Howled in the night set the woods in flight
An insidious connection under construction
One by one she breaks the faces with intimacy
In velvet depths of self conspiracy
Cowboys need Cowgirls
Splinters pierce flesh, biting to bone
In bodiless bliss of visceral serenity
Binding tongue n grove stapled shut
Disobeying instinct for selfless pleasure
No longer the prince, white water washes all to blackness...
This was a fun late night duet poem that Oney and I went line for line to create. Hope you enjoy.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
…are for Ninjas and Badasses
…are for Ninjas and Badasses
There are very few times in a rational human’s life when they see fit to change opinion due to monumental intervention by those we choose to let enter our lives. Up until such moments, we have our opinions and they usually do not budge. I’ve always had a disdain for Flip Flops. Just hearing the “Flip Flop Flip Flop Flip Flop…” drove me up the fucking wall, ex-girlfriend kind of crazy. These sacks of shit that chose to adorn their feet with these obnoxious forms of foot “protection” would show up to work in the goddamned things! I once told one of my employees that if he showed up to work in them again I would fire him…and that I did.
Now as far as my change in opinion goes… I met Ian Holmes in the high Andean mountains of Peru while I was slitting the throat of a fluffy white sheep that I purchased from a local Indian on the reserve that we were camped at. I didn’t want to take the claustrophobic cambi ride back into town so I negotiated the murder of one of these tasty treats for 40 soles in order to prolong my stay in the mountains. Mr. Holmes was accompanied by Bobby Taylor, who was overtaken a few days earlier by a next-to-death sickness, more than likely acquired by ingesting fecal matter from one of the local street vendors’ asses. Personal hygiene is not exactly what the Peruvians are known best for. These two Canadians put their mountain climbing adventure on hold and joined us in the development of boulder problems in the Hatun Machay region to let Mr. Taylor recover from his sudden illness. A strong friendship formed quickly since we were the only white people around and the local hostility pushed us to join forces against their racism. In my travels, I have met many Canadians and my opinion of them was on the fence. These two silly fucking Snow Mexicans were dead set on changing my mixed views of their beady-eyed people. It would be almost a year later when I decided to pay them a visit.
I arrived in Calgary around 4am greeted by Mr. Holmes. Always wearing a large grin, he informed me that we would be training our asses off for the next two weeks. Weights, climbing, running, swimming and anything else we could get ourselves into. Settling into the small apartment of the humble Holmes, I took my shoes off and noticed a pair of what used to be neon orange flip flops. Again, I hate Flip Flops. Not the product themselves, which I find quite comfy, but the idea of the sheer laziness that our culture adores them for. Now upon closer inspection one could see that Mr. Holmes’ busted, dirty, sorry-ass excuse for Flip Flops had been quite literally curb stomped into submission. These poor lil flaps of foam were far past their expiration date. One of them had a strap that refused to stay in its grommet hole, but every time it refused to stay Ian would jam it back in and keep on flip flopping along. Now a mucky dirty burnt orange collage of filth they stared up at me as I took their picture. A thin sliver that had ripped itself into existence showed the cold tile beneath it as if to say “Please! Please kill me!” Mr. Holmes would have none of this of course and it showed in his human form that he brutally stomped equally into submission, making the sad little Flippy Floppies look like his punk foot bitches. After spending a few amazingly grueling training weeks with Mr. Holmes, I realized that if any one man on this earth had earned the right to wear Flip Flops, merely held together by scar tissue and rage, it was him.
P.S. Credit must be given where credit is deserved. On my wonderfully adventurous trip to Snow Mexico there was yet another full-fledged certifiably badass motherfucker that without a doubt also earned this right…Bobby “The Rebel Maple” Taylor. Bob and I ran down The Chief, a very large rock face that towers over Squamish BC, after climbing it, passing numerous chuffers in full hiking attire…he was in Flip Flops sporting a full pack of traditional gear and a 70-meter rope wearing a Gym Jones shirt that said “Un-fuck your Head.”
Friday, August 31, 2012
Part 4 Case closed.
So back to the check up on the magistrate papers, as I said after a while I called to check up on things….. Ring Ringggggg...ring ring…ring rin (female cop) “Kennesaw police Department how may I direct your call?” (Sierzant) “Yes, I am checking up on a pending case.” (Female cop) “What’s the case number?” (Sierzant) “The case number is (%$#@-*&^!)” (Female cop) “One moment……….. Ok sir, we have tried to deliver magistrate papers five times already. If you would life for us to continue you will have to re-file.” (Sierzant) “Re-file? It’s almost March and I filed in January! Is he just not there when the sheriff tries to deliver the papers?” (Female cop) “Sir it doesn’t matter when we serve the papers we always leave a note on the business doors.” (Sierzant) “Is it possible to deliver the papers directly to his house?” (Female cop) “Hold on sir and I will put you directly with the Sheriff in charge of delivering the papers”… There are a few good things that I learned in business and one of them is never deal with a middle man. If you want something done with efficiency, go straight to the source.
Sure enough we were able to have the papers served directly to his house. We were notified by the Kennesaw police department that Escalade had put a claim in that “Someone” had broken into Escalade and moved tools around. Mind you nothing was taken. The report said that the back door at Escalade was easily pried open and that the items that were moved were in a locked room. I know that the back door at Escalade is very difficult to “Pry” open because it has a dead bolt shackle lock keeping it shut. To “easily” pry such a door would render it useless after entry. As for the items moved in the boulder, that were not stolen, I would imagine that any given employee could have moved things around. Wow…this is becoming really juvenile and ridiculous. It’s like dealing with a delusional middle school kid. Ah and the ever so fun waiting game that is our legal system begins again. He has about thirty days to respond then we have a nice little meeting to get things all straightened out.
The time had come. Magistrate court was now in session. On my father’s side were several close friends of the family and even a friend of my business partner who was completely non bias. This non bias friend of both my former business partner and me was here this day to mediate what was right and just. Corey Jordan is quite possibly the most honest and honorable man that I know. Corey had recently gotten news that his mother in Louisiana was sick and he needed to be there for her. When he left he was making $15 an hour and managing the front desk. When Corey returned he informed me that his mother did not make it and had passed away. I couldn’t imagine losing a parent. I have had many friends lose their mothers and fathers. It was difficult enough watching them go through the grief. All I could do is, be there for them if and when they needed me. When Corey approached my old business partner about returning to his original position at the gym, he was told that he would be able to take on his job but at minimum wage. Minimum freakin wage! This dudes mother died! Has this man no compassion for those he would call a friend? It was a direct slap to his face. It takes a lot to make me angry, and when I heard this I was mortified and enraged at the audaciousness and total lack of human dignity that this man had shown. Still Corey took the position and continued to be friend to this monster of a man.
My father was summoned to the back rooms of the court house. There him and my ex business partner tried to negotiate on the equipment. My father came out and explained to me and the 4 witnesses that were with us that they wanted us to strike a deal that would make us both happy. I immediately replied “All of the equipment is ours and we have proof and witnesses. Why would we back down now?” My father returned with an all or nothing response. That’s when I was summoned to the back. I know how this drill works. Our system protects tyrannous people and their behavior so I was ready to negotiate. Back and forth we went till a deal was struck. I helped my father because he is far too nice to take on the greed of people he used to care about. Our mediator informed me that my ex business partner was being Juvenile and it would be in our best interest to slightly bend to his requests to finish up the process. Before we left the court house I politely asked my ex business partner to release all of my sports memorabilia that he was holding. We were able to retrieve most of our equipment although we took a loss on our much needed scaffold set which was sold to him for $800 as I recall. Once we picked up the remaining equipment I noticed that my welding cord was cut in half. Fuck it. I was just glad to be done with the entire process. Later that day I heard that Corey Jordan was expelled from the climbing gym. I was at a loss for words. My ex business partner introduced me to an all-time human low blow. Everyone in and out of that gym loved and respected Corey. Corey was one of many people, some of which deserved to be exiled from Escalade, that were kicked out of the gym. In the eight years that I ran my business I had only kicked out one person. Today apologies were made and that person and I are friends again. Although I have been banned from the business that I dedicated almost a decade of my life to, I will never lose the respect of the community that I helped build from the ground up. I harbor no resentment toward my ex business partner. I hope that one day he finds peace with himself. I hope that he can learn that people and their lives are more important than money. I hope that he can learn to treat people with dignity and respect. When he was my friend, I knew him to have a good heart and noble intentions. At one point this man was my student. At one point he was my friend. At one point I looked up to him and respected him like family. All of this, that was good I will remember and I will keep as a reminder. I just hope that one day he realizes the damage that he has bestowed upon the people that cared for him as he had not for them. I often ask myself “What makes the hearts of seemingly good men, wicked?”
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Up until this year I had never even heard of it. When I learned the immensity of this plants “mind opening” powers I had to check it out for myself. They say that when you take it, your body purges all toxins of the mind and body. Visions of vomiting and shitting myself made me a little apprehensive to ingest such a powerful shamanic medicine. To top it off, it was in the Peruvian jungle and I was currently in Georgia. I had to finish up some projects at home before I left for the Jungle, so I worked hard. I worked in the thick southern heat wave, getting two to four hours of sleep each night. I had to be here to make sure my concrete house project…
It was June in Georgia. Record breaking heat scorched the lush forests that surrounded what once was my house. In the previous December I bore witness to my house burning to the ground late one night after working with my father. Now my Ludacris thought process conjured up rebuilding the house myself…out of solid pour concrete. The gravity of what I had gotten myself into was working its way to the rational side of my brain. What have you started Christopher Joseph Sierzant? To date this was the largest most insane project I had taken on. Half of me was filled fear and doubt, until the other half beat my cautious side to an inch of its existence. That’s when I started to heave…and heave and oh there we go let the vomit commence. Something wasn’t right. I needed some water and rest. I had been at it in this heat for two weeks with a few hours of sleep each night and now I could barely stand. My body screamed for water. I made it about 300 feet to the hose and leaned over to turn it on. Blackness engulfed my vision so I stepped back from the ledge of the retaining wall. Good call, I thought to myself as I struck the ground like a sack of potatoes. Fine you stupid body we will stay here till you can keep up. I turned on the spigot and drank, occasionally covering my body with the cool chlorinated water. Ah shit not again. Vlahhhhhhhhhhh!!! Blahhhh!!!! Fuck! I can’t keep the water down. I attempt to get up and walk it off. Five steps later I’m in a heap in the grass dry heaving. I look up and see my woman arms crossed looking down at me. I remember her saying “I’m concerned about you.” I fade out.
When I woke, I was lying in a foreign bed next to Laura. The room was small, about ten feet by twelve. My Excalibur pack was full and on the floor. Out of a large sliding glass door I could see tall buildings. It was not hot like I remembered and the sun was not shining. My eyes took it all in but my mind couldn’t comprehend where I was. Logic took over as I noticed Laura wake up. “Where the fuck are we?” I asked. She had a puzzled look on her face and she responded “Are you kidding? We are at a hostel in Lima Peru.” Talk about a mind fuck. The past six days were completely wiped out of my memory. I had no recollection of finishing my concrete walls, no recollection of going to a doctor about having a heat stroke, no recollection of getting on a plane and somehow ending up in South America in a hostel. Now what?
Well this went on for several days while we roamed the streets of Lima. I would wake up and ask questions about the building project and how we got where we were. Laura answered the questions. I was completely at her mercy and had no way, at this point in our trip, of taking care of anything or anyone. As the week progressed the ringing in my ears had subsided and I was starting to gain back some of my memory. My long term memory came back and stuck, my short term kept having major malfunctions. The city and its hostels were too much for Laura and I in my condition. So we did what any respectable dirt bagger would do when they have had enough dirt, we hit up a bed and breakfast in the bourgeois side of town. We figured that we would lay low in the nicer side of Lima till we hurled ourselves over the Andes and into the jungle. This evening I finally got some decent rest. My body apparently needed it because when I woke the next morning some of the six days that I had lost were flooding back into my dome.
Now back on an airplane, this time in full consciousness, we made our way to the remote Jungle town of Iquitos. Iquitos was some two hundred miles south of the Colombian border. We were advised by the flight attendant to use caution in all sections of the town. Somehow I managed to pack two pocket knives and a very large 12 inch survival knife. Well at least I know that my brain can protect me on auto pilot. Somewhere in the Jungle we were to be staying in a retreat called Refugio and we were to be the guests of a local Shaman that had started a business as a medicine man feeding people Ayahuasca. We were going to the Jungle specifically to trip on Ayahuasca. Arriving in Iquitos we stepped down from the plane. I knew right away how remote the area we were in was and also realized how much we stuck out in the madness. We grabbed our bags and met with our taxi. We were the only ones riding in a car; everyone else was packed into these sketchy hand made three wheel Honda motorcycle carts. There were thousands of them in the dirt street. A permanent dust cloud coated the roadway choking all in its path. Things settled down once we got further from the dusty airport. Twenty minutes later we found ourselves in the Refugio office getting briefed and handing over quite a large sum of money.
We were told that we had chosen a good center for our trip. It was not uncommon that local black magic dark healers would cast spells on the unfortunate tourist victims while stealing all their money and belongings…while they were trippin balls in the Jungle! Well it’s a good thing that’s not us. Time to pay up and my short term memory starts going on the fritz. Shit I can’t find my money! $3,000 in U.S. cash is unaccounted for! My frantic search through my bag left me empty handed. Panic flooded my nerves and I drew a blank. The local desk lady never flinched just sat there impartial to my loss. Then it hit me. Secret pocket of the Excalibur frame! Got it! That was fuckin scary to think of being broke in the middle of nowhere without a passport either. All paid up and back on the move to the heart of the Jungle. Out of the office we climbed up in one of these sketchy tri-cycles and scooted off through the streets. Motor cycle carts hit each other and pedestrians on the frequency. Third world markets smelled of rotten bananas and strangely enough Chinese restaurants, which were about every three blocks.
We stopped at the top a concrete stair case that led down to the boats on the river. Led by the office lady, whom spoke no English, we climbed aboard a rickety wooden boat with a trash roof. We were packed in with a few locals and baskets of food that were no doubt for us. The locals couldn’t afford much. It took a several pulls of the motors cord to get the engine to turn. The driver sat in his “Jesus’ heart bleed for you” plastic chair that was bolted to the wooden planks of the floor. Of course I got to stare at the bleeding Jesus the whole ride. Being in middle school learning about geography I had always pictured what it would be like to be on a boat going down the Amazon. Here I was, riding down the Amazon River in a beat up old wooden boat headed into the lungs of the world to ingest the world’s most potent hallucinogen. An hour later we docked up at the first river town for gas and more supplies. The office lady gave one of the local boys some coins and shouted out orders to them. They took the money and ran off into the town. Moments later they came bounding back with more bread than they could comfortably carry. It was loaded onto the boat and we were on our way again. Next stop was Refugio. We were told that the Shaman Scott was not in at the moment and was dealing with some legal drama in town. They assure us he would be back that evening to join us for dinner and that we would be there in less than an hour.
Sure enough 40 minutes later we docked up at the Refugio center. A few of the workers took the goods and started walking up the tall wooden stair case that led up from the river to the camp. We were instructed not to help out the locals as they had their place in the scheme of things. Guests were simply above the local workers and it was made very clear. Teddy, one of Scott’s right hand “Slaves” as it would be, was the only one that spoke English. Teddy took our gear and showed Laura and I the way to our hut. If one could picture what Tarzan might have lived in if he were a carpenter, well this would have been his home. Two stories with, easily 40’, lofted roof our hut was fuckin huge! Being a builder my mind started to inspect the engineer quality of this screened in gazebo on steroids. I noticed that nothing was treated and all the wood was taken from the forest around us. I figured that most of the structures here would eventually rot out in the next few years. The palm tree like shingles surprisingly kept out the frequent rain that was dumped out of the sky from seemingly nowhere. As my A.D.D mind and body surveyed the hut I noticed some movement in one of the rafters. Holy fuckin shit! That’s a big ass spider. “Spike” as we later called him won the world’s most deadly spider award…and he is in our fuckin hut!!! Well, me being me couldn’t resist trying to touch it with a red franklin toothbrush. As I reached out ever so carefully, to touch the massive leg of this tarantula, the bristles made contact. SWAP! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! From down stairs Laura cried out “Are you ok? What are you freakin out about?” This mother fucker was not only quick but strong as shit. Once I touched his leg with the brush he, lightning fast, knocked it out of my hand and retreated to his hole. Good thing I didn’t try to pick him up. Upon inspection of the brush there was a wet spot where Spike had royally tried to fuck up the tooth brush with his venom. Lesson learned. Respect the spider. Ok Spike. You stay in your hole and I will stay in mine. I’m pretty sure we had a mutual understanding so I decided not to kill him. After all what kind of luck would I have if I killed the most deadly spider in the world? Remember Chris you are in the fuckin Jungle…shit can kill you here.
Once we got settled in it was time to explore. We were promised a tour by Teddy. Teddy was a short native with gold trimmed teeth. Later I learned that all the locals had these gold trimmed teeth. We met Teddy at the base of the three story dinner hut. The kitchen was on the bottom, a random dining hall that didn’t get much use was on the second, and the main dinning was on the third floor adorned with many hammocks. Teddy was to take us on a Jungle tour of the property. We were advised to not venture off along, not just because the animals in the jungle could eat you but the locals were the most dangerous predators. So off into the Jungle we went. We saw many flowers and ant piles taller than us. High in the trees termites made ten foot tall nests. Soon we approached a pond. Teddy explained that it was not safe to swim in it on accord of its crocodile in habitants. I mentioned that I was thirsty and Teddy held up his finger as if for us to wait for him to come back. He dashed off into the Jungle. Waiting I looked around at the massive trees that protected us from the harsh sun. Chris! Teddy said. I followed his voice into the thick brush. Teddy had cut a vine and started to drink the water that spilled from within. Wow I’ve gotta try that. Laura drank first and I took pics. I was next. Not too bad for vine water. The tour went on and we got to see the ceremony house where we would trip our balls off and then we ventured to the tea hut. Now I was not expecting the tea hut to be what it was. We walked up the first ramp to level one which was about 30 feet up. It was occupied by a local porcupine that used the floor as his shitter. The second level was 60 ft up, the third 80, the fourth 100, and the fifth was easily 150 over the jungle floor. As we rested at the top of the tea hut I thought to myself “Fuck this is going to rot and someone is going to die falling out of this.” Back on the ground it was almost time to get ready for dinner. Back in our hut Spike peered out at us welcoming us home. I smelled like travel and funky jungle musk mixed in one. Laura and I used the Rain water shower to get cleaned up. While she got ready I took pictures of things to recreate them with better materials back home.
Dinner time had come and we heard that Scott had returned from his business venture in Lima. Laura and I climbed up to the third level dinner table. We were late and two guests were talking after finishing their food. The Guy looked Like Steve Correll, and the girl was ordinary and from Canada as I recall. Neither the male nor female was attractive. I wonder. Oh yes I picked up on it quick. She was very young in comparison to Steve but I was quite sure of it…they were humping on their stay at Refugio. Laura agreed. Gross! Nice folks though and why not hump a total stranger in the middle of the Peruvian Jungle. More power to them. Dinner was brought up by one of the many workers at the camp. Eggs and French fries?…weird. Fuckin weird. Fuck it I’m hungry. I devoured mine and half of Laura’s. At this point in the trip I weigh about 135… from 150. I need all the calories I can get. Pictures show how fuckin skinny I had gotten. I could hear cursing in the distance. Heavy footsteps slamming down on the fragile steps of the dinner hut got louder and more intense as the man approached. Scott showed his smiling face and threw up his hands to the air. I was expecting a hello or something normal but what we got was “Wheeahhhhhyeeeeewwwwww” Followed by excessive laughter. Oh man I’m going to get along with this fucker right away. Scott sat down and one of the native females gave him his plate of food. Chicken and fish, damn! All I got was eggs and potatoes and I was still hungry. Good to be king I guess. Scott was barely understandable and it seemed to me that he had been drinking. Conversation continued and Scott explained how some “Fuck Head” tried to pull off a scam on his business through the internet. Scott informed us that one of his former clients was a lawyer and had shit under control. The long arm of the law was to be directly shoved up this ass holes rectum till he was spitting out the judges finger nails. I do believe that Fuck was every other word out of this Shamans mouth. Scott was born in Michigan and somehow after many years in school studying Anthropology made his way down to Peru to live in the Jungle. He went through Shaman training and lived with the locals getting mange with the local dogs. Just when he was about to eat his friends and possibly even himself, tragedy struck Scott when he heard that his parents had passed away. With Tragedy comes some fortune. Scott inherited his parents’ fortune which he was chosen to distribute to the family. Scott went from eating worms to being a millionaire. So he did what any rational person would do. He bought land in the Peruvian Amazon and dedicated his entire life to healing people as an Ayahuasca Shaman. Simple enough and that’s why we are here, to heal and get FUCKED UP in the Jungle with our Crazy man Scott whom strangely reminded me of my father but much, much more fucking crazy. There was a very strange and loving side to this Scott. He loved all and everything and expected the same in return. Hugs and kisses were handed out on the frequency. When it was not returned equally he retaliated with an equal opposite force. I can relate whole heartedly.
The night before Scott had asked me if I would join him in a morning swim after breakfast. I sat on the dock with my feet in the water. Laura and I had eaten breakfast with the Canadian and Steve C. a few minutes earlier. Eggs and potatoes yet again filled my stomach. At least we got fresh cut fruit every morning delivered to our hut alongside with random flavored teas. I could hear Scott cursing at Teddy in the distance. Around here Scott was king and when he was disobeyed there was hell to pay. Scott had Myarrhea. Miarrhea is diarrhea of the mouth. He had been out here for 20 some years amongst the locals. I understand his frustration. He mostly spoke to himself as he emitted the word vomit from his mouth into reality. We jumped into the river swimming upstream. Laura didn’t make it far because of the strong current and her small size. It was next to impossible for her to gain distance in the river. I was skinny and malnourished but determined to get in some workout time so I kept up with Scott. About a quarter of a mile upstream after talking to him about Terrance McKinnon I had a flash back to middle school…and then it struck me. Crocodiles and Piranhas were in this mucky brown river with us. Damn! And I had made fun of Scott for wearing whitey Tighties!!!! Now who was the fool with Prana Mojo shorts on those little toothed fuckers had free rein on my beans and mash!!! I asked him how dangerous the animals in the water were. His response was “Well I have been swimming for 20 years and only had one mishap.” Then he showed me the scar on his knee from a piranha bite. It was the size of the rim of a coke can. Enough to remove anyone’s beans and mash! When I asked him about the Crocs he seemed not to concern being that they were nocturnal. So of course a splash and commotion happened yards down the river. I knew it was time to panic when I saw Scott turn whiter that his already mozzarella skin. “Don’t move!” He said. “Whatever you do don’t move.” He then explained that although the crocs were nocturnal there were still day time attacks. He reassured me that they couldn’t see in the mucky water and that if we stayed still we were fine. Yeah, so that didn’t make me feel much better with my luck. Needless to say we made it safely back to the dock. During our swim Scott had told me how many people he had to make disappear into the murky river for crossing him. I told him I was here to blast off and that I was no stranger to recreational hallucinogens. He was delighted to tell me that he was going to give me the highest first time dose just to see how it goes. Scott took off to his hut and Laura and I made our way to eat lunch. Sure enough…eggs and French fries.
Night fall had come. No dinner on ceremony nights. We were ordered to remain in our huts until summoned to the ceremony house. I could hear Jose’s footsteps crunching the leaves on the path to our hut. His flashlight held steady checking for snakes. His rubber boots made contact with the deck of our hut. Knock, Knock, Knock! It was time. I’m not quite sure how Laura felt but my mind and body was filled with excitement. With all that I had gone through this year, I was ready for some clarification. I have always in the past used hallucinogen based drugs for mental clarity. Tonight I was going to embark on the supposed mother of all of them. Jose stopped at the foot of the ceremony ramp and waved us up. The Round lofted hut had two levels and we were on the top one. Somehow we showed up on a not so busy time at the Refugio. In the ceremony room sat Owen, a Canadian, and the female from earlier whose name escapes me. Her hump partner had left that afternoon on a high speed boat. Shit stained pads were laid about the circle. Owen showed us the toilet room. He had a recent bout with vomiting and shitting himself on his first trip. My worry was puking, not shitting. I hate puking but I told myself that if it was part of the experience then so be it. Two of Scotts Shamans walked up the ceremony ramp. Neither said a word, just simply took seat toward the back of the hut. Scott came up shortly after. His demeanor had changed drastically. He took being a Shaman very seriously. Taking up seat between Jose and Manuel he prepared the cups for the concoction. Several minutes of ritual prayer and blessing of the Jungle Juice, Scott called me up to drink first. Our prior discussions about my experience with such things led to a ¾ full cup of the brown goo tea. The musky smell filled my lungs as I lifted the cup to my mouth. As the thick brown Jungle juice entered my mouth and slid down my throat I thought to myself…well, it’s too late now. Scott looked at me and said “Enjoy”. I went back to my shit stained mattress. I knew I should have brought a blanket or pillow or something. Kinda had my pants pulled down in the sense of being prepared but here we go. Laura was next. She was here more for emotional clarity than I was. To be honest I was just along for the ride on this Journey. All of us, even the Shamans, had taken the medicine. Found out later that Scott had been doing this for years, two days on, one day off. No wonder he was losin it…in a good way though. He was losing his societal brain wash job, which I think that more of us need as a race.
The Shaman took turns chanting. One of them had a voice that boomed, “Ayahuasca! Medicinea!, over and over again. This got repetitive and would later mush my mellow. The other had a more soothing voice and it was much easier to concentrate on my mind. As I lay their taking all this in, I realized how different I was from so many people. These realizations, which I have had many times over the course of my life, always made me feel alone and isolated. Oh man my tummy hurts! Not good. I could feel the Ayahuasca working its way through the depths of my bowels. Uh Oh I might very well shit myself if this keeps up. Then the nausea hit me. “Don’t fight it.” I told myself. If ya gotta vomit well let it go. The nausea wore off quickly and my stomach settled for the moment. I could still hear the Shaman chanting but at this point rays of blue light surrounded them as they chanted. Wow, it was like one of those Alex Grey paintings. As I sat up I looked around the room. Laura was curled into a ball, tears streaming from her eyes. Occasionally she would attempt to purge the Jungle juice but to no avail. Owen, the Canadian had shit himself again and was vomiting along with the other Canadian girl, both of which had ingested an entire cup. They were glued to the shitty walmart matts. Scott noticed that I had sat up and came to my aid. “Are you alright?” he asked. “Oh man I’m fucked up!” Scott just laughed a bit and asked me if I needed anything. I remembered seeing a stack of rolled cigarette on his ceremony table and asked him if I could have one. “Ah fuck yeah we gots fuck loads of em” he said. I couldn’t help but thinking of George Carlin when I looked at Scott. I chuckled and smoked my black jungle tobacco cigarette. Scott had told us about certain stages of realization that one goes through while on Ayahuasca. First was emotional, then self, then something about the shockra or third eye. I felt as if I skipped the first two and was seeing out of my third eye. I looked around and said out loud with full confidence “I get it. I got it. I understand.” It was a simple realization but very powerful. Up until then I didn’t realized how found and centered I was. This simply confirmed it. It was everyone else around me, swimming in a sea of their own lost selves that made me feel so disconnected. I felt this way because I am connected, because I am centered, because I am balanced. Oh I have to pee…or at least I think I have to which usually means ya gotta go. I wasn’t sure if it was customary to get up and walk around while the Shamans were singing. If I were in the right frame of mind I would have just got up and went but to my defense it was dark. I whispered “SCOTT!...SCOTT!...SCOTTY!” He heard me on the third one and opened one of his eyes to see what the noise was. Thinking I was in need of him he came by my side and asked me if I was alright or if I needed to vomit. “Na but I have to take a wicked piss” I told him. He looked at me and said “Can you stand?” Yeah sure I said and stood right up. Scott was waiting for me bust my ass upon my attempt to fight gravity. Once up I got my barring’s and took a few steps. Meanwhile Scott and the Shamans looked at me like, “Holy shit the mother fucker not only asked for a jungle smoke but he was walking around like he never drank the tea!” Scott stopped me and gave me a green LED light. Probably a bad idea to hand me bright objects while I was tripping but I made my way to relieve myself of liquid. It was quite the relief to not only expel my piss but to get away from the singing Shamans who were at this point really hindering my thought process. Out of the shit can room I come out talking in normal voice. “Hey Scott get this crazy fuckin light away from me!” He was laughing but advised me to keep my voice down to not disturb the others. Oh sorry I forgot I’m a bit trippin balls at the moment. “You can walk around if you like just keep it down” Scott informed me. So I walked about stopping to stare at the Shaman that was breaking from singing. I do believe I frightened him a bit. Later I found out that I did. I was getting exhausted from the effects of the Jungle Juice so I lay back down on my mat. Laura was still crying and curled in the fetal position, arm stretched out to me looking for comfort. I offered to share my pad with her…no response. Oh man she looks pretty fucked up ha ha ha. Better to let her deal and share a mat with her tomorrow.
At this point my body is like “I’ve had enough of this! Eviction time!” I almost couldn’t make it to the shitter. All I could think of was Max Tuckers “I hope they serve beer in hell” book. Oh yes it was almost one of those Austin trip moments. I emerge 20 mins later from butt soup hell and collapse on my dirty pad. I can now easily see how one could shit their self on this stuff. Time to sleep my body said and then the lights turned on. Oh I guess that’s it. Scott bid us a good evening and we clumsily stumbled to the entrance. Laura was like Wow! She mentioned that she wanted to go up into the tea room that we climbed up earlier. Something told me that wasn’t a good idea to do in the dark, being that our hut guide was carrying a shot gun and there were very large and hungry cats out there that could eat us. As Laura and I stumbled back to the pent hut, I looked up at the sky and saw all the stars even with the moon shining so brightly. This place is truly beautiful in its simplicity. Back at the hut I apologized to Spike for getting in late and thanked him for holding down the fort. Hours later in the humid cotton sheets of the screened in bed Laura and I passed out.
I woke to the footsteps of one of the kitchen ladies bringing our morning fresh cut fruit and tea. Fuck I was hungry and my stomach hated me for introducing it to Ayahuasca. After eating the fruit my stomach decided to play hula hoop games around my ass. Morning depositar de la bebe de comida had commenced. Oh sweet relief! Where the fuck is Teddy? I remember on our tour of the jungle he showed us a milk tree that helped with the ole dysentery. I successfully tracked his ass down to help out my ass by drinking the milk from this tree. Owen the Canadian joined me on this adventure. After stopping up my internals it was breakfast time. What would it be this time…Eggs and French fries…Fuck! I need real food damn it! At this point I weight about 130 lbs. Before I started my building project I weighed 154 lbs.
Today the locals were out and about looking to take us North Americans for every sol we had. The locals were great hustlers and artists. Unfortunately I shipped my souvenirs back home and fuck if I will ever get them back. It’s been two months. The day went fast. Scott gave us a tour of the botanical garden and we went for another deadly swim in the Amazon River. As I swam with Scott and he told me stories of gore and “Fuck heads” that tried to cross him, I felt a weird connection with Scott. I really understood why he escaped to the Peruvian Jungle. I can’t stand the majority of people either. Back on the dock we parted ways till the evening consumption of Ayahuasca. Tonight Scott told me he would give me the heaviest dose. He felt confident that I could handle it after the night before. I asked him what the Shamans said about me as I noticed that they had a strange apprehension toward me after last night. He told me that they said I was the one that blew the Jungle smoke back into the Devils face and tested the Gods. The fact that I was not struck down on site made them fear me a bit. This was told to me on our last swim up river. Lunch was closing in on us and I was starving! I found Teddy and asked him if they had fishing rods and bait. Quick like a Peruvian bunny he grabbed some rods and off we went to fish. First cast Teddy snagged a 15 lb venomous catfish. Laura and I had less luck. Laura caught another catfish but it was smaller. The Canadian girl was to be sent off and her packs were set down on the dock. Teddy was instructed to take her to the closest village and drop her off with a high speed boat back to Iquitos. Teddy had grown fond of Laura and me because we treated him like a friend not a servant. He asked us if we wanted to join. We accepted.
An hour later we were in the town and fuck if I remember the name of it. The Canadian girl was sent on her way and it was just Laura, Teddy, and I unleashed on the third world streets in search of internet, alcohol and candy. The internet was dial up, yes dial up. Fuck it where is the candy and beer? Teddy was incredibly popular in this town. I believe beyond working for Scott, Teddy was Mr. Popular. The ladies of this town all knew him and were like “Hola Teddy!” Teddy pulled us about from shop to shop in search of beer and candy. Finally we hit up a shop with some beer. Time to crack open the local brew. Teddy was a happy man in this town. I felt like he was a bit oppressed in the Refugio camp. After all Scott was a smart man and he was surrounded by uneducated moron locals so I understand his hierarchy for his position above the locals. Now where the fuck does one find my sweet toothed ass some candy! No one in town had it accept for the last shop before the dock, which also had some beer. Well after relieving ourselves in the back of the store we cleared it out of beer and candy, ever so careful not to disturb the many kittens that were sleeping on the products; we made our way back to the boat. Oh man did Laura, Teddy and I get hammered! Laura was steering the boat, I was pissin off the side tryin not to fall off, and Teddy was crackin open another beer. Good times for all.
Once back Teddy had to keep his shit together as Scott barked orders at him. Laura and I were late to lunch but luckily it wasn’t eggs and fries, it was fried fish! It was the fish that we had caught earlier. Me, still being hungry after eating all of my fish and some of Laura’s, started to look for future tasty treats. That’s when I saw her. Herro Chicken! I darted off to find Teddy as he was our only bridge to the language barrier other that Scott. His big smile was turned straight by my question…”Puedo muerta el pollo?” Of course he laughed hysterically and had me follow him to the kitchen. Oh man the kitchen ladies were defiantly weirded out by my request. There was debate, an argument in the jungle if you will, over the life of the hen. The Spanish was too fast for me to follow but the head kitchen lady looked at me like “you really want to do this?” My face told her what she needed to know…confirmation was given! Teddy smiled really big and beckoned me to follow him to the caged beast. Laura took the camera to capture the action. I approached the cage with the hen. Looking in I placed my hands on the top of the cage. “Forgive me my sister I am here to take your life to sustain mine.” I said as I reached in and grabbed the chicken by the neck. As instructed I snapped the ever living life out of the chicken’s neck. It was still moving and Teddy said I had to cut its head off. My knife was out of my pocket before he could finish his sentence and the deed was done. The Chicken twitched and thrashed about headless. I ended up getting chicken blood squirt in my eye and all over my body! The kitchen ladies were about to take the chicken from me and clean it up when I stopped them and explained that I wanted to learn how to do it. I asked them to teach me. At this point I do believe that we were the first people to treat these locals like equals. Although the kitchen ladies told Laura that I was loco, I could tell that they had a new respect for me for being a compassionate human willing to step down and be part of the culture. Night fall was closing in and round two of Ayahuasca was about to commence.
Just as the first night our trail guide came to escort us to the ceremony hut. This time it was Owen, and a man named James from liver pool. Tonight was James first time, and Owen, Laura, and my last night. Tonight, for me, there was no holding back. It was full dose and full blast off. Drinks prepared James was first, Owen second, Me third taking a full cup of the Jungle juice, and Laura fourth. Scott asked Laura if she wanted to “Keep up” with me as she normally had done with all of our experiences…she knew and opted out this time. Smart move I thought. I defiantly took more than I should have but I keep my cool under pressured and I understand that most don’t. All of us were ready to blast off into ourselves and the universe, the Shamans started their singing and chanting. At first I thought that I had built up some strange and fast immunity to the Jungle juice. The Shamans were more annoying than healing and helpful. I started to make fun of them and hump dance on the matt, which made Laura and myself start “the giggles.” Oh and it was a bad case of them. One song after another I continued to mock the harshness of the song sung. Laura whispered to me “you need to fuckin stop or they are going to separate us!” Bah ha ha this only made me giggle more and mock more. Then I hear Owen start to laugh…he couldn’t stop and that made me giggle more. Then I heard the liver pool boy James start to laugh. Fuck it was like rebelling against being in trouble in middle school. The more wrong the giggling was the more we giggled. The whole ceremony house was crackin up laughin! Oh man what I would have given to have the chanting singing Shamans shut the fuck up! My mellow was getting shot up by “AYAHUASCA!...MEDICINA!” chants. Finally the trip was supposed to be over. Laura and I were to have a commitment ceremony in our hut after the trip. I tried to stand…up I went, down I went. Fuck I had a delayed effect! Laura was like “I got this shit!” and tried to stand. Up and down she went. This went on for a few hours until Scott decided to have the Shaman perform the commitment ceremony on site. Neither one of us could stand let alone walk. After a few hours of “LaLa! Christoph!” chants and clouds of jungle tobacco being streamed right to our incoherent faces I eked out “No mas fumar mother fucker!” All we had in response was a deep native laughter and more jungle smoke. I finally pull my shit together after two hours of trying to put my sandals on my feet and I stand up. I bring Laura to her feet. At this point we have ingested so much jungle juice that we are still in the ceremony house 6 freakin hours after they finished! I picked up Laura and put her on my back. I looked at our gun slinging guide and nodded my head. He knew right away we were ready to get back to the hut. Out in the grass field we were well lit by the full Peruvian moon. Finally we were back to the tent. In bed, eyes shut lights out.
Morning rays of sunlight woke me before the fresh fruit arrived. At this point Laura was dealing with the bowel problems and I was hungry! Breakfast…like fuckin hell if I was eating eggs again! Finding Teddy I rounded up the fishing poles and managed to catch a decent size catfish. I brought it to the kitchen ladies and held it up. Desyuno? I asked. The ladies laughed and took my morning catch. Sitting in the eating area I heard them comin and was psyched to get my fish. Plate set in front of me had eggs and French fries! Ah! Then a second kitchen lady came bearing my morning catch. Food! I was happy and full this morning. The local monkeys made their routine visit to collect table scraps as they did every morning and afternoon. Today we were to leave this Jungle paradise and head back to civilization and all of its flaws. Laura and I bid fair well to the kitchen ladies and Teddy. Teddy was visibly upset that we were leaving. I truly believe that we were the first guests here to communicate with them on the same level. Down at the dock with our packs and ready for our next Adventure, we waited for our boat driver and Scott. I had to lighten my load and I figured that we weren’t going to get much climbing done in the Jungle so I left my Dominator 9.4 mm rope with Scott. I knew he needed it more than me and that such things were hard to come by in the Jungle. Laura, me and the gear were packed into the topless wooden boat. The day was perfect and sunny as we drifted down the river into town Scott stood on the deck till we were out of sight. As I lay there with my feet propped up and kickin back in the sun I realized how long it had been since I truly felt happy. My life at the moment was full and balanced. I knew that chaos awaited me back in the states so I did what any realist would do in my shoes…I enjoyed the moment for what it was…Perfect.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
There was only one thing to do at this point so we went to the local magistrate court and filed our complaint. This process was going to be slow and completely unnecessary. We gave the owner one final chance to release my father’s equipment from the gym, this time with police escort. Sometimes my family is too nice to people and we give people the benefit of the doubt…it often comes back to bite us in the ass. I had my father collect all his receipts for the items in question and also gave him a copy of my Stock pledge agreement, which stated nothing about selling any of my father’s equipment. The first police officer that arrived on scene was an angry black male (Officer Thomas). My father, having goals to do things in a legal fashion, was met with hostility and complete disrespect by officer Thomas. The second cop to arrive was a white cop. It seemed as if he was senior to officer Thomas and was more sympathetic to our pleas. At one point my father went to follow the police men into the gym, not hearing officer Thomas' order that he was to wait outside, and officer Thomas pushed my 60 year old father back almost knocking him off his feet. Officer Thomas scalded my confused father and went into the gym. My father is a Vietnam War veteran and is almost completely deaf. I’m no expert on how elderly people should be treated but when I witnessed this I had to hold myself back a little. Is this any way to be treated by a human being, let alone an officer of the law whose sworn duty is to “Server and Protect”. Waiting in the parking lot I knew the outcome of the cops return. In the movies the good guy wins, in real life the criminals are protected and the majority of the time the “Law” turns a blind eye to criminal activity. I guess they are too busy giving out speeding tickets and moving violations. The white cop must have said something to officer Thomas because he went back to his car while my father spoke with the white cop. It was explained to us that even though we had hard evidence that the equipment was ours, we had to fight for it through the wonderfully competent judicial system. The Kennesaw police department treated us like the criminals. When we tried to obtain property that was stolen from us we became the thieves all because we didn’t have possession of our equipment. The Police stayed in the parking lot until we left and then followed us out of the area until we were well out of “threat” range. Well, back to the Magistrate court we went.
My father filed his Magistrate court complaint in January 2011. Prior to dealing with the ever slow legal system, my father, upon my request sent the owner a letter giving him ten days to release the equipment and he would not take him to court. One letter was sent certified and the other was sent by regular mail. The Certified letter was returned to sender, my father. No visible signs of the regular mail letter. I instructed my father to give the owner fair warning about having to rent his equipment. Being lenient my father waived the rental fees for January and clearly explain to the owner that if he wanted to keep the equipment he would have to pay the rental fees. In the letter, rental fees were laid out and the owner was notified that if he chose not to rent the equipment to return it to Peachtree Exhibit Services. Dues were to begin Feb. 25 and each of the following days of the 25th for the continuous months that he chose to keep and rent Peachtree Exhibit Services equipment. All of this information was mailed and emailed to Andy. About a month had gone by and I decided to call the Magistrate court to see if they had served Andy his papers. I decided to record the phone call….. Ring Ringggggg...ring ring…ring rin.. (female cop) “Kennesaw police Department how may I direct your call?” (Sierzant) “Yes, I am checking up on a pending case.” (Female cop) “What’s the case number?” (Sierzant) “The case number is (%$#@-*&^!)” (Female cop) “One moment……….. Ok sir, we have tried to deliver magistrate papers five times already. If you would life for us to continue you will have to re-file.” (Sierzant) “Re-file? It’s almost March and we filed in January! Is he just not there when the sheriff tries to deliver the papers?” (Female cop) “Sir it doesn't matter when we serve the papers we always leave a note on the business doors.” (Sierzant) “Is it possible to deliver the papers directly to his house?” (Female cop) “Hold on sir and I will put you directly with the Sheriff in charge of delivering the papers”… There are a few good things that I learned in business and one of them is never deal with a middle man. If you want something done with efficiency, go straight to the source. Sure enough we were able to have the papers served directly to the owners house. My father sent out new invoices to the owner for March rent and collection for Feb. rent of Peachtree's equipment. They were sent by email, regular mail, and delivered directly to him by certified mail. The certified mail was sent back to my father and an email was shot back stating that if my father continued to send invoices to the Escalade email it would be considered harassment. I’m no expert on collecting debt but I’m pretty sure it’s not harassment to notify an establishment that they owe you money. That would be about as smart as telling a credit card company to stop calling you for delinquent payment and then telling them that it’s considered Harassment. Well now we know that the owner got the invoices. February 25th zipped by and we still had not recieved payment for the rental equipment. A late notice was emailed to Escalade and a request that if he no longer chose to rent the equipment to either return it to Peachtree Exhibit Service, or call to have it picked up...no response. So once again, we wait. The owner has 30ish days to respond to the court papers. Why do people insist on being difficult? This really is a waste of my time and money.
To be continued....
Monday, March 5, 2012
I had to hand it to my partner, as a business man he was looking out for his best interest and trying to get all he could from me to aid his future venture. I was impressed and hurt but above all I was learning. I had to learn fast because this was the first time I had to negotiate a business sale that would be a forever life changing event for me. Business is business and I had to make sure that my lack of experience didn’t get me screwed in the long run. I had to buck up, and I did which made me proud, and tell my business partner that if he wanted to buy my shares he would have to buy them without me signing the “No Compete Contract” and most definitely without me signing the ridiculous “Life Acquisition Agreement”, which I felt was completely dishonorable and quite the low blow. No one likes to be bullied, especially by someone that you trusted as a friend and looked up to as a standup individual. Who would sign something like that? Even worse who would try and make someone try to sign something so disrespectful. It made me realize that I was just his friend and if business came before even his own family, where did that leave me.
At this point a deal had been struck. I had officially signed my pride and joy to someone I felt would take care of her and make her grow big and strong. I was quite confident, even after the strange business dealings that led to the sale, that I had made the right decision for me and the gym. My first job at Escalade, as a contractor, was to build a tunnel extension under the Gumby wall connecting it at the top to the large carpet hump in the original tunnel. The main objective was to teach the new owner and his Son how to make artistic climbable limestone replications. I have spent the past ten years perfecting my techniques. I have had 15+ apprentices, some of which were amazing artists, that no matter how much I showed them how to create these beautiful, seemingly weeping, near exact replicas of formed limestone, not a single person was able to make one correctly. Each one had to be mixed by hand; each layer had to be applied one hand full at a time. As simple and esthetic as they seemed from the ground, at a closer glance the extreme detail was prevalent. For the life of me I couldn’t get even skilled artists to understand the subtleties of work involved in creating the limestone and making it look amazing. The task of teaching two non-artists these skills seemed a bit farfetched, but that’s what I was getting paid to do. Not many questions were asked and the son never showed up to learn. I can’t say that I didn’t try.
Money was short in the gym as it always was. In the nature of a business where the market for people that wanted to climb, was still being created even after 9 years, created the gyms weakness for rapid success. I awaited my next building project at the gym. The first of three in house bouldering competitions, my last chances to host a comp at Escalade, was coming in hot. To be honest after setting for 100+ bouldering competitions one gets a little burnt out on setting. Without being cocky, I am the best and most qualified route setter in the South East. No one and I mean no one has set more than me in this region, and quite possibly on the entire East coast. I choked down the task at hand with my usual efficient system of equal rating setting. On average I orchestrated the setting of over 100 boulder problems a competition, but quantity has nothing to do with good setting. Good setting is good setting and bad setting is very obvious to climbers. As I started setting I would give the owner the details of how I set for competitions. I gave him at least 90% of the “tricks of my trade”. They should serve him well but setting is an art and is done well by true artists.
One comp went by, and then another, and then the final comp had come and gone in late October. Time was getting thinned out if I was to complete a lead wall extension in the gym. It wasn’t until November that I was summoned to complete the new walls and final stage of construction that would complete Escalade’s rope climbing walls. Steel, wood, and other materials were order and I got straight to work. I used my father’s scaffold from his tradeshow company for many projects over the course of my ten years of servitude to what was once my business. Now they would be used one last time to finish what I had started before I was no longer affiliated with Escalade on the business front. One of my father’s custom welding cords was missing female outlet so I used the secondary one to start welding up some sticks of steel. It had been three years since I had welded and at that time I was horrible at it. I was excited to practice more on the wall I was building so I made sure I did full wrap welds. My first welds were not very good but I figured out after building the first section that the welding rods I was using were the wrong type for the job. After getting the correct welding sticks, welding became easy and by the end of the project I was quite good at it. Not bad for being self-taught and I only had one near death experience throughout the whole build. I stepped on a walk board that was not fastened down and fell twenty feet through the steel structure. Luckily my shin broke my fall on a lower walk board but my ride was not over. I continued to fall between the boards that broke my fall and was thankfully saved by my welding cord which had wrapped itself around my neck and prevented me from taking a concrete grounder. All in all things went pretty smooth. We had finished putting up the final piece of plywood and I gathered some of my tools to take to another job site. I fit what I could of mine and my father’s tools into my small red ford Ranger and took off to relax for the day. What I could not take with me that day included the two custom welding cords, an air hose, and two aluminum boxes containing caving equipment for my father’s non-profit company “Travel with Charlie”, two 8’ fiberglass tradeshow ladders, one 6’ tradeshow ladder, a 4 level set of scaffolding and an International tradeshow Geodesic Dome in a crate behind the wall. In all the years that Escalade has existed, my father lent me his equipment so that I could continue building in the gym after his tradeshow company contracted out both the original build of Escalade and the second build of Escalade in its current location. After my father signed his shares of the gym over to me I requested him to let me hang on to his equipment for future building projects and in turn he could store his equipment in my business till he needed it or specific jobs. Now that my work at Escalade was done it was time to put the equipment back into the storage warehouse in Cartersville. My father approached the new owner about taking out his equipment and property and was informed that the equipment and property now belonged to Escalade. My father was nice and explained to the owner that the equipment did not belong to Escalade and was only being stored there to help out his son with building projects. When I mentioned to the owner that I had sold him the shares of Escalade and not my father’s equipment he continued to stand firm on his belief. My father and I were also told that if we tried to move our equipment out of the gym he would call the cops on us for theft of our own equipment. It's very strange to not feel welcome anymore in a place that was my life for ten years. Now What?........