Friday, December 27, 2013

Iquitos, Peru: Almost Kindle? Not Exactly

I am still trying to create a proper Kindle version of my latest book, Iquitos, Peru: Almost Close. There is a problem with the third attempt as well.

I live in a wonderful and mostly peaceful city in the Amazon jungle. I am very happy here, and I want to remain here for some time yet, soaking up the peace and happiness that I crave.  I want to share some of that life of mine by writing about the city and its people. I have managed to publish the hard copy version of that, a book, if you will, and I have tried and failed to publish a computer version, a Kindle.

There is a problem here in the Amazon jungle where I live: the Internet hardly works. I tried to publish my book as a pdf.  Kindle writes to tell me they cannot accept pdf manuscripts. I must, they write, send a doc. But the Internet here is not capable of sending such a large document as a doc. so I might not get a Kindle version out for a while yet.
My apologies to those who ordered a Kindle and found they got a mess instead.

The book version is beautiful, like Ivonne, the girl I am so stricken by. No doubt there will be a Kindle version of my book long before Ivonne ever decides to marry me, but I have some hope that both will come about in time. Till then, here is a link to the actual book.

Monday, December 16, 2013

D.W. Walker, Iquitos, Peru: Almost Close. Available now.

My latest book is now available at 

Wild and wonderful tales from the Amazon jungle city of Iquitos, Peru, Almost Close brings this fascinating city to life for the ages, a collection of stories of places, people and events that will thrill and entertain the reader with indepth views of an exotic land and its eccentric and adventurous characters: colourful locals, expatriot residents, and romantic drifters all looking for paradise, having found it in Iquitos, if not forever and for all, then for some and for a while, perhaps not exactly, but almost close.

The strangest, funniest, most comprehensive English-language book ever written about the isolated Amazon jungle city of Iquitos, Peru. From stray dogs, vultures, and rats to garbage, sewers, the cemetery, and cremation, it’s all here. But wait. There’s more!

Iquitos, Peru: Almost Close looks at orphans living in a world enveloped by witchcraft and a life dominated by evil spirits where people live in shacks atop floating logs or in shakey dwellings perched on high wooden pilings amidst sloshing water-borne disease awash in piranhas, alligators, and anacodas, a place between the traditional selva and modern civilisation, find a starting place for a grand and beautiful future-- for those who survive.

Finally, this is the story of Iquitos in our time: a parade of drug-gulping weirdos, wackos, clowns, and crazies who mingle with gun-toting, knife-throwing, beer-drinking bird watchers, men who wear sunglasses at night, and vibrant gals who love them, people who make Iquitos one of the great places to kick back and live it up as life flows ever into the oceanic, everything and all of us flowing headlong and inevitably down the river of time into the great unknown, some taking pause to marry and make this epic journey together.

Iquitos, Peru: Almost Close. Here. Now.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Dag Walker's New Book Out Soon

I've been working to polish up my latest book and it is near completion today.
It looks like Ivonne and I have been proofreading and editing and tinkering with my book, Iquitos, Peru: Almost Close, since some time early in Oct. We want to get this one right, and with Ivonne's incredible ability to spot problems and come up with excellent solutions I think we have a book well worth your time and money.
Of course, the oddities in the writing are mine and at my insistence, Ivonne giving in only after rigorous debate on fine points that I overrode. There are numerous instances of what will be seen as bad writing and terrible grammar. I do know better, but sometimes it's more important to make a stylistic point that a grammatical one. In any case, the mistakes, intentional or not, are mine alone.
The book should be ready for order within a day or so. I'll leave a link here when it is ready for the world at large.
Meanwhile, I look forward to writing more at this blog about Iquitos, about life in general, and of course about my own life and times.

Thanks for you patience and continued support.

Iquitos, Peru
12 Dec. 2013

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Iquitos, Peru: Closing Time

Iquitos, Peru: Closing Time

I realised one evening that some people might think I'm a little odd at times. At a crowded table of friends at an outdoor cafe, a few of them suddenly shouted at me, “Are you fucking nuts?!”

Well, I felt that I had to explain myself, I guess, because a car bomb had exploded across the street while earlier and a couple of tourists had been killed. The blackened wreck was still burning down, and the white painted lines on the street were still sizzling, giving off an acid smelling smoke that made some peoples eyes water as they watched the ambulance attendants moved away the bodies. I had mentioned off-hand that my life was pretty good and that for the first time in many years I felt at home and at peace. I was sitting at a nice cafe with people I liked, and it was truly a pleasant evening, even with the bitter scent of burnt rubber and the sickly-sweet smell of charred human flesh. I wasn't thinking about that part of the evening when I said how nice it was to be sitting out in the evening under the stars in the warmth and joy of a fine night. My life was awfully good at the moment, though of course it was too bad about the tourists. My companions shouted, “Are you fucking crazy?!”

Perhaps I had mis-timed my comment.

To read the rest of this story, please turn to the following link;

Monday, October 07, 2013

Iquitos, Peru: Ayahuasca with Ron Wheelock

Iquitos, Peru: Mr. Wonderful Takes Ayahuasca

(The following post stands alone well enough. If you care to make deeper sense of it there is a previous part. If you haven't yet read the first part of this story, please turn to the following link:

I ain't so sick that I need the “medicine” of Mother Ayahuasca to heal my psychic fucking pains. I'm pretty much OK as I am, even if I'm not the greatest guy I know or even attempting to be better than I am and could be if I tried a little bit to improve my evil temper and to get over my seething resentments festering over the decades. I live with who and what I am and I am basically content with myself. I do not need. Mother Ayahuasca? Nope. Had a mother once. I'm fine, thanks.


There I was, seated down at my favourite restaurant in Iquitos, me hungry and pleased with my life of sunshine, warmth, and a good chicken dinner looking tasty on my plate when I felt a rap on my shoulder and I didn't reach for my gun and spin around in a cold panic that someone was touching me and that touch would be a prelude to pain when I don't think about it. I remembered where I am and I turned around and saw a young boy, maybe ten, and with the boy a man, boy and Ron Wheelock sitting down behind me for dinner at a nice restaurant. We sat together and ate our food in the light.

“Ron,” I said, “I am right sick of drinking ayahuasca all this time, and every time-- nothing happens to me. I'm writing a book about ayahuasca, and I can't just end it with: 'Nothing happened'. I'll keep on trying, but I am not going to pay for it any more. If anyone has confidence in their ayahausca, then they can invite me and I'll let the world know how it went. That's the deal I offer.” I don't say more, but I could have added that aside from being totally pissed off by all this bullshit ayahuasca drinking that gets me nowhere, as much as that I am upset by my “performance failure.” I pay for that!? No way.


They say: “The difference between Wheelock's ayahausca and everyone else's is the difference between day and night.”


The weekend is gone and I find myself sitting on a raw log in the hundred-plus degree heat of the Amazon jungle, sitting while Wheelock adds more hand-split hardwood to the two by four foot blaze he has roaring already under the grate that supports half a dozen 25 gallon drums of fetid creek water and machine-ground ayahuasca vines boiling down to coffee-coloured extract that he will keep draining off and refining till he has his right recipe finished for the world, his high-powered “medicine.”

Wheelock is 58 years old. He's stripped down to the waist, covered in sweat and soot and dirt. With one gloved hand he pulls a barrel off the grate and slides it down onto a brick and then rolls the barrel over the jungle floor to a dirt mound and brick stand where he yanks it up and slowly pours off the tea into a cloth-covered tub, the process beginning again when that tub is full. We swap back injury tales. We talk about back home, life in rural America. We don't talk ayahuasca. Ayahuasca can wait. In the heat of the day by the fire in the Amazon jungle it's time for two old guys to talk about more important things. We talk about cars and kids and women and making a living. We talk about the kids we would have had if things had worked out differently between us men and the women we knew. We talk about the girls we date now, the kids we will have if only things work out well this time round. We seek good women, yes, but we seek good mothers more. Mother Ayahuasca is not part of our conversation. Fatherhood. We are men.


We serious seven were seated in a wide circle on the dirt floor under a giant grass circus tent with green mosquito nets stapled over the long, narrow windows, Wheelock to my right at his altar from where he sat making noises with his leaf wrapped rattle, his mapacho puffing, is horking and spitting, is humming and hacking. To my left sat a young man who immediately the evening began stripped off his shirt, he sitting still and silent for the duration but for his gagging. Far, far across the open room sat the others, a pair of house-sitters for el maestro during his recent absence abroad, and beside them, again far removed, two local men, assistants in training to Wheelock.

In the centre of the room between two vertical support beams was a jungle wood frame, a rack inside which hung down a massive brass gong from the 400 year old Zildjian company of Mass, the gong covered in engraved Chinese dragon motifs, the gong being in keeping, I thought, with Wheelock's love of musical things and shiny black plastic stereo equipment. Wheelock finished passing out the ayahuasca cup to the last man. He then blew out the two squat square candles at either end of his altar and we sat.

After I drank the foul ayahuasca from the wooden red wine style short stemmed glass with the wide, deep bowl, I returned to my too tight plastic seat, my legs stretched out, my bare feet invisible to me in the darkness. I sat still, my head tilted back, and I waited, nauseous, for others to barf around me, their sick sounds signal to me that I could then puke as well, it being for me a matter of pride that I am stronger than the others and I don't puke so easy. I sat.

I was aware of others in the vast dark shelter around me in the jungle, particularly aware of the crude sounds of puking. But those others weren't close to me in any sense at all, just others out there, which suited me extra-fine. I'm not one for huggy instant friendships. I sat alone in the dark and wondered if I might lose my mind.

I sat alone in the dark and wondered if I might lose my mind, selah. What if my mind is already cracked and ayahuasca is the hammer blow that shatters me mentals into splinters across the endless empty skies and I am nevermore me? Is there no hand to gather me?

I rested my chin on my chest and felt a surge of sadness that this was the end of a long and sometimes tortured quest for a life of meaning in what is for me a meaningless universe, a meaningless existence, a life that cannot mean anything at all but nothing. I had hoped for more. I had struggled for all of my life in a state of faith that the meaninglessness was my mistake and I could somehow, someday, finally figure it out if only I tried, if only I held this faith. Thus I confronted the end of it all, here and now, no hope of rescue, no hand to hold to pull me back from this horrible catastrophic mistake I'd made, my final end, and I am helpless now to stop it that my mind is coming apart in pieces and I am no longer integral me. My mind is lost. I am madness the man. I did this to myself. There is no going back. It's just... too... fucking... late.

Then the drug hit me.


The transformation seemed to be immediate. I was one moment sitting in my chair wondering what would happen to me, how I would behave among others, concerned that I might be a danger to them. I was worried that my mind might break apart and never recover. Then there was a change. I didn't feel different from one moment to the next, didn't feel it coming on, wasn't are that I was being flooded with this drug. I was, as it were, me in a different state of mind. My mind didn't splinter into myriad shards of crazed reflections of my former coherent self. I wasn't terrified by visions of monsters out to harm me. I didn't, like so many I have listened to, confront my own death. Nor did I see snakes devouring me. Instead, I encountered the strangest kind of me I could imagine, one wholly out of character. That was real. It was so real that now, some time after the fact and long enough ago to dispassionately consider it all, I can't tell how much of my drug experience reflects the real me and how much was sheer drug-induced weirdness.

Me? Not-me? The effect of a jungle drug? Or maybe it was the effect of a jungle drug on me while under the influence of the machinations of a master manipulator of my moods, my curandero. I'm left to wonder, as ever in this kaleidoscopic life of travel and adventure, 'Who is the real me?'

Twenty minutes after getting it down the gaggy goo, thick and slimy ayahuasca this time the exotic taste of dog shit flavoured cherry cough syrup I found myself sitting back nice and easy in a bulk-bought-from-Walmart, white stackable plastic patio chair, my fingers laced behind my head, me grinning big as I realised that Jack Paar, the earlier host of The Tonight Show before Johnny Carson took over, which is to say that Paar is essentially the coolest guy ever to do late night TV, is not even close to being as excellent a guy as I am. I didn't even want to waste my time talking to Jack Paar. I wanted to chat, but I demanded someone worthy of me. That could only be one other person: I wanted to talk to myself for the sake of good company. Leaning back in my plastic chair and feeling better than I have ever felt before, I called into the aether for myself, conjuring Other-me from my mind so I had me to talk to. I like Other-me. He likes me, too. I am, however, more excellent than he. Being with myself was such a happy pleasure that I found myself, both of us, laughing out loud, which shot hot stabbing pain though my gut and hurled me out of my plastic chair like a cat snagged on a passing pant leg and dumped in the damp dirt like a sack full of smelly laundry. I laid on the dirt floor of the ayahuasca centre, settling in on my side and I was flooded with a sense of my heavenly greatness and a tsunami as well of nausea. I pulled my Inca-motif cloth day-bag under my head and covered my nose with my fingers and my mouth with the palm of my hand to muffle as well as I could the bubbling-porridge sound of my laughter that I suspected was pissing off the half dozen pukers seated around me. But my snickers, giggles, guffaws, and outright howls of laughter escaped me anyway till I shook, laughing in the dirt. I liked myself so much I was overwhelmed by myself, which is no wonder, given that I was lying in the dirt talking to myself, i.e Other-me. I laughed so hard I shot a zucchini size walloping gob of quivering candy-coated slime into the round plastic basin I fumbled my fingers to find. I laughed at that and all the night till the earthquake hit the aeroport as the jet plane was landing just in time to crash headlong into the on-coming steam locomotive freight train. All that massive monster noise and all that crashing cascade of crazy-colour swirling in endless manic rainbows all around me, it was all just for me 'cause I am, now I know-- Yeah! I am Mister Wonderful. 

I'll say one thing about Mother Ayahuasca: she's got long fingers who can reach so deep she can touch my deeply buried pleasure centre and make me laugh till I puke. That alone doesn't impress me. Any fool can get the giggles by drinking jungle dope, as I found out eventually. But I was laughing so hard as an expression of my utter delight at being in company of myself, the most amazingly interesting, amusing, charismatic man I have ever encountered. That was me. Mr. Wonderful.

Ayahuasca? Couldn't care less. Give me more of me. A little more of this and I might fall in love. All this time I thought I was one of the nastiest guys I've ever dreamed of. Turns out I was wrong. I'm wonderful. Who would have known? Who'd a thought? I am Mister Wonderful.

As I laid in the dirt grooving with myself, an absolutely fun way to live by any reasonable measure, as I know now, I happened to look across the room to see a six foot tall and slender Paraguayan beauty goddess sitting dainty on a stool, one of her long, slender legs crossed over the other, a fetishist's foot dream dangling in the darkness, the girl aswirl in floor length silk, black and lightning luster that must have been her hair, her electric eyes blindingly blue gazing unseeing into the night, she sat statue still and never moved for hours, a yoga girl as still as cold white marble, her face a radiant moon glow. I scratched myself as I laid in the dirt and laughed as I thought of clever things to say to her. I shifted my hip from a hump of dirt to a dip. “Hi, I'm Dag. Many people say I look like Brad Pitt.” In Spanish it sounded like “Broad Pete.” I ain't so fat.

I realised (Hey, didn't phase me,) that the girl had a boyfriend. I saw him squatting on a stool beside her, his heels on the rim of the seat, his long gangly legs drawn up to his huge bulging chin, his little arms resting on his knobby knees. I might be a bit colour blind but he looked particularly spotty green to me. He had a wide, flat head that sloped down to his neckless back, his flabby belly was a dirty off-white leatherette. I've seen beautiful girls with butt-ugly guys before, but this guy was repulsive. He saw me looking at him and he looked back at me with huge bulging eyes and smiled with the widest mouth I have ever seen. I snapped back when he stuck his tongue out at me. Jesus! I looked away and saw that his feet were even uglier than his face, way too long, and he had, like, webs between his toes, like a duck. I might not be Broad Pete, but that guy was fuckin' ugly.

I didn't exactly lose interest in the beauty goddess. Instead, my attention was diverted by a strong sense of nausea spreading through the pit of my lower gut, and the nausea spread till I was awash in it, filled with sickness weighing me down like an infusion of weakness-inducing mud. I was sucked from the lights of my life into a murky darkness of terrible draining slumber, pulling me down, down, down. “No!” I cried. “Nooo....” I called out feebly. Then I fell asleep.

It's hardly surprising that I fell asleep. I'd woken at 6:00 a.m. and had gotten to Wheelock's centre by 7:30 p.m., shortly thereafter hallucinating heavily and puking intensely, so intensely that I had secretly hoped I not only would get away with such behaviour in the presence of strangers but that my manly, macho barfing would impress the beauty goddess with my masculine force. Regardless of how others might critique it, I was definitely impressed. So impressed I had to laugh. I woke off and on, expecting any time soon to see the sun illuminate the world and me.

I woke off and on, Wheelock's icaro singing in an alto tenor with a lingering Kansas drawl bringing me back to awareness. Wheelock sat on a stool behind a hand-made wooden table, his altar, his back against the wall, a mosquito net covering the narrow window above him. Wheelock sang icaros, and I was surprised by the variety and range of his songs, many of them to my mind quite funny, sing-song parodies of cartoon Chinese, some ending with a pause and then a funny cartoon witch's cackle that trailed off into silence. I suspect it was Wheelock's icaros that account for the episodic nature of my hallucinations, broken visions of colour and wind, odd thoughts about issues of my time, (i.e the nature of museum curatorship and conservation,) and the continuous theme of my own wonderfulness, that laughter that kept me hurting from the strain on my belly. I dozed off and on throughout the night. It was the icaros.

I laid on my side in the dirt, the floor having contracted into sections like giant jungle water lillies of dried mud floating on the aether below, not uncomfortable, given that the dirt was moist, soft from the ever-present humidity of the Amazon. Wheelock sang, and once, strangely, I found myself in great discomfort, the repetitive sibilants annoying, the high nasal tones irritating, driving me to my feet to seek relief from the whinge of the tune. I had to get up, and it was difficult, to say the least, because the ayahuasca not only causes vomiting and hallucinations, it also creates a feeling of physical drunkenness, making standing and walking all the harder. I marshaled my strength and finally I was able to stand. Wheelock's icaro ended, and it was then I understood the whole thing, the situation, the meaning of it all. I really had to take a piss.

I made my way across the centre floor and out the door to the jungle path that laid out before me like the tracings of a delicate finger drawing a line through deep green velvet to the two hole outhouse where I stood and peed. I have peed before, of course, but never with such accuracy or beauty or such a deep sense of serenity. I was overcome, in fact, by the lovely arc of golden doves with silver filigree wings as they flew in perfect formation into the black hole of eternity. I stood when I was done and pondered it all. I didn't say much. I could have said more. All I did say was: “Wow.”

The walk down the path and back was tiring, and when I returned to my chair in the centre I laid my chin again on my chest and dozed, the long hours of hallucinating and vomiting and the lack of sleep during the long night having caught up to me. I was aware of Wheelock puffing noisily on his mapacho pipe, he puffing in all directions the harsh smoke that devils are afraid of. Wheelock is a non-smoker, so the taste of tobacco makes him spit and the smoke makes him hack and choke. Each and every noise was amplified in the darkness, each bit of spit zinging through the air like a dart poking a hole in the solid walls of the sound of vomiting. In comparison to the others I hardly puked at all. Some went full-out barfo.

At times Wheelock's assistants would begin an icaro only to give in to hurling bouts of puking. Wheelock would wait for them to finish so they could resume their icaro singing, but mostly they could not and Wheelock would continue in their place, no two icaros alike, some loud and boisterous and filled with comic tones that would have amused me straight simply for the Dada effect alone, like Kurt Schwitters' poetry or Hugo Ball at Cabaret Voltaire. I found most of it charming and often delightful, and I noticed too that if I concentrated, I could with effort control my hallucinations, if not totally, at least in theme, my lucid dreaming.

The hours dragged on and still the sun had not risen. Other-me was too tired to remain and so he gathered himself into a storm of bedazzling colours and made a dramatic exit, both of us laughing in wonder at our wonderfulness. Again someone puked, and I could not control my laughter. I laid back down in the dirt, too tired to care anymore, and I laughed till I dozed off.

Drug effects or not it was clear to me as it happened that Wheelock's performance, his huffing and puffing on the mapacho pipe, his broad-leafed rattle shaking out crisp and soothing sounds, all his various icaro songs, his various tones, his comic tone contrasts to the solemnity of Quechua icaros, his sudden insertion of an English language commercial for Mother Ayahuasca in the midst of a Quechua song, his comic aside cartoon laughs, his whistles and pings and pops, all of this and the rest was well-considered, highly polished professional entertainment by a grand performer. It's a business, as those honest enough to admit will admit. Wheelock grosses about $100,000.00 per year. Clearly, the man is extremely good at what he does.

Wheelock at home, the man, is my age, my size. He looks like my grandfather. He could be my brother from the look of him. At home, Wheelock is Ron, a guy who works hard out in the backyard jungle boiling multiple 25 gallon barrels of wood chips in brackish creek water with a furnace blast of blazing hardwood, a shirtless, soot-covered middle-aged man who lives in the jungle and is a working class guy who does OK and has a fair amount of personal difficulty like any other guy. But comes the “ceremony” and Wheelock is transformed into a persona that rises to dramatic and exciting heights. Wheelock: Shaman Performer. I slept through at least some of that, totally exhausted.

Then the earthquake hit us.

Earthquakes are frequent in the Andes and on the Peruvian coast, but they are unheard of in the Amazon. Thus it was a major calamity of cosmic proportions that we experienced an earthquake while I was lying on the floor at Wheelock's centre while under the influence of ayahuasca. Beyond cosmic, though, is that at the same time a jet plane was making a crash landing and doing so directly into an on-coming steam locomotive freight train. That kind of disaster makes the history books.

I curled up in the dirt and covered my ears in a futile attempt to dampen the sound as I waited for smashing death and burning. But the plane pulled up in time and the train passed and the temblors subsided and soon all was well again. I sat up in a state of complete bewilderment and saw with the aid of Wheelock's glowing mapacho pipe that he'd been banging the enormous Zildjian gong suspended from the rack in the centre of the room. Time up. The ceremony was over. I searched in the dark for my lantern to check my watch. It read: one, two, colon, zero, zero. It was, by my watch, exactly midnight.

Wheelock lit candles, he huffed smoke, he rose and came to me as I sat back in my stackable plastic Walmart chair. Wheelock stood behind me and blew smoke on the top of my head, his lips pressed against my bald pate. He pulled my shirt collar open and blew smoke down my back, and reached into my shirt and ran his hand down my spine and back up and again and drew out evil spirits and tossed them away with a grand flourish. He did similar with my chest. He put my hands together and blew smoke on them and withdrew whatever daemons were living in this writer's fingers. He tried to hug me, but I'm a reticent kind of guy, and Wheelock immediately withdrew, sensitive to the last, moving on to the stone still and silent German weight lifter who had not twitched an over-developed muscle other than to puke continuously and loudly throughout the entire evening. Around the room went Wheelock, and I gathered my strength and made my way to the door, by which point the others had all gone away, leaving me alone with my host.


As we walked up the jungle path to the small clearing where Wheelock's four wheel drive Toyota was parked nose first in a thicket, tyres resting deep in the mud and grass brushing the windows, my head cleared, my body settled, and we sat in the cab and drove through a rough trough to the highway back to Wheelock's house, chatting on the way, the soothing road bringing back memories to me of countless nights riding across the world going nowhere. We arrived finally at the house, Wheelock making a five point approach to the gate to enter the fenced-in yard in which the sickly-looking toe bush is still hanging on to life in front of the door. Wheelock doesn't use toe to make his medicine, but he keeps the bush to scare away evil spirits and other trespassers who know the significance of an ayahuasca maker who has such a poison so close to hand. The pit bulls were sleeping, their eyes barely open as we made our way inside the house where I promptly made myself a pest by asking for anything at all sweet to drink to kill the taste of the evening's ayahuasca. Orange power drink. For all the puking of the evening I wasn't at all thirsty. We chatted some about the evening, of how impressed I was by his performance, for such it was. But I was tired, as too was my host. He led me upstairs and showed me the spare bedroom. I thanked him and returned to the ground floor to look over early notes and to make note of the new in case sleep drove out all memory of the evening's events. I sat and made notes and considered my ayahuasca lillies. I dragged myself upstairs and slept till 4:30 when the fighting cocks' screeching woke me and I couldn't get back to sleep.

The sun actually did rise eventually, and with it's revelations of the real so too did Wheelock rise, joined by his long-time Peruvian girlfriend. They beckoned me to the dining room table for breakfast, a lovely mixed vegetable omelet and strong black coffee. For hours then Wheelock and I talked more about back home, a place to both of us far stranger now than any ayahuasca vision. Two middle aged men sat in a large western style house set in the surround of towering palm trees in the Peruvian jungle and we reminisced about rural America. Reality is too bizarre.

When I talk to Wheelock I find myself talking with the man who lives down the road, I talk with my grandfather, I talk with the neighbour, I talk with myself. Talking with Wheelock I find I am not Mr. Wonderful. I'm me, an ordinary guy from a working class background of rural America. He and I talk about making money, about having girlfriends, about building houses, about paying taxes. Talking with Wheelock I find I talk to Other-me, a man much like myself, neither of us, removed now from the drug-induced euphoria of ayahuasca and the theatre of the mind in the deep selva, particularly special. Mr. Guy talks with Mr. Buddy. I don't laugh uncontrollably even at Wheelock's best jokes. I just laugh. I don't lie down on the floor exhausted by the intensity of wonder as I am elevated to supernatural heights of ego grandeur. Instead, we sit at the dining room table and have coffee with breakfast and converse like mature adults and the wonder returns, not through vines and leaves entangling lives and minds on foreign soil but through invisible webs of common memories of home and time and supra-nation of our shared past. I find the experience wonderful in itself. I'm not out of control happy at all. I'm content to live an ordinary life with ordinary folks.

I left Wheelock's house surrounded by palm trees so big I could never hug all around them, sunlight shining through the tissue and the pulp of giant fanning fronds, air turned yellow, little speckled flies darting through the clearings, brittle grass grown high and swaying, six foot long red tailed iguanas scaling up a tree, wispy birds flitting away to safety. I walk a narrow grassy path still soggy from last night's rain. Beside me a thin rail fence sags and rots and is eaten by ants till it's merely a dark grey crust of skin and powder. At the clearing to the village I see collapsing shacks unpainted standing behind crumbling concrete sidewalks too dangerous to traverse, holes and gaping chasms threatening far falls to the rutted road below. I glance inside an uncurtained glassless window to see a big screen TV and a sleeping dog on a bare dirt floor. I carry on walking up the washed-out road to the village centre where the wooden buses turn around in the dust or the mud for the return journey to Iquitos, the big city. In the scorching heat and the fine dust of a blazing day that holds on tight to uniformed school kids and slows them down to a shuffle as they walk in small groups back home for lunch I stop under a leaf woven roof on thin wooden poles that shade a plastic chair at the broken wooden table, and I sit and order a bottle of warm soda to sip as I wait for my trip back to town. The old wrinkled lady with the foggy eyeglasses shows her brass bracketed teeth in a brilliant smile, her creases smoothing over her face with the effort, she being a hundred years old and very pretty, her long yellow grey hair tied back in a bun. She's short and it's not far to fall for the bits of corn she scatters under the next table for the chickens there in the dirt. A couple of school kids see me from across the street and they recognise me and they wave. I smile and wave back at them. I'm not in any rush to get away from this. I sip my soda and stretch out my legs and ponder stuff. A windowless wooden chicken bus crawls by, rocking and swaying from dips in the giant pot holes in the dirt road, the ride so rough the passengers are wrenched from their seats, hands grabbing madly for a hold, the lurch shaking riders right off their seats. I let it all go. I'll catch another bus later. A old brown dog wanders past and lies down beside me and falls asleep against my foot. I'm OK.


Back at my place I swing open the heavy iron rail door. I enter the courtyard and say hello to folks lingering there in hammocks in the shade on a warm afternoon and I go upstairs in the old Rubber Boom mansion, the place I call my home, and I trod the bare concrete walkway past the thick malocca roof that covers the courtyard below. I head to the dusty little bare brick bake house room where I live and I rush to see my kitten boys, to grab them up with both hands, to kiss them and rub their ears and coo at them. “Hey, kitten babies, daddy's home!”

There in the middle of my room sits the German on my bed. She's holding my boys against her breasts and she's smiling and she's lovely. Dare I say? “She is Miss Wonderful.”

We can close the door now on this scene and begin again with whatever the next ayahuasca adventure reveals. Who needs to drink ayahuasca when I can sit along in the dark with the girl and hope?

A gentle reminder that my book, An Occasional Walker, is available at the link here:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Iquitos, Peru: Ayahuasca: Pit Bulls, Poodles, and Pussies

Hola, Gringita.

I'm liking the impaled anaconda on a sword graphic idea as the cover illustration for my ayahuasca book.

"It's not a drug!!!" Caduceus sobbed hysterically as metallic New Age tears of angst ran down his rouged, tattooed cheeks, “It's a medicine!!!”

I took ayahuasca again last night, this time in the jungle. I am totally disgusted, and if I could bring myself to be a mindless thug I'd hit someone. Problem is, I can't think of anyone to blame for this situation. And worse, mindless thugs don't need a reason to hit people. I get no relief here.

I was in the exalted company last day with one of the celebrity shamans of the century, and when I took a couple of hours to interview him it was clear why he is such a major success: he's a babbling, evasive idiot. That, and he's not Peruvian. He's "imported." He's blind in one eye and thus he wears black sunglasses at night. When he sits cross-legged on the floor to chant and blow smoke up my arse my evil mind turns to visions indeed: Ray Charles sitting down at a piano. BONG.

The stuff I had last night is powerful stuff, if one goes by the relatively worse taste, which prompted me to refrain from my usual toast as I drink ('Death to our enemies') in favour of "Ah, just like mum used to make it." Gawd, the ayahuasca tasted like rotten milk and mustard. That would be worse than the "shit and gasoline" I wrote about somewhere else. I got a Big Gulp, which in itself is probably illegal in New York City. The big gulp was much to do with shaman showmanship, as befitting the large group and my special appearance as a medium famous writer from America. My buddy, the local shaman acting as assistant at his own place, filled the cup, and then the star of this show motioned with his fingers like an obnoxious drunk at a cheap tavern, “Fill it up more.” Then, because I'd spent three hours discussing with Shaman Fantastic my previous failures, talking with him and a group of eager listeners to the man's words of wisdom and his emphatic promises and even guarantee that because this guy is The Best, that I would have what he and the others all called, in Spanish, of course, “Bee-see-own-ays,” I was first to be called up before the crowd for the “ceremony” of drinking this vile shite. Special is what I am. Yeah, right.

My clueless love interest, the ever lovely German who is not just German but East German, and not just East German but a driven multi-national corporate financial consultant with a black belt in karate who lives in the jungle and stalks the perimeter of her compound with a machete challenging men who carry guns, the otherwise tiny and humourless thinking machine I am smitten by, the East German who is in fact a time-warp emanation from 19th century Prussia, perhaps von Bismarck's illegitimate daughter, the woman who says she likes ayahuasca because it regulates her period while doing nothing else but allowing her more energy so she doesn't sleep much, this White Terror of the Selva who has intimidated the whole village and surrounding area, took the second and equally dramatic drink. She seems to have forgotten my interest in her and wandered off to sit with other people to talk about chakras or something she picks up from drug tourists at the local ayahuasca cafe, and I didn't see her till late next day. This would be the same girl I would marry if the contract I have to sign allows me visiting rights to the test tube babies she wants to have with Nobel Prize winning scientists. Not really my day. Not my night. Not my cup of shite.

After all the grand promises of “visions” I sat down for an hour in the darkness by myself before I got sick of listening to people puking, and I went out for a walk for ten minutes or so, walking up the hillock to a mowed down lawn by the church where I was sure I could stand to take a piss without being bitten by snakes in tall grass, killing time to let the ayahuasca finally kick in, pissing on my shoes in the darkness. I returned to the malocca roofed centre where everyone sat around on the wooden floor adoring the celebrity shaman, and I waited, and then I got bored and crawled into a borrowed tent snug up against the wall in the middle of the business area of the shamanic center, and I went to sleep while another eleven people were an arm's reach away from me. So much for my experiences of the Mystik. I did manage to get some sleep, however, in spite of the sessions of icaro singing, admittedly quite pretty as it was done in four part harmonies and some lovely discordances that would lull me back to sleep when I had to turn over on the bare floor to ease my aches.

In the morning I found Miss Poisonality asleep in her tent and the rest of everyone else gone. I stomped down the hill through the jungle on a crumbling cement sidewalk that cuts through the green and leafy terrain like a rampant blood-poisoning skin disease, and I got to the village store veranda for coffee, along the way scaring the hell out of a stray dog who hadn't ever seen so early in the morning a grumpy old guy without his morning hit of powered Nescafe. I drank thin coffee and waited for Sleeping Beauty to wake up and spring lightly down to the beach to say “Hello and good morning,” but by the time I finished my second cup of instant, the peke-peke boat came into the lovely garbage-choked backwater by the ant hill village so I walked uphill instead to get her and our guest from the centre, only to find them fucked-off somewhere. I grabbed my mosquito net from the side of someone's backpack on the floor and figured that they could take another boat and I could always get a romantic email from her accountant someday letting me know how it went with her the previous ayahuasca evening.

We have, the German and I, this much in common: Ayahuasca does nothing for either of us, or mostly me because my regular bleeding sessions are down to a minimum since I grew too old to get into serious combat situations. My good-natured self not only scared a stray dog as I stomped around the jungle in a post-ayahuasca trance-rage, I am apparently frightening to small children, two of whom, holding hands on the path, burst into tears at the sight of me, and this after two huge cups of coffee. Who knows how they would have reacted without having had so much coffee. Me? I kept on drinking back at the tienda overlooking the long, thin bog that is water access to the village, hoping against hope to drown my sorrows, there being no one else to drown instead, though it was possible I could have enjoyed drowning a tub full of hippies with all the piss of my pissed-off-ness. The captain came and I headed out. As I was about to get into the boat Ms. Brainiac showed up, sans machete this time, and with her usual flair for bluntness told me that she had "visions" a few minutes after swallowing her ayahuasca in the night. I asked what it was like, what happened. She then informed me that it was a personal experience and that she would email me an account. I call this love. You might be scared if I told you about what I consider sexy. Scares me, I tell ya.

We all got us on a slow boat to Iquitos upon which was a late arrival who told me not to puff mapacho in a public place. Being a sensitive New Age wannabe, I hurt my chances badly when I glowered at the guy and said, “Fuck off, faggot.” It was a quiet trip thereafter, leaving me alone with my thoughts of meanness. Back in town we made our way to my place where my best gal asked if she could check her email on my computer. Every guy should be so fucking lucky. "Of course you can touch my keyboard, honey. It's an honour to be thought of so highly."

Next time I get a rubber blow-up sex doll girlfriend I'm going to skip the Mercedes model and go straight for something appealing, something made of carbon fiber and aerocraft aluminum engineered by computer in Taiwan. Simple, you know. These days I have painful memories of love and true romance that only the healing powers of Mother Ayahuasca can cure me of. And that bitch hates me.

Ah, my best love interest tells me that she can be bitchy. I don't bother saying that when a woman unleashes her inner bitch it often happens that in response a man unleashes his inner pit bull, except for the majority of male cases in which the man puts his inner poodle back in the kennel and Mr. Fifi curls up in a corner to lick his nuts. I know I'm some kind of dog.

The good news from all of this is that many people have now told me what's wrong with me. I call this “self-improvement.” People I've never even met before lined up to tell me about my personal failings and how if only I had worn a pink tutu the ayahuasca visions would have come thick and fast and that Workers' Paradise would now be the norm in the triumphant Soviet Union. My fault. I just didn't diet properly enough when I was a child. I fucked up all of my life and also destroyed all hope for the perfect future of the proletarian classes and peasants. That's what prevents me from having visions; and that it is the fault of losers like me that Communism failed and why we live in a rotten world of kulaks and wreckers and The Jooos! If only I had stood on my left foot rather than my right foot while I whistled Dixie out my arse, then I too would have had visions and the Five Year Plan would have exceeded all expectations. Why am I such a prick? It's my fault we had a war in Viet Nam. No wonder ayahuasca doesn't work for me. I do everything wrong.

I really do want to punch somebody. There are too many half-candidates and no one really right for it. I'd punch Mother Ayahuasca in the tits if I could. I am right sick of all this. I begin to wonder why anyone bothers with ayahuasca and true love anymore anyway, what with all the varieties of porn on the Internet. Who needs "visions" when one has "Fucking Clowns on a Roll"? and some of my other favourites round the clock. Visions? Wait till you see that monster classic 35 Fucking Bozos in a Volkswagen. Now, that's a vision.

Ayahuasca? I begin to wonder if I really want to pursue any of this dead-end bullshit any further at all. Really, puking and being angry isn't all that it's cracked up to be. And why would people want to “know themselves”? Many people are fucking jerks. Hey, just ask anyone about me, for example.

Well, I'm not even a jerk when it comes down to it, I'm a skeptic. Worse, I'm a skeptic who seemingly cannot shut up about stuff. OK, I have to get right into it and say whatever pops into my head, no matter how offended will be those who have built their lives on lies they must maintain and those who must follow such phonies if they are to maintain careers and build futures. I dislike to the nth degree what I call bullshit. Being fancy, I calls this “skepticism.” I'm skeptical about ayahuasca. I'm skeptical about my own conclusions so far, as well.

In the interests of finding out the truth about my ayahuasca experiences I have a silent partner in this exploration, an American writer named Bo Keeley who is following my journey with some interest and much useful information and advice.

Keeley quotes Peter Gorman: “There is really no story unless you see the Coney Island & 4th of July.”

Keeley continues: “Or, is there? If for some reason there is no high after the [next curandero's] brew, then it is actually a feather in your odd cap. You are immune. Peter Gorman has seen only 12 people among thousands who have had no effect from aya. And yet, the medicine apparently still works on the subconscious level for them.”

I've written about this above, that I would be ashamed of myself if I had hallucinations of snakes and smiling monkeys. I don't want to see anything so childish. So far, (and I have emphasized that I see nothing,) I have 'seen' something like my grandmother's collection of round cookie tins on kitchen shelves, and that in the last session I saw, for maybe 10 to 15 seconds, a reflection on a lake back home, a very pretty reflection of turquoise, gold, emerald green and sapphire blue. As the clock clicked and my “vision” faded, it all went down a spiral toilet flush and I had nothing further to report. My ayahuasca experience was over and I went to sleep in a roomful of people hallucinating all around me, including the German who until that time had never had any better experience than I. My feeling is that I had some hallucination lasting about ten seconds and then nothing more. No Coney Island or Fourth of July fireworks, the kind of hallucination I would have been offended by in the first place. So, I didn't have such visions. Instead, I fell asleep. This tells me I am not blocking out ayahuasca visions with internal chatter. I slept. Nor am I any kind of rigid science guy. So, when Keely asked a science friend about my lack of hallucinations, this is the response, in part, that he got and sent to me:

"Lots [of people have no effect from ayahuasca]. Scientists tend to block it all because it doesn't make sense to them. So they deny it completely. Other people are so full of internal chatter they can't hear the spirits whisper.”

It becomes potentially interesting to me below:

“But the medicine is still doing her work, and in a few months they'll probably recognize a change in themselves.

“Unfortunately, nearly everybody wants Coney Island rides and the fantastic 4th of July Fireworks display. That's nonsense stuff that people adore and it's taken as proof that they had the real experience. I tell them that stuff is what you get before the real dream begins.

“So yes, I know the syndrome. Yes, the medicine is working anyway..”

Anonymous. Sept. 2013.

I could have been vain enough to buy into the idea that I am too sophisticated to have childish hallucinations about snakes and smiling monkeys and that my ayahuasca experiences would be some elevated version of Moses encountering the Burning Bush, for example, and that since nothing like that happened, then it's still actually happening in my subconscious areas and it will gradually reveal itself to me over the course of months. I don't think so. I think nothing happened. I think nothing happened because the German hallucinated for six hours full blast, as it were. Nor were her hallucinations trivial, as I understand it. If it happened to her, it is possible for me to hallucinate as well in similar fashion.

It's not that I am doing something wrong. The blame game I keep hearing is the usual bullshit of nanny people who can't shut up and can't refrain from retelling the world how to be perfect.

I suspect I hallucinate for upwards of 15 seconds per session. If that is possible, then it is likely possible for me to hallucinate for six hours like the German did. But, I won't discount the subconscious aspects entirely. I just don't have any reason to believe it as yet.

Mostly I am competitive and I cannot let a German beat me at anything. I will carry on till I die or get completely fucked-up on this jungle drug. Coney Island and the Fourth of July, I don't care. I'll win my goal of finding out for myself just what I can from ayahuasca. Meantime, I want to choke someone. We know who that man is....

Now I can turn perhaps with a clearer mind to the pursuit of my own interests in ayahausca, the very stuff of which I am pleased to drink alone by myself.

Who needs friends when I can drink alone in the dark and shake my fucking head?

A gentle reminder that my book, An Occasional Walker, is available at the link here:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

D.W. Walker, Confessions of an Ayahuasca Skeptic

One of my new books, Confessions of an Ayahuasca Skeptic, is coming out soon.

Confessions of an Ayahuasca Skeptic

D.W. Walker

Iquitos, Peru


Some people confuse scepticism with cynicism. Don't do that.

I'm off to the jungle again soon to take yet more ayahuasca. When I finish doing this with success, assuming I am ever successful, I will write up my accounts, and then the book will come. I could be done in just over a week. Will up-date as things happen.

Cover illustration: Giuseppe Archimboldo. Italian. 1526 – 1593

I use "skeptic" in Greek over "sceptic" in Latin just because I like Greek better. But I use "scepticism" because it's formal English. Life is tough.


Dag Walker
Iquitos, Peru


Just returned from the jungle for an ayahuasca session with a celebrity curandero. Everyone was highly excited by his presence and highly impressed with his super-potent ayahuasca that did not a fucking thing for me. I am totally disgusted. 

A gentle reminder that my book, An Occasional Walker, is available at the link here:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Iquitos, Peru: Jason Martin, Voluptua

This book is about to become a huge best seller. I can't believe the state of things. 

A New Jersey college professor of French and Comparative Literature, Jason Martin has written a first novel that one assumes will make him filthy rich: Voluptua. Allow me here and now to destroy whatever career I might otherwise have had as a low rent reviewer of fine contemporary American writing.

The author is no youngster. He's likely older by far than I am, and I am an old guy. So, what possesses a man at this late date in life to write a book about anything at all? And why this book, Voluptua?  What are we dealing with here?

The protagonist of this "novel," that is a novel of ideas, (a poor attempt to fictionalise personal concerns, as gone over in agonising detail in my writing on the repulsive moron James Redfield, whose name I refuse to mention, in his garbage book, The Celestine Prophecy, a piece of vile trash that has sold over 20 million copies and was made into a Hollywood movie,) is a professor of French Literature at a small American college. Rather than 99 years old, she is only 29. Rather than being a bald guy, she apparently has another attribute that causes people to stare at her. I assume the author means big tits. Her department head sexually harasses her. This is a bad thing. She has an affair with an Indonesian janitor with the latter's wife's approval-- because the wife is Muslim and doesn't mind that her husband screws around. He could if he so chose, have four wives. Thus, our liberated college prof. feels no pangs of fangs. She's a modern woman, perhaps even bi-sexually curious. She has no problem, and in fact likes, sex with sleazy Cuban gigolos. Sex with four identical men, the other identical pair too impatient to wait having sex with each other, is just right. That last part, though, being phantasy, of course, part of her awakening to higher realities induced by taking ayahuasca. But all of this is OK because she has a Ph.D. in French Literature. She's a middle class success. She a modern grrrl. It's all about spiritual growth. It's about finding the right shaman in Iquitos, Peru so her ayahuasca experiences can bring her to a better state of self.

That's how I fell into this pot of shit. I live in Iquitos, and I write about ayahuasca. In fact, I have written so much about ayahuasca that as I was returning from the photocopy shop with my current 75,000 word manuscript on the subject I found myself being hailed to pick up this mailed novel by Martin. I'd forgotten that I volunteered for this when an unsolicited email came my way asking if I would like to review a book about ayahuasca. It's a bunch late now for all concerned to say, "Sorry, author of Confessions of an Ayahuasca Sceptic." [Due for publication in late 2013.] Well, here I am up to my knees in shit. I volunteered to review a book about Iquitos and ayahuasca. A book about ayahuasca and Iquitos? Nope. I don't have that book in Voluptua. I have instead a boring and embarrassingly poor attempt at a novel by a man with no ability to write fiction. Does it matter? Not one bit, if we can take the example of the greatest idiot hack who ever sold 20 million copies of the worst trash "fiction" ever written. Because this book is at least twice the book above, I'm guessing Jason Martin's Voluptua is going to sell half that many books. I think this book is going to be a winner. I think Martin is going to get rich. What are the chances of me ever being asked to write another review? About as good as hitting up Martin for a loan. Who's the idiot here?

Don't answer that.

In this city that brings in millions of dollars annually from the ayahuasca business, here I am writing a long book with the stunningly antagonistic title "Confessions of an Ayahuasca Sceptic." A smart guy writes a creepy pseudo-novel about a slut who takes drugs and fucks off from her job to live like a bum in the Amazon jungle. Wait a minute! I'm a guy-slut who fucked off from reality to live like a bum in the Amazon jungle. Oh, no. I take ayahuasca! Then I go and write that I'm sceptical about it all. The only good news in this is that the ayahuasca crowd here who now hate me have so far missed with every rock they've thrown my way. Book sales? Uh....

Uh, duh.

After a long career of teaching people about French Literature, Jason Martin has written a non-novel about a young woman working at a small university where she teaches French Literature. She has this dream about going to Peru to try ayahuasca. She read about it in a book. But she's afraid to do it in the flesh because she doesn't want to throw up, a part of taking ayahuasca. But as a character she has no problem making me throw up.

The story, such as it is, is set in a university in which the creepy people who populate it are essentially malicious gossips. They cheat on each other, sell their wives to others for job security, and then commit suicide when the deal falls through. To make this a "classy" novel, the author seems obsessed with name-dropping of French intellectuals. But he gets off on the wrong track instantly by referring to a Spanish idiot, Garcia Lorca, and some tenuous and tedious relationship with Salvador Dali. "It's so French." Existentialism, you know. Camus. Sartre. "Rhymes with fart." Yeah, a class act here. Lots of French names people might have heard of somewhere in college.

Garcia Lorca? Who cares? Someone likely to be misunderstood as H. Balzac? Name-dropping? I found myself wondering why no mention of Roland, Racine, Rabelais, Rimbaud. It's like an English Lit. prof. not mentioning Beowulf, Chaucer, Shakespeare, or me. Artaud? Zola? Nope. Only those one might expect a general reader to have perhaps heard of, though not really likely. French Literature is not my area of expertise, but I can hold my own in intelligent and educated company when the subject arises. My knowledge is encyclopedic, in fact. Not particularly deep, but broad beyond the norm even for French intellectuals. It doesn't make me a better person. I'm not impressed by a book that pretends the author is because he, a professor of French Literature, can drop a lot of French names. It's a veneer to cover up the real intention of his work. That, of course, is good marketing these days. The author is selling cheap pornography to lonely fat girls, hence the title: Voluptua.  To those of us who have some deep and mostly esoteric knowledge, it means "fat girl." The intended audience. Martin is going to make a killing. It's so French. Look at all these French names. The porn is hot, too.

How do I know this? I asked a fat girl to look at this book for me when she told me that she read half a page of my other book soon to go to press, Iquitos, Peru: Almost Close. I figure if she doesn't like my work, perhaps she will like porn for ugly fat girls. Her response to the blurb? "It looks really, really good." Yes, dear reader, she really, really said that. I am destined to a life of poverty. Martin is going to get rich. So is his publisher.

My publisher has fucked up my last book so badly I am humiliated. There are typos on close to 100 pages of 235, and now the cover graphic is missing. I'm not ever going to get rich on this book of mine. Martin is likely to get more money from his book in a day than I make in ten years. People mostly love this stuff he's done. I'm obviously not one of them. Even my editor hates me. Look at what he's done to my book. It is a sick and dirty world, and it is a world Jason Martin fits into very successfully. Who am I to argue with his success.

Dag Walker
Iquitos, Peru
A gentle reminder that my book, An Occasional Walker, is available at the link here:
This review will be part of a chapter on English language writing on Iquitos in my up-coming book, Iquitos, Peru: Almost Close.

I passed this book to a young fat girl for her take on it, and she is in a swoon. I am accepting donations of lengths of rope and sturdy beams.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Iquitos, Peru: Tatiana has Birthday During Dag's Choclate Cake Party

It's amazing how often people around me in Iquitos have birthdays during my chocolate cake parties. I like chocolate cake, so I need more friends. Some of them might even like me a bit. That part isn't too important, of course, so long as the chocolate cake is good. Adrian Walker, my evil twin, supplied both the cake for my party and the lovely lady having a birthday. Damned good of both of them, I say, and I say they should do it more often because I really, really like chocolate cake.

Adrian had a Chocolate Cake Party for me recently and he brought his best gal, Tatiana, along for the day to watch me enjoy it.

It was good of him to have this party at all, and especially nice of him to allow his girlfriend to enjoy it as well. Of course, it was her birthday, so that must have been part of the present. She is pretty happy for me, too.

Tatiana used to work for the military in Peru, in the bomb disposal unit. So Adrian got her to open the box, just in case.

No bomb inside, just the cake for my party. What a relief, we all said.

But just to make sure it wasn't a bomb, Adrian lit the fuse and we all ducked under the table.

Tatiana and Adrian say prayers as the fuse burns. We figured that if the cake really was a bomb we would at least die in a blaze of chocolate. Not a bad way to go.

Tatiana was bashful when someone asked how it felt to know that this could be her last birthday. We asked how many she had, now that it was possible she would have no more since she could be soon going to chocolate heaven.

But, hey, why die in a chocolate bomb explosion? Adrian, being a science guy, said Tatiana should blow out the fuse and we should just eat the damned cake, bomb or no bomb.

Here we see the Russian markings of the Tatiana #31 Birthday bomb cake.

Knowing we could all die in a big burst instantly, Adrian closed his eyes and Tatiana stuck the knife in.

As soon as it was safe, a whole bunch of people came rushing in for a slice of that cake. Tatian's family came from nowhere. I have no idea who told them about my chocolate cake party, but it could be that Adrian let slip the news.

That's actually OK with me, even though a lot of people came and ate some cake. Last couple of times I ate the whole thing myself I got a big stomach ache.

In all it was a great day, clearly secure as one can see from all the security guys sitting around wearing sunglasses. No bums cadging free cake at my party!

Thanks to Adrian for the cake, and thanks to Tatiana and family for showing up to help me eat it. Thanks too to the CIA guys who drank beer and left me an extra slice.

Let's do this again soon.

A gentle reminder that my book, An Occasional Walker, is available at the link here:
And here are some reviews and comments on said book:

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Iquitos, Peru: Christmas Fire in Belen (Part Two)

On Christmas Eve of 2012 a propane stove blew up in a shack in Iquitos, Peru's poorest residential area, Belen, and by the time the fire was contained, three block of housing and businesses had been burnt to the water level, this area, Pueblo Libre, being “the floating district” of the city on the bank of the Amazon River. Christmas Eve, and close to 800 people were suddenly homeless, nowhere to go.

To read the rest of this story, please turn to the following link;

A gentle reminder that my book, An Occasional Walker, is available at the link here:
And here are some reviews and comments on said book:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cat Mother of the Amazon All Stars

Paradise seems to need a serpent in the grass to make it real, like putting a pinch of salt into the sugar recipe to cut the sweetness to something palatable. So it is in Iquitos, paradise indeed, but in need of, and always provided with, a snaky piece of human shit to keep it all honest. That snake is named Marco these days, though he's relatively new to the scene, replacing Vic the Canadian, he having replaced some other arsehole previously, and so on. It's just the way paradise is. Marco, though, has stepped on my toes, and needed or not, the man is not so much tolerable to me. He's a cat-kicker.

I go out in the evenings to sit with the expat crowd at a local cafe. Sometimes my buddy Pedro, a charismatic young Uruguayan comes along to remind us by his presence of our younger days, though for most of us not nearly so dramatic as is the current life of this young fellow with beauty queen girlfriends and others who simply stop and stare at him. Pedro is often oblivious to such things. It's a great part of his substantial charm that he goes through life smiling and happy and unaware of his tremendous impact on young ladies. Pedro is the polar opposite of the scum bag who kicks cats. The two met recently on the street. That's how I became Cat Mother of the Amazon All Stars. 

Marco the cat-kicker was across the street from my place one evening as I was out for the day and returning ready to go out to have a soda with my mates. At the time Marco, the scum bag, was torturing a black cat, ripping out hunks of fur from the shrieking little beast. Marco had pulled out a lot of hair from the cat's head and face and was working on the cat's back when the cat got twisted around enough to sink its teeth into Marco's hand. That's when Marco threw the cat across the street and into the stone wall out front of my place. Pedro saw all this and more. Pedro saw Marco pick up two month old tabbies which he threw like baseballs against my wall. Pedro ran out and grabbed the cats and brought them inside and saved them from Marco's further rampage.

When I came home to clean up for the evening with my mates I found two cats, the black one and a little grey one on the courtyard floor of my place. The black cat was a few months old, exhausted and hurt, and the little grey cat was not able to move due to a sore leg and a bruised hip. Pedro told my the story about the cats hurling across the street. I picked up the grey one and slipped him into my shirt pocket and took him with me to the cafe where I sat and kept him warm as I chatted with my buddies. I kept an eye out for Marco.

I returned with the kitten and went to my room and put out some food for the cat. He couldn't walk well enough to get to the dish, so I helped him, and then he could barely eat. An hour later one of the young Peruvians working at my place came to tell me the cat was downstairs shivering. I pointed at the cat and said I was doing all I could. It was then I learned of the third cat, a little brown tabbie. That one had lain unconscious from the impact against the stone wall. I brought him upstairs to my place and laid him next to the other. The grey cat curled up with the little brown one and licked its fur. Soon, both were sound asleep on my bed. When I moved they woke and climbed onto me. I went downstairs, taking them with me.

Cat Mother of the Amazon All Stars
The kittens slept a lot, almost always together, sometimes on me, sometimes on my clothes or my shoes.

I have better things to do than sleep all the time: I have friends to hang out with. Here is Pedro, my buddy David who drives a motokarro, me, and my friend Adrian Walker, my evil twin.

Cat Mother is waiting for Marco....

Cat Mother is not amused.

The Amazon All Stars

But the kittens are fine.

A gentle reminder that my book, An Occasional Walker, is available at the link here:
And here are some reviews and comments on said book:

Iquitos, Peru: Seating Ayahuasca at the Cannibal Banquet of the Soul (5.2)

This is the Amazon. One has to expect hardships when coming to the jungle, and one must live with the results of ones adventure-seeking knowing one took a chance. People come here looking for the new and perhaps even some kind of spiritual enlightenment, something different from the daily grind back in the city at the sterile office under fluorescent lights, home for the evening in the leafy suburbs for dinner from a microwave oven. Back home it's muggers and car accidents and heart attacks. Here, one can easily lose a leg in a matter of days from an infected scratch got on a walk from path to the pond. Life in the jungle ain't free. Folks get eaten alive in this land.

What has to be the ironic coincidence of my season was sitting down last evening to watch a minute of television with my friend John, he getting a major kick out of Peruvian kiddie cartoons and crude, locally made slapstick shows. John was watching a movie, some poor excuse to show off young bodies on a beach, girls topless at every opportunity, a movie called Piranha. In the movie lots of young men and women are eaten up by fish. My buddy Lucho lost a pad from his right forefinger when a piranha flipped into his boat one day recently. Killer fish. I liked the movie. I thought it was pretty hilarious, especially so because I had just been looking at photos of Peter Gorman's leg. Since some leg is better than no leg at all, Gorman is probably lucky to have what's left of it. He looks like he was attacked by a movie full of piranhas. Not pretty. This is the Amazon. You can be eaten alive here.

Here in the Amazon basin surrounded by rivers everywhere, most of the locals don't know how to swim. Most people live from fishing, but they use canoes and nets, and they know enough not to fall into the water. They're clean folks, most of them getting a bucket of water from the river, checking to see what's in it, and then they pour the water over themselves as they sit in the canoe. They don't jump in the river and bathe. If they were to do that they know they could well be eaten to death.

Most tourists who come for a visit to the Amazon city of Iquitos come for a few days or a week to take ayahuasca or to walk in the jungle with a guide who shows them crocodiles and snakes and bugs and butterflies. Most local people have never seen a jaguar. The only hope they would have of that is to be lost and helplessly hurt in the night, and they would then be eaten. Tourists come here to have a tame adventure in the wilds. Then they go home with colourful stories and digital photos and knick-knack souvenirs. Some come for the ayahuasca, the jungle drug they take at mostly up-scale “lodges” not too different from convention centres back home. They stay for a week, see visions, and take a mototaxi to the aeroport to return home to tell their friends what a deep spiritual experience they had in the jungle. They don't come here expecting to lose a leg. But, sometimes folks get eaten anyway.

Ain't no big thing to sit next to a corpulent middle-aged hippie and see him turn a page of a paperback novel and then sweat like he was sitting in a rain storm. No big deal to see him suddenly grimace, his eyes bulging, his body going through a full top to bottom spasm of pain: one might assume he has a conscience and he's just remembered some random incident from his worthless life. No big deal to wait till he's done and then say, “Norman, how ya doin'?” And no big thing to hear him speak between gritted teeth, barely audible, “Hurts.” And then he slowly lets out his breath and takes a swig of bottled water and hangs his head down and tries to clear his mind a bit from the pain one can see so clearly in the bandage that goes from knee to ankle, a bright yellow stain that deepens by the hour as he sits and ya chat about cowboy novels and the nature of being a man in the world today. Hour by hour sitting at the riverside cafe, day by day on the Amazon River in the jungle city by the eternal flow, Gorman was losing his leg to flesh-eating disease. I have one of Gorman's Elmore Leonard cowboy novels in my bag. I say to him: “This'll make a great story for you, assuming you live through it.” Gorman flashes me one of his phonier well-practiced grin-smiles. He was just walking along, and then he got a scratch. An hour later he couldn't bear the pain of his pant leg touching his skin. He didn't know it then but he was being eaten inside out.

Gorman is a writer, and a good writer at that, if not a good man. He writes vivid prose that comes alive on the page as he describes some small incident of small people doing some dirty and stupid thing that comes to ruin in a dog-eat-dog world of semi-fiction. Then he wrecks it all with some long pages of maudlin crap about “healing ceremonies” in the jungle with Mother Ayahuasca, loving goddess of the plant universe, and I want to reach out and pound that stinking, suppurating leg of his. He's a con man who scams lonely fat girls and insecure effeminate men by telling them about how wonderful they are and how their drug-induced visions are making them whole again after the terrible traumas they have unfairly had to suffer in the modern world. I could puke. He knows it. I'm not shy about saying so. So we don't talk about that stuff. We talk about cowboys and the open range of the Wild West. Gorman probably could have written good Western novels.

Gorman and I read a Leonard novel, Hombre, in which a White boy, kidnapped by Indians, grows up and returns alienated in the White world as an adult. Hombre, known to us as “Man,” dies while doing the right thing, i.e. saving a woman from death at the hands of bad men. It's not a heroic end. It's just what the average man would do in that position. Unfortunately, there aren't so many average men around. Gorman and I stare at each other across the water ringed wooden slat table, his ashtray overflowing with smouldering cigarette filtres and cellophane wrappers and bits of tin foil. His little grey-brown goatee sticks out as his head goes back against the Portuguese tiles of the colonial period building that is the cafe we sit at on the patio looking out at the white painted concrete balustrades that fence off the Malecon Tarapaca from the Amazon River, the malecon walkway filled with gawking tourists and strolling local families and wandering foreign hippies squatting down selling handicrafts on the pavement. Gorman looks like he's going to pass out from the pain. Gorman comes to and sips more water, reaches for another cigarette, and suffers, big drops of sweat falling from matted, twisted horns of long hair dangling around his bullfrog throat.

Gorman came to Iquitos to sell folks a jungle adventure tour and grand ayahuasca visions and a chance to forget themselves as small, unimportant losers in a big, unimportant world. Gorman sold his tours and made some money to pay for his family back home so they can live. Nothing heroic, just the ordinary thing a man does in the world. Big time ayahuasca guru, Irish Catholic who ran off to live with hippies and came back to make a living in the world at large where he lost half his leg to flesh-eating disease. Well, this is the Amazon. Ya know, (and you know) sometimes ya gotta get eaten.

“Hey, man.” 

For Gorman's account: