Posts Tagged ‘curando’


More about my trips to Central America… 

We had to go into the town of Chepo because someone had brought me a dead margay.  The margay is a small wild cat and the fellow had heard I was interested in animals.  He thought I wanted them for the skin.  I explained that I was looking for live animals but he got very angry and insisted that I buy the cat.  Carlos had heard about this and came to town.  He started arguing with the guy but in the end suggested that I buy it as long as the man understood that I didn’t want any more dead animals.

Carlos then brought me to Chepo in the canoe taxi because he knew someone who would buy the dead margay from me.  We landed at Capitano where we took the little bus (pick up truck with side rails) to Chepo.  The bus left us off at the center of town where the main road from the capital ended.  While Carlos went off to sell the cat I wandered around that area. 

I had been used to the slow pace and quiet of our little jungle town and had forgotten how busy and noisy the city was.  I was overwhelmed.  Yet this was nothing like New York.  Compared to my original home Chepo was a little hick town.  I noticed that the personalities of the people were very strong and they spoke loudly.  Everyone wanted to voice their opinion about everything.

I wandered by the auction house where cattle was displayed and auctioned off.  I liked the smell of cattle and horses.  Every few minutes a car would speed by raising a huge cloud of dust.  None of the roads were paved and it was still the dry season.  I couldn’t understand why they drove so fast when they could drive through the whole “city” in a few minutes.

Carlos found me and after buying some supplies, we had some fried chicken at a roadside eating place.  Carlos commented on how busy the city was.  He made a motion with his hands like the wind of a tornado and then opened and closed his fingers to imitate people talking so much.  I told him that all this commotion was making me feel bad and I felt bad already because of the margay incident.

We went back to Capitano but the tide wasn’t in enough for the taxi to leave the dock.  Carlos argued with the boatman for a while and then paid him some money to bring us back anyway.  Within a few minutes of the trip we had to disembark and pull the canoe over the rocky small river leading to Rio Chepo.  The water was too shallow. The stones on the river floor were killing my feet.  We had to pull the canoe about a half mile and had to hold on tightly because the small rapids were trying to pull the canoe away from us.   

By that time the tide had come in enough so we could get back in the boat and we returned home.  Carlos had me follow him back to his hut up in the hills and I must have complained a lot about my feet.  That just made him laugh.  When we got to the hut he made a small fire and we both stood by the fire, warming our feet.

Suddenly he said, “That was some workout for our feet!” and he slapped me hard on the back.  I felt as if I were passing out but had the unusual sensation that I was in my feet and ankles.  I was in the parts of me that were in pain and were being warmed up by the fire.  The rest of me seemed “up there”.  I thought of “getting back up” as that seemed were I should be but I had no means to do so.  There was no one left up in the mother ship to beam me up.  Yet I was able to stand upright and not fall. 

After a while Carlos helped me to sit down and gradually I came back into my head.  Carlos then slapped my feet as if to wake them up and my attention jumped back down.  He turned to look at me and my attention went back up into my eyes. 

Carlos asked me, “Where is your home?” and I automatically said, “Long Island”.  He laughed.  “Where are you now?” he asked and I replied, “Panama”.  He laughed again as if I were an entertainer keeping him amused. 

Carlos asked, “Are you in your head or in your feet right now?”  I understood what he meant and told him I was all right.  “I didn’t ask you if you were all right, I asked you where you were.”  I felt myself about to sink back down into my feet again but fought to stay “up”.  Half of me fell down and half of me stayed up.  I was in my feet and ankles and in my head at the same time.  This confused me so much that I just didn’t know what to do. 

Carlos looked at me up and down.  A small dog came over and also looked at me up and down.  Carlos looked at the dog and the dog barked in such a way that he seemed to shrug his shoulders.  He sniffed me, looked at me in the eyes, walked away and I would swear that he shook his head in confusion and grumbled.

Then Carlos started rubbing my belly which I thought was an inappropriate thing to do, but only half of me thought that.  The half that was in my feet started moving up to where I was being rubbed and when “it” got there, Carlos slapped my belly once. 

At that point I recalled the hustle and bustle of Chepo.  That scene superimposed itself on my whole body.  I understood that there was a lot of hustle and bustle within my body and mind and immediately felt uncomfortable, like I wanted all that busyness to stop immediately.  

Carlos laid me down near the fire and my body warmed up.  I could feel the air on the other side of the fire starting to cool down for the evening.  At this point the part of “me” that was in my feet and ankles and that had spread to my belly, also filled my torso and joined the head part of my attention.  My awareness was now in the whole of my body, and my body quieted down.  It felt like the busyness had been absorbed by the earth.

The smell of dinner soon absorbed all of my attention and I very slowly got up.  I felt as if I were breathing into every cell of my body, that the air and the earth merged and created me at every moment.  I breathed in very deeply as the smells were wonderful.

Tree frogs began singing all around us and I could feel their songs inside of me, as when you feel the vibrations of music when you sit in front of a large speaker.  The frog songs were very delicate and yet I could feel them as if each part of my body were like a tuning fork being vibrated by them. 

When I finally sat down to eat, the smells and taste of the food were overwhelmingly satisfying. Yet it seemed to be the same beans & rice, chicken and chopped vegetables that were the usual fare here. 

I thought that it would be hard to go home to Long Island, to face the busyness and have my body vibrate to the hustle and bustle.  I understood how the environment outside duplicates itself inside of our bodies and hearts. And I began to understand how the forces of nature merge to create you. 

We suddenly heard the howler monkeys begin to howl.  The people at this hut and in several others along the trails shouted in unison.  Then we went back to eating.


This is an episode of my experiences traveling the jungles of Central America.  If you would be interested in reading more such episodes, please let me know in the comments for this article.  I will be happy to write more.  (Note: These experiences formed the basis of my novel, “The Doubting Snake”).

A heavy rain danced on the swollen River Chepo.  I huddled under a bean pod tree in my dugout canoe, basically a long log carved into a canoe.  Once in a while, I grabbed a bean pod, opened it up to reveal the beans covered with fuzz and popped the sugary, fuzzy beans into my mouth, sucking out the juice. 

Suddenly Miguel appeared on the shore, walking along what appeared to be a trail along the river.  He grabbed a branch, leaned out over my canoe and asked, “Are you hiding from the rain?  It is good to get wet.”

I realized how ridiculous it was to hide from the rain when the temperature in this Panama jungle was over eighty degrees.  I saw other people paddling up and down the river in the rain.  So I returned to town (a group of about six stick huts). 

Miguel was already there and had apparently told people that I had hidden from the rain.  A few children ran up to me holding pieces of paper above my head (to protect me from the rain) and they laughed. 

Back on Long Island, my home, I hid from the rain and from the cold and from the traffic, etc.  It seemed that a large part of my life was hiding from things.  Here in the jungle, the mood of the people was to connect with the environment and with each other.  When I realized this difference, it was startling.  Hiding was the theme of my life up North and connecting was the theme here in Central America. 

Carlos was visiting and asked me to come back to his stick house up in the hills about three miles away.  He would answer the question I asked him yesterday about healing.  Carlos was an approximation of his Indian name.  The Spanish people of the town couldn’t (or didn’t want to) pronounce his real name.  Carlos was around seventy years old, wiry and vibrant and lived alone.  He was the best know healer of the area.

I had asked him, “When you heal, what do you feel?”

Carlos brought me into his hut.  After walking all those hills (and after having paddled up River from Chepo City to get supplies) I was ready to go to sleep.  But I was anxious to hear his answer to my question.  Carlos built a fire and kept adding wood to it.  Yet he didn’t seem to be preparing a meal.  Usually meals are cooked on a stone table.  Several sticks are laid on the table like spokes of a wheel and they are burned.  The pot is placed on top of the burning sticks.

But Carlos made a fire in the ground in the middle of his hut.  After a couple of hours there was a large pile of burning coals in the fire and it had gotten dark outside.  I was still waiting for him to answer my question but knew not to rush him.  Everything to him was a ritual.  He threw some herbs on the fire.  I can only describe their smell as “friendly” or “delightful”. 

We both continued to stare into the coals until I realized that it was morning.  I don’t believe I slept at all.  I remember either a sensation or perhaps, it was a dream.  The coals were burning away an army of what I would call “antagonists” which “lived” in my back.  I could only interpret this as the tension in my back (probably caused by sitting in one position all night).  The coals seemed to burn away these antagonists or bad feelings and my back was filled with warmth. 

Then my sternum seemed to split open and I felt another “army of antagonists” living in the front of my body also burn away (again probably tension).  As the front and back of my body seemed to melt and open, the “friendly” smell of the burning herbs filled my body as if to take the place of the bad feelings.  I felt very happy and positive as if I didn’t need to know anything else. 

My concentration was broken as a woman started talking outside and I smelled breakfast of eggs, rice and beans.  Carlos said something to her in an Indian language and she brought the food inside.  He told me to go outside before eating.  I looked at him wondering why I needed to go outside, especially since it was raining.  Then I remembered that I shouldn’t be afraid of the rain.  I went out expecting him to follow but Carlos stayed inside.  The cynical thought came to me that he was going to eat all the breakfast.

Suddenly that thought felt like one of those antagonistic feelings living in my back.  As the rain poured down my body, this feeling was quickly washed away.  Little by little, a lot of feelings inside of me were washed away.  Soon, there was little of me left, as if the coals had burned me up and now the rain was washing away the cinders. 

Carlos called me back in and I sat down.  The woman, middle aged with a hint of a little girl still inside of her, gave me a plate of breakfast.  As I began to eat, Carlos told me to look outside (the door was just a big opening in the hut).   The rain had stopped and the sun was bright.  Butterflies and birds began to visit the plants around the hut and every plant was glistening.

“Like that!” Carlos said.  I said, “What?” 

“I feel like that when I heal,” and he nodded out the doorway.  I continued to watch the flurry of wildlife activity against the glistening plants as I finished my breakfast. Perhaps I understood what he meant or there was just too little left of me to care.  I wanted to go out and be in the hills.  As I looked back at Carlos, he poked his chin towards the door as if to say, “I answered you so now go home.” 

As I walked the hills back to the little “town”, there was less of me than before and more of the jungle.