You drink Sanango, and it plants itself deep in you.
That's what Matt, the shaman who was leading the retreat with Maestro Don Alberto, reminded us. For those of us (which was most people) who had done Sanango before, we knew this...
You drink the medicine. It goes deep. Settles in, if you follow the restrictions (or "liberations" as Matt liked to call them)... And it starts to grow inside of you.
Aya is in your face, head on. San Pedro creeps in from the back of your mind and unfolds. Cannabis settles on you like a cloud.
But Sanango gets comfortable, digs in deep... And peels away shit over time.
But in order for it to get "comfortable" planting in you, it has to make you uncomfortable.
And this second time around... It made me it's bitch.
As I settled onto my mat that first morning after drinking, I could still taste the Sanango from the ceremony hours before, in the middle of the night. I'd already had one purge, realizing how strong the medicine was this time around. (Not that it wasn't strong last time I had taken it... It was stronger though. More potent.)
I just wanted some sleep.
I knew I'd be in for store for a few rounds of getting up and peeing, as that is a frequent way I purge. In aya ceremonies... And even through the night at home. I get up at least twice a night to pee. (And no, nothing is wrong with my kidneys. I've been checked. I've always been a frequent pee-er.)
"And I'll probably have some mobility issues with limbs and crossed-eyes," I thought to myself. I was preparing for a repeat of the last Sanango experience.
But this time, things went much deeper and left me feeling raw.
The couple on the mats next to me were having a rougher time than before as well. An hour into the morning, and they were already experiencing stiff limbs. And headaches.
I was too afraid to move. Mostly because my stomach was grumbling and leaving me in a little pain.
"It's just hunger pains," I noted. "I'm not hungry. But my stomach is adjusting."
I felt the Sanango taste creep into my throat as I thought that. I shuddered.
I pulled out my Kindle and tried reading. I could make out the words, but my mind wouldn't stay focused. It was jumping from clear thought to clear thought.
"I can't believe you're actually reading, Heather," said the woman on the mat. "Can you really read that?"
"A little," I said. "But I don't feel good. I feel restless."
I tried to move my arms and legs more, and realized they'd become stiff and heavy.
The medicine was shutting down parts of my body and working on them.
I also felt a buzzing vibration running through me. Like an electrical current. I attempted to sit up, but only managed to roll over to my right side. The new view gave me a glimpse of one of the volunteer ceremony assistants who had taken the Sanango with us. He was sitting in a chair, but slumped over a bucket on the floor between his feet.
He looked like he was just waiting for something to come back up.
I could hear others walking in and out of the bathroom stalls. Someone was in the shower, probably trying to get a cool down, as the medicine was making most people hot.
Not me though. I felt no identifiable heat. Just an electrical buzz.
I decided I had to pee.
I forced myself to sit upright quickly, the world spinning a little. I still had good use of my limbs, I realized. I scooted to the end of my mat, and stood up quickly. Slow steps, with loud Frankenstein-thumps of the feet, I walked towards the bathroom.
I definitely had to pee.
But as I got closer to the bathroom, I realized I was nauseous.
And when I rounded the corner into the bathrooms, I walked quickly to the back stall and somehow managed to simultaneously get my pants down and grab the clean bucket that was on the floor in the stall.
My body convulsed inward, and with perfect synchronicity, a fire hose of urine and vomit came out at the same time.
It went on like this for about two minutes...
Convulse inward for a number of seconds...
Firehose of purging in both directions.
"It would be kinda cool if you were doing all three types of purging at once," the voice said, somewhere in the back of my mind.
I told it to shut the fuck up.
"Heather, how are you doing in there?"
It was Terri, one of the apprenticing shamans who I've know for over three years at this point.
I looked down into the yellow pool of bile in the bucket (which was at least an inch and a half deep), and said...
"I'm peeing and puking at the same time."
My body convulsed, and unleashed again.
Two inches deep in that pool now.
"You get a gold star," Terri said sympathetically. I knew she knew my pain.
It was bound to happen at some point, this kind of purging.
A few minutes later, I was sure I was done puking. My throat was on fire, and I could taste the Sanango more than ever.
I left the bucket in the bathroom stall, but managed to flush the pee. I spent a good minute washing my hands in the cold stream of water at the sink. Then I hobbled back to my mat, feeling the stiffness of my muscles and joints get worse.
I laid down for a few hours, somewhat immobile... And completely uncomfortable. The electrical buzzing was running down my legs aggressively. Lunchtime came, and all I could do was drink water.
The idea of food repulsed me.
Sometime in the early afternoon, I was able to myself showered and changed into fresh clothes in time to make the next night's Sanango by scraping the bark again.
As I took the backside of a butterknife and ran it along the thick roots, I mentioned to one of the apprenticing shamans that this batch of medicine roots seemed stronger than when I had previously taken it.
"It is," they said. "It's been even more rainy. The roots are plump. Extra thick."
Ugh. That explains it.
The smell of root - an earthy sweetness - made my body shudder.
"You don't need to drink tonight," said the voice. "It will bounce back out. And you're still in store for more side effects."
I could hardly wait.