It remains to be seen how lasting it is, but it certainly feels like a purification. You would have to be desperate to resort to these measures to free yourself of your emotional garbage. Who in his right mind would get up at four in the morning to drink some guck and puke his guts out?
It was much further than I expected, almost at the top of the volcano, a campsite in dense wood at the end of a long, winding paved lane with hairpin turns, and then a dirt road, equally long and winding, stoney and potholed, with a sign forbidding vehicles not four-wheel-drive. I had gone too far to turn back. I was dismayed to find people already there, but what had I been expecting? He was friendly and welcoming, just him and his three kids. When three more vehicles pulled in after dark, I was ready to leave. But where could I go? I got back in my tent and found myself enjoying the voices. It was a good crowd, a group of friends, college kids. I had brought extra blankets but forgot my sleeping bag. Throughout the long, freezing night of half-sleep the worst memories of camping at my shithole boarding school came back to me, and I had ample time to reflect on how negative past experiences distort present perceptions. At 4 a.m. I was up on the dot. Too punctilious is not good. I waited a while, then drank it down. Victoria called, as she said she would. So far so good. She was off to catch a flight. Mine would arrive shortly. After half an hour I congratulated myself on my superiority to the potion. Far be it from me to vomit like a dog. This was going to be like ayahuasca, only better. I had only a few moments warning before it came, and sense enough to unzip my tent. I was just able to get my torso out the door. As instructed, I had not eaten anything since early afternoon the day before. What came out was the deepest, darkest bile. And that was only the first round. In the next couple of hours there would be three more. In the morning there was a neat little row of three brown spots in the grass before the door of my tent. By the time the fourth round came, I was more experienced and I had made it out to the side of my tent. If I had thought about it, I would have tried to line it up with the other three. Symmetry. I slumbered into the morning light, too sick to go anywhere, and finally staggered out for a sun bath. One of the kids sympathetically asked if I needed anything. They had heard me sick in the night. I apologized. He hadn’t heard it. Others had. I explained that it was a shamanic purification. He was polite and uncomprehending. I had a good sun bath for a few hours and then the fog rolled in. Suddenly we were all leaving. They had already packed and returned from a hike, so they had only to jump into their pickups. It took me a few minutes longer. The loneliness of the place was intolerable.