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Wednesday, November 16, 2011



WATCH this one, will help your kidneys, and other ailments:


The villagers of Cashibo, Peru greet their new guests with a 'welcome dance'.

By Piers Gibbon
" This was my second filming expedition to Peru, so I had the luxury of knowing a little bit about what to expect. My two intrepid volunteers were Mark and Judith and they had no idea what they had let themselves in for - fish guts, caimans, stinging nettles and insects. Lots and lots of insects, most of which seemed to want to bite Judith or at least get up her nose. These insects can carry malaria and other deadly diseases so it's no joke.

The fun started with a long canoe journey up the Ucayali river and then into one of its tributaries. The river was higher than it had been for many years so it was harder going than any of us expected. There was a young boy sitting in the prow and he had two jobs - directing the boat and throwing stones at the birds - for fun.

There was a spectacular welcome to the village when we finally arrived - traditional rhythmic Shipibo dancing and singing. It was also my first glimpse of the traditional patterns on their clothing - these would come back to me in visions late one night under the influence of the hallucinogen ayahuasca.

Ayahuasca turned out to be a key to unlock the secrets of Shipibo medicine. Jorge and Luzmilla were our two shamans - they use ayahuasca as a diagnostic tool and they also say it somehow tells them which remedies to use with which patients.
They are highly respected for their skills in diagnosis and then using these various plants (and animal products) to heal their patients. People travel from miles around to come and see them - after just a few days with them we could see why.

In order to "see" us clearly in the ayahuasca ceremony Jorge and Luzmilla wanted us to first vomit and then get cleansed in a flower bath. Judith was happy to join in with the flower bath but less keen on the vomiting. That became a bit of a pattern - Michael was up for anything and everything whilst Judith was much more cautious.

We came face to face with the source of many of the Shipibo remedies on a jungle trek. But to get to the primary untouched rainforest we had to walk through some tough terrain that was basically the village's agricultural area. They had to cut down the trees to cultivate their crops (and to use as firewood) and as a result there was no shelter from the sun. It was shatteringly hot and we had to make sure we had enough water. Judith found it too tough and she turned back even before we had left the village boundaries.

But the rewards for hanging on were great - not only on this trek but also through the whole Peru experience. For me personally the absolute highlight was an experience with the hallucinogenic ayahuasca brew. I have drunk it before and suffered fear, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea but this night with Jorge and Luzmilla was wonderful - peaceful, healing and insightful. I'm not sure if I was able to convey what I learned under its influence but I do remember stumbling into the camera crews hut in the early hours of the morning - I really needed a camera to talk to - I had learned secrets and I might forget them by the morning."

B. IN CAMEROON; quoting Piers Gibbons:

Why did you stay in Yaoundé and what was it like?

We stayed in an apartment in Yaoundé in order to check out the amazing range of treatments available from traditional healers there. It is a big bustling noisy African city and the treatments were extraordinary.

What was the worst/most challenging thing that you had to do in Yaoundé?

There were a lot of animal sacrifices done on our behalf - that is difficult to watch if you can't see the medical reason for it.

What was the most enjoyable part of the trip for you?

Getting out into the jungle with the Bagyeli people - it is amazing to see the range of plants they use for medicine.

What treatment and result surprised you most in Cameroon? 

There was one treatment with snake oil and a so far unidentified herb, and our contributor reported that he could actually feel the effects penetrating his skin.

Are you now a convert/believer in African Traditional Medicine?

I am very impressed by the plant knowledge and I'd love to do more research on some of the plants.

What were your thoughts when you first entered the Bagyeli village and witnessed the tribal dances?

It was an amazing glimpse into the culture of the Bagyeli - sadly they are being gradually forced out of their rainforest home by logging.

How frustrating was it that so much of the medicinal ingredients were kept secret from you in Cameroon?

I can totally understand that the healers are wary of sharing their ancient knowledge - some people have taken this knowledge and used it, and it is unclear whether the healers ever get to share the revenue generated.

How difficult was it to witness so much animal death as part of the treatments?

This was difficult - I personally do not really believe that animal sacrifice is likely to help a medical problem so it felt unfair on the animals.

What did the chicken heart taste like?

I swallowed it whole - no chewing - so all I got was a faint taste of blood and fat.

What did it feel like to be covered in goat blood?

It didn't feel too bad but the smell, and the insects, were not pleasant.

Would you like to go back to Cameroon?

I'd like to do more research - with the healer's permission - on the plants that are used in the remedies. So yes, please, I'd like to go back!"



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1 comment:

  1. here is the Enema Room Piers finds exciting, 5 rooms! reserve your place!


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