South America Living

The Particulars – Details on Marty’s Ayahuasca Adventure

Details about some of the spots referred to in “Are You a Birder? – An Ayahuasca Journey in the Peruvian Amazon” by Marty West:


Hummingbird Healing Center

An amazing and actual magical place. 

The rooms are comfortable and the facility is clean and well maintained. We all had private rooms but the rooms have twin beds and are large enough to accommodate two. The people who come on individual retreats live separately and more privately in Tambos – small huts a bit away from the others. No air conditioning or fans, but there are hammocks for lazy times to swing in the breeze.

The composting latrines are frequently changed and aren’t a challenge.

Power is provided by generators which are turned off about 7:30 on ceremony nights and about 9:00 on other nights. 

The food is very good and healthy, in keeping with the Ayahuasca diet. No salt, pepper or other spices. Mainly vegetarian – we had chicken and fish a few times, and the last night we had a jungle rodent that tasted like beef. At least that’s what I was told. I passed on that because I’m culinarily repressed. No sugar. No dairy.

They did respond to the outcry for more pancakes which are delicious. After dinner conversations sometimes longingly centered on nachos and pie.

No wifi, no television, no radio, very limited phone reception but it’s a retreat so it’s a good time to leave all that behind. 



Alaska Airlines.

“Thank you for choosing Alaska” – Those of us from places like Ketchikan roll our eyes whenever we hear the flight attendants say this as the plane is landing. You’re welcome – but there isn’t a choice unless you live in Anchorage, Fairbanks, or Juneau. Alaska, the airline Alaskans love to hate. It’s actually a very decent airline.

Copa Airlines. They give you food. They just give it to you. And wine. Although alcohol was out of bounds for me both coming and going, I did see wine just given away. They also didn’t charge me for my bag. They have nice, wide seats and headroom, plus movies or television on the seatbacks.



La Casona Hotel in Iquitos. Comfortable and economical. Good location. Hot showers, wifi, cable tv. I stayed in a lot to avoid the vendors who knew an easy mark when they saw one and lucked into a Harry Potter marathon. I think I can cast spells in Spanish now.



Fitzcarraldo. Ah, frozen lemonade. It fronts on the Amazon and the pedestrian mall that’s alive with activity on the weekends. The pizza got mixed reviews from my companions. “The crust is so soft” – that from both the pro and con camps.

Karma Café. How can you resist going to a place called the Karma Café? Wifi and a good menu. I had falafel.


Al Frio y Fuego (cold and fire). You can only get there by boat. Upscale but not touristy. The place locals go for celebrations and meetings. Great food and not just because it was the first cheese I’d had in almost two weeks.

Touristy stuff:

Bora Tribe. A short boat ride and a world away from Iquitos.

Wildlife sanctuary. Near the Bora tribe. Up close opportunity with interesting animals – a turtle that looks prehistoric, anaconda, boa, adorable tree sloths, ocelots. They rely on donations so be generous. 


Tattoo Parlors:

Jackson Street Tattoo near Pioneer Square in Seattle. They do excellent work. The artist who does my work is in Peru as I write and doesn’t know I’m writing this. That person’s story is not mine to tell but I do want to put in a good word for the shop.

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