I’m in a seventh-floor apartment overlooking eastern Maracaibo, Venezuela. I have total freedom to be myself, eat whatever I want, enjoy the beautiful, arty environment, gorge myself on good WiFi, and luxuriate in the peace, trust and love, and acceptance of my three, young, male hosts. “This is your home,” says Jose. Perfecto.
Got into Maracaibo (pop.: about 3 million) at 9:30 am on the night bus from Caracas. I almost missed the bus because I couldn’t find the terminal; for an hour or more, I walked through San Martin, a poor neighborhood in Caracas. A bunch of cops were hanging out on the sidewalk, and (in broken Spanish, with lots of hand gestures, and armed with my bus ticket, I told them my story. Despite their bad reputation here, they drove me to the bus station. “Amazing,” said my roommate, Roger.
Give me a long bus ride (day or night), congenial fellow travellers, a movie, a window seat, two seats to myself, interesting scenery, and I’m as happy as a clam. My warm and friendly host, Jose, picked me up at the big, busy, bus station. I had two large coffees with milk and two chicken pastries while waiting for him.
My Caracas host, Juan Carlos, is a peaceful man. His apartment is clean, neat, and surrounded by friends and relatives’ apartments. After work, JC met me in Caracas, and we drove through motorcycle-heavy traffic to his apartment. We out to the parking lot by his building and drank beer, talked and laughed with a bunch of Juan Carlos’ friends and relatives until the cops walked through (as they always do) and broke it up. He bought us pizza and more beer.
At JC’s apartment, I washed and re-organized my clothes, sleeping bag, backpack, stuff sacks, shoes, and arch supports. I hand-wash a few of my clothes every day, but a thorough cleaning in a washing machine is necessary for my peace of mind once a month.
Ayahuasca is making me be totally honest with myself about how I feel and who I am. This is such a huge gift. At the ritual, I was awake and dreaming. I experienced this once, about a year ago, in ordinary waking life (without Ayahuasca) when two people from my dream-life started talking together in a little “box” (space) in front of me. I could see them. It only lasted for a few seconds, but it was enough. Another mystical experience; I’ve been following a trail of these visions for years.
Jean Luis, my Cumana host and Ayahuasca facilitator, said, “You came here to take the Ayahuasca.” I was drawn there by the Yage spirit on the weekend when they were going to see Pachamama, the spirit of the Yage.
I had good reason to fear letting go enough to really experience visions (ditto for all my LSD experiences). The bad spirits in me have attacked me before with disastrous result;: numero uno: my 1975 suicide attempt. Since the ceremony, the shaman and I have gotten rid of the family curse: after several battles, the bad spirit who was in me is dead.
Many women here in Venezuela often have a “spare tire.” Pride in motherhood may encourage this look.
Paula, Andrea, Susy, my lovely spiritual teachers, THANK YOU!
Venezuela is a very modern society, but they have held on to the old: Indigenous People’s ways, the importance of close family ties, etc. The people are very sexy. Young women wear super-high heels. The subway crowd in Caracas was the tightest (people packed together like sardines) that I’ve ever experienced. I held my belly bag close.
On buses in Latin countries, people usually keep the curtains closed (especially at night [when I always have mine open]). Full moon tonight. The boys went out, and I’m here at their sensuous aerie listening to WWOZ radio, streaming live from New Orleans.
Add to “Collecting My Spiritual Experiences”: Joel Goldsmith retreat with Anya (Malibu, Ca., late 1990s); Buddhist colony retreat, somewhere in California, 1970s.
Venezuelans: I have the real feeling of a people who share a common culture. Understanding and compassion are present among them(and often are extended to outsiders), for example, drivers responding to each other and to pedestrians. The motorcycles here go crazy-fast between cars of the highways. Many accidents.
I have always been (or felt) marginal (and marginalized) in American society. But the sexual underground was a new experiment. I was curious about it; it was taboo.
A nice woman I met on the bus when leaving Juan Carlos’ apartment for the bus terminal told me, “It’s very bad here (in Venezuela).” She meant right now it’s bad because of the government in general and Chavez’ health in particular. A travel agent who translated for me at a MailBoxes, Etc. store told me: “Everyone is stressed here now… We have no government… Chavez is in Cuba and they won’t tell us what’s wrong with him…(she mentioned the) Black Market…No one knows what’s going to happen…You know how we are (= very emotional).”
Any cafe (in Caracas at least) that has chairs for people to sit down is required by law to have a bathroom for customers.
The Ayahuasca ritual led me to the door and let me peek in. I went in a little way…. Next time, I will be braver and enter that land of No Shadows. I have turned the corner into The Light.
I invited my guardian spirits along on the Yage journey. The physical/material world is not real (not eternal), but it’s a good place to grow. It can be very beautiful here.
Always find the love in your heart and let it shine out. We each create our own destiny.
Simon Bolivar was a Venezuelan who, in the early 1800s, liberated Venezuela (and a few surrounding countries) from the Spaniards. He is the national hero.
I am growing as a traveller. I’m making the transition from: “My culture/society is the best and our way is the right way” to “Each culture/society is unique and of value.” I am no longer judging every society according to the norms, values, and mores of the USA.
My favorite leisure-time activities:
wine/beer/rum. good food. gym, swim, walk, stretch, yoga. movies. sex. massage (getting one!). spiritual rituals (like Ayahuasca). marijuana. horses, wild animals, domestic animals. socializing. reading, writing. being on the internet. camping and being in wild places. cafes (coffee). snorkeling. music and dancing (in clubs or at parties).
Very little public WiFi here in Venezuela. People are definitely not sitting around in cafes, glued to their computer screens.
NGO workers, embassy people, and ex-patriots (as someone told me lately) are richies who don’t mix with the locals (or not the poor locals).
Effects of marijuana on me: I talk a lot. I let go and release what’s inside. I may sing and dance if there’s music. I am much more open and more aware of my mystical side. I talk openly about the mystical world and can read tarot cards. I reveal myself to trusted friends. I tell them about my inner world; I let them into my inner life.
I thought during the Yage ceremony that I shut out Pachamama. Not so at all. I was awake and dreaming; I didn’t barf for hours (three?), so I didn’t go into a total trance/mystical state. But I was way out there.
A woman, and especially an OLDER woman, traveling alone is almost an unknown phenomenon in a traditional culture like Venezuela’s. Travelling Gypsies (and everyone leading a nomad lifestyle) are also unknown here and in all very sedentary societies. A liberated, travelling, homeless, older woman, like me, is a very strange creatura indeed.
Ode to the USA: thanks, Mama, for the money that for almost forty years has allowed me to be free and independent, with NO BOSSES, able to travel at will, to write, and to do whatever I want to do. I love you!
Friendly, funny, love to laugh, very sociable, make cute little sounds I’ve never heard before, “enchanting” (Bronson) people: Venezuelans.
I used to be into kinky sex. Now I believe that was a veil over my real self, my real feeling, and True Love. I want love with sex; within that context, kinky sex is fine sometimes. I can still take sex without love if there is mutual admiration, but I prefer love with my sexual repast.
Very little attention, time and money are lavished on exteriors in Venezuela. Most buildings are ugly on the outside, but they may be very beautiful inside. The houses in villages are like pueblos: adobe and simple. The indigenous influence is obvious. I love the simplicity and lack of ostentation.
It’s not poverty, it’s a whole different “take” on life and the environment and the individual. In the main, I love it, but I prefer about fifty percent of life be given over to individuality (democracy) rather than to the family/the group and dictatorship.
Jose says that while Chavez created more hospitals and schools, the quality of medicine and teaching is very poor. Many people here are illiterate; they worship Chavez.
Many Venezuelan families are out late at night in the streets and on their verandas. The children stay up late with the parents. Old people are respected here. Everyone knows and is usually close to some old family member. They love coffee.
Baseball and football (soccer) are the big sports here. I don’t think the average person exercises. In Venezuela (as in may countries) the US dominates or is strong in: movies, TV, cars, clothes, music.
In a rural area between Caracas and Maracaibo, I saw small fires burning on hillsides. What if it was part of spiritual rituals that go on here?
Maracaibo Saturday night, full moon, windy, warm, and the water’s been off for a few hours. This happens everywhere I’ve been on this trip; unthinkable in the US.
Essential: Faith. Ayahuasca is legal.
Be direct and honest. Help others. Be truthful to yourself.
Men with machetes everywhere. Alone in wild places, hillsides, cutting things. Jean Luis in Cumana has one. He can go out in his city front yard and pick roots for tea that we drank before Ayahuasca ritual.
Bus: Caracas to Venezuela. Yards very clean, no trash. Rolling hills. Cows. Pigs.
At the Ayahuasca ritual, the truth (about myself and about life) was so easy to see. After the ceremony, everyone (and especially the taita) was so clear and free of illusions. It set me up for a real change in direction; I have been seeking this kind of clarity, but until Pachamama, I hadn’t actually changed gears. Now, I’m in a new state. I realize most of my energy and my perspective is all caught up in the physical and material world. This is similar to my state after my six-weeks of mystical experience at age 51 after I met Jeremy Birkhead. Tryin’ to be cool is SUCH a gigantic waste of energy!
The water has been off since yesterday morning. Amazing that these people aren’t rioting. I think they would be in the US, city people especially. We spoiled Americans can’t stand having our daily routines messed up!
What’s in my backpack? Four light-weight shirts (no cotton or bulky, slow-drying fibers), a skirt, tights (I call them pants), a bathing suit bottom (to wear with one of my shirts for swimming and also serve as my undies), toothbrush, baking soda (toothpaste), floss, hydrogen peroxide (mouthwash), tweezers, nail clippers, toiletries bag, two stuff bags, computer, chargers for phone and computer, iPod (not ready for use; someone gave it to me), headlamp, pills: Benadryl for my cat allergy, heavy-duty, prescribed pills for bad chest cold, travellers’ diarrhea pills (prescribed), daily vitamins: Calcium with D, B6, notes on key Spanish words/phrases, sleeping bag, flip-flops (I wear my little tennis shoes with arch supports when on-the-road), duplicates of all my important papers, money belt (with originals of original papers, ATM cards, Medi-Cal card, Social Security card, and a few other papers/cards; I wear money belt when on-the-road), belly bag (I wear this daily when I go out: money, copies of ID card and passport, pen), bracelet (usually wearing it), flashdrive, eyeglasses and case, extra hairbands.
Want: 6′ x 8′ tarp, light-weight/tiny (backpackers’) tent.
I’ve found a show called “The Truth About Irish Travellers.” It seems to be a TV show in Ireland.
When Seth and I were living and travelling around in vans, trucks and a big RV (which we drove from Santa Cruz, California to Eugene, Oregon where it broke down), people were either very helpful and kind to us or they were very unfriendly and prejudiced.
We had eight puppies (one was a St. Bernard pup!) in the RV at one time. Every Saturday, we’d go to the outdoor market in Eugene and every Saturday, Seth would want a puppy. I couldn’t say no! A young hippie girl finally saw that we were really in dire straits (the dogs were shitting everywhere in the RV, even on the bed). She invited us to her commune where we cleaned up the van and got back on our feet. We slowly gave away the puppies. The St. Bernard’s owner wanted his dog back; he located us, and he got his big puppy back.
The short description of my prostitution experience: advertised in Sacramento, California free newspaper; guys drove one hour and twenty minutes north to my house in the country; I told them there was a coffee can on the kitchen counter and on their way out, they could leave money in it if they wished (this was part of the “experiment” part); we enjoyed sex (at least I enjoyed it! and I think most or all of the men did, too); I offered them a bath (and that I would wash their backs if they wished): almost all of the men accepted the bath, but they preferred to be alone in the bathroom; most did leave me money (usually $40, sometimes $20, one man left $100, one man left nothing!).
I did this during the summer months for two years when I was 47 and 48. I did it for sex and as an experiment. I love breaking social taboos and seeing what lies behind the taboo. Being a prostitute was a very satisfying experience; the sex was fun and I learned a lot (about men, about life, and about myself). In the end, I didn’t like sex that way (as a business, for money). I wouldn’t want to do it again. I was celibate for fifteen years after this exploration into prostitution.
I definitely don’t see my foray into the world of prostitution as anything bad. I told my children about it because I believed this and other daring adventures I embarked upon would benefit them. I tried to open my kids eyes to the nature of life by doing things like prostitution, begging for money on the street (“spare-changing”), and moving around living the Gypsy lifestyle. I tried things that were way past my boundaries (socially and individually), hoping also to open up MY eyes. The question always is “Who Am I?” I have done my best to find out.
Being autistic, I am naturally able to see life from a new and creative perspective. The taboos and boundaries of my society are often just something to ignore and circumvent. We autistics are not neuro-typical (neurologically average), and we don’t see things in the same way that others do. Why would anyone like me live according to the rules, norms, values and beliefs of the social mainstream when we are not PART of the social mainstream. We are on the margins of the mainstream (like every minority group: social, political, sexual, religious, etc.), and we see life in our own, unique ways. We often threaten the social order because we are different and because we don’t accept the belief that the mainstreamers are superior.