I watched as the first person walked up nervously. He sat on a pillow in front of the medicine woman, dripping in sweat. It was a quiet day in the rain forest except for the distance howls of the monkeys. She dipped a stick in the frog poison that was wrapped in what looked like bark. It was Kambo, the poisonous secretion of the Amazonian frog known as “The Giant Monkey Frog.” She created a small dot on his left arm and with a lit incense the Kambo secretion was burned into his skin.
All around me faces were turning red, their breath got heavier, and some had fainted. I waited patiently on my yoga matt until I noticed the medicine woman studying me. She gave me a warm smile and I too made my way to the sequined pillow. I looked deep into the forest and tried not to cringe as she pressed the burning stick against my skin.
I crawled back to my matt as I felt myself turning red. I began taking deep breaths as I felt the purging coming on wondering how my vacation had taken such an unexpected turn. I had only been in Costa Rica for two weeks when I encountered a group of volunteers roaming around the forest with henna like dots on their bodies. Intrigued, I asked them what they were from to which they had led me to the medicine woman. Two hours later, I found myself being cleansed by white sage surrounded by strangers.
The medicine woman began to come around and give everyone a second dose. She came up to me and I received two more dots. I took a deep breath and thought “what did I get myself into?”
I sat there pondering my decision and breathing heavily I felt the warmth in my right arm spread all over my body. My whole body tingled in the most uncomfortable way. I was pulsing with energy and sweat. Suddenly I felt my body contract and large bursts of liquid vomit began shootout.
I closed my eyes again trying to embrace the very painful but healing process. I glimpsed down into my puke bucket, it was all clear with small traces of rice that I had eaten for breakfast.
Out of breath, I buried my feet on the earth. All of our bodies began to relax finally. One by one we all laid on our sides in silence, exhausted. I started to doze off when I smelled the distant scent of peppermint. She had made tea for us, tea with honey. It was over and I just wanted to smile for no reason. It felt like all my bad thoughts have been erased and replaced with stillness. I didn’t want to think about anything. I just wanted to feel love and gratitude.