Since I was raised in an old school atheist household I was dead curious to see what was going to come to me.
Weirdly, that was my very first sign that something was afoot.
The lights had been completely turned off after everyone had been served and the Shamans had drunk their doses. The reason being, is you become light sensitive to the point of being able to see in pitch blackness. I tend to have severe night blindness but about 15 minutes later I could see around the hut quite clearly and the sharp outlines of the trees against the night sky. That is what I was looking at when I saw the bright moving green lights. I assumed that there were people outside with green flashlights and I couldn't figure out why they were shining the lights against the screens. I touched Paul's arm, "What are those people doing outside with the green flashlights?"
He seemed to take a long time to answer, "There isn't anyone outside with flashlights. I don't see anybody."
I sensed something was amiss and looked down at my hands. Everything slowed way down and began to twist like right before the film in the projector breaks and I heard myself say out loud, "Here we go down the rabbit hole."
What comes next will be hard to explain in any meaningful way. I haven't really sorted out the import of what I saw and experienced but instead of trying to parse it out here, I will simply try and dictate what occurred without editorializing.
Images started flashing in front of me as clearly as if I were in an IMax theater. A rolling landscape complete with trees and water features spread out before me and just as I noticed the odd texture, I realized it was all constructed of bright silk ribbons. I stuck my hand into the water and brought it up to see blue hued ribbons dangling from my fingers. Suddenly I was whisked away and was surrounded by huge fractals that spun out into playing cards with a strangely colored seashore beyond. I was stepping on something unfamiliar and saw very tiny dice, billions of dice. The waves would wash up, take a layer of dice away revealing the next layer which was a slightly different hue. Tiny florescent crabs skittered around the foam. I stared up into a crimson sun that was so close it blotted out a great deal of sky. It didn't hurt to look at it, in fact I could see millions of magnetic arcs bowing up, breaking and reanimating in a different spot. The transition from scene to scene was quick, but I began to be able to recognize signs it was coming. Whatever I was seeing would start to fade in color and I knew things were about to change. After the color fade was a wild rush of movement which would stop suddenly; It would take a moment to get my bearings. There was a tropical vista in which towering strangely colored birds with excessively long legs that looked like glass, perched and preened themselves in a bright warming light. Mechanical insects scurried around their feet and would suddenly dig down into the dirt disappearing.
Every once in a while a nausea would come from nowhere and ravage me. I would then snap back into awareness of my surroundings, laying prone on a thin mat on a wooden floor. I smelled Florida water and tobacco smoke and in the distance, I could hear the unmistakable sounds of people puking their guts out. The background noise of the jungle was like a coordinated symphony of monkeys,frogs and insects that would rise up in Allegro agitato and then slow to a plodding andante. I imagined a cryptic figure out in the jungle conducting them while holding a green flashlight.
I listened carefully to the Icaros hoping it would take the nausea away. Don Alberto started into his next Icaros and began to whistle. I was back flying through a brilliant blue sky surrounded by white birds constructed entirely of legos. Their wings made noise like a baseball card in a bicycle spoke when they flapped. They started to fade and I went to beautiful room filled with Tibetan-looking art, most of it moved on its own, collapsing in on its own center like a constantly changing mandala. The ceiling was particularly dramatic.
Just then Hamilton called out to everyone, "Everybody breathe in and breathe out. It is just a little Ayahuasca... be glad it isn't a little more." The repeaters laughed like it was an inside joke.
That is when the voice showed up. I thought at first it was God, the complication being that I did not believe in God, but it identified itself as the root: Papa Tua.
He was a definitive male presence: gentle, fatherly, but unwilling to take any nonsense from me. He directed my journey very specifically from that point on. There were a couple of times where I started to go somewhere and he stepped in and said I wasn't allowed to go there and he took me somewhere else.
At one point I was slammed back into my body, there was a discomfort I was experiencing. What was it? I started a personal inventory to determine what the problem was like a mechanic staring into a motor. The moment I realized what the problem was it was nearly too late. I had to go to the bathroom, the purge had decided to start from the south pole first. I tried to get up but fell to my knees. I yelled out in perfect Spanish "Necesito ir al baño! Baño por favor!" I wasn't even sure what I was saying, I didn't recognize the words, but a tiny Peruvian woman was instantly in front of me clutching a glowing red light in her hand, the light poured from between her fingers like glowing red smoke. I am not a huge person, but I am heavy. I thought there was no way in hell this tiny woman was going to get me off my mat. She bent down towards me, "Déme su mano."
I put my hand up and she stood on top of my foot and yanked me up like a sack of potatoes. She draped my arm around her shoulder and we tiptoed through the bodies to the bathroom. I began to wonder if she was real, I thought the fairies were suppose to be green, she was red and shimmery but I couldn't see her wings. She leaned me against a wall while she checked to make sure nobody was already in the stall. I decided she must be an elf and was trying to look at her feet to see if she was wearing pointy shoes and just as I started to slide down the wall she caught me at the last minute. I was spun around and folded like cardboard box and landed with a thud onto the toilet. She whooshed the curtain closed.
What happened next was fairly revolting accompanied with a nausea so overwhelming and spectacular, I thought to mark the occasion. There was one of those ominous mauve buckets on the floor. I had recalled one of the repeaters at lunch talking about getting a gold star if you shit and vomit at the same time. The guy next to him asked what you got if you shit your pants and puke before you manage to get up off your mat?
"A Platinum star - I have a few of those!" he laughed when he said it.
I begged the root to take the nausea away. He told me that I was worrying too much about vomiting, he told me expecting terrible things to happen was making me suffer unnecessarily. It was going to come when it was time, he would tell me and then it would happen. Puking was the sacrifice I needed to make, he would make sure it was over quickly and until then relax and stop obsessing about it.
I managed to wrangle my pants back up and wandered back to my mat.
I pulled a wool blanket over me because I realized I was very very cold. I started to laugh out loud that I was in the middle of the jungle freezing my ass off. The nausea had lifted and I had some quiet moments listening to the room and the Shamans sing and I thought "is it over?" The root came back and said, "Oh no, we have long way to go."
I was immediately plunged back into the river.
There was either a bird out in the jungle that when it called out it sounded like a woman laughing. Every time it did it, I laughed with it and matched the pitch perfectly to the point I couldn't tell if what I heard was myself or the bird.
The intensity began to build for me, the scenarios became more spectacular and intricate. I began to sense the presence of everyone else in the Mareacion. I could sense the pleasant Australian girl across the room and the four Russians behind and to the right of me. The tall German girl was behind me at the back of the room. I knew where everyone was, I could feel them, but I could not see the Shamans. I looked around the room, but I could never see them, only hear them. It was at this point that I decided that the Shamans were in fact - invisible. Hours passed and I received what I can only describe as an information dump into my head. I was given an organic pedagogy regarding math, science, nature and how time is maleable like sentient silly putty. All of them delivered through little light and magic shows that referenced Willy Wonka, Oscar Wilde, Dr.Suess, Fisher Price, Alan Moore, and Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast.
Periodically the shimmery red elves came to fetch me so I could moan piteously on the toilet. The Icaros stopped while I was still in the bathroom. I heard people clapping and calling out "Thank you Maestro!" I stumbled back to my mat as Don Alberto was leaving. The kerosene lanterns were lit once again and people were sitting up and talking like the credits were rolling after a film. I couldn't understand how they were all sitting up and talking since I was still spinning out again and again. The hallucinations were coming whether my eyes were open or closed, I was nowhere near finished and people were just chatting. The nausea was back again along with an astonishing cold that went all the way to my bones. Paul reached out for my hand, "It is still happening" I said, hoping he would have some kind of advice.
"Yeah me too."
Malcom who works with Blue Morpho kneeled down in front of me. His smile seemed larger than his face could hold. "How are you doing Sarah?"
"I am tripping balls, Malcom"
"Are you sure?"
Are there three silver wolves with sapphires for eyes behind you?"
"Nope." He patted my head and went to check on Paul.
Things started to turn for me then, I wanted it to stop, I wanted to have control like the repeaters did. Someone told me to go get into the shower. I half crawled to the rooms where the toilets and showers were. I was so cold that the idea of getting into a shower with no hot water was really awful. So I turned the shower on and stood just inside the stall letting the water splash into my hands and face. I turned the water off. My clothes were damp and I felt even colder, I looked at my hands, had I died? Was that why I was so cold? A short British man was standing outside staring at me when I stepped out. It was possible he was standing there the whole time, I wasn't certain. He had a tie-dye bandanna wrapped around his head, and was wearing those weird hippie pants where the crotch hangs down to your knees and he was shirtless. He had Paul Newman eyes. I thought 'He needs to give Paul Newman back his eyes.'
I stood there shaking.
"Are you okay?"
"No, I am so cold and I can't make it stop."
"Do you want me to hug you?"
"I... I don't know."
He stepped forward and wrapped his arms around me and held me to him. My instinctual reaction when people I know and trust do this to me is to be extremely uncomfortable for however long is polite and then briskly step away. This was a total and complete stranger in the middle of the fucking jungle holding me to him. My heart beat like a rabbit when he did it, but then a brilliant blue light born from the spot where our torsos connected suddenly enveloped us and shot through the ceiling with a blinding glare accompanied by a roaring white noise. I immediately felt warm like all my blood had come back to my body and I burst into ridiculous tears, sobbing hysterically onto a complete strangers bare shoulder. A lucidity came over me when I realized what I was doing and I tried to pull away. He hung onto me tightly and said, "You aren't done, it is coming back" and switched shoulders. The tears came back with more volume and power and I howled weeping in the darkness of the bathroom hallway. Finally it subsided and I thanked him and went back to my mat.
I sat sort of dazed staring up at Hamilton in his Shaman's chair talking about Universalism. I heard Paul ask "are you okay now?"
I stuttered out "yeah, I think so"
It was at this moment that I vomited with an intensity and vengeance that I had never before experienced, with what seemed like the entire room staring right at me. I can say with all honesty that I did not care one whit who was watching me hurl into a plastic bin. I immediately wedged toilet paper up my nose to get the burning sensation to quit. Hamilton chuckled, "This is one of the few places where you can throw up in front of everybody and not have a photo show up on facebook the next day."
The nausea crept back and curled into my lap like rotting animal.
I turned to Paul and said, "I am NEVER doing this again."