The Shipibo

The longer I am here the less I want children. Max (age 6) is utterly the most annoying little boy I have ever met. His unstoppable 12 or more energy spree is undoubtedly fueld by his enourmous appetite. I have many times watched him consume an entire bowl of rice, sometimes 2, a fried plantain, 2 8inch stewed fish and a boiled potato…. for breakfast. Granted at times his giggle can be cute and I do understand that little boys are a handful, however from poking Natali´s side after she had returned from throwing up (something occasionally unavoidable living in the jungle, eating rice and eggs every meal in 90 degree heat with 400 percent humidity… nothing to worry about, it happened to us both.) or wiping his fish covereed lips on my shirt or kicking the cat in the head during it´s breif and infrequent meal of food scrapes pushes my tolerance in new ways…

For reasons such as these Natali and I have managed to find two ways to escape the hustle of the little ones.

1) “Our” bench, s 8 foot long, one foot wide, roughly cut plank of rainforest hardwood supported by two trees and some ropes. It overlooks the path we walked in on and a moat like stream that lines the western side of the town. This direction also makes for great sunsets. We usually sit with grandma in the evenings and watch the sun go down over the jungle trees. She remarks “here comes the night again” in a raspy broken spanish voice through a grinning mouth full of missing teeth. Humming birds buzz through the tree overhead, and for a little while, before the peruvian reggatone starts, it is quiet as the energy trickles out of the kids.

Grandma is Bertha´s (pronounced Berta) mother and is the tired parent of 8 other children ranging from 35 to 8 years old. She lives with her shamanic husband who is due back today from a vist to Pucallpa. She smokes a tobacco pipe, loves her ayahuasca, and somehow manages to embroider the tiny traditional geometric shapes as she peers through half shut eyelids with red catorax (sp?) eyes.

Another Curandero or shaman lives down a path near grandma´s house named Elias. If he grew up in the states he would have loved teh 70´s and many would refer to him as a burn out today, although the truth of the statement may be slightly misleading as he seems quiet aware. He frequents ayahuasca and lovingly shows of his 2 liter plastic bottle filled with the yellow-brown psycedelic liquid. He wishes to make a cultural center at the nearby lagoon, which we have yet to visit, so that people might have a place to relax and enjoy the landscape and feel a connection and energy from the plants. As we walk around his graden he happily snaps of leaves from passing plants, mutters to Natali what it is used for as he crinkles it in between his thumb and middle finger, presenting it for us to smell. He is calm and slow and likes to sit in silence with us (unless he is asking Natali how to translate things to english such as ´traditional medicine´or ´how do you feel?´ He is perhaps one of my favorite people I have met here. His serenity and kindness leaves me feeling more welcomed and relaxed than many of my other encounters. And perhaps best of all, to top it off, he is sure to give Natali and I a hug before leaving, laughing as he says our names in goodbye… “Naatalee…ya….y…Crease….ha”

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