Spiritual journey with a kick

In the middle of the rainforest, in the wooden hut, we were each given a mattress, pillow, blanket and a bucket - this is a good thing, because taking the psychedelic brew of ayahuasca often leads to intense vomiting and diarrhoea, called "la purga".

In the jungle of Puerto Maldonado, in northern Peru, our decision to participate in the ayahuasca ceremony, conducted by a shaman, was simple.

Why not? That's travelling isn't it?

The effects began within 50 minutes of drinking the potion which tasted very rich and sour. There was no vomiting for me at this point, but I felt my consciousness awakening and senses intensifying. I heard each little jungle movement, even that of the leaves on the trees.

It was less of a spiritual journey, more of a cultural and travel experience. And I didn't escape the physical nature of the journey either: back at my hut, six hours later, I spent the next two hours being violently sick.

Ella Damiani is a Monash University journalism student.

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