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My Scholarship entry - A local encounter that changed my life

PERU | Monday, 23 April 2012 | Views [393] | Scholarship Entry

A journey in search of enlightenment and personal discovery turned out to be even more enriching than I would have expected, thanks to a unique family that allowed me to go beyond an ancient ritual and explore human nature in its purest way.
During a trip to Iquitos, a city located near the beginning of the Amazon River, I was lucky to stay with a shaman’s family. I had gone there looking for ayahuasca, a psychoactive brew prepared with healing purposes which has been used by the locals for centuries in order to communicate with the spirits and find out about the mysteries of life. More recently, modern therapists use it looking for alternatives for fighting addictions and other issues, due to its ability to reach the deepest secrets of the mind.
The ayahuasca experience, which involved a ritual led by the shaman in the middle of the jungle through many hours of vivid hallucinations, ended up being an eye-opening voyage that showed me – and keeps showing me, many months later – a path to self-knowledge that I value deeply.
Nevertheless, the main treasures I gained from this trip to Iquitos came from the days I spent with the shaman’s family: the kindness and generosity of Frida, the wife, who shared her food and made me part of her daily life, welcoming me in an unprejudiced way; the candid wisdom of Zuley, the teenage daughter, who had never tried ayahuasca, but asserted that she was not afraid, only happy with her life and not needing to find other worlds to feel more complete; the permanent smile of Stephany, the youngest child, and her ingenious games with every little thing she found in the streets. And especially the inner calm of Cesar, the shaman, who offered his knowledge as a precious gift to anyone who came with an honest, open disposition. Those are the teachings that I carry in my heart, convincing myself that Iquitos people is even more powerful than its spirits.

Tags: travel writing scholarship 2012

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