For 25 years, journalist Peter Gorman has been traveling to Peru and experimenting with the jungle hallucinogen ayahuasca, a mind-bending brew prepared from vines, bark and leaves. Gorman picked the Peruvian side of the Amazon, the city of Iquitos, as the base for his studies that he writes about in Ayahuasca in My Blood.
First he joined others on boat trips up the river to visit cuaranderos who make the stuff. Eventually, he began running his own tours, ferrying people along the river and its tributaries to a mysterious man named Don Julio.
That's when the story gets really interesting. Gorman falls in love with a ship mate from Iquitos. They marry and move to New York with her two children, but after a few years things aren't working out and she leaves him and relocates with their now three children to Texas.
Gorman follows Chepa and meanwhile continues his tours from Iquitos. Though Gorman's goal is to turn adventure travelers on to this unique area of the world (and make a few bucks doing it), he really just wants to drink ayahuasca.
Ayahuasca in My Blood is a long, strange trip. Gorman repeatedly gulps the brew as he searches for answers to problems in his life. How can he make Chepa love him again? Can he help save his mother-in-law, who has cancer? What can he do about his alcohol habit?
Under the influence, Gorman tranforms into a snake and explores. He flies from place to place and period to period in his life like he's in a time machine. All the while Julio gently guides him and the others during their psychedelic voyages. Gorman's descriptions are vivid. You fly right along with him as he seaches for answers and fights off demons and evil spirits. Finally, he passes one of Julio's big tests and becomes a shaman himself.
Any fan of Carlos Castenada's The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge will really appreciate this book. Though Castenda was a less willing subject, and fought Don Juan rather than accept his guidance, the two stories are similar. They both challenge you to open your mind to the metaphysical opportunities offered by Indian medicine men with deep knowledge of the secret life of plants.
"I know there is a lot more work to do," Gorman signs off. Hopefully, he'll follow up with more books like Castenada did. Gorman's that good.
Buy the book here. Sign up for a Peter Gorman tour here.
From CelebStoner, July 11