“I am a very logical person. You could say I am left-brained.” When I heard that remark, I already knew I wouldn’t need to take the guy behind me in the queue at Lima airport seriously. And indeed, he went on to talk about cosmic purpose and why I have to try ayahuasca, a tea prepared from banisteriopsis caapi vines and the leaves of the chacruna bush found in the Brazilian and Peruvian jungle which allegedly has hallucinogenic effects. It most definitely has strong side effects, in particular vomiting.
Citing that, I explained that I would prefer to refrain from drinking something which makes most people vomit, and that this generally didn’t seem like a good idea to me. The “very logical” North-American traveler, who had come to Peru for the sole purpose to drink this foul brew, explained: “Whoever created you and me also created that plant. So it is for us to consume it.” It was 3:30 in the morning and I hadn’t slept all night, so instead of pointing out the several erroneous assumptions and fallacies in his statement, I simply replied: “Like stones and plutonium?” “You know what I mean,” he replied, but I didn’t.
I only knew that I wasn’t going to hear anything new. Even before I came to South America, people were recommending this tea to me, citing its potency, its cleaning effect for body and soul, and always forgetting to mention the very real side effects. They also forgot to mention that the tea contains dimethyltryptamin which is a banned substance, although the US Supreme Court exempted a church in New Mexico, the Centro Espírita Beneficente União do Vegetal (“Beneficient Spiritist Center of the Union of the Plant”), from the ban after its members had argued that they can only understand their god while or after drinking said tea. Vomiting as the new form of flagellation. So much for “very logical”.
Even without imagining a night in the mosquito-infested jungle between puking tourists, I never felt any desire to undergo this tea ceremony. I have never been susceptible to consciousness-altering drugs. I really like my clear and quick mind (both halves of it), and I can keep it quite busy and challenged without chemical substances. So far, I have yet to meet a single druggie whose mind impresses me. Most of them, particularly regular users, are dull, slow, sad conformists and don’t say anything that would want me to exchange my mind with theirs.
As for the cleaning of the body, I admit that vomiting can achieve that, but I have another orifice which I prefer to use for that purpose.
These ayahuasca-gringos are some of the most annoying people in South America. If you have mental issues that you think a plant will help you, go ahead. Eat it, smoke it, drink it. But don’t assume that I have the same mental issues and please don’t recommend vomit-inducing herbal tea. Of all the plants that “our creator” put into the Peruvian jungle, I still prefer tobacco. Cigars don’t make me talk like Paulo Coelho at least, because you should be warned that if you hang around someone sipping that tea you will hear a lot of context-free “kind of”, “you know?”, “I can feel it”, “there is something divine in every person”, “we are all one”, “it’s healing on a vibrational level” bogus, bullshit, bla bla bla.
But to be fair, that one American botanist whose name I forgot to take before we parted ways, him going to Cuzco and me to Piura, was a likable guy. I hope he will survive. In 2015, during a ceremony at an ayahuasca center in Iquitos, Peru, a young British man started brandishing a knife and yelling; a Canadian man who was also on ayahuasca wrestled it from him and stabbed him to death. There have been other reports of violence, and several women have been molested. Most of the people who told me that they want to drink ayahuasca struck me as weird already, so the violence may be influenced by a certain predisposition to craziness. Anyway, these are not the kind of people whom I want to hang out with, let alone watch them puke all over the Amazon. Also, some people have died simply from drinking ayahuasca without a fellow tripper ramming a spear into their recently cleaned heart.
To make it clear: I don’t mind people drinking that tea. Drink as much as you want. But stop running around and telling everyone they should do so, too. I like Coca Cola, but I don’t try to shove it down your throat every day. And yes, all the ingredients of Coca Cola have been made by the same “creator”.