The first time I visited the jungle, Eric and I spent a day in the jungle with Ernesto, a specialist in medicinal plants. The Amazonian Indians found treatments and cures for most of their ailments in the jungle. We could not walk far without encountering several treatment options. At the time, I took photographs and Eric took notes, but we never coordinated the photos and the notes, so when we return, we must try again, and take it far more seriously.
I was impressed with the broad range of treatments available to the natives. Cruz Caspi is the tree which is used as a contraceptive, and can sterilize a woman for a year with as little as two cups of tea for three days. Garlic Vine is used to cure symptoms of colds and the flu. Dragon's blood treats cuts, burns, spots, fungal infections ulcers and bleeding gums. Chiri caspi is used to ease post-natal pains and toothaches. Chuchuwaso treats arthritic pains. Wild Cocoa is used as an antidote against bites of the fer-de-lance. Cat's claw has tumour inhibiting properties. Ayahuasca is a hallucinogen and is used mostly by shamans when they are seeking an altered state.
Maya has a rash on her legs and keeps asking me to find a way to relieve her discomfort. I imagine that if I was in the jungle, I would ask Ernesto what to use, and he would pause for a moment and walk out a little ways through the trees and bushes and pull up a leaf or a vine, boil it and then apply it to her legs and she will be cured. I am sure the jungle has an answer for her. She is very dissapointed that I have no diagnosis or cure. Clearly she has a contact dermatitis and is allergic to something, perhaps the soap I am using...and I hope it just goes away. But my answers are dissatisfying to her, and I have nothing to offer her to ease her discomfort. In the jungle I would ask Ernesto, and he would know what to do.
We are back on track with our lives in Baltimore. I met my dear friend Emily and learned she was planning a summer sabbatical in Australia, which sounds wonderful. I believe my year in Ecuador will work out well. I just don't like losing my life and not having anything to return to. Emily understands, which was such a relief to me. I will have to look for alternative possibilities.