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Mar 22

Drinking the Jungle

by Guy Crittenden

Runtime: 35 minutes (plus five minutes of bonus storytelling footage)

Sometimes it seems a week doesn’t go by without someone releasing a new film about ayahuasca — the curative psychotropic jungle medicine that’s becoming increasingly popular with people from technocratic societies in search of cures beyond those offered by so-called “western medicine” or, as often, answers to spiritual questions. The network of ayahuasca shamans and retreat centers throughout places like Peru and Ecuador has become a kind of “gringo trail” for seekers not unlike the hippie trail of gurus and ashrams that drew seekers to India in the 1970s.

The second week of February, 2015, was no exception (for me) when someone emailed me the link to a new documentary — Andrea Gilbert’s Drinking the Jungle — that explains the medicine and extols its virtues. That “someone” was Dan Cleland, owner of Pulse Tours with whom I traveled for 10 days over New Year’s Eve 2013-2014 in the Amazon jungle near Iquitos, Peru, and with whom I drank ayahuasca for the first time at the Nihue Rao Spiritual Center.

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