My First Experience with Ayahuasca in Peru

Jan 6, 2024 | Peru, Travel | 0 comments

It was 2016 and I had just started my world travels; I never thought I would end up in Peru doing ayahuasca. I was only supposed to go to Nicaragua for 3 months but ended up in Central and South America for 9 months. At the time, I was teaching at a resort in Nicaragua when I ended up in a surfing accident that ripped my industrial piercing out of my ear. I went to the third-world country clinic and they stitched it right up I was so afraid it wasn’t going to grow back together because the cartilage is really thick there. But miraculously, it did.

During my healing time, I got to thinking that I had really had quite a few head injuries and other injuries over the years (I was also dealing with a shoulder injury from performing aerial hoop). I was wondering why my yoga practice wasn’t helping me deal with my samskaras, or karmic impressions. I had slowed down a lot, was doing a lot of meditation and pranayama, and not as much vigorous yoga except when I had to teach.

And that’s when I felt ayahuasca call me. I had known of the grandmother medicine for over a decade. I had been a psychedelic explorer since the age of 16 trying mushrooms and LSD. But I knew it had to be at the right moment, at the right time. I could have gone to Costa Rica, which would have been easy since I was nearby, but I felt called to go to the source: Peru.

But the real sign that I was being called came to me while I was teaching a yoga class. I had just instructed my students into lizard pose when a gecko/lizard literally dropped from the ceiling onto my head! I definitely shrieked and freaked my students out and we all had a good laugh. I’ve often seen many large geckos and lizards throughout my travels and had another huge one fall on me in Thailand, but that’s a story for another day.

Then I flew to Iquitos and the shaman and his wife picked me up from the airport and took me to their home where they fed me some salad. I was nervous because there was no Wi-Fi and at that point, my phone wasn’t unlocked and I hadn’t told my family where I was going or what I was doing. Originally I only wanted to do 3 days and 2 ceremonies, but the shaman, whose name was Wilder, convinced me to take 4 days, which I wasn’t so keen on spending the extra money on because I had been dealing with an issue with my bank.

I felt I got conned a little, and also even back then before ayahuasca was as popularized as it is now, I felt like a spiritual tourist, a white girl being taken advantage of. I also saw him as not that different from myself, having a spiritual gift and trying to profit from it and make a living. I later found out that during the low season he led groups to Machu Picchu.

The next day they took me to an internet café where I could check my messages and let people know I was safe. I told my dad I was in the Amazon. Then we went grocery shopping for our excursion and little did I know, I was the only guest! So, we went all over Iquitos markets which were dirty and smelly and I packed a bag, afraid to leave my electronics at their house so I brought them anyway (so stupid of me) and we set off on a shuttle to the port of the Amazon River.

Our boat down the Amazon

I was so exhausted from detoxing that I slept part of the journey down the Amazon River. I had already started having vivid dreams at the shaman’s house and also on the boat. I remember it rained and we pulled down some tarp so as not to get wet. Then, we made a turn down the Yarapa River. We ended up at the shaman’s father’s house and the whole “neighborhood” were houses built on stilts for when the river rose and they had to use a canoe to go to their neighbor’s house! I used the bathroom, which was quite interesting. And even all the way out here there was proof of junk food wrappers on the ground. It was sad.

Because it was still dry season, we needed to transition to a smaller boat. Everyone was speaking Spanish but they informed me what was going on. So, we hiked a small way and found the new boat. And then we picked up the shaman’s wife’s (Doris) mother who had cats in a cloth bag, no idea for what reason, but I guess they were safer that way, they just kept whining. Well, the river kept continually drying out until we ended up at another random village where we had to ask to borrow an even smaller boat. I remember sitting on a local Amazonian woman’s porch for a while swatting mosquitoes in the heat and watching her 2 birds.

The smaller boat and the river downsizing

At one point, we had to push the boat through the mud and finally, we had to give up and I was given some rubber boots 5 sizes too big to walk through the bush and they somehow pushed the boat with our bags and groceries until the river opened up again. There were moments when we were in this small boat that I thought my bags (and electronics) were going to fall into the muddy water, the men had to get out of the boat and push it as it was getting trapped on logs and more.

It took 9 hours in total.

I was exhausted, to say the least. And hadn’t eaten anything. And then it was time for my first ayahuasca ceremony after all that.

I got settled into a wooden hut with no electricity that had a bed with a thick mosquito net, a cold shower, a toilet, and a hammock. I did some yoga and meditation and journaled a lot during my downtime. It rained a lot during my stay there so I hoped our journey back to Iquitos would be easier.

The hut I stayed in

Then it was time.

There were some pre-ceremony rituals that I don’t recall exactly, but they involved either smoking tobacco or having tobacco blown on me and some leaf shaking (also during the ceremony).

In my journal the next day, I wrote down the following:

  • Wish really hard
  • Inhale more = more energy
  • World of smiles (I think this predicted me going to Thailand)
  • Be present

The sounds and symphony of the jungle were completely unparalleled to anything I had ever experienced before. I later came to find out we were on the shaman’s wife’s family land. I was reminded that Mother Earth has been around a lot longer than humans and she knows what she’s doing. I wrote, “she creates harmony. We need to understand this as a whole so we can live in harmony with the earth.”

I felt the effects of the medicine maybe 1.5 hours after consumption, which seemed like quite a long time. Then I started vomiting into the bucket.

I felt a huge smile come upon my face. I sent love to my Memaw, my grandmother who later passed of breast cancer in 2017 while I was in Sri Lanka.

I kept my eyes closed like I was meditating for the most part, but when I opened my eyes, everything was very kaleidoscopic. It was like I was drunk on DMT (I was no stranger to DMT either) but my eyelids felt heavy.

I had some internal visuals of different animals morphing into one another (hawk, tiger, snake, etc.). I ended up laying down when I wasn’t vomiting. My stomach started hurting at one point and I needed to use the toilet.

There were moments I felt connected to Divine Source. Then I also realized I felt uncomfortable inhaling deeply and was breathing too shallowly, which could explain my exhaustion and anxiety. I was inspired to get more into breathwork to continue working on healing myself.

I then felt a lot of respect for my shaman, in his role in healing people and bringing people to this land. I also realized that was absolutely the CRAZIEST 9-hour adventure I had ever been on (besides the 9-hour hike I did up and down a volcano in Nicaragua).

The next morning, I woke up feeling fine, with no side effects or anything, and Doris (the wife) kept me well-nourished. Wilder took me on a wild plant walk on the property and showed me the two plants growing that make ayahuasca, which was really special.

As Wilder and I talked, I continued to notice our similarities, and actually, he really inspired me to do what I do today- go where I feel called to teach yoga or aerial yoga (which was just a glimmer in my eye at that point).

At one point during our walk, we came across some locals harvesting a fallen palm tree to feed a bucket of worms. Apparently, after a few months, the worms get fat and they eat them! He said the worms were good for your throat- I was like yeah, not ready for that one!

Later I sat in Doris’ mother’s house for a while watching the cats she had brought play with one another as they counted food rations. It also made me realize they probably benefitted their village by bringing food all the way out there from Iquitos.

Behind her house was more jungle and he showed me the chacruna plant, which is the DMT-containing plant. Then he showed me the baanisteris caapi, which contains the MAOI and extends the trip. He said it takes 5 years after planting to harvest them for ayahuasca. He then began positioning the plant upward on the tree trunk to encourage it to grow upward, toward the light. Quite metaphorical, sort of like the lotus flower reaching up from the muck.

He then showed me something called “toe flower” which some shamans add to their brew but can cause freakouts so he doesn’t use it. I began to feel so grateful to be having this intimate experience, alone in the jungle with my shaman’s and his wife’s families, and how their work kept them connected.

We continued our jungle adventure and collected flowers and shells for my flower bath the next day. We also collected some Cat’s Claw which I was advised to drink as tea for a specific condition and I swear between that and the ayahuasca I never had an issue with it again. I’ll never forget when he chopped off the big woody vine and we actually drank water out of it! He kept calling me “Jungle Lindsay” throughout the day, so he had a good sense of humor, too.

During my time there, I somehow came up with the thought that I needed to make $700 to buy a new laptop by the end of the year (it was October). After Peru, I was going back to Nicaragua for a low-paying, cash-only yoga job and needed to figure out some online work as soon as I got out of the jungle. Luckily, I had done some online writing in the past so I had some credentials.

Soon, it was nighttime and time for Ayahuasca experience numero dos.

This time, he gave me more- a full cup. It was very sour tasting. I smoked tobacco with him on this occasion. He sang the Icaros songs and did some intense leaf fanning around me. I started feeling the effects quicker with closed-eye visuals, emotions of sadness and happiness at the same time, and my body started shaking from my inner thighs. This is actually something I felt mildly the night before and have felt on other psychedelics as well.

I spent a lot more time puking that night and my throat was sore the next morning. I felt my face contorting into awful faces like I couldn’t control it. I remember at one point vomiting and then sticking my tongue out like a demon. Or maybe I was releasing my demons. I would go through moments, feeling connected to the Divine, then I would start vomiting. This lasted about 2 hours.

There was a moment I was crying and laughing at the same time and I couldn’t tell which one was which.

Then my spirit animal appeared to me: the lady falcon. I flew through the sky and this was the second time she has appeared to me on a psychedelic journey. And I had asked spirit to be shown my spirit animal the day before. Falcons are powerful animals and it encouraged me to take a stand for my life, come into my power, and think higher of my own ideas.

When the vomiting would get intense, Wilder would sing and shake the feathers more. At one point he was sucking energy out of my head or third eye. At one point, I started convulsing and he rubbed some aromatic oil all over my face and sucked something out of my third eye for sure. I felt like he was exorcising my demons.

This session was obviously longer, and the next morning I could barely move. I got bit quite a bit more by mosquitoes than I would have liked to and was a little worried about yellow fever/dengue and malaria as I was on no medication to prevent it. I had done some research prior and there was some sort of map online that outlined where these diseases were most prevalent in the world and even pinpointed down to the Amazon so somehow, I knew I was going to be safe.

I asked Wilder if the locals drank ayahuasca and he said no because they didn’t want to “wake up”. And I could see how Westernization had depleted lands in the Amazon, bringing in junk food and not educating them about the new modern sugar diet.

I had a lot of thoughts while staying in this hut without electricity that Western culture uses so much electricity. I even thought at one point that maybe the Westerners needed “waking up” with ayahuasca to remember to live in harmony with the planet. When you can live simply and in peace- that is when you can be happy.

I did not have as many crazy visions or patterns as some do, but my experience was still profound and my experiences with tripping have always been a bit more mental or kinesthetic in my body. Wilder had a true conviction in God that was powerful and I could feel it when he laid his hands on my head.

I also did not have much appetite the day after and found myself sleeping a lot before and after my flower bath. I was sort of glad to have this “pillow” day to recover instead of hopping right on the boat to go back to civilization after that intense experience. I remember I kept thinking, well if you want to lose weight, go on the aya dieta, backpack through a foreign country, and do an aya ceremony and vomit your brains out. I definitely lost about 10 lbs.

My neck was even sore from vomiting- I could not imagine doing more ceremonies as some centers do like 5 in a week! And were quite expensive. But overall, I got the experience I needed- to disconnect to reconnect!

ayahuasca experience iquitos peru
The river flowing again after my ceremonies

When all was said and done, we went back to Iquitos and I immediately felt the urge to leave the shaman’s house and set up another couch-surfing experience with a local woman. My bank account was overdrawn and I was freaking out but not freaking out. I don’t even know how it all happened, but things were reversed, money came into my account, I tried a few other new plant medicines, and ended up booking several online writing jobs through (which I still use today).

By the time I got back to Nicaragua at the end of the month, I landed a big contract making $1000 per month which completely surpassed my goal of $700 for the laptop! Of course, I didn’t use it to buy a laptop at that time as I decided to travel to Guatemala before my next job in Costa Rica- but I did eventually buy a new laptop after Costa Rica and before my first trip to Thailand when I had a mere 4 days in the United States. So, I would say that my first ayahuasca experiences really opened me up to becoming a manifestor (which I have always been, but the powers were more dormant). Stay tuned for more stories!

And stay blessed, as always.


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