Happy reunion with the other trippers. We sit in a cafe and I pretend to care about the other’s great journeys. I guess that is a scene I saw in a movie. A dude meets people who experienced something and is interested; my act is to be interested. How impolite to refuse such a game. I am much too scared, much too alone, much too obsessed with being the stoic dude to actually care about what really intrigues me.
Listening to other people’s journeys is a bit like watching football in television; pointless.
I feel somewhat ashamed of the incident back at the camp, but I still believe the shaman is the devil. We meet up with the Viking at a bar. He asks me whether I still believe that the shaman is the devil and I am torn between not wanting to look like a fool and wanting to stand by the truth. I choose the latter.
We have some juice, the others chitchat about happiness and enlightenment and I pretend to somehow be a part of this, torn between my addiction to be nice and my addiction to be an uncaring asshole.
We visit the market in the undercity. Everything smells like rotten flesh, owed to the rain that occasionally washes the organic waste all over the place. There are no containers, just heaps of fetid odor. Some people eat chicken.
The others like all the talismans and touristic bullshit. They buy some of it to take home for friends and family. I would find it silly, if I would not see the downright pure evil in these things. Wrinkled witches walk the streets, passing by sick dogs with tumors as large as hands, waving around their dark nets with blue, red, violent streaks of interwoven madness. Tokens of the devil to attach your soul to, to make you come back, to corrupt you totally.
The blonde girl who once called me nervous puts a headband around her head. She asks me if Ilike it. I say it looks silly, but I tell her she must not worry, because I do not like her anyway. A neg. Tada. Yes, I am a slow learner in these matters. She seems hurt and vulnerable. I like it. I indifferently say something like Nah, just a joke to calm her down. The truth is, I do not care either way.
The guys and girls walk among all the stands and act all curious about tobacco and shit. When they pass an artist and see an image they like, they start explaining how it touches them et cetera. I am bored.
The blonde says I could visit her at her hotel, come for a swim, before she leaves. I think of more than swimming. The idea makes me happy and sad at the same time, because I do not dare to even imply I am sexually interested. I am not even sure I am. But I am much too ashamed of my sexuality. I say yeah, maybe, cold as usual. I hope she will ask again, because I know I will not. I am too afraid to give her even one little finger and risk rejection.
In the evening, we sit at the bar again. The Viking talks to a beautiful girl, I amlike mad. But I am protected at least, protected by a thick coat of not even trying. I sit on the couch and let everybody talk with each other. I act uninterested. Or is my mere presence an act of faking interest at all? I ask the clerk to give me a book I do not care about and start reading. The blonde tries to start conversation and I give short answers. She seems disappointed. I like it. It means she cares at least a bit. More than me. Better if she is disappointed, better than if I was. She turns away. Good. Better the bad guy than the loser.
Frog poison and feelings of abandonment
Later we walk down the boulevard and see the Viking and the thick manly dude with the damaged leg. This is Peter Gorman, the Viking says. I do not even pretend to care. The others do more so.
Peter Gorman offers us a ritual with frog poison. He says it is very painful. I say I like pain. As long as it is not psychedelical pain. He says it is not. Sapo frog poison. He says it will last 15 minutes and feel like death, afterwards I will be cleansed and experience clarity. The others are somewhat hesitant. I am eager to do it. That is who I am these days, the suffering warrior with the sunburn, blisters, devil visions. I like the idea of death-like pain. Way to prove myself.
The girls act impressed. I wonder why. It is a natural choice, following my curiosity, my wish for pain. Their meaningless admiration makes me proud and I exacerbate with my demeanor how little I care.
The Viking helps with the procedure. A stick is burned at one side, then used to burn away the top layer of skin on my right arm, exposing the capillaries. Thus, it is an intense but not dangerous endeavor.
Peter Gorman spits on the stick, providing amino acids for the poison or something like that. And making it sticky and fluid. They put it on my arm.
Blood starts pumping into my face, a hot sensation. Cleaning the blood vessels, Peter Gorman says. My eye lids become swollen, well, actually my whole face becomes red and swollen. It feels weird and painful, throbbing. I become nauseous. This I hate the most, nausea. Give me all the pain in the world, but fuck your nausea. My whole body is hot and throbbing now. It does not exactly feel like pain, but very uncomfortable. Like losing all energy at once and being eaten up by poison. Well, what did I expect.
The girls take a photograph. Souvenirs, tokens, photographs. Bitches must have something to remember. Great. I do not care, I want only my own memory.
On the picture, I myself look very much like the devil. My whole face looks different.
I can not take it anymore and go to the bathroom. I ate too much, my usual sin. They give me water and paper. I vomit into the toilet. The water supply does not work – thus the water they gave me.
The horrible thing about this situation is not the pain. It is not the nausea. It is a profound sense of loneliness in face of all these things. I feel like there should be some love, something to buffer the horridness of the way I feel, but there is nothing. There is just emptiness. Emptiness and pain and nausea. It is neither glorious nor heroic, it is simply pure existential terror. A sense of absolute abandonment while the intensity and globality of the pain makes it impossible to dissociate from it and think of something else.
Afterwards, everything is clear. The sounds of the surroundings split into many layers and the other guys claim they can see streaks of light of the boulevard lamps. That is nonsense, of course. We are merely consciously seeing the abberations of our eyes.
And it is not like the world has changed. It seems more like I suddenly remember to be conscious of all the little details, to perceive all the information that my senses give me. The colors seem more nuanced, supposedly good for the hunters setting after monkeys. If the pain was not glorious, this feeling surely is magnificent.
I feel a strong desire to move now, and my appetite is gone.
I thank Peter Gorman and go back to my Hostel.
The door is closed, but I hear the voices of the girls in another room as clearly as if they were in the same room.
The sound of a motor in the distance separates into two layers. One deep pumping sound and one high, noisy hiss. Together, they are the sound of the motor.
The chatter of the girls is starting to annoy me. I wonder whether to do something about it, but I am even more fascinated by the clarity of the voices.
The cat does not visit me tonight.
The old hag and more frog poison
The next day, me and an old senile idiot and a kid from the retreat meet up with an old hag. I am not sure what she is all about. She is slim, wears hippie clothes and her wrinkled arms are full of scars from frog poison rituals, arranged like crosses and other shit. She carries the kind of appalling traumatized confidence that is a hallmark of those who learned self-acceptance without insisting on happiness. The million cock stare. Attractive in a man are the scars that show his disillusionment perhaps, not in a woman. And much less in an old one.
She makes herself out to be the leader. She knows the city and the people. Oh, well. We meet up with two guys; one of them ooks like he fights. He tells me: You look like you fight. I tell him that I started. We sit at the eating table and somebody is selling souvenirs again. Little ceramic hands. One of the hands is a fist with two extended fingers. The dude who looks like he fights mischievously grins at me and makes a gesture of two fingers in a girl’s pussy. I enjoy it and grin back, but I do not feel connected to it. I am ashamed of this side of myself, of its inexperience and I doubt my right to express it, even if I do that on the surface.
We meet up with Peter Gorman again, for another session of frog poison.
This time, we meet up at some off-hand place. There are many weird places here. At some, you can supposedly fuck children. There are grafittis on the walls about it, angry grafittis. Let us hope those children have tits already.
The old hag and some other people gather around in a circle. The ritual begins. This time, I get three dots. I already forgot the pain from yesterday and think this will be easy.
My naivety makes it so much harder. I run to another room and vomit on the way, on my shoes. It is so unbearable – the loneliness, my god, the loneliness – that I start to cry. I feel, I know. Know there should be something. A sense of a father who looks over my shoulder and is proud of me. A bond, with god perhaps, to give it meaning. But there is nothing. There is just emptiness. Darkness. Despair. Not even the courage for longing.
I clean up after myself.
Peter Gorman tells us about magic mushrooms. He says that he might give us some if we go on a boat ride on the Amazon. Looking at the river and the clouds. Despite my bad Ayahuasca experience, I am intrigued. I am a slow learner in these things. Or maybe it is just how pain is. When you are in it, you want nothing more than for it to stop. Afterwards, you forget it and only remember how good you felt afterwards. And you come back for it, again and again.
We meet up with the other girls and guys. The pain and crying has relaxed me. There is a sad and innocent smile on my face. One of the girls says it looks cute and sensitive. I hate it. I am open enough to admit I want to be seen as a man. Why do I feel so ashamed of the wish? Saying it feels like I am disqualifying myself as a man. One of the guys, a nervous one, says he does not care about these things. I wonder why. But not that much.
We part ways and make agreements for a meetup for the magic mushroom tour the next day.