Everything here is so, by nature, exposed to the elements. That this place just being what it is will reveal to you by mold, mildew, insects eating your clothing, chewing on your wallet, the things that you're not using every day, that you're not directly in need of all the time, will get consumed.

Jordan McIntosh

A tiny plane from Lima to Iquitos, a mototaxi down deep mud tracks to Aya Madre plant medicine retreat in Nauta, within the The Amazon jungle. Here there is white sand, a blood red river, giant winged trees and shallow roots. There are rampant levels of growth and rot and mould – and a cacophony of sound that drenches you even more than the rains that come down and squelch up the ground every day.

Aya Madre is part of a huge web of plant medicine centres radiating out from Iquitos, each one tapping into the mad, harmonic chorus of the plant ecosystem in their own distinct ways – and in which at times I got almost too much of place…so intense was its imprint – the opposite of muted and flattened – I’m still getting reverbs all these months and miles away.

Female run, Shipibo lineage with 4000 year roots in this place. Through Aya Madre I witnessed synaesthesia in surround sound. By tuning into “plants capacity for vibratory oscillation as a highly elegant form of communication” the maestras and maestros sang these pulses, weaving them into sonic patterns, stitching them into their clothing…

And I thought I could rock up for a couple of weeks, talk to the plants, maybe meet God and be transformed! One girl arrived asking if it was guaranteed results or her money back. She was gone within 24 hours, unable to secure the proof she needed. Never have I felt so westernised, so in need of checking my own assumptions about time and logic – and this I feel, is my biggest learning: an incredible violating of my own stereotypes of ‘how things work’.

Back in London, with life and distractions and endless outside stimulation right there for the taking, I feel the piling in of it all. Layers and layers of stuff, smothering what I got a small glimpse of laying beneath. I didn’t have a big veil lifted while I was out there, but rather, felt this imprint of infinite depths that if I sit silently, shut off the mosquito frequencies of the city for a minute and choose to tune into them, they keep giving subtle but powerful reverbs.

Aya Madre – headed up by Maestra Estela

Shipibo textiles – a whole world!

Jordan – a very thoughtful man. He is off the radar but hopefully will be able to share this episode with him someday

Maestra Yaca, Maestros Nestor and Daniel, Maestra Estela’s family, Bacho, Valentina, Val, Lex, Judy, Eli – a beautiful group to be with

PODCAST: on Resonance by The Emerald – kind of blowing my body and mind

BOOK: I read up a bit on ayahuasca but my big inspo came from Will Smith narrating his experience!

Mexico City to Lima by plane, Lima to Iquitos by plane, Iquitos to Aya madre by mototaxi and then there we were – a circuitous route with no straight lines, pulled lower than ever before…