As we arrived to the temple that evening there was also a new face by the fire, a young Frenchman who would be beside me for the ceremony. He drank before me each round and quite clearly had trouble doing so, taking a good minute to finish the cup, raising his arm to cover his mouth as he gagged between every gulp.
I paused with the cup in my hands and thought of my intention before drinking. Fairly disgusting, an earthy taste with an offensively sour punch, but like a nasty medicine, could be drunk without much problem with the will to do so. After drinking his cup, Guillermo returned from the altar to the other side of the fire and broke the eerie silence with song.
We made our way through a lightly forested area on a dirt path downwards from the main track. As we reached the bottom we came out to an opening; a clear area with a few tall trees dotted about rising up towards the sky and a few crude man-made shelters spread over a wide area. The call of exotic birds intermittently penetrated the air. In a strange way I felt at home.