Peruvian Cocaine Pt.1
So I went to Peru to address some long-standing doubts about my ability to perform.
By doubts about my ability to perform, I’m referring to something known as the ‘yips.’ I think it was coined in baseball – when a player is about to make a routine throw to 1st base, but just as he is throwing, he clutches the ball too hard and throws it away.
This ‘throwing it away’ is something that I am very capable of, and it scares me. Oddly enough, the more successful I am, the more I’m afraid of ‘throwing it away.’ It makes me want to back away from the whole thing, but I know there’s no other direction to go. Running from yourself just prolongs the pain.
It’s kinda hard to get off the couch and get outta dodge when you’re feeling stuck. The reason I got up was because of a girl I met. She was imminently leaving for South America. I proposed that we fall in love and I go with her. Although it very well could’ve worked, it only gave us three weeks to do so and she decided to go alone.
By that point however, I had already prepared to go to South America, so when she said no I decided to step up and just fuckin go.
Peru had been calling to me. One of my favourite Toronto yogis had done some crazy shit in the mountains with drugs and shamans. I got the info and arranged to do the same.
So, I was headed to the Peruvian jungle for a month of Ayahuasca – a hallucinogenic plant medicine similar to DMT, Peyote or a strong version of acid. It is said that Ayahuasca brings out one’s demons and forces what could be a very uncomfortable cleansing – perfect for my fear of sharing myself with the world.
On a side note, there is no cocaine in this blog post, I just thought Peruvian Cocaine made for a better title. And when I made journal notes for this I had originally planned for this next sentence to be – “but the cocaine is certainly good family fun,” but I actually didn’t do any of it.
But I’m sure it’s made with love.
Anyways I arrived in Lima, the capital city on the coast, a week before the start of the jungle shenanigans. One of my aunts, originally from Peru, went to great length to have me stay with her childhood friend who now had a family, and a house, in the wealthy part of the city.
It’s funny because I rarely talk to this aunt and I’m not quite sure how she knew I was going to Peru – probably my mom trying to look out for me. But at our family picnic last year we had a hearty exchange and I’m sure those good vibes had something to do with this unexpected hospitality.
Family partying can come in handy sometimes.
Anyways Lima is cool. Kinda cloudy though.
The people though, are kinda different.
Talking about the weather just there, I felt like I was going to get into the mundane itinerary shit that people talk about when they talk about trips. That ain’t happening. In fact, I didn’t really care about seeing statues or landmarks or whatever the fuck down there. I spent my time surfing, sitting on park benches, and admiring this cousin of the family’s, who is an actress on the verge of being famous in the southern hemisphere.
Yeah I had no interest in playing the tourist.
I sat on a patio, drank coffee and read the New York Times for 3 hours one afternoon.
Part of me was like, “dude, you’re in Peru, go out there and do some Peru shit.” And then I was like, “dude, that shit’s not even real.” What better way to absorb culture than sit on the porch and watch people go by right? Old people do know things.
It’s kinda like being home at family gatherings and people ask how the trip was for the purpose of conversation. Like, give me the summary you know. “Yeah it was great….” It’s like, dude, I was just immersed in a way of life that is in no way similar to the smallness of this obligatory conversation, and I’m not going to box the last two months of myself into a string of words so we can feel comfortable because someone filled the silence of our souls with some bullshit.
Nah…… fuck that. I’m not going to do that to myself and I’m not going to do that for you. We’re both going to sit here and sweat until we’re okay with it and when someone has something authentic to say, we will share.
The people though, are kinda different.
A road in Lima will have four lanes but no one uses them. They fit 5 cars and a few motorcycles abreast at an intersection. There are no rules and everyone knows it. As long as you’re aware of where you are and where I am, there are no problems. And there aren’t. There is no faith in the external salvation of policy, painted lines, or signage. People do what they do. But they understand that they can only do what they do if it is in harmony with everyone else doing what they do, or else no one will be able to do anything because we’ll all be fuckin dead.
People honk at each other a lot. But it carries no hatred. They honk as a means of communication, for the sake of awareness and safety.
The driver that this family hired to pick me up from the airport, after telling me to put up my tinted window to not show my gringo face in that particular part of town, got dangerously cut off by a minivan and, without twitching his foot on the gas, just started laughing. I fuckin like that. It was like, “haha, motherfucker got away with that one!” And we just smiled at each other. No bitching, no moaning, no stress.
When people laugh there, there’s a different quality to it. In North America we usually laugh AT something – at people, at things, at the expense of something else’s value. Higher quality humour transcends the need to make fun of things and in these parts of the world, people laugh with a sense of joy. They laugh together. The person telling the joke and the people receiving it laugh with the same richness. It’s not a shallow, high pitched laugh made more for the sake of demonstrating you’re having a good time. It’s a deeper belly laugh, made because one is vibrating so hard that they can’t help but let out the goodness.
I noticed this when I went to family parties of the people hosting me, of which there were 3 in 5 days. At where I met this girl, the actress, who was quite enchanting.
They get together every Saturday and Sunday for lunch, probably 15 or 20 of them, and during the week too, if there is a birthday or something. When they meet they kiss on both cheeks, and then just get down to it. No small stuff. They just party. I couldn’t quite tell what they were talking about most of the time because it was Spanish, but it sounded like they had some degree of passion for what was coming out of their mouths.
They did speak English for me when we got into smaller groups, but it was interesting being the one guy at the table who was blankly looking at people as they talked, kind of trying to fit in but obviously not being able to understand what the fuck was going on. I’ve seen that look on foreigners faces before. I thought them to be stupid. Now I was that guy. How interesting.
On the one hand it didn’t matter what the fuck I did. On the other hand it felt like I didn’t really belong. And they were so hospitable. 3 fuckin family gatherings they brought me to! Not to mention the two times I went out with the kid and their friends who were my age. They all talked English for me. Not all the time but sometimes! And they have no reason to be nice to me. We don’t even know how we know each other.
But that’s just the way they are. It’s like, alright man, you’re in my country, stay at my house, eat some of my rice and let me show you how we do it down here.
They eat well there. Much more than rice. But lots of rice.
They also were really into ice cream. They dig the sugar.
I went out for Halloween with the actress, a cousin of the family I was staying with (just re mentioning the connection for understandings sake) and a bunch of her actor friends. It was cool. You know when guys come to Canada from like Ireland and the girls are digging the accent? Well I was dancing at this bar and I was approached by 3 different women who all wanted to fuck. They weren’t fucking around. They knew what they wanted, and like, they made it clear. But not in an overbearing way. In a welcoming way. You know? In a way that made you want to oblige them.
Unfortunately at that time I was under Ayahuascan guidelines to not have sex prior to usage, which I considered breaking, but didn’t, for whatever reason – more because getting to the family’s house the next afternoon may have been an awkward hassle.
And because I wanted to follow the guidelines. Although I’m not big on guidelines.
But I want to talk about this family. This family had power. I saw it in the fathers’ eyes. And the rest of them. But the fathers I was particularly interested in.
I didn’t know until later but the man who’s roof I was staying under was the President of one of the top soccer teams in Lima. He had recently had a problem with his fans killing rival fans after lost matches. He, personally, spoke to the mob, with his own voice, at a game, explaining that if they continued to do so the team would be kicked out of the league.
The mob toned it down.
That’s fuckin…… I don’t even know. That’s fuckin being a man.
I’d like to be able to do that for me and my future family’s safety. I would be proud to be a man of that esteem. To openly speak to killers, and ask them for their cooperation. And for them to have the respect to deem my message worthy. These are killers. They play by different rules, but they know truth and humanity when they see it. It’s a powerful thing.
The father of this beautiful actress was also a powerful man in Peruvian politics. His voice reverberated through his chest and his gaze was soft and steady. He filled the room with his presence, and he did so with ease and grace.
They intimidated me. I felt myself tightening in their presence. I’ve noticed I have a habit of doing this in the presence of men who’s power I respect. It’s like I feel I need to make myself more than I am to be their equal. Like I want to be as powerful as them but haven’t figured out where it comes from.
I was sitting alone in the actresses’ garden one afternoon and the father came out to get me.
We had a slow walk back to the house that really made an impact on me. It was a father/son walk that I haven’t experienced.
I was leaving for the jungle the next day and he was giving me his love and guidance for the potentially painful journey ahead. We were walking side by side and he was so steady and sure footed. I felt fidgety and wanted to walk faster. But he was like a rock of comfort, I couldn’t escape it without obviously running away. My body clenched in resistance to being so firmly in the safety of this man’s wake.
It was like, who the fuck is this guy? We don’t even know each other. It was so calm and safe. It was… intimate. This powerful man was like, providing for me. I can’t accept this. This is like… borderline sexual it’s so real.
He was giving me his wisdom and assuring me I was going to be okay. And it wasn’t just words. I could feel it.
Could I accept this man’s power as my own? He was giving it to me, but I felt weird receiving it.
I didn’t obey the desire to run away, and eventually eased into our father/son walk. It was…. I dunno…. it made an impression on me.
I jotted down some notes to remember how I was feeling on November 1st, and then prepared to go to the jungle and see what the spirits had to tell me.
To be continued…