Monday, August 10, 2009


Monday morning at sunrise our boat from Jenaro Herrera arrives in Iquitos. We hang around the city for four days. Campbell, Angel and Yully run a few distillations with the copal resin that we brought back from Jenaro Herrera. Copal smell saturates Campbell's hotel room (and hallway, and lobby).

Between experiments, Campbell runs around Iquitos in a hurried attempt to get an export permit. If he doesn't get all the paperwork signed and stamped before he leaves for Lima, he won't be able to take the hundreds of oil, resin and bug samples out of Peru. I intentionally distance myself from this process. The mind-numbing boredom of official-looking stacks of papers utterly terrifies me.

I eat a cone of coconut ice cream, every day.
I discuss roots and ocelot furs with the vendors of Belen and buy nine packs of mapacho (nicotiana rustica) cigars.

I spend an afternoon watching a street artist, Tomas, paint a Borra woman on a t-shirt. He sells each t-shirt for $15. He also creates bed-sized paintings, but he only works on those after taking ayahuaska. "When I have ayahuaska, I see the gods and godesses, " Tomas saya. "And that is what I put down on my canvas." In his paintings, frogs, raindroplets and nipples swirl out of rivers. Tomas tells me about his dead grandfather, who used to be a shaman. According to Tomas, his grandfather's bones continue to cure cancer patients. "My grandfather was like a god."

I watch a Hallmark movie dubbed in Spanish. The speakers' voices are all high-pitched and scratchy.
I spend $10 on Internet at a cafe that costs $0.70 per hour. I obviously miss my Internets, not to mention my Skype contacts.

Friday morning we leave for Chino, still fretting about signatures and still copying paperwork on our way to port.

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