had in my body, I was positive, it was gone after that visit to the bathroom. Between the vomiting and this, I felt light and cleaned as never before.

We returned to the room. I could feel my body was quickly getting back to normal.

I lay in the hammock, waiting for the sunrise. I wasn’t going to sleep. Although I couldn’t longer feel the spirit around, I knew it was around me. Although I had my strength back, I knew I couldn’t let my guards down.

The hours passed and the darkness slowly faded. The creatures of the night -that had serenaded me for hours- stopped singing. Now the birds were waking up, announcing that a new day had begun.

I stood up, feeling revitalized in more than one level. I went to the patio and stood there feeling my hands and breathing deeply. I looked around me. I started crying. I was crying of happiness. I definitely felt different. I had a new clarity about who I was and what I was capable of. I was astonished about the revelation I had during the ayahuasca experience. I was excited about the new beginnings and I had no fears about it.

I have always felt God manifests to me through the experiences I have had with Mother Earth (Pachamama) and last night was not an exception. It was actually unbelievable. It was scary, beautiful, enlightening, strange, divine, surreal, very real, mysterious, spiritual, detoxing and magical, all at once… and that included all the events that happened prior, during and after the ayahuasca.

I returned to the hammock and soon after the Shaman arrived.

With the Shaman, next morning

“Good morning Daniela. How are you feeling?” the shaman smiled.

“I am feeling good. Renewed. It was very intense though. I didn’t have any visions but I heard and sensed a lot,” I said.

“You know daughter. I saw you in my dreamed and you looked afraid. I almost came back here to see if you were OK,” he said.

I never showed the shaman any fear or said anything. I was always calm in his presence. I was astonished that he could sense my fear.

“People don’t see much on the first experience. It is a process. Each time you do it, the plant opens more your consciousness,” he explained. “This is a medicinal plant, it is meant to clean your body and your soul. Now you have a new energy,” said the shaman.

I thanked the Shaman. I saw his brother and said hello as if nothing had happened the night before. He smiled shyly and looked down, but said nothing. He didn’t look so scary in the daylight, but beyond that, I knew I had someone looking after me, and although I couldn’t sense that spirit now, the spirit was probably very present looking after me even at moment when I was terrified by the disgusting conversation with Florentino prior the ritual.

I wished that conversation with Florentino had never happened. My experience would have been different, but at the same time I do believe that things happen for a reason, and perhaps it was good thing that conversation happened so I could remain alert. Beyond that, these last 12 hours had become the most profound and revealing of my life… when I thought I knew me, I realized that I was just started getting to know me.

“Daniela, look! It is a beautiful day. That is a good sign!” said the Shaman before I left.

It was indeed a beautiful day of clear sky and cool breeze.

Miguel and I jumped on the boat, heading back to the lodge. I cried all the way. I was in total ecstasy.

Beautiful Amazon morning

I have always felt deeply connected to nature, but at that moment I just realized how lucky I was to have always had such profound bond to her even before the ayahuasca.

Right at that moment, I was so happy I could see her, I could smell her, I could listen to her, I could feel her just with my own senses. I didn’t need anything else. Maybe I was a weird person but I didn’t need visions. What was around me was more beautiful than any visions and I loved the wilderness for that. I didn’t need my ears to be sharper to listen to the rainforest as I could listen to it in normal state while I am in bed or in a tent, and feel totally delighted by its sounds. I thanked Mother Earth for such a blessing.

The awakening

Yet, I left home looking for balance and answers, and I had found both through the experience and the revelation through the spirits. I left home though, running away from a reality just to realize that there was no other world or reality that I’ve rather be than the one I was at.

Today didn’t feel like just another sunrise and another day, this was a spiritual awakening…

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There are currently 5 Comments on AYAHUASCA: FACING THE DEEPEST FEAR & THE SPIRITUAL AWAKENING. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. Dani-

    All I can is WOW!!!!

    Glad your home,


  3. I was at the edge of my seat through the entire reading. How inspiring your stories are! Thank you Dani for sharing 🙂

  4. WOW realmente la narración de tu experiencia me transporto! tenia mucho que no sentía algo así desde que leí la “Novena Revelación” (sentí un escalofrío que recorrió toda mi espalda) Que me hizo recordar mis noches en el Avila donde Zóez.
    Me siento afortunado de conocer un ser como tu!
    Y que siempre sigan a tu lado los buenos espíritus!
    Quien te admira y te respeta.
    Alvi 🙂

  5. Daniela:

    I met you the day I was leaving (and so was you) while we were having breakfast.
    I remember you told me about your great experience and the Shaman’s brother behaviour, but I didn’t get to realize it was that dangerous until I read your blog.
    You definitely needed to be very strong, being your own protector while you were almost completely alone in the jungle, so it seems that made the experience much more deeper. You overcomed yourself.
    When we talked for that little while you looked like and adventurous and sophisticated woman. To that non-typical mix, I have to add you are brave.

    Best wishes

  6. Dear Estaban,

    Thanks for writing. I remembered you from the breakfast 🙂

    I knew it was a risky thing to do the ayahuasca in the middle of the jungle without anyone I knew looking after me, but I never imagined it would turn into a threatening situation. Fortunately I managed to have the deep and revealing experience without getting harmed. Being a solo woman has many advantages but sometimes it can put you in vulnerable positions…. I don’t regret the experience because at the end everything we live are lessons we learn…

    All best


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