Trapped with the Guardians of the Mountain



“Those long nights were rampant with visions. I felt the cycling nature of vigilant consciousness, its relentlessness, until I could only utter crazed laughter at the edge of a sob. There were times I maintained a crystal focus through all the turbulence, when the ceremony felt like a delicate refining of attention. Or I took a break, walked outside to piss and stare at the endless march of leaf-carrying ants, watch electrical storms over the valley, or smoke rough local tobacco on a bench beneath the ojé tree. At one point I sat speaking Serbian with our molecular biologist—a Hungarian from Vojvodina—and that was as mind-bending as anything.

On the seventh night, after many hours, Miguel ended the ceremony and propped himself against the wall of the maloka. He’d been disturbed by the night’s visions.

Chucha, he said. This corona virus is like the plague from the Bible.”


A dispatch from the Amazonian Andes during the pandemic. The full story is here.