The next day we fasted after lunch in preparation. We arrived at the ceremony at 9pm and we each met with the shaman to explain what we hoped to accomplish. I indicated that i was hoping to heal my shoulder and learn to be more calm. Disappointingly, there were no hallucinations nor mind changing experiences nor cure for my bad shoulder. However, there were some runs and a bit of nausea and people puking throughout the evening.
For this Catholic gringo it was an odd mix of Indian culture and catolico rituals during an all night ceremony in the lush forest outside of Armenia. A shamon from Amazonia (pictured) orchestrated the ceremony alternating between leading the sign of the cross and shaking ayahuaska root and spitting tea out and chanting. His jaguar teeth necklace added to the exotic feel. We were given tea made from the ayahuaska root at 12 midnight and again at 4AM. During the evening and morning a quintet including two flutes played beautiful Colombian music. I laughed when the played Simon & Garfunkel´s, IF I COULD. it was beautiful and i later learned that they took the melody from an old Andean folk song, EL CONDOR DE PASA.
At 6:15 I was feeling a bid disappointed at not having a deeper experience. However, I walked to the campfire in the dim early morning light before sunrise and sat in a calm state that I have only achieved after a few days of deep meditation. I noticed a bamboo forest to the south. A dense jungle of palms and at least 10 other species of trees to the north and west. Slow moving clouds with a cool slight breeze coupled well with the warmth of the fire. The Andes soared beyond the forest. Graceful birds flying above the trees. To truly calm your mind is a beautiful thing. Life is such a precious gift. I am at peace and grateful to the only God I can see and feel, nature.
But then I am given some coca leaves to chew and digest. Then the shaman´s aids blow tobacco up or nostrils through a long 2 foot long narrow pipe and we snort it experiencing an intense head rush. Most of us are sneezing and a bit dizzy from this final activity.
Soon it is time to leave and say goodbye to my travel mates who are heading back to beautiful Salento. My path is to the south to Popayan for 2 nights before going to Ecuador. I am grateful for the gift of 32 days in amazing Colombia.