Ayahuasca: the sacred jungle vine that lures Westerners to the Amazon

Published in The Tico Times on December 5th, 2015

IQUITOS, Peru – The wooden path through the resort curves its way into the jungle, branching out into side trails that lead to huts with names like “Anaconda” and “House of Dreams.”

The centerpiece of the retreat is a round temple made of wood, where mattresses lie in a circle, each with a roll of toilet paper and a red bucket to puke in. To the chanting of shamans, ayahuasca induces vomiting, which is supposed to be a means of cleansing the body from toxins and bad emotions.

But it is not only the ayahuasca – the psychedelic jungle vine that can induce strong hallucinations – that attracts visitors to more than 40 retreats surrounding the port city of Iquitos in Peru’s northern Amazon. It is also the combination of healthy vegetable-based diets with a bit of fish or chicken, the serenity of the jungle, and other traditional shamanic substances like the poisonous sweat of a certain toad, the hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus or a brew of tobacco that continues to lure people from abroad to these remote areas.

Read on in The Tico Times