Part 1

Life after the jungle has been quite interesting. The rules post the ‘ayahuasca diet’ are as follows. For thirty days, no spices, no citric fruits, no fats, no coffee, no carbs, no meat, no tomatoes, no drugs, no sex, no ketchup, no carbonated drinks. No weed. Guess what the hardest one is.

No, coffee.

When i got out of the retreat, i got straight to Colores, the same place i had spent 10 days the last time i was in Tarapoto. This time around, there were 3 men when i checked in with J-C. So officially a gentleman’s club. We lazed in hammocks in our boxers all day duelling in farting contests. The one that made everybody run from the congregation won. Fernando is the current unbeaten champion. Dora the dog comes in a close second. Well, Dora’s the only female in here but she doesn’t utter a word, so it’s cool.

We watched movies, from my collection of 10 flicks that i carry everywhere, on J-C’s big screen. I’ve even downloaded Spanish subtitles so they can all understand, and i can learn Spanish too. Sometimes J-C takes the tv into his room to skype with his girl. I bet skype sex is better on a 50 inch screen. But i sure hope he’s not cheating on the diet. He’s broken up and patched up with her 4 times in the last three weeks. He, and every other fucker here has a bad habit of putting used matchsticks back in the matchbox, and if i berate them they just laugh and tell me to fuck off.

‘hahahahah fuck off you indian guy’

So i spend my time reading Palahniuk and ayahuasca books, watching TV shows (just wrapped up Homeland), my fave movies on repeat with Spanish subtitles, listening to native music, playing the guitar, playing with Dora, playing the harmonica, and removing used matchsticks from matchboxes. Not the most exciting life i’ve led, but definitely the most peaceful and fulfilling. Sex, drugs & rock n roll can take a hike. For a while, at least.

On 22nd Jan, we opened an Indian veg resto ‘Bambu’ within Colores. The place was mostly done up by Miro, the one-man-army from Halifax Canada who came here to start a new-earth project in the jungle. For cycling down the Nevada desert naked in the early 90s alone, he deserves his own post on this blog. Our chef is Margie, who lives 10 blocks away. She spent 12 years in India, Poona to be specific, and she makes amazing chole-bhatura. My job was helping Fernando and Gabriel (from the Canary Islands) paint the logos and signs outside, and playing bollywood music on opening night. Dished out my favourite tunes growing up, from Amitabh Bachchan movies to Aamir Khan flicks, to R D Burman and Kishor and even some Rahman thrown in for eclectic feels and all that. Yeah, i played Bollywood night in an Indian veg restaurant in Peru. How we never cease to surprise ourselves. The next day we were in the papers. There’s a pic of me hiding behind the laptop screen. I’m going to make a youtube playlist for Margie to play every night. Maybe i’ll share it with you.

This week i’m in San Roque de Cumbaza, where the town is gearing up for the carnavale, the biggest festival all over south america. Every nook and corner is going to be a massive party. And i’m headlining act on Sunday night. It’s going to be a huge challenge playing sober. But there’s no other way than to nail it inside out. Expectations are high.

‘Look, that’s the DJ from India!’

I’m living in a lovely place over the hills called San Roque Centro de Artes, where artists from all over the world come down to do a residency, teach kids, art instalments, etc. It’s run by Daniel, who was with me in Cumbaza for the ceremonies, and his wife. My only neighbours are three women. Carlotta from Spain, Rose from London, and Orly, our scorching Egyptian yoga instructor. They’re all artists or jewellery designers. Again, movies, card games and books fill my day. No internet is a beautiful thing.

Today marks 30 days of sobriety.


Part 2

The festival was a hit. Despite the downpour every day, the turnout was lovely. We had dances, skits, amazing food stalls, yoga, art exhibits, documentary screenings, and of course…

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 6.33.55 am

I’ll have pics from the event up here in a day or two.

A very strange thing happened during the course of the day. I was sitting by the makeshift DJ console taking a break from walking around the place. At the console there happened to be some A-4 size blank pages, and a few pencils. A little girl walked up to me, and said something in Spanish, which from her actions i took be ‘draw my portrait’. I couldn’t say no to her. Without thinking, i picked up the paper, the pencil, and sat and drew her face. In five minutes.

The last time i made a portrait was actually twenty five years ago. The girl got excited, and went and told her friends and her mom. In the next hour, i made seven different portraits. The more i drew, the free-er my hand got. The better the portraits got. I couldn’t quite believe it, but my hands were actually steady again.

The finale was a blast. It was probably my first ever gig 100% sober. One drunk guy made a strange fire altar right in front of me, which turned out to be quite an instalment. And since most of the people up late until then were visiting artists and tourists, i got not a single reggaeton request. NOT A SINGLE ONE! I’m sick and tired of telling you guys how ‘i smashed it’. So that’s it. Watching shadows dance around fire was a mesmerising sight though, I’ll tell you that.

The next day, i got back to reading and cooking. One of the finest discoveries i’ve made about myself on this trip is that i can be quite the scientist in the kitchen. And given the fact i’ve done everything with a limited variety of vegetables, i pat myself on the back after every meal. The girls think i’ve been cooking for ages. It’s a far cry from the maggi and omelette days.

I’m back in Tarapoto today for a few days to catch some football this weekend. But now even this sparse town seems like a busy city after San Roque. And i may just go back there to spend my last couple of weeks in the Amazon. I seriously believe my days in Bombay are a thing of the past.

Pics coming soon.


About johnny b

dj, writer, traveler, moonwalker, headbanger, mind expander, yoga instructor. View all posts by johnny b

One response to “Artist?

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