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  • I headed to the open terrace ‘store/bar’ of Infierno – arranged as array of wooden houses along one long dirt road dividing the vegetation. The village seemed primarily home to many children and their four-legged friends. Right next to the bar the church was in construction while the priest was practicing the Sunday sermon.

    The barking dogs act as a wave-like super-loud whole-village alarm system. This is particularly disconcerting when you try to quietly walk - not to say 'sneak' - home at night after an ayahuasca ceremony (that many local disprove of) - waking everyone in the range of miles. 

    After much persuasion, pre-payment and a few attempts I managed to lodge my one phone call from the bar-phone, reached Alex and promised to try again the next day. Apparently the tourist boats were leaving from another port on a separate arm of the river?

    Settling for Inka-kola and nuts for dinner at the store’s open air bench looking out on the path, night had well fallen when I turned to head back and the srurrounds were pitch black save the lights from the church in the making.

    Leaving, I suddenly spotted a set of white arms coming out of a T shirt not far from me in the dark a few meters away. What. A gringo? Here? Possible? The other side apparently similarly mused “What, a hippy chick in a long brightly coloured tunic-dress, here?”


  • Both curious, we tentatively moved towards each other to be able to see better, when I realized it was Egor in the T-shirt, under his hat. And yes, I had ‘dressed up’ for the occasion. 

    Egor was on his way to film an Ayahuasca ceremony (which I routinely declined the invitation to) with a highly renowned curador (whom he had told me about, I now remembered). I was interviewing ‘el presidente’ in the morning. Two busy people in the jungle. We arranged to meet at the curador’s house where Egor was staying for breakfast at 9.30am the next morning.

    I never met the elusive ‘presidente’, but instead got a post breakfast chance to help Egor with his film: my pidgin Spanish was still better than going with the google translations sheet and hoping for the best.

    Don Ignacio was a lovely, kind and gentle man of advanced age. While cheekily trying to evade Egor’s key questions he still let us into some of the mystery of Ayahuasca, telling stories from his astonishing, rich, long, full and harsh life.


    He appeared to have a debilitating headache and aching leg. It was upsetting to witness and after the interview I prompted the question — would he let me do a cranio sacral therapy session with him? Understandably he didn’t quite know what I meant — but must have felt the intention, and agreed.


  • It was one of the most touching moments of my life; crouched on a shortlegged stool next to his bed between the open planks of his hut on stilts, leaves rustling outside, upbeat dance music blasting from large speakers right next to me.

    There he was, Don Ignacio himself, settling in my hands despite his pain, trusting me, this gringa from Europe. He let me hold him whole, dropped and softened under my palms, present all in one, from day one, from young boy to now.  At some point I had a distinct feeling and vision him age eight, rather than eighty....

    When in Rome do as the Romans do, I finally was to attend my first Ayahuasca session ever. If not then, when? This was perfect. Don Ignacio and Egor and me, transported by the plant and the chant, that night I transformed into a rocket that could circle the earth.

    Luckily Ayahuasca doesn’t give you a hangover; at 6am we were journalists and filmmakers again. In the cool and wet white morning mist we squelched through mud and shrubs following the wise Don Ignatio back into jungle to find ‘her’, the ‘holy mother plant’ herself.

    Entwined and climbing ‘she’ is a rising root, the female part of the winning Ayahuasca combination that creates the spark. Here again, the secret lies in the right balance: male and female together, when it works, it’s magic.
                                                                                                             Uscha Pohl