Last August was my first trip to Peru.. to the Amazonian capital of Peru, Iquitos. I made this journey on my own, without friends or family, it was my first time traveling solo. This was a trip I needed to do in that moment and better to do alone; ayahuasca was calling me.
So, what led me to Peru? to try these native plant medicines in the Amazon?
Depression. I was living in what many have dubbed 'the best place in the world', New York City. I had been living there for 3 years. As a child, New York was a place I would visit to see many relatives from my mother’s side of the family. It was nice to visit, but never did I think I would live there- I was a Florida girl... in the ocean, laying in the sun.. on the grass, gazing at the clouds.. on the patio, smelling in the flowers.. Florida girl.
Fast forward many years, post law school, I reunited with my high-school sweetheart and picked up my things and moved in a moments notice near to the big city, in Queens. The flame too love turned into a flame of hurt.. and once I left him, I decided to stay in New York… this time for money, not love. I had a well paying job at a prestigious company in the big city doing my favorite thing, research. Despite the work environment, as it was very toxic, egos flying high, a lot of disrespect in the air, the money spoke louder than all else. I was working hard to pay off a loan from law school, which I was very close to doing and with this job it would be easy for me to save a little chunk of money; I decided this was a good reason to stay.
Soon after, with my heart on my sleeve, I met a man whom I would end up being in a ‘relationship’ with for almost 3 years (relationship in quotes because he never did ask me to be his girlfriend.. and made it a point not to do so). There were good times and sad times, more sad than good, but the loneliness, the unhappiness that I held inside kept me with him. My unhappiness pushed me to accept and accept and accept.
After a few years of studying for the bar exam, I finally passed. I was a lawyer. I was happy to achieve this goal I had set for myself. It was no easy task. I interviewed for my first job as an attorney and was pleased to have gotten the position. It was hard work, running around from borough to borough every day, meeting clients with little background knowledge, winging it most of the time.. but I was doing well. The position was in real estate law, most of the work was landlord tenant based, getting people to move out of their rentals. I was doing well, yet not proud of the work I was doing.
I had a lot of family on my mothers side living in New York but I rarely spoke or saw any of them and the occasional times I ran into someone, I was met with some layer of hostility. When I became a lawyer, none called to congratulate me or call my mother; it hurt my feelings a little, knowing they were all nearby and how important education was valued in the family as a whole... I was the first to generation raised in USA, and the first to receive a degree so high... but their choice to not recognize hurt my mother more as she was closer with them. When I was on my own in New York, only person ever called to see how I was doing, I felt quite alone there. (Somewhat related I had been dubbed the black sheep of the family.. those stories are for another time.
A dear friend, more like a little sister, my sisters childhood best friend and also shared same age, was recently murdered. She was 2 years younger than me and full of light and happiness. She was so young. She was raped and murdered by someone she should have been able to trust. It was weighing on me that her life had been taken from her at such a young age and in such a horrible way. She was educated and working hard to save her money and one day travel the world. That day would not come, at least not in this lifetime.
The sadness was getting to me. The heartache from the boy I was seeing, the disconnect from family, the death of a friend who was younger than I, the unfulfilling feeling I had from my job, being in New York (I grew up in Florida and was accustomed to the beaches and the fresh air), the terrible apartment I had rented... all had caused a lot of ache in my chest. It was becoming unbearable. I would go to work, at the courthouse, and would need to hurry to the restroom to wipe tears that refused to stay inside. I would go home in the evenings and be sad, feeling I was living without real purpose, living in unhappiness.
Depression ran in my family, my father suffered from this, part of why he is no longer living on this earth. I had to do something about it. I did not want the depression to take over me. I quit my job. I needed to get away from the toxicity of New York for a bit. I remembered a conversation I had with one of my cousins, 5 years prior. He had told me about ayahuasca. He had a sadness he was also working on and went to Peru, to the Amazon, to try this amazing medicine. I was intrigued years ago, and my curiosity began to intensify again.
Then the universe started showing me the signs, ayahuasca was popping up in advertisements online, I was seeing Peruvian restaurants, Peruvian vacations all over. I knew I needed to go.
So I did. I researched different retreats online and chose one that I felt was calling me. I booked my ticket and prepared for my departure.
The lease for my New York apartment had run its course, instincts told me to put my things in storage and sell all what I didn't need; my mother told me to get another apartment to ensure I had something to go back to. I had a feeling I wouldn't be coming back, but instead of following my gut feeling and to calm my mothers worry, I rented another apartment and moved my things in before I left for Peru.
… to be continued.
Sharing this journey with hopes of deeper understanding and to help aid you in your own inner travels.