sátira & sociedad

A millennial’s search for meaning pt. 2

Among the Muybene

Escrito por: Ariel Bleiberg
Visuales de: Angela Kote

I’ll be completely honest with you—Paco’s cooking was disgusting. Maybe it was the Muybene itself that he sprinkled on—psychedelics don’t exactly have a reputation for being delicious—but I don’t know, I have had empanadas in many different, authentic spots in the US and they tasted…let’s just say different from these fresh Peruvian ones. Then again, having fasted for seven days, I was in no position to be picky (although I did ask if he had any indigenous snacks lying around in his shack, which of course he didn’t). I tried taking a couple of pictures of my meal, but I couldn’t get the right shot. I asked Paco if he had anything I could garnish my plate with, just to give it that “wow-factor”, but again there was nothing the confused shaman could do to help me. I settled for putting a few blades of grass onto the plate, to give it a rustic sort of look, but it still didn’t have that Gram-worthy sheen to it, no matter what filter I used. Defeated, I brushed off the dirt and grass from my plate and began to dig into my strange-tasting food.

The Muybene hit me almost instantly. I wasn’t even halfway through my first empanada when I started to feel nauseous. The walls around Paco’s hut were vibrating…or were they breathing? Was I breathing? Apparently not, because I could feel Paco slapping me across the face and yelling at me to breathe. At first I thought it was just a figure of speech, part of a chant of the Muybene ritual, but then I took an actual breath, and everything started to feel better.

“Paco…” I croaked, “I can FEEL it.” My shaman was delighted. He said it was time to move on to the second phase of the ritual, the anchoring of the interconnectedness with the spirits of the jungle. I was to relinquish all my personal belongings. My backpack, my phone, my wallet, my passport, all of it. Only then could the spirits answer the multitude of questions I had for them. In my stupor, I gave all my stuff to Paco

My trip was intensifying. My eyes were closed, but when I rubbed them, I could see lights. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I was actually on Muybene, possibly the first Westerner to ever experience this natural gift…I called out to the spirits of the jungle, and asked them about my fate. Would I be a CEO or a Chairman? An Innovator or a Disruptor? Did Cassandra from accounting have a crush on me?

A vision began to unfold. The spirits were contacting me. They were revealing my inner self, the traumas I had undergone that had subconsciously shaped the person I was today. I was seven years old, walking with my father in the park. There was a group of photographers nearby, following none other than my favorite TV personality and former Journey bassist, Randy Jackson. “Mr. Jackson, over here! Mr. Jackson, I’m your biggest fan! Over here!” I could hear my seven-year-old self calling out, but he never answered. He just kept walking…That neglect left a deep void in me, but I had buried it for so long that it was only coming out now, as the Muybene was revealing it to me. The emotions were hitting with full force, it was so much to bear—all the rage, anxiety and depression in my life unravelling itself before my eyes. The room was starting to swirl and I finally threw up into a bucket Paco had prepared for me.

I cried out for help, and Paco answered. I had forgotten he was there. I had forgotten I was there, the Muybene had transported me so far away from physical reality, it was astounding really. But things were starting to calm down, at least for now. Paco handed me a native instrument used by his tribe to relieve stress for thousands of years, a strange, multi-pronged ceramic object with a bearing at the center that you could spin, he called it a Girar-Agitarse. The ingenuity of these tribal remedies will never cease to amaze me. It really helped me calm down and I thanked Paco, who asked how I was doing.

I was about to tell him that I was doing fine, when all of a sudden I was hit by another wave of nausea and began vomiting again. It caught me by surprise this time, so I missed the bucket, throwing up all over Paco’s hut. He got up and grabbed my shoulders and started yelling for me to clean it up. I was in no condition to do any physical labor whatsoever, so I started yelling back. In the commotion, I slipped on the Girar-Agitarse and fell face first into my own vomit, dragging Paco with me.

The hut was in complete disarray. How long had I been tripping for? I didn’t know, besides, I wasn’t even completely sober yet. I was crying and apologizing profusely to my Shaman, helping him get up and handing him his belongings. As I handed him his ID, I realized something was off about it—it was a New York State Driver’s license with his name listed as Emillio Paconi.

An Italian from New York? But then how could he have been part Amazonian? As I replayed our encounter from day one in my head, I realized the mounting inconsistencies that in my eagerness, I hadn’t accounted for.

To be continued…

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