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awesome psychedelic how to have a good trip

So, you’re taking a psychedelic trip? Great, I’m sure you’ll have a blast. Here are the basics to a successful flight and how to avoid a bad trip, whether it’s with LSD, magic mushrooms, or San Pedro. Follow these and you’re onto a winner.

Interested in a private and legally facilitated 1-1 psilocybin experience? Contact me to find out more and set up a discovery call.

Respect The Trip

Sorry to start with a boring one but it needs to be said. Know that psychedelics are powerful substances and be prepared for a strong experience. It can be tough finding yourself in a trip that is more intense than you expected but if you’re prepared for a big experience then you’ll be ready to handle it. Psychedelics are different to other types of drugs so if you think it’ll be like weed or MDMA, think again. Consider your dose carefully.

Clear Your Schedule

Free yourself of obligations and unwanted distractions. Let go of to-do lists. Nagging thoughts of jobs or chores won’t help. Give yourself the whole day free and ideally the next day too. Switch your phone off – I was once with a friend who got a call from an upset girlfriend right as we were coming up and it marred the start of the trip. It was nothing that couldn’t have waited until the next day.

Choose Your Company Carefully

Be with people you trust and like. You’ll feel good in their company and it’ll be reassuring if things start to go south. Avoid abrasive friends, large crowds and others who aren’t also tripping, with the exception of a sitter. If you’re planning to fly solo, do your homework – see links at the bottom of this page.

Be Positive

Psychedelics are fun! Go in with a smile on your face and see it as an exciting adventure and an opportunity to learn. Not to say that there won’t be any difficult moments but this will push you in the right direction. If you find yourself in a tough spot just remember that you are in control and can change the direction of the trip at any time. It normally just takes a deep breath and a smile to bring you back to a good place.

Comfort!

Wear your most comfortable clothes, think loose, soft and warm. Being physically comfortable will help to relax you. If you’re going out, a blanket or something to lie on is nice. If you’re staying in, have a space where you can lie down and stretch out.

Don’t Fight It

You decided to take the substance, you took it, and now you’re having the experience. So don’t now decide that you don’t want it and try to resist, you’ll only struggle and make things worse. Open yourself to the experience and explore! As a wise man once said: Buy the ticket, take the ride.

A Little Preparation Goes A Long Way

A little preparation can make the journey so much more seamless and stress free. If you think you might want to write, have a pad and pen ready. Draw? Paper and colours. If you’re planning to go out for a bit, leave a packed bag by the door. Have some snacks ready. The time on the trip should spent enjoying it, not looking around for things or packing bags. Set it up to be that way.

The same applies with music. Make playlists ahead of time so all you need to do is press play and enjoy – you won’t have to continually play DJ. Navigating spotify and the entire history of recorded music whilst tripping balls isn’t that fun. If you’re tripping with a friend, make a playlist together beforehand. Having a ‘chill’ playlist on hand is always good, you can listen to it at the start for a gentle glide in and you can put it on again…

If It Gets Too Much

If possible, first get your self to a quiet or secluded place.

Take a deep breath. Relax. Remember, you’ve taken a drug and the effects are temporary, they will wear off. Focus on your breathing and relax your body.

If that doesn’t help, change something. Change the music or switch it off. If you’re sitting, stand. If you’re watching a video, try drawing. Go to another room or outside. If you’re with others, try spending some time alone – just be sure to tell them where you’re going and not just disappear. You don’t need to struggle through whatever is happening, just make an alteration to your situation.

If it feels like what’s happening will last forever, write down the time, put on a chill track and listen to it, then look again. You’ll see that time is passing and can reassure yourself that this will end. Things will go back to normal. Until then, enjoy the rest of your trip!

Safe Travels!

Have I missed anything? Leave a comment below.

Further Reading:

Session Games People Play: A Manual For The Use Of LSD – Good one for groups – Psychedelic Frontier
6 Steps For Helping A Friend Through A Bad Psychedelic Trip – Zendo Project
The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys – James Fadiman

san pedro wachuma cactus powder

My experience of drinking San Pedro in the Sacred Valley was an incredibly powerful, humbling and beautiful experience. I would seriously recommend it to anyone inclined to such experiences. It was a highlight of months of travel in South America and so in the spirit of sharing information, I’ve written this guide to taking San Pedro in Peru.

Interested in experiencing psychedelics in a legal and private setting? Contact me to find out more and set up a discovery call.

What is San Pedro?

San Pedro is a species of psychedelic cactus native to the Andes – scientific name Echinopsis pachanoi. Also known as Wachuma, the cactus contains the psychedelic compound mescaline, also found in the peyote cactus and the source of inspiration for Aldous Huxley’s classic ‘The Doors Of Perception’. The Spanish name San Pedro (Saint Peter) came after the Spanish conquest and refers to the disciple from the bible who holds the key to heaven – the cactus named after him as it’s believed to allow users to reach heaven whilst still on earth.

Echinopsis pachanoi san pedro wachuma cactus

Echinopsis Pachanoi AKA San Pedro

Why in Peru?

If you’re interested in taking San Pedro, Peru is a great country to do it. The cactus has a history of use in Andean traditional medicine going back thousands of years and is a part of the native culture. Like ayahuasca, it is not viewed as a ‘drug’ in the same way that it is in the west, but rather as a plant medicine, an ally, or a teacher. The same stigma doesn’t exist around it as in western countries and this makes it a great place to do it; where it is an honoured and proud part of the culture. For this reason San Pedro is completely legal, and therefore openly and readily available.

Where Can I Buy San Pedro?

calle san pedro cusco

Head to Calle San Pedro

You can find San Pedro in the medicines aisle of Mercado San Pedro, Calle San Pedro in Cusco (San Pedro Market, San Pedro Street – should be fairly easy to remember). It is sold in powder form, after the cactus has been dried and ground. I’m sure there are many others places to get it seeing as it’s legal, but this is where I got it and buying it at the market was as easy as anything. It was very cheap and excellent quality. Just go to the medicines aisle and ask around for San Pedro. You can buy in batches of 33g – one standard dose.
Cost
When I went one standard 33g dose cost 10 soles ($3 / £2)

mercado san pedro cusco

mercado san pedro cusco hierbas medicina

Head to Seccion Hierbas Medicinales

Dosage

1 standard dose is 33 grams. The general advice is to start by taking one dose and if you don’t feel anything after 2 hours, then drink more. If you are going to have a strong trip, typically you will start to feel effects before the two hour mark. Be sensible with your dosage!

san pedro wachuma cactus

Three bagged doses – 33g in each

Serving

One you have the dust, all you need to do is mix it in water and then drink it. No special preparation or boiling needed. It’s bitter as hell and not the easiest thing to get down, but then you weren’t drinking it for the taste were you?

N.B. My advice would be to drink on an empty stomach. This will help with the absorption of the San Pedro into your body, and will also lessen nausea, a common side effect of the cactus.

Pisac

Pisac, a town about one hour from Cusco, has grown into something of a magnet for the hippie/alternative crowd, unsurprising considering the many ayahuasca and San Pedro retreats and ceremonies available there or in surrounding areas. I arrived into town the day before my trip and had passed all sorts of interesting characters and places as I walked through the narrow streets – there’s even an ayahuasca art cafe.

Where and How To Take It?

This is really up to you, but here are a few options as to where and in what manner you take San Pedro. Scroll down for more info on each one.

Option 1: Go to nature
Option 2: Find a guide or facilitator
Option 3: Organise your own gathering / hike / ceremony

Option 1: Go To Nature

This was the option I went for and in many ways the most straightforward. I wanted to be alone and in nature so it was perfect. Peru is abound with incredible nature so finding a place should be easy. Staying in Pisac, I just left town and went out into nature, through woods and by a riverIf you are going alone, pay careful attention to where you are going and be prepared. When deciding where I would go I asked a friend who I was staying with for suggestions. He’d been living in the area a little while and had done some organised Wachuma hikes there. He advised me an area of woods and told me to stay by the river. That was important advice as when heading back the woods were like a maze and appeared identical in all directions. Luckily, I was able to locate myself in relation to the river and follow it back towards town.

What to take?

Basically the normal stuff you’d take for a typical day out – water, shades, suncream etc. Here are some other specifics I’d recommend:

Clothes suitable for heat and cold
On my trip the temperature varied massively depending on the shadow of clouds – it was scorching under direct sunlight, then pretty damn chilly under the shadow of a large passing cloud. I changed clothes, switching between jeans and shorts, putting on and removing layers, a few times throughout the trip. Ideally find a spot in shade.

Something to lie on [e.g. sleeping/yoga mat, sleeping bag, picnic blanket]
During your trip you may well want to lie down. I took a sleeping mat for my trip and certainly made use of it, lying on it for a good 6 hours. You can of course just lie on the ground but I think its nice to have something to lie on. Depending on where you are it may or may not be easy to find a comfortable spot. I highly value physical comfort during a psychedelic experience and think it can make a big difference to the experience itself.

Water & Food 
It may well be the case that you’re not hungry at all, but I think it’s best to be prepared, especially as you’ve just fasted, and also just in case you get lost and it takes you longer than anticipated to make it back. On my trip I took some snacks and ended up not eating anything. I had plenty of energy and was OK to walk into town before I finally ate a meal at a restaurant in the evening – around 24 hours since I’d last eaten, and 12 since drinking the San Pedro. Even then I wasn’t hungry but felt it would be a good idea to eat some nourishing food. Indeed it’s common that people have plenty of energy purely from the cactus.

Anything else is optional and additional. If you are in nature I don’t think there is much you will be left wanting; you will have the trees, the mountains and the sky!

What else you take depends entirely on you and what you would like with you. Here are some suggestions;

Pad & Pen – Personally I like to take a pen and pad with me and wrote a lot throughout my wachuma trip. At times I found writing in it was like talking to a friend, giving me a sense of company.

Music & Headphones/Speaker – I didn’t actually listen to anything but imagine it could be pretty awesome.

Marijuana – The nausea can be quite bad and weed can certainly help this. I smoked one joint as the nausea started to come on, about an hour after drinking, and felt immediately relieved. The nausea came back again a couple hours later – I smoked another small joint, and that was the end of the nausea for the entire trip!

Final note: Drink early
I think it’s a decent idea to make your way back out of nature before sundown – the cold will set in and the dark will make finding your way harder. Drinking early will mean you peak earlier in the day and then be ‘down’ to consensual reality earlier, making the return trip easier. Also I think it’s nice to have the whole day and trip in the sun. Another option would be to camp out in nature.

If you’re not with a friend and don’t fancy being alone, consider options 2 and 3.

Option 2: Find a Guide or Facilitator

There are plenty of guides and facilitators around the town of Pisac offering Wachuma hikes and different types of ceremony. Just google search ‘San Pedro Pisac’, check the facebook group Spirit Events Sacred Valley, or ask around when you arrive to Pisac. There are all kinds of events – from hikes in nature to ceremonies with mantras and sacred songs. If you do this you will be paying a fee and the price will include the san pedro so you don’t need to worry about buying any beforehand – you can just show up and your facilitator will give you the dose. If you go this route you should speak with your facilitator and clear up any queries you may have beforehand – procedure/schedule/dose etc. If you find shamanic or new age ceremonial type things to be a bit cringe or just not to your tastes, a hike would surely be preferable, or…

Option 3: Organise Your Own Gathering / Hike / Ceremony

Another option is finding some others and organising your own ceremony. This is more easy than it sounds. Many travellers’ and spiritual seekers can be found in Pisac and when I was there I met others who were just getting together and doing their own ceremonies (often ‘ceremony’ might be as simple as drinking a cactus mix sat around a campfire). The day after my own experience I was invited by an Argentinian to join a ceremony she was organising with her friends a few days later. Some others were also organising trips to Machu Picchu with a San Pedro stop en route. Needless to say you should feel comfortable with everyone who you plan on doing this with.

Safe Travels!

San Pedro can have powerful effects on the taker so I wouldn’t recommend taking the decision to drink lightly. However, if you do decide to you may well be in for an ineffably beautiful and potentially life-changing experience. I am still awed at what I experienced, and would absolutely drink again when the right opportunity arises. I’d love to hear how your journey with San Pedro is, so if you journey, please share in the comments. Safe travels!

trees woods pisac

sacred valley pisac peru

It’s eight o’clock in the morning and the panorama of a bend in the Peruvian sacred valley of the Incas is majestic under the days early rays. From the patch of grass outside our mountainside room I can see Pisac off in the distance down below: a Peruvian village an hour or so from Cusco and situated on the Willkanuta river, now something of a draw for spiritual seekers due to the local plant medicine scene. The thick bitty lime green liquid I’m choking down for breakfast is bitter as hell, but then I’m not drinking it for the taste. The mixture has two ingredients; water, and powdered San Pedro – a hallucinogenic cactus native to the Andes and the chemical key to my adventure today.

I force down the mix in the company of two friends; Chris, an old school buddy with me for the Peru leg of my American tour, and our host, Vik, a Danish friend who I’d met in Buenos Aires a couple months earlier who’d introduced himself by telling me he was in the continent to drink ayahuasca- we subsequently hit it off and became good friends, exploring the cultured capital together amidst discussions of all things psychedelic.

My mix contains 33g of the mescaline containing cactus, one full dose, and I’ll take that again in an hour or so once I reach the eucalyptus trees down below. Vik seems to obtain a perverse pleasure from watching me struggle to get it down – he’s had his share in the weeks prior and despite being a fan of the cactus’ psychoactive effects and therapeutic qualities, knew just how bitter and stomach wrenching it was. So much is his aversion to the taste he’s actually trying to figure out a different way of ingesting the substance for future journeys.

san pedro wachuma cactus powder

Three bagged doses

My venture today is a solo one, so after finally getting the mix down as fast as my gag reflex will allow- a good 15 minutes of interspersed gulps- I say adios to the boys, heading down the rugged mountainside on a jagged path to the base of the valley, across a small road, away from town and into nature, through a field towards the river and the woods of eucalyptus trees.

pisac

As I make my way upstream I pass an old gringo with a white whispy beard in full Bolivian patterned wear. He merely looks grumpy in response to my cheery greeting and it throws me off, his bad vibes make me feel a little uneasy. I second guess my decision and consider that its maybe not the perfect situation and surrounding for me to be undertaking this journey, but then I also think that if you’re continually waiting for the ‘perfect’ opportunity to do something, it may never come. Sometimes you just have to take the chance and go for it. Today will be a good judge. Anyway, I’ve already choked down a full dose, so its a bit late for second guesses now.

Settling In

After a few minutes of walking through the woods I veer off the path and settle down in what seems to be a good spot; a flat area just set back from where the river is noisily crashing over rocks in a mini-waterfall. I set down my stuff, unroll my sleeping mat, and pull out another 33g bagged dose of the powdered cactus, mixing it in a bottle of water and chugging it down.

Within ten minutes the nausea starts setting in. I’m prepared for this and pull out the joint I’ve pre-rolled that morning. It works a treat and the nausea disappears as I slip into a more dazed feeling. I lie on my mat and begin writing in my pad which eases my nerves and soon I feel pretty good – I’m in the Sacred Valley! Feeling settled by writing, I set a timer for a 5 minute meditation, and lie back, closing my eyes.

Visual Distortions

The meditation relaxes me further and I roll on to my front, gazing up at the mountain across the river. The rocky surface is luminescent orange under the sun’s unchecked rays and as I’m gazing up the whole thing gently shimmers. It’s as if the image of the mountain is being projected onto a huge sheet and something has just shaken the top, making the the whole thing and all of its details ripple. ‘It’s starting’ I excitedly think to myself as I lie back to enjoy the view.

About an hour and a half after the joint, the nausea creeps back. I can’t believe I don’t have another J ready to go- by now I really should know to have a handful pre-rolled and ready for my convenience- but due to slack preparation I’ve failed to show up with any more so, mustering focus and steady hands, I craft another. It works wonders and the nausea disappears again, this time for the remainder of the trip, giving me the all clear to strap myself in for what’s to come.

The Spirit Arrives

Lying on my back, gazing up at the trees and sky, I slip into a more contemplative state and start questioning why I am actually there, drinking ground up hallucinogenic cactus on my own in the woods of a third world country… what am I searching for?! Thoughts begin to build steam and I feel like a receiver rather than originator of thoughts that appear in my mind.

The contemplation leads to thoughts of my life, I see it as if it were complete in that moment with nothing more to add. Thoughts of death come to me, about dying there that day, that very spot in the valley where I lie. The morbid thoughts become dark and intensify and I feel increasingly fearful. I sense this episode as a kind of game of thoughts; I perceive it as a playful action from somewhere outside me – as if some demonic spirit is messing with me and sending me these thoughts to spook me. I consider that perhaps this is what others have called the spirit of Wachuma and in that very moment I see it in the top reaches of the tree growing up beside me, in the faintest but seemingly deliberate movements of the uppermost leaves and branches. They twinkle lightly, playfully, as they’re tickled delicately by the breeze. My sense of gravity has flipped and its as if I’m staring down rather than up, the trees and plants around me hanging by their roots, the top branches reaching as if out and down to a sky below. Loosened and open, I’m struck by the beauty of what I see before me, my attention drawn to the top of the tree which has its roots closest to me.

trees woods pisac

Ineffable Beauty

The scene is rich in texture and colour, layer upon layer of detail is revealed in the magnificent tree and its surroundings. I observe in awe as the tree bobs and weaves with the breeze, gently making circles in my view. I become aware of the most utterly minuscule movements – of every pore of every leaf of every branch – of an intense and unspeakable subtlety.

Utterly majestic.

The movements of the tree are the epitome of effortless grace, the embodiment of the Taoist principle of wu-wei – what we admire in world class performers, whether musicians, sportsmen, or dancers; in the zone with zero contrivance, totally tuned in, in the moment. Overcome by awesome beauty, euphoria sweeps over me.

A simple reflection comes to me; nature is incredible. When you simply watch it as it is, not just seeing, but actually watching – just pure simple nature is magic.

The scene subtly begins to transform, the details merging and forming intricate patterns within a vast multitude of colours above. I lie spellbound, I can hardly believe that I’m looking at a tree. Inside the patterns are small shifting movements that appear like alien insects crawling around a fluorescent ants nest. The subtle shifts in the scene are flowing and smooth, but – also like an ants nest – mechanical in some way. The colourful movements are slow and continuous. The whole thing appears otherworldly. The range of what I’ve seen within the tree is so ridiculous that I genuinely begin to wonder if its going to show me my life.

Writing Resistance

I’m compelled to roll over and write some notes in an attempt to document and bring some of this magic back with me. This proves to be fairly challenging as the act of holding the pen steady requires a serious effort of concentration and composure but, though a little tricky, I’m able to hold the experience at arm’s length sufficiently to get some words down. It’s like when trying to stay awake despite being so tired that you could fall asleep in a second- you can resist, but only for so long before the inevitable pulls you under – the inevitable here as altered and surreal as the land of dreams. I feel the action of mental resistance mirrored within my body, a tense tightness throughout, as if every cell is waiting and willing me to release myself back into the experience – the cactus gently tugging at me, pulling me back in. With some notes scribbled, I drop the pen with relief and roll back over onto my back.

Surrendering myself to the experience, my consciousness continues to shift and I fall deeper into an increasingly immersive trip, continually spellbound, rolling through ever novel experience and widened perception.

From time to time I’m struck by the incredulity of what I’m experiencing and decide I must make more notes – it seems crucial that I document such an experience. Each time I do this the physical feeling of my body synchronises with my mental action; resistance – heavy and burdensome, or surrender – light and relaxed. Each time I roll over and pick up the pen, I feel like that same heaviness pulling me back, as if telling me that I’m not allowed to leave mescaline land for too long.

Time increasingly dilates and experience is fairly intense throughout, even when I ‘pull myself out’ to make notes. Anticipating how much deeper I’m going to be pulled under, I wonder whether that double dose was a good idea – I might be in for more than I bargained for! I take it in good spirits and smile to myself, relishing the adventure that I’ve undertaken. I know the best thing to do is to relax, and again I consciously surrender, once more losing myself in the utter beauty of the trees and the clouds and the sky. I’m falling, falling, just floating in endless beauty.

Dropping Physical Worries

A high pitched whistling sound pulls me out of my beatific awe, it’s some cheery trekker in the vicinity making a tune with their lips. It triggers a touch of paranoia and some niggling worries resurface. Who is it? What if they come over and start speaking to me? What will they think of me here sprawled on my back? I catch myself worrying, made aware of it by the accompanying physical discomfort. This constant mirroring of the physical and mental is making a point – the two are inextricably intertwined. Science has proven this, but now I’m not reading about some research study, I’m comprehending the truth through direct experience and see that expressions like ‘just drop it’ and ‘mental baggage’ aren’t simply metaphorical. Resistance, clinging, craving, worrying – all can be understood as physical sickness too.

I realise there is no use in me carrying the worry about the stranger and compose myself to willingly drop it. But even with the knowledge that it doesn’t serve me, I feel a reluctance to let go – a strange resistance to let go of resistance – now aware of the usually subconscious urge to cling to what I know, feeling it as physical weight. If I can just stop worrying I can be totally light, but I hesitate. It’s like so many things in life – like ending an amicable but ultimately unsuitable relationship, or jumping into water on a hot day – the transition is what unnerves us even when we know the change needs to be made.

Telling myself to let go, it’s like I’m hanging on to the edge of a cliff, bracing myself to drop into the unknown. I forcefully peel my own fingers off the ridge, finally dropping myself off to fall…

Lightness… I’m falling, falling, falling, and then… still falling. There is no bottom – no crush, no death, no oblivion – the experience is just continuous falling, ever unfolding experience without grasping. I sense a wonderful liberation. I’ve dropped myself off only to find that I’m still there. That weight, those worries and stress – I carry it all in an unconscious effort to retain my sense of self, out of fear of losing myself – but it’s not who I am, and when it’s all dropped, the awareness continues, without the physical weight. Perpetual, changing, naked existence.

What I’ve released was a part of the sense of a separate self – ego, role, identity – all a great trick. Both science and Buddhism are right – it’s no more than illusion and hallucination. I am the universe. ‘I’ is consciousness. I think how strange a physical sense of self is, how bizarre bodies are! I feel as if I’m undergoing purification, floating weightless with all excess parts stripped away.

Humbling

Feelings of humility arrive to fill the void I’ve opened up, and I lie awed and humbled to my very core. I see myself from above, my body lying there on the ground, and then I float up and away from myself, up over the valley. As I go up into the clouds I lose sight of myself beneath the trees. My vision of myself shrinks, I see myself and place as the trees and river. It’s a visual representation to what I’m feeling – my ego and self-importance shrinking away as I see the bigger picture and my place in the universe. I understand that the significance of my existence is nothing, and with that I experience a deep and unstirring peace.

Waves Of Gratitude

The calm humility morphs, and I feel sweeping waves of energy flowing and crashing through me, rinsing my insides with an essence of gratitude. I see detailed kaleidoscopic close-eyed visuals, but they are only a symptom and sideshow of the experience; the significance is in the the sense of total and utter gratitude, in the deep and resonant waves reverberating throughout my being. The waves are blissful and euphoric, the antithesis to every feeling of heaviness or worry. I am truly, profoundly, and utterly grateful.

There’s nothing in particular that I feel grateful for; I don’t think about family, friends, my health or anything else. It’s a bizarre sense of gratitude, gratitude with no object, just for it’s own sake. I am not a receiver of it; simply, I am gratitude.

Be grateful. This is the teaching of today, learnt from experience, direct from the source. I’m again reminded why psychedelic experiences are so esoteric, words could never explain this.

I lie, bathing in feelings of gratitude, euphoria and bliss, coated and entirely submerged in them, soaking them in.

Return To Reality

Some time later, my alarm rings. Its signifying that I should be making my return trip out of the woods. I’ve set the alarm for roughly an hour before sunset to give myself a decent amount of time to make it back in daylight and avoid a tricky and likely very confusing walk back through the woods in darkness. The problem is that I’m still exceptionally high and hardly feel in my body. Of course euphoria and beauty wouldn’t typically be considered a problem, but I’m conscious of the real world responsibility to look after myself and get back to town, and this is hardly the ideal frame of mind to be organising my stuff and figuring out the route. I know I’m inappropriately high to be making the journey, but compose myself; one step at a time, I tell myself. Easily, gently, one step at a time.

Rising to my feet, I stagger around as I gather my things, pack my bag, and roll up my sleeping mat. Everything stuffed inside and ready, the zip decides to break in that moment. Perfect. I laugh to myself at the timing of this. I sling it round to my front and hold it closed with my hand, looking up to assess my surroundings and figure my way back out of the woods. As I look around, every direction looks exactly the same, of course it does – it’s the woods. My flights through consciousness have done nothing for my sense of direction, I don’t recognise anything and a few steps in any direction makes me worry I’m going the wrong way and I’ll only have to backtrack later, losing what are now precious minutes of daylight.

I remember something Vik said to me on the mountainside that morning: ‘Stay by the river’. Now I know exactly why. Following the sound of running water, I find my way back to the mini-water fall and regain my sense of direction. I can’t walk alongside the river as there is no path and the terrain is clustered rocks and trees, so I head away, but with an idea of the direction I should be going and aim to stay as close as I can whilst still heading downstream.

Nothing looks familiar, of course, even though I must’ve come this way in the morning. ‘Trust your gut’ – a nice expression but right now my gut doesn’t trust anything. In every direction, it tells me ‘this doesn’t seem familiar, it can’t be the right way’. I stick to logic, a trusty friend that’s gotten me out of a few tight spots in altered states, and cling to the knowledge of where I’ve just seen the river, and steadily push on on the basis of that. I come upon some houses, half expecting some local to come out yelling something to the tune of ‘get out of my garden’ in Quechua, and walk quickly on, heading back towards where I calculate the river should be.

Sure enough, I see running water and recognize where I am from my walk in the morning – I’m less than five minutes from the road. I have just enough time to breathe a sigh of relief before I hear a faint call just about audible over the gushing water. I turn around and recognize Vik and his friend Kelsey a way back up the path. It’s a welcome and charming surprise, and they head over, having been meditating in the woods. ‘I am really high’ I confess, and they take me under their wing and back into town where we spend the remainder of the evening. Though lingering effects from the cactus are with me late into the evening – experiencing Pisac lit by night as a world of wonder – the real trip and adventure ended as I left the woods, and no more stark revelations or powerful sensations will come. At least until the next time.