Iquitos. The air is wet but doesn’t smell like fireworks, as Lima’s does. I like the weight of the humidity that challenges my breath while I relish the burning sun. Have I just fled from cold Germany? Have I fled from a life I saw no more point in living, in the hope to find meaning through yet unexplored, mystical means, am I such a pathetic coward? Yes, I did. Yes, I am.
Ten taxi drivers rush toward me, like lemmings. I feel the excitement of entrepreneurship and imagine the satisfaction they get from their hard and unrelenting work, the push of confidence each time they outplay the competition. I know what I want and ignore them.
This world is real. This world is aggressive. This is more home than anywhere else. I shout: Motortaxi!
Now I have the attention of a smaller group of drivers. Oily hair and sunglasses make them look like decals of the uprising and merciless American salesman as they surround and gesticulate to seduce me.
I choose randomly and signal my interest to a particularly well-groomed guy in his 30s. Another one follows around, still waving his arms. Admirable persistence. No need for pity, this is his routine.
Motortaxis are motorcycles with rickshaws instead of rear wheels. As I enter, I hit the metal with my left lower leg and one of the scars ofrips open; sharp pain shoots up, a red spot appears on my jeans. I want to throw up and enjoy the pain and fear of infection at the same time; it makes me feel like a warrior.
My driver is aggressive and speedy. He must’ve guessed I like that from my cold and angry demeanor. There’s no chit-chat and I’m glad; I’m very bad at socializing.
The city is angry
The people in Germany never reciprocate eye contact on the street. Here they do. I’m not searching eye contact to connect; I’m searching it to prove to myself that I can hold it. It’s more of a stare. It’s hard here, the people are strong. They look like they could accept the challenge and beat me up. I feel mory. Have I mentioned that ?
This city is angry. I am angry, too. These people don’t smile. Neither do I. No need to act. Finally. Maybe being angry is an act? Who cares.
I am where I belong.
It’s hot in Iquitos
Girls in Iquitos are small and tall. Little fragile dolls waiting for a real man to take their hand and lead them to a dirty room to do. When I pass them, head held high, they look at me submissively; their display of . This never happens in Germany. This place is real.
I want to take them, own them and fill them; but a part of all this strength is a pretense, destined to crumble at the slightest challenge. Thus I will not speak to them. In a way, I am here in the hope to find a way to strenghten the pretense. Not at all the promise of a drug that is supposed to destroy your ego. But if it helps, why not. It can not be that hard, can it. Hurts a bit, like the doctors syringe, then it’s over and I’ll return as a changed man.
They say you are supposed to have a goal when you go to the ceremony. I want to fuck women. I want to look into my past failures and maybe into my relationship with my mother. If I had to choose, what would it be? I guess it’s smarter to start at the start. Yeah, my past is no excuse to not be working hard on my goals. But I’m exhausted from. I have neither vision nor confidence. In a very real sense I don’t even know what my goals are.
The sweet waitress brings me sweet potatoes and steamed fish, another dreamed wish. Fuck poetry.
I eyeball the guys on the boulevard. A fat guy on a small bicycle stares back. As I walk by, he cycles along at my side. “Do you want something?” he asks. “No.” – “You sure? I have everything. Need blow? Marihuana?” – “No, thanks. I’ll come back at you if I need something.”
Last day before the retreat. A local takes me on ain the Amazon bay. He is poor, but my budget is almost depleted as well; I pay him 60 Soles for a few hours on his canoe. He shows me the undercity. The river is high; houses swim on air canisters, are fixed by ropes. The young congregate in a floating disco, a young slutty-looking gal signals me to join. It feels good, I get hard. I stare her down like everybody else I see. I won’t challenge the power she gave me.
I catch a piranha. With satisfaction I firmly grasp it and calmly look at it. You’re mine now. The underside of the fish is bony and almost sharp. My instructor tells me to be careful. I discard the advice and touch the piranha. I touch it’s teeth, in curiosity. I do it once more and it bites me with surprising strength. It slits through my skin as if it were butter. An unknown kind of sharp pain shoots through my left thumb and I curse. This is life, I think. An inevitable game where you can only wager your right to survive. Painless to win, yet fatal to lose. The thought fills me with peace.
Waiting for departure
The last night before my Ayahuasca retreat. I lie in the hostel bed and look up to the windows in the ceiling. My shaved head hurts from a severe sunburn.
As the morning approaches, a girl from the neighboring room prepares her luggage. I look up and see her bending over a bag. She is naked and her tits hang down in alluring accordance to physical laws. She sees me and goes back into her room. I imagine adventure and do nothing.
I check out of the hostel and, with a feeling of apprehension, make my way along the boulevard to the Dawn on the Amazon Cafe. And there they are. The classic straight angry-looking American guy, another German guy who looks uncannily happy and relaxed, a tall Vikingish type and a group of three immensely confident and loud guys from Australia catch my eye. I feel infinitely inferior to them, yet I brace myself for I know that this is a chance to learn. A somewhat cute girl tells me I look nervous. Yeah, maybe. Fuck you.