Friday, May 6, 2011

Dispatches from Peru: Beans, bananas, and the Chullachaqui

(Earlier this year, I awarded an adventure scholarship to Chanaye, who went to Peru to seek a medicine man. She sent this to me two weeks ago. I know, I should start checking my email more often.)

Hey Ken!

Can't say thank you enough for this opportunity! I hope you are doing well, and here is an update!...

I landed in Lima, the capitol of Peru, three weeks ago. I was there for only a few days and then I took a bus to Chiclayo, about 8 hours north on the coast. Once in Chiclayo I went to the outskirts of the city where most of the trucks leave, heading north, and most to the jungle. I found a truck that was taking mattresses filled with dry leaves, chickens, eggs, onions, rice, matches and toilet paper. Even with all that the truck had enough room for me and five other people hitchin a ride. I was in the back of this truck for about 22 hours, through the night and the rain.

On the way to the jungle there were various problems. One of which was a truck that flipped over on the side of the mountain. My truck and about twenty others had to wait about two hours before we could continue on the road. Finally, I made it to Moyobamba, in the jungle. After one night in Moyobamba I decided to go further, to Tarapoto, and it was there that I found my first healer. I met Pedro through a woman who had an herb store just outside of the plaza. I followed Pedro three hours deeper into the jungle, crossing the river 13 times and trying to avoid deadly snakes, mosquitoes with dengue and yellow fever, small tigers and of course, the legend of the jungle demon, the Chullachaqui.

Pedro was supposed to be teaching me about the medicinal plants in the jungle for at least to first two days. Instead it became clear very fast that he wasn't going to teach me, or even make sure that I had food to eat. I had to search his land for beans, and I had only beans and bananas to eat while he was sleeping or chopping stuff down. Less than half way down the mountain I paid Pedro less than what he expected and I ditched him for these two guys I ran into, who had an animal habitat and living space set up right in the middle of the jungle. I stayed with them or two nights, swung on some jungle vines and swam in waterfalls.

On the third day one of their friends guided me down the mountain, and most of the trek was done at night, in complete darkness, and it was then that the legend of the Chullachaqui came true!

As I was waiting for my new buddy to cross the river and return to help me I stood on a rock, pretending I wasn´t freaked out by the lack of light. And then, a branch was thrown from behind me and hit my arm! Which is a signature move of the Chullachaqui, he always throws stuff at you when you´re alone. And even more scary, the Chullachaqui has the power to shape-shift into what looks exactly like the person your traveling with! He uses that to get you to follow him off the path, until your lost in the jungle!

Anyway, I made my way back to Tarapoto with about 100 mosquito bites to take with me.

Since then I have left the virgin jungle but have stayed in the Amazon. I am in Chachapoyas, and the search for a healer continues!

I hope you can share that with your readers Ken! The journey has truly been amazing and its not over yet! It´s a sunny and rainy day in Chachapoyas today.

The flight to Peru cost me about $760.00. The remaining part of the $1000 has already run out, and I have found myself with some money problems. I have enough for about another week or so, but I don't fly back to California until May 12th. I started making some jewelry with the materials a friend gave me in Lima, and I sold enough to pay for my room yesterday today and tomorrow, so that's exciting. But I'm not sure what going to happen in the next three weeks.

Warm wishes and gratitude,




Anonymous said...

damn that's awesome.

Ken said...

Anon--I know! I'm just amazed that the scholarship is working. Sounds like she's having a good time, even though it appears she's has as many misadventures as adventures--but isn't that what it's all about?

Trish said...

what a brave kid. keep us updated

Unknown said...

What a crazy story! I hope those mosquito bites heal up fast enough, and don't contain any serious diseases. It does sound like she's enjoying herself though.

Ken said...

Trish and Constant--Will keep everyone updated. I'd love a photo of a Chullachaqui.