Gratitude For Moments Of Discomfort.

By day five of the Sanango dieta, I was well-hydrated and craving food texture.

I had drank far more water than I normally do (mind you, I really don't drink any) because it was my solution for keeping any hunger pains I was experiencing at bay. (Since I decided fasting was the best way to handle the five days of extreme restrictions.) But the absence of food wasn't getting to me. No, it was the texture of food.

Lightly crunchy food that was more substantial than fish skin and bones. 

I wanted to toast most of all.

(Toast, probably my favorite food in the world. And one I don't eat much of... Because bread makes me feel sick sometimes.)

"I just have to get through the next 12 hours," I told myself, as I settled into my mosquito net bed in my bungalow.  

I had decided the easiest way to get through the final 12-hour stretch of of the dieta was to try to sleep. But sleep was hard to come by in the final two days.

The buzzing from the Sanango I'd drank the first night was stronger. And I had a non-stop ache running through my legs, across my butt cheeks, and up my spine into my neck. 

"Can you ease up a little, Sanango?" I'd ask the medicine.

And within minutes, it would ease up. But then it would find it's way back in to my consciousness after a little while.

"You can ask it to pause for a little while," said the voice. "But you should really just let it do it's thing till the dieta is over."

I had to pull rank on the medicine during a sound meditation session one morning. There were 10-ish other people with me in the lake house, and we were all laying on yoga mats while two of the apprentice shamans gently played bowls and other instruments.

For the first 20 minutes of the session, I could not get comfortable. I kept adjusting, and flipping onto my stomach... With my eyes shut the entire time. At one point I was sitting straight up on my knees, with my back to them. Eventually I asked the medicine to "give me a fucking break" and laid back on my stomach. It decided to chill. 

Time moved so slow the last two days of the dieta - the ones where we weren't drinking any Sanango, and one of which was my birthday. I was processing thoughts quickly, and what would be only 10 minutes felt like hours. I ran through three books on my Kindle in the last two days. And I took naps on naps on naps.

When I wasn't aching from the medicine.

Which is what I was experiencing in those final 12 hours.

"You just have to make it to 6am," I said to myself. "You'll read for the next two hours. Then you'll fall asleep by 8:30pm. And you'll just sleep through till 5:30am. You'll get up, walk to the main house... And wait till Maestro Don Alberto pours you your teaspoon of salt."

That was my plan.  

Only sleep didn't come until close to midnight. The aches in my body and the taste of Sanango coming back up my throat kept my wide awake. I wanted to ask it all to chill, but I knew I needed to go through the experience and feel the medicine working. 

I kept noting every hour how many hours I had left...


I was so uncomfortable I abandoned writing so that I would be able to read it later.

I woke up to my alarm right at 5:45am, and found almost everyone else had beat me to the main house. I was one of the last to sit before Maestro. And after he whistled the icaro (medicine song) into my teaspoon, I shoved all of the grainy-ness from the cold spoon into my mouth and felt my parotid salivary glands singe with a tingling sensation from the pop of the salt. 

I swished and stood up, staring at the clock on the wall... Waiting till I'd hit 30 seconds, then walked to the bathroom sink and spit it out. I saw soap sitting on the sink again.


I pumped some into my hands and washed them for a minute. Lather was squishing from between my fingers. I was scratching underneath my fingernails, cleaning every last millimeter.

I came out and grabbed a glass of water, and began to swish with it too. I wanted the salt taste gone from my mouth. A few minutes later, I was settling into black tea with milk  and a pile of soda crackers.


I'd woken up with achey legs a few moments before. And now the aches were gone. 

"The absence of salt definitely did me in," I noted.

I forced some bread and meat in me at breakfast. But the piled plates of food others were eating made me feel sick. And the Sanango taste was still in me.

I went back to my room mid-morning and took a long, hot shower with lots of soap. I used all of the shampoo and conditioner I'd packed. I hadn't washed my hair since I left Encinitas a week earlier. I scrubbed with my nail brush every part of my body. And I brushed my teeth for a good five minutes, non-stop.

But still, the Sanango taste came back up. Always present.

I was feeling sick again, as though I was going to vomit. 

I sat at lunch, shoving crispy cheese in mouth - not because I was hungry, but because I knew I needed to eat. But all of the food everyone else had on their plates made my stomach turn.

I got up from the table before most did and went and sat down in a rocking chair on the other side of the main house, where we had lectures. We'd be having a lecture that afternoon to prep for the ayahuasca ceremony that night. 

But I just really wanted a nap. 

And possibly to vomit.

With food in me, sleep had finally caught up with the program.

"I'm grateful I got through the discomfort."

(To be continued...)