Sectants and magic potions, Ayahuaska experience in Colombia

nameless-berk
Nameless Berk @nameless-berkMarch 2018 · 7 min read

Meanwhile I keep getting into strange places and situations. This time I accidentally came to a sect, where I've been fasting and drinking Ayahuasca. But let's start from the beginning.

Having rested in Bogota, I decided to visit the second largest city in Colombia, Medellin.
Couchsurfing proved to be useful once more, as I found a hostess who had some connections with shamans, which make ayahuasca and perform rites while consuming it.
Or so I thought, reality proved to be different.

Ayahuasca is an entheogenic hallucinogenic brew used as a traditional spiritual medicine in ceremonies among the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin.

Source

To find it was one of my objectives in South America. North of Colombia is not a typical place for this, but the offer didn't look like scam, so I decided to give it a shot.

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My hostess, Inca, specified the prices for staying in the camp, which were even cheaper than in a hostel.
The ayahuasca ceremony participation was with voluntary contributions.
I also received very unclear directions to that place. But as always I didn't clarify it all beforehand, throwing myself headfirst into the unknown.
It was partly because of Inca's unhurried habit of responding to my messages that I could not get all the info before leaving Bogota.

It wouldn't become much of an issue if not for the sucky Colombian Internet.
The mobile Internet is especially shitty, especially on my phone which is somehow not compatible with 4G network here. Therefore I'm forced into using 3G, which won't work for days and when it does it still sucks.
And the day of my journey was one of those days when it didn't work, except for Whatsapp messages. This little detail will have big impact on the story later.

That day I hitched a car with a rock band inside. There were 3 of them and their gear in a small car, where they were willing to put me and my enormous backpack as well.
I'm very impressed by such people, kind and generous enough to sacrifice their own comfort for a guy they see for the first time.

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Check out their band, Señor Monroe, by the way!

They even delivered me to the closest place to my destination, Parque Arvi.
De-facto I disembarked in a few kilometers from Medellin, in the countryside.
I was standing on the crossroad with some horses and a local shop around. The rest was closed and covered by the veil of darkness.
The streetlights were not working and there was a lot of stray dogs.

At that moment it became crucial to know the exact location of the camp, but even after I reached Inca, I could not see the location sent, due to nonfunctional Internet (except Whatsapp texting).

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She could not explain to me how to get to the camp. Neither she could see my location, as it turned out later. Much later than it should have, dammit.
I wasted more than 3 hours wandering in different directions in darkness and had almost lost my patience.
I could tell her to sod off and spend the night in my tent, this time I had the gas for the stove and even food.
This outcome seemed more and more attractive each passing minute.

However, eventually she realized where I was and offered to send a taxi for me.
But for that I had to return to the police station that I passed earlier, because the driver was a coward who refused to go beyond that point, saying it's too dangerous.

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But of course the most dangerous thing there was my angry self, armed with a knife I used earlier to drive stray dogs away.
Whatever the case, I turned back and walked to the police station.

As soon as I put my backpack down and sat on it to wait for the taxi, all the cops in the station spilled outside and gathered around me, asking who I am and what I'm doing here in this hour.
The commotion attracted some dogs, it was quite a show.
And all would be fine if the taxi wasn't late, but while I was awaiting it one of the dogs started to scratch my backpack, looking at the cops expectingly.

Apparently it wasn't just a random dog, but a drug dog which smelled my weed inside.
So they started to search me and promptly found my stash!
The situation resolved itself surprisingly easy, as the police just threw away my weed, I even kept my favourite box.
I wasn't even required to pay a bribe, after the search I just jumped into the waiting taxi and was finally brought to the camp, which of course was in completely different place than described.

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Inca herself

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A mixture of grinded tobacco, cinnamon and some wood that people here use for healing


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This powder is either snorted or blown into the nose

The next day the ceremony was being held, in preparation to which I fasted for about a day (but probably should have more than just one day).

In general, I found myself in a strange place that morning. It looked like a garden with a few buildings and tents, including one for kitchen.
Here and there dreamcatchers could be seen along with some arcane symbols and a big cross near an open-air fireplace.

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When the night fell on the green hills of Colombia, the long-awaited ceremony started.
It was held in a big greenhouse, where the ingredients (certain vines and leaves) were being grown along with some peyote-like psychedelic cacti.

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The place for rites


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Marakas and peyote-like cacti


At that moment it became apparent that Inca herself is going to conduct the event, to which she showed up dressed in a shaman clothes.

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We sat around a David star shaped ritual table in the center and read a prayer in Portuguese.
After that everyone drank a shot of brown bitter-sour brew with slight aftertaste of coffee.

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Then they started to sing prayers, accompanied by a drum and marakas.

It went on and on for hours and I only felt some effect in about an hour or so. But it was much too weak to count as a real ayahuaska experience.
Maybe because I didn't fast long enough or was it just too small a dosage, no way to know now.

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And only after I've left the camp for Medellin, I watched the video, that Inca sent me before.
Turns out, it was a sect Santo Daime, somehow combining elements from Catholicism, Animism, South-American Shamanism and who knows what else.
A curious combo, I must add.

In any case, they were nice and friendly, and it was just an interesting experience, even though everything went awry from the start.

More photos:

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An idol in the camp


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Medellin


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Sunset over Bogota

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Check out my travel blog as well!

Previous posts:
Turkish Nargile
Just a cat sunbathing in Agha Bozorg Mosque's yard, Iran
[Stoner Travels] Intro / Colombia, Bogota
Matemática in Santo Domingo [Street Photography]
Voyage to Colombia and a nasty surprise in the airport [Part 2]


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wow,,, Every region has some amazing traditions...


20

Congratulations! Your high quality travel content caught our attention and earned you a reward, in form of an upvote and resteem. Your work really stands out. Your article now has a chance to get curated and featured under the appropriate daily topic of our Travelfeed blog. Thank you for using #travelfeed

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15

Thanks! Glad to be appreciated


0

These are experiments on yourself and your body. Was it not terrible to join the sect at will?
I read your articles and I'm surprised. No matter how difficult it was, but you always find a way out of the situation.
I certainly could not.
Savior for very interesting stories about his travels


12

I didn't join them and I wasn't even aware it was a sect at the time. Wouldn't stop me though.


0

Nice photography! Love this post!


10

I love reading posts about travel in Latin America. This is a wonderful place that can give us many surprises.

You had luck with the cops. Generally, when you are a foreigner, most think that you bring a lot of money and try to take advantage of you.

Regarding Ayahuasca, I have never tried it, but I have friends who do and describe the experience as amazing; I find it strange that it was not like that for you.

I hope you to go great on your next trips. A big hug 💙


2

The real experience is ahead, that was just a failed attempt.


0

I know very well what you're talking about 😅

I also toured Colombia in the last six months, but luck is subjective. I lived experiences that for others may be bad, but for me they were very good, they helped me grow.


1
edong
edong @edongMarch 2018

I wish I could visit Colombia too. Nice country with nice people!


2

Why not?


0

Boy, sounds like you do get into a lot of strange situations. Crazy that all they did was throw your stash away.


2

At last a proper comment. I swear, if I had free downvotes, I'd pulverize those assholes who take no effort to actually read the text, and say "Nice photography!" when it's not even the point. Thank you for not being like them!


10

Yes Santo Daime is the syncretic cult combining elements of native beliefs/practices with catholicism and messianism. Not my go-to environment to try ayahuasca, but I'm glad you had an interesting experience. Bummer about the low dose though!


2

What else can you tell about Santo Daime?


0

They have a website actually, so you can check it out!

http://www.santodaime.org/

And there were also a few books published. The one by Andrew Dawson got pretty good reviews.

http://realitysandwich.com/240275/a-review-of-andrew-dawsons-santo-daime-a-new-world-religion/


2

Definitely the adventures that you live in your trips are extremely interesting and exciting; Sometimes I think you risk a bit, but you always achieve your goals ... It's a pity that your experience with ayahuasca was not the best, but you met nice people and beautiful cities such as Bogota and Medellin. Greetings @ nameless-berk


2

but you always achieve your goals

Oh, I wish that was true


0

"Meanwhile I keep getting into strange places and situations." Love this. That's what life is all about!


1