Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hope at Kilometer 45 (DVD)

Just finished working on Hope at Kilometer 45 DVD.
In the Peruvian jungle Curandera Norma Panduro Havarro runs a small place called Clinica Naturista "Jose Torres Vasquez" located 45 km. from Iquitos. Her healing method is a combination of Ayahuasca ceremonies, diet adjustments, spiritual guidance and chanting. She has helped many people to come back to life.

Bruno's Story 48 min.
Norma's Healing Center 9 min.
Ayahuasca Ceremony 9 min.

Curandera Norma Panduro Havarro and her apprentice cooking Ayahuasca.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Richard Fowler "Aukcoo" - Jungle Guide

If you want to explore heart of darkness and have adventure of your life experience, you will need jungle guide. There is number of tour operators in Iquitos competing for your buck, but only one guide is worth money - Richard Fowler ( ).
Richard is American born naturalist and adventurer living in Iquitos more than 10 years. He is highly decorated Vietnam war veteran, who volunteered to be in battlefield as way to get to jungle and have adventure on a government account. Richard prefers rough life in jungle over boring routine and comforts of suburbia or city. He works with best and most honest people in the area and highly respected by indigenous tribes. Lately he operates with the help of his caring wife Delicia who adds some balance to the whole experience.

To get an idea what Richard have to offer, one should read book "Trail of Feathers" by Tahir Shah. Author put dedication on the first page: "To Richard for keeping his promises". You should be realistic with your expectations, Amazon expedition is nothing like trip to local zoo or park, and you will be dealing with seasoned Vietnam veteran.

Mysterious giant footprints

Our expedition of four - Richard, Fernando with his brother Mayer and me were walking on sandy jungle path ( about 400 km from Iquitos, down on Rio Uayacuali, Peru ) when we stumbled on huge footprints not far from our camp. It resembled giant human footprints and lead to the thick jungle spot. I thought it was big monkey or something, but Fernando assured me that it is not. He newer saw anything like that. Brothers was obviously scared and distressed. Fernando kept his cool, but his brother almost got heart attack. It turns out that local people have a legend about giant one eyed Inca guard, who gets alive once a while for some unexplained reason. Some older hunters had a fews sightings of this elusive creature times long time ago.

Mayer was so scared that he deserted expedition and run away back to his village. He sent back guy with the gun and dog, but rain washed away prints. We spent another night in the area on the guard, but nothing happen or appeared.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Ramon - last authentic Shuar shaman

With the help of Richard Fowler I had chance to meet Ramon - probably the last authentic Shuar shaman who still lives with his extended family deep in the Peruvian jungle. Very gentle man with soft voice, not what you would expect from the person who still remember how to shrink human head. The only signs of civilization I spotted at his place was old shotgun, a few aluminum cooking pots, one empty photo film canister and plastic Coca-Cola bottle converted to the baby rattle. When we arrived Ramon was getting ready for the healing ceremony. Someone from the tribe was very sick, not able to walk. I had chance to accompany Ramon on his canoe trip in search of medical plants. We were paddling down the river for couple hours. Huge footprints of caimans left in the mud was all over. Nothing like in the movie, animals usually hide and avoid humans as much as possible. Most likely they are aware of the shotgun presence in our canoe.

When shaman found right tree he started talking to it, explained why he is here and asked for the healing power, energy. Without any rush and with highest respect he harvested some tree bark, then covered wound of the tree with moss and left some tobacco as offering to the spirits of jungle. Healing ceremony was performed very late at night. I heard distant Ramon's voice chanting ancient rites, caiman splashing in the river, and tree frog performing mating song. I was very tired and struggling to be awake. The sound slowly faded away.

Masato - Jungle wine

What can be better in the middle of the hot tropical day than masato: fermented drink made from cooked, smashed yucca and woman's saliva. Part of the yucca what goes to preparation is chewed and spit back to the whole batch. Saliva helps to start fermentation process. By the time when drink is ready to drink it has low alcochol content. Masato tastes like low fat buttermilk.
Great stuff!

Tasty worms

Adventurous travelers who like and dare to try strange and exotic food will find plenty options to indulge in Belem market (Iquitos, Peru). Here you can find everything what jungle and river can offer: from medicinal plant concoctions and exotic fruit drink to freshly prepared fossil like catfish dishes, turtle eggs and wild animal meat. In order to supply large families with scarce protein and earn a little cash, local hunters will kill any wild animal big enough to cover expense of single shotgun cartridge. Keep in mind that your interest in bush meat and skins of predators will encourage meaningless animal killing what is beyond survival necessity.

There are plenty other choices. Highly recommended dish is grilled palm worms with boiled yuca and corn.The flavor of "palmworms" (Rhynchophorus palmarum) has been appreciated throughout the tropical world for centuries.

These nice and fat grubs lives in the bark of palm and can get as big as kiwi fruit. Their taste slightly reminds pan seared buttery scallops with crunchy skin; very, very tasty. If you able eat shrimps, mussels or snails, you should be able to treat yourself with this great dish.


One of my favorite movies is Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-up. It's rare case when elements perfectly fits together creating timeless work of art. Screenplay loosely based on Julio Cortazar short story "Babas del diavolo", action set in stylish Swinging London of sixties. Herbie Hankock wrote music and early The Yardbirds appearing in the club scene. Antanioni wanted British fashion photographer David Bailey to play main character, role eventually filled by David Hemmings. Add Vanessa Redgrave and a few fashion models and we have a picture. Story is interesting and original, but not a most important thing in the movie. Antonioni focusing attention on the main character, successful fashion photographer who constantly moving, looking for "something else", "other things". His mind drifting around, his piercing and critical eyes scanning surroundings. Trained photographers eye able to see absurdity and illusionary qualities of life. His reactions to world and people are individual, sometimes cynical but never abusive. Just plain pleasure to follow Hemmings character for the sake of it. Just like listening a good record. Countless critics and film writers trying to find hidden symbols and meanings in this movie. Wonderful things happen every day and they not necessary needs to be explained or categorized.

Why I am doing that.

I really don't like writing. It's so damn difficult and time consuming to come up with something worthy and put words in the right order. Plus English is not my native language ( I'm lithuanian ), but I like to challenge myself and do things that I am reluctant to do. Sometimes I just want to put my thoughts in words and make my inner dialog more coherent.