Time Travel

The best feature of my house is my fireplace.  It’s inefficient as far as the amount of heat it produces (you literally have to get right up against the flames to warm your buns), but it is spiritually sustaining. The intensity of the flames… the crackling of the logs… it’s this amazing little dance of energy that I get to witness whenever I want to (um, when I’m home that is).

So I’ve made several fires – probably three a week. There is a huge pile of clippings from an apple tree in my back yard that I help myself to. It’s basically kindling, so my fires are pretty short, but it’s always been the same wood. Tonight, however, it was different. The smell of the wood smoke – the richness of it clinging to my hand – took me instantly to a place and time far away from there in my living room.

Brewing ayahuasca

Brewing ayahuasca

The scent took me to South America. To a small village on the outskirts of “civilization.” To a bamboo hut, where I stoke a fire into the wee hours of the night brewing ceremonial medicine. To sampling multiple shots of trago – cane alcohol – and trying to find an appropriate mixer in a place that doesn’t coddle to westerner’s “needs.”

To embarrassing myself asking if I could kiss a girl. And to redeeming myself.

To being scared shitless by giggling coming from the jungle. To being relieved that it is only an inebriated shaman out on a late night errand, clothed only in a buttoned down dress shirt. To realizing that maybe I ought to be scared.

To falling in love. With friends… with a culture… with an idea.

And then I return to the now. Back in front of my fireplace.  Back to the reality of bills and troubles with my high speed internet connection (but having plenty of mixers available). The memory burns in my mind’s eye, and it’s sort of painful. The images, the smells, the tastes are so real that I was literally there. Again.

Today it’ll be one year since I visited Mariposa, that same village in the Ecuadorian Amazon on the outskirts of Tena, the regional capital. The trip was so special to me on so many different levels that I’m not surprised that these visions are flowing back to me right now (I swear that I saw the same 1/2 naked shaman – only not naked – in downtown Portland yesterday), but the emotion it dredges up has me stunned a bit. I find myself having to simply sit and ponder what this all means.

My baseline is that I’m really sad that the reality of Ecuador is so far away that it is only a memory. But I’ve also realized – and it is good to sit and contemplate all of this – that it’s an extremely special memory to have, and because that journey shaped me in so many positive ways, I’m lucky to be whisked instantly back to it.

November 2007

November 2007 Photo credit: G. Hostetler


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