Tag Archives: ayahuasca

Do the Evolution: Mycology and Applied Chiropractics

“It’s evolution, baby!”
-Pearl Jam

Friends,

I enjoy me some mushrooms. Psilocybin mushrooms and Amanita Muscarias have been responsible for some of my most powerful moments of self discovery.

Allow me if you please to tell you about the most transcendent experiences I have had, how they are all connected and what exciting new possibilities I am exploring as a result.

MY FIRST MUSHROOM TRIP by FISHER-PRICE (AGES 5+)

Having done low-doses of Psilocybin mushrooms a smattering of times throughout my tenure as a young adult, I did my first proper trip (5 grams on an empty stomach) one morning in September 2016, a few scant weeks before embarking on my #worldwasonfire tour of the Southern U.S. and Latin America. The trip was wild and rivaled my most powerful experiences with ayahuasca which I had done a couple of times a few months earlier in February 2016 while in Ecuador. I saw trails and ‘breathing’ solids. I saw the green cogs and gears which made up the nature I could see from my balcony.  And I saw something else: The absolute necessity, if not inevitability of complete surrender, which I understood incompletely at the time (More on that in a sec…).

I also laughed. Oh how I laughed.

Easily in Top 5 favourite FB profile pics…..that’s 300+ pics!!

I laughed at the absurdity of it all, at how tired I was, and at my hopes of salvation through a return to nature.

What was it like? Imagine a musky, brown organic/fungal horn or trumpet growing out of the ground in the forest emitting a constant, out of tune, spore-filled drone from the lungs of the forest itself -that was the character of my trip.

I walked away from that experience with a sense that I had undergone something powerful, and only a marginal understanding of this idea of surrender; an understanding which reductively centered around anal penetration.

That was an uncomfortable one for me to wrap my brain around. As a guy, that was my conception of what ultimate surrender meant; allowing yourself to be penetrated. Incidentally, this interpretation may also have been informed by some cult research I had conducted that summer.

Just an altogether really culty kind of summer -You ever have one of those?
(Photo Credit: Steve Haining)

Thelema in particular, whose higher degrees mandate sexual surrender for followers seemed worth researching at that time. In any event, though I never said it in so many words, I walked away thinking “The path to enlightenment is somehow up my ass.”

A connection had been made somewhere in my brain.

2017: ODYSSEY TWO

Fast forward a few months and I was well into my adventures in the south-western U.S., specifically Arizona. From late December 2016 to early January 2017 I was living on the rim (lol) of the Tohono O’odham reserve west of Tucson with a shaman named Tim. Me and Tim spent many days on the reserve meditating, reading from The Kybalion and smoking terrific cannabis. Our diet too, was healthy as (sic.) with no alcohol consumption and reverent, healthful ingestion of fish, simple grains and vegetables. For talk, TIm would talk mostly -he had a powerful connection to eh universe and he could constantly make wild connections bewtween the most disparate things and offer new perspective (he couldn’t turn it off though). As for physical activity, I maintained a rudimentary fitness regimen which included running and calisthenics,

and we often climbed the nearby mountains in the remote stretch of desert that was primarily grazing land for ranchers.

Tim burning a bush on the mountaintop.

After about a week of this regimen, Tim took me through my first and thus far only Amanita Muscaria trip (Video HERE). For anyone who hasn’t done A. Muscaria, it was (at the time and possibly even now) the most powerful trip I have ever done. For those who have tried it but haven’t felt anything (like me in my subsequent attempts), I truly believe that Amanitas require preparation (the aforementioned diet/meditation/fitness regimen) of a kind that Psilocybin mushrooms do not. The secrets of the Amanitas are just not given up so easily it would seem.

I won’t labor you with too many details of the trip -you can watch the video for those- but essentially I moved to a higher dimension. Better yet, I took control of my higher dimensional body and was able to travel anywhere in the universe, real or fictional, and in so doing I managed to completely release, at least temporarily, painful and limiting impingement in the neck and shoulders of my lower dimensional body.

I felt completely free and loose in a way that I hadn’t in years. It was amazing.

But it wasn’t a hallucination; something real happened there and when I saw I was traveling throughout the universe, I don’t mean that I was pretending to go through space. Understand: My lower dimensional body never left the chair in Tim’s kitchen but consciousness did. Instead, my lower-dimensional body, stuck in that precise time and place, received the condensed-to-the-level-of matter counterpart experience to what was going on in the higher dimension -kind of like in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, when you do things in Hyrule and they have effects in the Dark World and vice versa.

In this case the effect I felt was tiny cables stretching from my right shoulder to my upper neck snapping one by one as I came to closer and closer approximations of what I was there to learn. When I finally came to the realization the last string SNAPPED! and I screamed out what I realized twice in ecstasy.

All in all, unique and very different from the character/conceptual mechanism of later healing as you will see…

Speaking of Tim, I noticed at intervals when I came back to the kitchen, that he had two demons hovering about him. They had the superficial appearance of ferrets or weasels made of shadow and they were whipping furiously around his torso as if chasing each other’s tails. I mentioned this to him and, non-plussed, he told me he was aware of them.

Awesome!

Flashback Sequence

After a few more days in Arizona I left for Nicaragua in the second week of January. The rest of 2017 passed mostly without another such divine psychadelic experience. One exception would be a party I attended in San Juan del Sur

Another exception would be in Utila, Honduras sometime around July or August when, having taken (too?) much “space-cake,” I lay in bed spooning my girlfriend, meditating and hallucinating. Having someone else so close to me while I was in the throes of an ecstatically heightened activation really flavoured my ruminations in a heretofore unprecedented way. I thought about how spooning was the benevolent counterpart to buggery. You see when you spoon someone, there is a way in which they are submitting to you -in MMA it’s called getting someone’s back. From the spooning position you can easily choke someone out, immobilize their limbs or, if so inclined, sodomize them.

But that’s only half the story, because when you spoon someone you can also protect them, keep them warm and make them feel loved. So the question to me became: “When I achieve power, how do I want to treat those who submit to me? Spoon or sodomize?”

In retrospect, this meditation was a continuation and elaboration of the take-away from my Psilocybin trip the previous September regarding ultimate surrender. This experience didn’t have any effect on my spine though, and at the time, it all seemed separate.

What Brought All of these Realizations Together?

My next divine, “spine-greasing” experience on mushrooms would be another 5 gram Psilocybin trip (McKenna’s ‘heroic dose’)in Berlin’s Tiergarten this past spring (2018). I started out down by a small stream, and that shady, cool, isolated bit of the park became a surrogate womb for me. I spent some time there in that safe place as my perceptions got mashed up and my thoughts darkened somewhat. When I was ready and felt like I couldn’t stay in that dark, cool place any longer, I stumbled into the sun and, looking up at the sky I could see the geometry of everything; a kaleidoscope of faintly colourful geometric shapes rotating independently and yet symmetrically against a large, illuminated pale sapphire. It has the character of stained glass, like I was in a giant, atmosphere sized non-denominational cathedral. Yet impressive though it was, my mind was elsewhere; something about my own history seemed opaque to me and I meditated on it, lying in the crucible of sun-baked grass.

In my reverie, a goose approached me. Now a fondness for geese was never an affliction I suffered from and you could say my adult life has been nothing if not a rejection of the most goose-like aspects of myself -I see that now as I was writing that last sentence. In any event, far from the usual hissing of our typical encounters, this meeting was peaceful and bespoke coexistence, and I was convinced that the goose was somehow my spirit animal. Maybe this is what Carl Jung meant by “incorporating your shadow”.

Am I the embodiment of the things I hate? Seems poetic and so it must be at least somewhat true.

After my goose realization, my spot by the stream seemed used up; it was time to move. So, fledgling toddler that I was, I picked up my guitar and began wandering until I reached a spacious and lovely biergarten (yes, a biergarten in Tiergarten) situated on a pond. Setting up two benches together for a more spacious seating platform, I crossed my legs into lotus and began stretching as I leaned forward over the front of the bench toward the ground. In this position, thoughts of surrender came back to me. I thought of my father and mother, divorced since I was 2. I always took their divorce for granted, not really knowing any other existence, and I grew up split between my mother and stepfather on one side and my father and stepmother on the other. In my expanded state I saw the way that this had stunted my development and had made me “less” of a man than I could ultimately have become in this life. I panicked at the thought and then I became angry at them for sabotaging my life and potential so needlessly.

But was it needless?

“We needed a lot of needless suffering.”
-Me, waxing philosophical on ayahuasca in Nuevo
Rocafuerte, Ecuador (February 2016)

I mean, said suffering had brought me to this point, and this point seemed meaningful and important enough to exist for so perhaps the suffering wasn’t so needless.

Instead, maybe my father and mother had accrued such damage in their lives as to make their coming together more of a collision than a union, and so perhaps their divorce was a near inevitability instead of a choice. In this regard, perhaps I am less a victim of their callousness and moreso the inheritor of their suffering. And of course, to their credit, they tried. They really tried. They tried to insulate me from further pain after realizing how much of their own pain they allowed to pass to the next generation.

If only my parents had numchuks….

I realized that I was stuck with this pain; the legacy they had handed off to me like a baton; the generational suffering which had been passed to them by their parents. I saw how inexorably inescapable it was for me. I saw that by not having acknowledged it sooner, it had atrophied my spirit and made certain of my potentials unreachable for the rest of this life. I saw that I was a broken human form cast into a gloomy swamp engulfed by a yellow haze; blind, crying in shock (as if something dear had been suddenly ripped from the centre of my being…like a baby from my womb..), unloved, pathetic, choking, unable to speak, humbled, in pain, with so long to go, such a heavy burden to carry, and no guarantee that I would make it.

Mine is a sorry lot indeed I realized, and I can’t describe the feeling of dull, throbbing emptiness I felt in my heart and abdomen and existence when I realized this. My posture reflected this -head hung low, dangling in the vicinity of my knees (I had at some point uncrossed my legs and put my bare feet on the ground like the filthy, provincial peasant-spawn I was.

A funny thing happened then, a realization along the lines of “Better luck next time!” came to me. And it comforted me.

Let me explain:

I view life as a series or set of games. Every interaction, every society I’m part of, every social group and every culture represents a different game. Some are (perceptibly) separate from others and some games exist nested within games within games within the biggest game of all (at least to me), my life (Look up “Games People Play” or relevant talks by Jordan Peterson). But I have also incorporated the hermetic wisdom of The Kybalion and its principles, particularly “The Principle of Correspondence” (‘As above, so below; as below, so above’) in this case. It’s the idea that things scale up and down to infinity and that the same mechanics are at work in corresponding ways at every level. So it makes/made no sense to view my life as the ultimate (doomed) iteration; according to the principle of correspondence it is but one iteration of my meta-life -I just happened to be struggling this round.
On a more experiential, perhaps more relatable level, knowing that I had inherited pain from previous generations and that I could quite conceivably pass on that pain to others in the future made me feel immortal insofar as I saw that I was part of an enduring process and that my actions mattered.
Also, as per “The Principle of Vibration,” if I want the impulse that I am to gain greater and greater amplitude, animating even higher forms of matter with life-essence throughout the duration of my meta-life, I must stay in a place of resonance. Nothing seemed so anti-resonance to me as falling into a bottomless pit of despair. Is this life going to be a ‘snake down to’ or a ‘ladder up to’ the next iteration? If a ladder, I have to carry my burden with strength, dignity and humility, bringing happiness to those around me or at least minimizing their suffering, suffering though I may be myself. After all, it’s just a game…

This realization saved me from the despair I was trapped in and as I inhaled and rose up from my posture of surrender and wretchedness, an amazing thing happened: I brought something up with me. It’s hard to explain what exactly, and I will use esoteric terms to describe it, so forgive me, students of the new age who use more refined nomenclature: As I rose, an energy rose up from my root (chakra) and traveled all the way up my spine/kundalini. As it rose, it flushed out all the blockages existing within the uppermost portions of my spinal column -again giving me that free mobility I had experienced after my Amanita trip the previous January in Arizona. As a visualization, imagine the cleansing energy was like one of those drain-clearing graphics from Drano commercials in the 90s.

‘With Regular Use’ indeed…

But that’s not all! As the energy continued moving upward, it EXPLODED out of my crown like an ethereal ejaculation which shot up into the air above -some no doubt finding the proverbial egg which would precipitate my conception into a new universe- but much of it inevitably scattering short of the mark, making an absolute mess of the other patrons.

Yes, in a metaphysical sense, I ejaculated onto the people around me.

Their pets too!

I think they liked it though. Seeing me rise up, one guy at the next table asked me to play guitar. I was/am still learning and I was newer then than I am now. I did have some songs in my repertoire but I was also tripping balls and so perhaps not the best man to perform.

But then, ‘So fucking what?‘ When was it ever a good time to make others happy? Optimus Prime said, “Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing,” and as a novice rock-star, I had no hope of escaping that yellowish swamp of despair beyond picking up that guitar and putting smiles on some faces.

Was I amazing? No. I was decidedly not. But I didn’t have to be. I focused on playing the pentatonic and blues scales which I had recently learned, nice and slow. With my head and neck craned left looking down over the fingerboard with a newfound mobility and the up-close care and attention of a jeweler setting a stone, I played these universal forms, discoveries more than inventions, set down by the earliest musicians. I realized that their subtle, immutable rules provided me a security that relished in my fragmented state. As I played them I got faster, I got better, I got inventive, I got cocky, I fucked up, but when I did I could always come back to the transcendent original form and begin the process over again.

Just keep playing…

I played these scales sadly while weeping ecstatic tears and worked through the minutiae of loose ends left behind in the wake of my larger, earlier realization. In military terms, it could have been considered “mop-up” after a larger offensive. At length, the man who asked me to play gave me a few Euros and left with his family, probably not sure what to make of the ruefully countenanced troubador and his minstrelsy which tilted disproportionately to emotion over skill.

Still I played, and when I got up to get a coffee and treat myself to a pastry (which I ate slowly and mindfully) I walked straighter, more deliberately and more powerfully than any other time I can remember off the top of my head.

People were looking at me. More than usual. Such was my radiance.

One final point on this trip which ties this experience closer to that initial, earlier idea of surrender. Remember I joked that the path to enlightenment was up my ass? Well, in this scenario, I brought something up from a primordial place, from my root chakra, which, as the survival/fight or flight energy centre, is located squarely in the anal region. Similar to how I have pulled universal energy down to me through my crown, I brought universal energy’s as-yet-unnamed (at least to me) earthly counterpart up through my root.

I knew it was up my ass all along 🙂

“Knowing is not enough; We must apply” -Bruce Lee

I did two back to back trips over two days about two weeks ago. The first one was a similar 5 gram (‘there goes my hero..’) trip starting and ending in the same locations in Tiergarten. (This time I jazzed up the mushrooms with maple syrup to increase their palatablity). My guitar playing was better-ish, and while I didn’t necessarily have a unique new breakthrough, I did cement certain ideas from the previous trips -particularly the yellow hazy swamp of despair and the primordial hum which my wretched self hummed like a slave hymn as I feebly fumbled my way out of there.

No geese though.

The next day I took my girlfriend through her first trip -two grams for her and 3 for me in our apartment. Setting a very strong intention to be a guide, the onset of the darkness I saw didn’t manifest until she had already gone through the worst of her trip and was smiling and laughing at the things being revealed to her. As she saw that I was looking a little morose at that later point, she was able to coach me and tell me the things I needed to hear, and in that regard it was a beautifully synergistic experience. But prior to me tripping I was able to help her find balance with breathing exercises and humming that same primordial hum that had served me on my previous trip.

As an aside, I have used hums, mantras and “Oms” only a handful of times in meditation and yoga, but never enough to realize their power. This hum I was doing seemed to send some resonant frequency through my body which…..loosened things up?

The next night after these two back to back trips,  my girl drove me to the jobsite I was working at and we slept in a teepee. I smoked cannabis with my coworkers before bed and then when I joined her for sleep, fortune conspired to fortuitously have me sleeping on a wooden platform with no air mattress. I realized that the wood wasn’t uncomfortable in any absolute sense, it simply didn’t cushion, and thus it inhibited frivolous sleeping positions. Pillows and mattresses, for all of the comfort they provide, do tend to enable our bad sleeping habits. For example, I tend to sleep in semi-fetal position. Why? Why do I do that? Well, it’s comfortable and when I ‘lock in,’ I can sleep incredibly deeply. But am I a baby? No; I am a man and I should sleep like a man, on my back, sleeping deeply but never so deeply that I wake up groggy. Or worse, so deeply that I don’t awake when something goes bump in the night. Sleeping on your back leads to easier wake-ups, and as it would happen, its the most comfortable position to lie in on a flat hard surface.

Also, as I learned this particular evening, lying on your back on a hard surface with some friction allows you to stretch your back in ways that a mattress and silky sheets do not, and as I began exploring these stretches, I used my hands to manually manipulate my head,; lifting it, pulling it back to find length in the spine, and then resting it down on the board so that the weight was on the base of my skull and just below, with my chin tucked into my upper chest. This had a two-fold benefit: 1) With my chin tucked into my chest and my jaw unable to open, it was impossible for me to snore -a constant problem with sleeping on my back, and 2) I had isolated my lingering persistent neck stiffness (it tends to come back after being cleared during a mushroom trip) to a vertebrae in my neck (somewhere in the 30th to 33rd vicinity) and this position put that vertebrae in traction.

What a feeling! I had been hard-pressed to find a way to effectively address and stretch this compression or herniation (not sure the proper term) and here and now I was exerting positive pressure on it simply by lying still.

But I wasn’t just lying still; having done two trips in the previous two days I am guessing I had some latent psilocybin in my spinal fluid and it was reactivated by the cannabis and the deep, restful, meditative  breaths I was taking. I began drawing energy into my being from the universe through my crown, down the length of my spine/kundalini, and then when it hit the bottom I began channeling it back up achieving a less potent version of that “Drano feeling” I had experienced earlier. But channeling it down and up is not simply a mental or visualization matter -my body was actually moving and my spine seemed to be fluctuating in a wave pattern.

The eggplant is a bit misleading, as it would be a better stand-in for the sacral chakra *wink wink*

I thought that perhaps a Sine wave or cosine, etc. could, universally fundamental as they are, be optimal patterns for spinal movement when attempting to channel universal energies. Speaking a little out of school here, but perhaps if the right frequency, the resonant frequency of spinal motion could be found and adhered to through training, it could precipitate greater conductivity to universal energy by shaking loose impingements through increasing amplitude.
What impingements? The build-ups and the gradual ossification that take place as a consequence of aging, the blockages which come as a result of our vices and habits and the general calcification we experience in this polluted physical realm. As I breathed and moved with my breath, visualizing this wave (great back workout btw) I came to a point in my spinal waveform where my weight and the energy I was channeling were lined up at that vertebrae in my neck. I held here for a moment and I felt a movement. It was as if something compressed slowly, partially gave way with a groan and a grind. A groan and a grind may not sound healthy, especially when we’re dealing with the spine. but I was and still am working on opening a door that has been closed a long time, and that creak gave me hope and assurance that I was onto something.

I am still working at this impingement and I am certain I will get it soon, but in the meantime I am looking to procure some more medicine as my spinal reservoir of psilocybin seems to be depleted. Also, with regards to the back workout mentioned above, my back was sore as (sic.) the next day as I had used the finer muscles along my spine that don’t get used to that extent so often. I want to keep training those muscles and over time get to the point where I have such fine control that I can manipulate each vertebrae individually. We all gotta have goals, right?

Wow! Sounds GREAT! But What’s the Rub?

My body motions must have seemed like a seizure and I would guess that they were not too far from that. That’s a scary thought, but its mitigated by the fact that it was a seizure brought on by my own volition which I could end at any time I wished. I have long suspected that epilepsy might be like a short-circuiting kundalini, dangerous because there is no control to the flow of energy. Certainly it would offer at least an anecdotal and poetic explanation for why so many famous artists have been epileptic -they were simply tapping into something universal in a way that was beyond their control.
I’m not a doctor and so please dismiss the following words as the words of (well-intentioned) fringe lunatic: If you are suffering from the pain of a lifetime of bad posture and your calcified vertebrae prevent you from correcting matters, a seizure might be just the thing to straighten you out. If precipitated through meditation (and perhaps the use of psychadelics) and therefore controllable, I think it can be not all bad.

One final point on epilepsy/seizures: There was an epileptic Russian author, very possibly Dostoyevsky, who said of his seizures something to the effect of, “The quality of them was such that if I could, I would go on having them for the rest of my life.” Looking at it from the other side, if we are trying to transcend this physical realm and slough off this corporeal shell by raising our vibration (let’s assume we are), how might that look? Arguably a lot like a seizure. This is why practices like yoga and physical conditioning in general are important -with greater flexibility and strength you become better able to withstand the physical violence of intangible energy coursing up and down your spine without becoming crippled by it or dying. And the longer you can stay on this plane with that energy coursing through you the more help you can provide uplifting those around you. Like Jesus. Or Buddha.

Parkour rules apply: “Be strong to be useful.”

Some things to note:

-I am not a doctor.
-Stand up straight with you shoulders back and sit in lotus where practicable. Treat your body like a Ferrari and you won’t park it like absolute dogshit.
-Stop eating bullshit. Sugar, empty carbs, processed foods, etc… They mess your connectivity.
-Meat is ok for some people at various points in life. I am and have been on a near-keto diet for the last two trips and that hasn’t fucked with my ability to go deep into a meditative state. For me, leaning out as much as I can is most important right now and I am grateful to the animals who give their lives to provide nourishing food which keeps me healthy and vital in this transformation. That said, certain meat restrictions might be helpful on the actual day of a trip though. It’s a double-edged sword so be judicious.
-If you use alcohol, use it for a toast and then pour out the rest for your dead homies. Seriously -even if you’ve never missed a day of work or beat your wife, that shit slows you right down and holds you back in life.
-Subscribe to @psychadelicmilk on Instagram.

I hope you see some truth in this and I wish you and your spine all the best.

Namaste!

-Andre

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Filed under blog, consciousness, discussion, Health, philosophy, spirituality, Uncategorized, Wellness

On the Road Again 2018

Friends,

I have been an absolute failure as a writer of late.

For the last 8 months or so I have been living in Berlin and while my intention at the outset was to spend lots time documenting the previous two years of travel, I just kinda never got around to it in earnest. So here I will provide a brief timeline of some important dates / events so that what follows will make a little more sense.

November 2015 to March 2016 -Ayahuasca pilgrimage from Texas to Ecuador (#justmightbeok, #shredradlyordietrying)

-At the tail end of this adventure I spent a month in Nicaragua where I fell in love
-Woman I fell in love with invited me to go traveling the world with here but I chose not to on account of personal responsibilities

April 2016 to November 2016 – Back in Canada
-Still very much in love but apart from the person I loved because she was traveling
-Worked a lot and became a meme lord

November 2016 to January 2017 -Hitch-hiking in Arizona (#worldwasonfire)

-Woke up hungover the morning of Trump’s election to the good news; flew to the United States that very day
-Amazing experiences with a shaman, a silversmith, a wonderful family who became dear friends and the lovely people in that lovely state
-When I left on this trip I was more sure and focused and confident than I had ever been in my life -I was going on a righteous journey to meet up with my hippie queen

January 2017 to May 2017 – Back in Nicaragua (#pimpingbutterflies)

-reunited with the woman I loved; it did not go well and by the end became very hellish for me
-Made a lot of jewelry and taught a lot of jewelry workshops as well as yoga classes
-I learned a lot about how I had been mistaken going in there with expectations and expecting to pick things up where we left off
-I had been so intent on a life I pictured for the two of us that when things didn’t go that route it really threw me for a loop

May 2017 to September 2017 – Utila, Honduras (#livinginmydreams)

-Became a SCUBA divemaster, made some great friends, got into a bit of a self-destructive spiral of marijuana and alcohol
-Met my girlfriend, Anne and we moved to Berlin together

October 2018 to Present – Berlin (#migrantcrisis)

-I had acute difficulty fitting in here at first with the onset of winter, no job and no friends
-Even as winter abated and I had a job and had made friends I felt a calling to return to Arizona and resume silversmithing and to return to Nicaragua and help my friends build the eco-project down there
-I stayed in Berlin because I wasn’t sure I could trust my own inclinations; Did I really want to go back to AZ and Nica because I felt I belonged there? Was I just chasing a good and powerful feeling I had had in the past? Was I running away from adulthood? And most importantly, was I just trying to ultimately make things work between me and my ex? When I conclusively determined that the answer to this last question was no I felt more confident about moving forward with my inclinations to get back on the road again, which brings me to….

Now (#worldwasonfire2?? #pissontheashes??)
The United States of America is calling me. It needs my help. Trump’s America is the most exciting place to be right now. So much chaos. So much change. So this fall I’m going to be leaving Germany, and after a brief stay in Canada I intend to head down to south Florida, slowly working my way north and west as it gets warmer in early 2019.

My priorities will be:
1) Developing my guitar-playing skill in the southern U.S., primarily in the Mississippi Delta region where I can learn Bluegrass. I’m gonna buy a sweet resonator guitar and slide and make some twangy as balls music
2)Developing my broader skills through workaways. I’m gonna do a lot of volunteering and living/learning through various workaways, supplementing that with couch-surfing and camping when necessary. I expect to do a lot less hitch-hiking than in the past but there may yet be some. Yoga, sailing, guitar, etc… all of these things I can develop to great extents.
3) Creating understanding through a traveling podcast interviewing representatives of various fringe groups. Whether its Antifa, the KKK, the State branch of 3%-ers, etc. I want to breate bridges of understanding. Noone is beyond redemption and I want to prove it.

I have plans to be in Nicaragua but a lot of that will depend on whether or not the political situation quiets down some there.

I am very excited about what’s ahead of me. I had some anxiety about having to end my my relationship with Anne, but we’re talking about it a lot and figuring out a way we can do this together so that’s exciting as I’ve never traveled with someone else before.

That’s all for now, but expect updates in the future as the vision crystallizes.

Best,

-Andre

“Me and my song; we’ll do it alone.”
-Big Black Delta

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The 10 Laws of Adventure

Friends,

I am currently on a self-imposed lockdown for two weeks enduring what is called monk mode. I intend to write more about my circumstances and goals in that endeavour but that will be my next post. What I want to talk about now is, as the title suggests, 10 maxims I fleshed out in my journal while making my ayahuasca pilgrimage to South America for my upcoming film, Just Might Be Ok

IMG_1311
Pictured: Two of my favourite books.

You see during this monk mode period I have been reading Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power and it’s inspired me to present my maxims in a similar, if abbreviated, way to really hammer home their importance.

Law 1:
Be Physically Imposing

Observance of the Law:
Having been robbed on a previous trip I was more cognizant about where I slept and kept my baggage, but these considerations were not the only thing which saved me: As a fit guy with a better than average build and great endurance I made my way through Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Ecuador without incident because I was (I assume) more trouble than I was worth.

Keys to Power:
Prior to departure I thought long and hard about what kit I would bring and what I would wear. I wanted to go fast and light and so abandoned the large backpack from the get-go, instead opting for a military vest with a custom pouch set-up, leg bags and a small backpack with a hydration bladder (GEIGERRIG…great piece of kit). A few days into my trip I acquired a sombrero and poncho. The entire look culminated thusly…

KBK_8496
“El Peregrino”
Photo Credit: Kenneth Klemens

Now that may be more comical than imposing to some and to be sure I did want to capture a certain good-natured, adventurous aspect as I was simultaneously shooting a film, but as I keep pretty fit and spry I wasn’t just some fatty at a convention cosplaying. No, everything I carried was functional and the skin I showed was calculated. It wasn’t like I could take anyone who might want to attack me, but I was imposing enough to make any comers think twice, and mobile enough to be out of range if their second thought was, “let’s fuck this dude up.”
However, the safest I ever felt was walking around shirtless or in a wife-beater after stashing my gear at my accommodations. Why? Because I have a built upper body. And without the encumbrance of my gear I was not an attractive target. The way I look and my physique (such as it is) didn’t happen by accident and a modicum of fitness is a warning and beacon to others that perhaps this dude might go the distance if they tried to pull some shit. It shows discipline, and someone who is disciplined on any level instantly becomes a less attractive mark.
On another note, people often poo-poo a workout regimen that focuses on the upper body, but if I could recommend one workout for the adventurer unrelated to endurance and stamina it would be pushups. If your upper body is built, it doesn’t matter if you have chicken-legs, as ne’er-do-wells are creatures of convenience and there’s always lower hanging fruit. So yeah.

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The Pit-Bull. Raised by a loving family it has the sweetest disposition and will allow you to scratch its belly and pet it, but its powerful appearance and reputation make the uninitiated balk. The brave and wise know that it is a powerful a loyal friend.

Reversal:
Cops. For whatever reason they don’t like you walking around the city dressed like a paramilitary, so its wise to keep aggressive-looking gear easily stowable in urban centres. With regard to being muscular, there’s always gonna be some shithead who tries to pull your card even in your hometown, but it likely won’t be on a street in broad daylight. Standard rules of preservation apply: if you go out to bars, try not to go alone, don’t eyeball people, don’t get too drunk and don’t hit on anyone’s girl and you’ll probably be ok.

Law 2: 
Always Bring a Bottle of Something

Observance of the Law:
Throughout the duration of the pilgrimage I relied heavily on Couch-Surfing as a means of sleeping for free. On my last night in Mexico, I couch-surfed with Sinuhe and his family in Villahermosa. I went out for a run in the evening and returned with a bottle of my favourite spirit, Mezcal. We sat to have a couple drinks and it turned into a party. His girlfriend and friend joined us, his mother started making food and pulling out bottles of tequila. It was one of my best nights of the trip.

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Me and Sinuhe, before eating some worms.

Keys to Power:
“Free” really means the ability to put money you would have spent on accommodations elsewhere. Like, for example, food or beverage to show your host appreciation and party with them. The benefit of this is two-fold: First, it makes it more fun. Second, Couch-Surfing is a community where people review each other after the stay, and those references have an effect on whether other people let you crash with them in the future. You could call it Social Capital, and you can increase your social capital by turning positive reviews into glowing ones.

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Jesus Christ. Where people expect water, you bring wine. A vagabond of abundance, they admire your grit, your salt-of-the-Earth sensibilities and of course your desire to make them the guest of honor at the party they didn’t know they were hosting. Then when the morning comes you are gone, having enriched their lives with just your presence. For the rest of their days they spread the legend of the pilgrim who came and made them a part of his adventure.

Reversal:
It is wise to check if the household is amenable to drinking before placing a bottle of booze on the table and telling people to fill their boots. Also, sometimes people will pick you up (if hitch-hiking) and take you home and feed you. In cases like these it is understood that they have the means and desire to treat you and in fact might be put off if you insist on stopping somewhere to purchase them a gift. Feel it out and find some other way to contribute or content yourself with paying the kindness forward.

Law 3:
Be Generous

Observance of the Law:
Being 31 on this last outing, I was more established in the world than a lot of the people I met in hostels, often the 18-23 age range. But they were cool people who I wanted to hang out with and didn’t want them to not come out or sit there without a drink because they didn’t have the same budget as me. I thought of all the kindness and generosity I had received on this excursion and previous ones and realized I had a lot of good karma to pay back. So, around me, no one ever thirsted.

Keys to Power:
I am not a wealthy man in absolute terms but I certainly have enough to buy a round of beers in Mexico, several times over in fact. And for a few dollars, nights wandering the city alone turned into nights on the town. Plus, due to the natural tendency of guys to one-up each other, buying a round meant that every other dude would wanna buy a round and it would become a party.

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The Brother. If the Brother gets 20, his brother gets 10. In fact, the Brother can’t be at ease unless his brother is taken care of. Stand together or die alone.

Reversal:
Don’t allow yourself to be taken for granted. Women are usually worse for this back home, but on the road everyone understands the value of reciprocity. Still, be careful of drinking with locals; either they’ll peg you as the rich gringo and try and run up your tab, or some blonde cunt in Mexico City will try and put a bottle of champagne on your tab because you’ve been hitting it off with her friend all night. True story.

Law 4:
Wear a Condom

Transgression of the Law:
Back in Cairns, Australia in 2006 I picked up this lady named Tania and took her back to my hostel. Since I had a shared dorm room we went downstairs into the laundry room and began to get busy. Now not only did I not wear a dome but I also failed to get her appropriately warmed up, and so when I went to stick my penis in I met resistance.
I pushed hard. Still resistance.
So I gave ‘er the old college try and –OWWW!“- I achieved penetration.
Now, whence cometh the ow? Well being an uncircumcised dude I actually tore my frenulum (the piece of “webbing” between the head of the dick and the foreskin. When I pulled out I noticed a profusion of blood and was like, “Hmmm, that’s peculiar.”
Needless to say, that soured the whole thing pretty damn quick.
She left and I looked up with my pants around my ankles and a used napkin soaking up the blood only to stare into a security camera.
Great Job!
A condom may have absorbed the brunt of the friction and torn first sparing me the embarrassment.

Observance of the Law:
I met some lovely ladies and got to stick my penis in a few of them. It was terrific.

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(…they exist, just…not available…)

Keys to Power:
Traveling through Latin America, an STI isn’t even the worst thing that could happen from having unprotected sex (BABIES!). There is nothing incredibly profound about this law I know but it bears repeating because, well…when I wrote these laws down (Jan 2016) I was really feeling this particularly strongly I guess.

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A Suit of Armor. Not to be worn all the time, it is donned during battle and protects its wearer from the ravages of love and/or war.

Reversal:
(*sigh*) There really shouldn’t be, but every guy reading knows that sometimes a girl makes a really compelling case for why you should fuck her without a condom. She’ll say something like this: “Fuck me without a condom.” And you’ll be like, “……….” And then she’ll be like, “I want your big dick to come inside me.” And then you’re like, “Fuuck!”

Then five minutes later you’re lying there beside her terrified that you just ruined your future while she’s planning your lives together.

Totally worth it.

Law 5: 
If Your Budget is $5,000, Have $10,000

Observance of the Law:
Departing for this trip I was over-prepared in many regards: I brought more gear than I needed and ultimately gave a bunch of it away; I was already fairly enlightened before taking ayahuasca which really took the edge off (more on that to come), etc. But perhaps in no regard was I more prepared than finances. Since I was on a quest with a fairly clearly delineated end-goal it was very important that not only did enough enough money to finance my mobility, food and accommodations (hitch-hiked and camped a lot which really brought costs down), but also enough in reserve to deal with any emergencies and the inevitable spur-of-the-moment decisions that one makes when on the road (See Law 6).

Keys to Power:
I never wanted for anything aside from during times of discipline-oriented, self-imposed austerity, and I was actually shocked when I saw fellow travelers leaving things like food up to chance. There is a fair amount of leaving things to chance one has to do when living on the road and I certainly didn’t go without my share of Quixotic adventures and reversals of fortune, but I decided I didn’t want to be hungry unless it was a some kind of personal challenge. Did having extra cash embolden me to make some choices which were costlier than others? Almost certainly. Do I regret those decisions? Not in the least!
This law can be interpreted in two ways. Literally it can mean, “if you’ve planned a $5000 trip, find a way to accumulate another $5000, but for most that’s wildly impractical and unrealistic. Instead, look at what your budget and then trim as much fat as you can. Time is your ally here as well as grit; if you’re willing to live outdoors and hitch-hike and deal with the resultant uncertain arrival dates, $5000 all of a sudden stretches WAY goddamn further. Also and this is just my opinion here, you don’t just travel, you have an adventure.

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A Clerical Error. Somehow, some way you were allocated twice as much as you actually need and it allows you to regularly spoil yourself in the carefree pursuit of whimsy and new experiences.

Reversal:
I like to think I travel on hard mode which is why I try and refer to it as adventure. But if I do it on hard mode there are some who can be said to do it on extreme mode. With only the proverbial dollar and a dream they eke out a living as they go and basically stay in a place until they earn enough to leave. This is also an enriching way to travel and one I haven’t yet delved into.

Law 6:
Don’t Deprive Yourself of Something That Will Make a Memory

Transgression of the Law:
In September 2006 I departed on my first backpacking excursion to Australia. Landing in Cairns I was close to the Great Barrier Reef, but I was so caught up with getting to the outback that I dismissed going diving there as too peripheral to my interests. I even used the cost to justify my decision not to go. Now I’ve seen most of Australia, but I still haven’t seen that goddamn reef.

Observance of the Law:
Departing in November 2015 I had planned to make my way south through Mexico sticking to the coast and avoiding Mexico City like the plague, as I had heard nothing but how high crime was there. But hitch-hiking is nothing if not a circuitous and unpredictable way to travel. Compound this with the fact that my espanol is poquito (i.e. language barriers) and I found myself inexplicably back on the doorstep of Mexico City after I had managed (I thought) to work my way around it. So I said, “fuck it” and decided to enter the city and hope for the best.
Turns out it was the best choice I made throughout the whole trip. The city had an amazing vibe to it, full of energy and exuberance. It was exciting, dangerous, the women were beautiful, the food was delicious. I even fell in love one night. Looking back I am glad that fortune conspired to make me reconsider my fear-based decision.

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Also, there was some gorgeous architecture in ‘D.F’

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A Stock Portfolio. The record or where you have invested your time and money. It should be diverse and robust. Not all investments will be “profitable” in the short or immediate term, but you hold onto them for life and you see their value increase over time.

Reversal:
Do it for the story can be a great mantra to live your life by but it must be tempered with judgment (See Law 7), because every choice has an opportunity cost. Don’t follow an exciting whim that will jeopardize something dearly important to you hoping that things will just work out somehow (See Law 4).

Law 7:
Find the Level of Stupidity You’re Comfortable With

Observance of the Law:
When entering Mexico from south Texas I had a lot of anxiety. Everyone I met told me it was dangerous, or I would get robbed, kidnapped, beheaded, etc. I was kind of a big bag of nerves when it came time to cross the Rubicon that is the US-Mexico border. However, skipping Mexico and heading right for Guatemala was not an option as I wanted to experience every place. So I compromised: Reckoning that the Mexican border region was the most problematic area of concern I opted to take a bus from Texas through the border and into the interior to the state of Zacatecas.
From there I hitch-hiked south unmolested and had some great adventures.

Keys to Power:
Any number of fellow travelers have passed through the Mexican border without incident and some I met along the way who told me of what a great time they had and it made me wish I had spent time there. But we all make the choices that appear right to us at the time and so it’s hard for me to feel regret. Instead I feel glad I faced a fear on my own terms and kind of smirk inwardly at the constantly-repeating situation of being scared of no more than the unknown.

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The Stuntman. The Stuntman’s raison d’etre is to perform the feats that others are either unwilling or unable to. But every Stuntman has a forte and shines most brightly in a certain area. When there are risks to take, make sure they are the ones that are important to you and that you feel competent taking them. To take the metaphor further, push yourself, but if you’re someone who specializes in getting lit on fire, don’t let them throw you off of a building.

Reversal:
If you have to impress a girl sometimes you gotta double-down on stupidity. It is a man’s prerogative after all…

Law 8:
There are No Dangerous Places, Only Dumb, Unprepared, Fearful People

Transgression of the Law:
In September 2011 I was in Madeira, Portugal, the beginning of a trip to circumnavigate the northern hemisphere. It was a vacationer’s dream and everyone I spoke with screwed up their face with disbelief when I asked if it was safe. “Of course” was the response. I got lulled into a false sense of security and my first night there I fell asleep on the beach and woke up to find all of my gear missing.
Safe place. Go figure.

Observance:
After the robbery in Portugal I decided to continue on and a few months later found myself in the Middle East. It was November 2011 and Egypt was still jumping off after Arab Spring. Naturally I decided to fly to Cairo from Beirut -I wanted to see the pyramids! I made some prudent decisions such as avoiding Tahrir Square where shit was liable to jump off at any given time (See Law 7) but on the whole had nothing but a great experience in spite of people’s warnings that it was super-dangerous. I kept my wits about me and was fine.

Keys to Power:
It is natural for us to be wary of places where something bad has happened. But when you really internalize the idea that bad has happened (literally) everywhere, what you see is that you have a lot of power to avoid getting yourself into said situations. There will always be circumstances beyond your control but you can choose what you make yourself susceptible to by being aware of bad situations as they’re developing and ejecting/aborting if you sense trouble.

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The Surfer. The surfer knows that the ocean is much mightier than he and could kill him very easily. But he understands that there is beauty in danger and it is beauty which he is in search of. So, knowing that he can never hope to control the ocean’s waves, he doesn’t fight the ocean but instead learns to ride it.

Reversal:
If your hear gunfire don’t walk into the crossfire thinking, “As long as I keep my head on a swivel I’ll be fine.” Some situations are empirically dangerous, particularly those which are not contingent upon your actions and interactions.

Law 9:
Play Dumb with Cops, but BOLDLY Dumb!

Observance of the Law:
While walking through Manzanillo, Mexico in full adventure gear I had my poncho drawn closed to conceal my equipment from view. On a whim I decided to throw the poncho back and walk around town looking like a paramilitary. Of course I looked cool walking around but it was also a controlled opportunity to see what I could get away with in Mexican towns; a trap of sorts to make 5-0 reveal their hand. In short order I was stopped by cops who had no compunction about manhandling me and asserting their presence. I played the meek tourist (a stark contrast to the calculated manner in which I was attired) and told them I was a pilgrim. The leader of the cops asked me if I was a some religious nut and then if I was escaped from a (mental) hospital (this I took to be the highest flattery) and I assured him I was not either. I showed them my journal and portrayed myself as a quixotic but harmless young adventurer (not far from the truth). As they flipped through the journal’s pages they saw that I had a picture of a girl. They asked if it was my girlfriend and I smiled like some kind of hopeless romantic and said, “maybe one day.” This really humanized me in their eyes.
But most important by far was the fact that I was so committed and bold in my portrayal as a meek, well-intentioned traveler. My feigned bewilderment brought their defences down and while they approached me hostile and defensive, they left curious, amused and perhaps only mildly annoyed.
The mark of success was that they didn’t even check my pockets or pouches even though they identified I had re-purposed grenade pouches.

Keys to Power:
Getting stopped by cops can be inconvenient, but acting bothered and inconvenienced only gives them further pretense for investigation. As Law 22 of The 48 Laws of Power advises, “Use the Surrender Tactic” -be overobedient to authorities flexing muscle. Even if they suspect that you are insincere in your deference and respect, they face a dilemma because calling you out on insincere respect is implicit admission that their power is contingent upon your accepting and agreeing to it.

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The Jester. He plays the buffoon and everyone has a supposed laugh at his expense with never more than a cursory suspicion that they might be the butt of the joke. As such he outlasts the more confrontational and is indulged by the powerful.

Reversal:
It depends on where your interests lie. The majority of our encounters with cops are them fucking with us and it is our resentment and desire to end the encounter quickly that causes us to offend them, or worse, implicate ourselves in some crime or another. This is why this rule is so important; learn to have fun with your encounters with so-called authorities as it is only when they have you scared and/or aggressive that you can truly lose.
That said, there are times you may find it expedient to answer all questions quickly, diligently and without feigned meekness. For example, if you are registering a complaint or in some way asking for their help (which as a general rule I don’t advise). They will ask you probing questions which, if you are like me, you may resent answering, but their help is contingent you being straightforward with them.

Law 10:
Don’t Carry Drugs

Transgression of the Law:
On about my third or fourth week in Mexico in December 2015, I left Mexico City for Veracruz. In VC I decided to lighten my load some more. I figured I would ditch my pipe kit as pipe tobacco wasn’t really abundant and as I went to throw pipe and kit away I had a last-minute impulse to check the compartments in the pouch. I found a joint that I had accidentally smuggled into the US and then Mexico completely unknowingly.
I ended up having a fun time that night but that’s not the point; my oversight could have been very costly had I been caught.

Transgression of the Law II and Obedience of the Law:
In Jaco, Costa Rica I was on the beach with two people from my hostel outside of a club when cops pulled up for an surprise shakedown/search. The other two didn’t know me too well and I didn’t know them and fortunately the cops segregated me from them. Playing boldly dumb (See Law 9) almost to the point of belligerence I reacted indignantly then the one cop lifted up my shirt to see if I was hiding anything and such indignance and lack of fear they seemingly took as a signal that I was not a tourist they wanted to fuck with too much. After all, lots of rich, connected bastards go to Costa Rica, and even though they are police they don’t want to create too much of a stir when tourism is their bread & butter. But, as it pertains to the Law 10, carrying no contraband on me, I had really nothing to fear; when they turned their backs on me I walked about 10 metres away to piss on the beach while looking at them and challenging them to do something (not brilliant, I know) Then as I started to get bored of the whole endeavour I hit the ground and started doing pushups. This earned outrage from my sequestered companions but to the cops it was like saying, “You guys wanna fuck around? Okay, I got all the time in the world.”
They drove off while I was mid-set and passed me closely I guess as a way of trying to intimidate me. Fags.
My companions didn’t fare so honorably. You see, they were, unbeknownst to me, carrying cocaine. And so with that fear of getting caught  they folded and the cops, sensing their fear, searched them like they hadn’t searched me.
They didn’t get arrested, but after the cops left they were visibly shaken while I was annoyed and ready to fight someone -certainly not an ideal state but better than theirs.

Keys to Power:
While it is a prudent idea not to carry contraband, the real meat & potatoes of this law is that if you feel you are culpable for some reason you will be less confident and more fearful during an encounter with authority which will cause you to act erratically and/or dishonorably as my fellow hostelers did. Better to feel righteous and carry that frame so strongly that whomsoever dares impede you starts to suspect that they are in the wrong.

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The Crusader. On a holy mission from the Almighty himself, the Crusader’s moral high-ground is never in question. Should another find themselves at odds with you they will seriously consider where it is they stand and check themselves.

Reversal:
The only possible reversal is that whatever you do, whether it is carrying drugs, guns, etc. convince yourself and believe that it is the righteous and noble thing to do. The goal here is not to sweat under scrutiny and to be bold and unafraid when encountering some “authority.”

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And so ends my adventure maxims. As I wrote these more occurred that I had thought over while adventuring but never committed to the original list. It may be a worthwhile endeavour to revisit the subject in the future.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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