Experience:45cm x 4.5cm San Pedro Cactus
I love San Pedro. A few weeks ago, a friend mentioned that he'd like to try tripping on it and I told him I'd be happy to help him with the process as it would be his first.
It all began in earnest when I went to pick him up to go to a party in a town about 350 kms from where I live. He showed me two lengths of San Pedro, about 45-50cm each and about 10cm in diameter. I told him that it would take a while to prepare and that it wouldn't really be practical to brew at a festival, but that we could bring the cactus along for a road trip.
The party was good, full of circus performers and such. I spent most of the weekend in the trees, hanging out with the birds more than in the party itself. My friend was intent on tripping, so just before we left I jacked up a couple of tabs of LSD which we took as we were walking back to the car.
The journey home was one of the best road trips I've had, and I've had a few. Having seen most of NZ through the window of various vehicles, it was remarkable to spend 80% of the trip on unknown roads. We visited a few of the old places I love, dropping in on Moeraki beach to pay respects to my grandfather who loved that place, but mostly followed the back roads and gravel tracks of central and coastal Otago and South Canterbury.
On the trip, we discussed a lot of things. Life, the universe and everything. Often we'd both fall silent to take in the music which pumped from the Bose sound system in the car. The music mix was eclectic, to say the least, including Bach, Brahms, Mozart, Stevie Ray Vaughn, System of a Down, Shpongle, Spoonbill... the list was extensive and of a high quality.
Overall, it was an excellent bonding experience for the two of us and set the stage for what would happen the following weekend.
When we arrived back in the town near where I live, I drove north for a few days to get some new tyres and to collect some depts. the tyres were costly and the depts were left unpaid, but the return to the town I lived in four months ago was a revelation of how far I've come. The situation there had gone nowhere, the same people with the same petty grumbles. It really hit home how lucky I am to live where I now do. Whilst there, I bought a pressure cooker to brew the cactus which I was now certain had arrived at the perfect moment.
San Pedro, to me, is a milestone of sorts. I like to use it at vital junctures in life, as a type of reset switch for my clouded perception. I've done many brews over the years and it has helped me to see past my own ego to the deeper motives I have for the choices I make. That shift in perception often leads me to make new choices and set new goals, a process which has served me well in my journey toward inner peace and deeper fulfilment.
As soon as I arrived back at the boat, I sliced the meat of the cactus off the core, producing strips which I then cut in half to better fit in the pot. After adding 4.5 litres of spring water from the source of the Riwaka river, I secured the lid with a 1lb weight and set it on the hob over a high flame. Once boiling under a fair bit of pressure I turned off the heat, took my med's and went to bed.
The following morning (Wednesday) I peeled the skin off the strips and dug out the thorns, discarding both in to the sea. I then put the pressure cooker back on the stove and brought it up to temperature three more times that day.
Thursday is pay day for me, so I went to town and went about my consumering for the week. I also picked up my new dog, Patch. Patch is an 18 month old Blue Heeler x Fox Terrier x Whippet who was run over about nine months ago, shattering his pelvis. I've been hanging out with him every now and then for a couple of weeks and he was absolutely terrified of me. The only other adult males he'd met were his previous master and the vet who performed multiple surgeries on him. He wasn't at all happy to be coming with me, but I was confident that he'd be fine in good time.
On the way home, I picked up my friend who'd come along to the party. He had Friday off work, so we decided to head out to the boat to drink cactus juice. When we got back to the boat, we talked a bit about the previous weekend, then ate a light dinner of vegetables and little protein, then got an early night's sleep.
The following morning I received a call from a good friend who'd arrived in town with his son and was keen to come and visit. My friend is and avid amateur geologist and rock hunter. We all teamed up and went round the peninsula to look at some of the sights and see if we could find any gems on the beach. We found a little agate and Patch started to come out of his shell, sniffing around and checking out all the smells on his first encounter with a beach.
Around mid afternoon, we were all getting hungry and I figured it was time to get back to the cactus. Once back on the boat, we got to work mashing the chunks in the pot which were nearly ready to disintegrate without mechanical assistance. I then brought it back to the boil in order to reduce the soup to a manageable level to be consumed. The smell in the cabin was, by this stage, sickening. I'd been living with it for a couple of days by now and the suspense was beginning to get to me.
After only a couple of hours of reducing, smoking spliffs and talking shit with neuro funk playing in the background, we decided the time had come to drink. I filtered the soup through a stocking, removing a tennis ball sized lump of mash, then poured the mix in to a 1.5 litre water bottle. I then tied a rope to the bottle and threw it in the sea to cool for half an hour.
After removing the bottle from the sea, I divided the 1.5 litres into two and we drank it fast, taking time afterwards to shudder and wince. We then drank strong, cold coffee to wash away the taste of the cactus and I made sure my friend knew where the door was as I hate cleaning vomit out of the carpet.
For me, the onset was nearly instant. I've done a lot of cactus, so as soon as that taste hits my tongue, I can feel the waves begin to eminate from my mouth and down my throat. My friend didn't feel anything but nausea and I could tell that he was growing unsure of the decision to drink the juice. We smoked more spliffs and ate a little fruit to kill time.
After around fourty minutes, my friend was beginning to feel the effects of the brew and I was undeniably beginning to trip. The sun was beginning to set so we went ashore to watch the dying day from an east facing cliff top. I had trouble operating the car and was grateful that we weren't going further than 500 meters. We were listening to a really good electro breaks mix, but I just wasn't getting in to it. It was like the music was an annoying noise which had to be tolerated until I could shut off the car.
When we got to the top of the cliff, I shut down the car and got out. The colours were incredible, all purple and green and gold. The cactus was coming on in steps more than waves, with only a minute or two between each rise in the trip's intensity.
After it was dark, we took a short drive around the village to look at the houses and trees by the roadside. There wasn't a lot of conversation as we were both just taking in the visuals which were more subtle than on the LSD the week before, but also more profound and seemingly meaningful.
On returning to the boat it was growing cold. We lit some candles to heat up the small cabin and set to rolling joints and listening to music.
The 6.5'x6.5'x4.5' wheelhouse on my boat is littered with tools, toys and devices leaving three seating positions, one of which belongs to the dog. There's a 1w RGB LED that puts out a watery blue-white light which is barely enough to roll a smoke by, forget about finding your papers. The space is, in and of its role and layout, a trip.
We took our seats and smoked and listened to music and talked, swaying with the sea and watching the bay.
My travelling companion is ten years younger than me and has decided that he wants to go sailing on epic adventures. We met at a party and hit it off. I was in a shitty mood at the time and was given him as a helper to erect a shelter by the main fire for the festival. Not only did we get along, which surprised me given how pissed off I was with the fucking tourists, the shelter we built survived the festival without any need for maintenance or repair, despite using only a tarp, shitty rope and sticks. It kept hundreds of people dry and warm, or shaded from the sun, at various points over the three days it was up. A few months later he arrived where I live to visit and get my help finding a boat.
I think that when people work together at simple tasks and prevail until they are collectively successful, it can be a powerful learning experience and the outcomes can be universally beneficial.
My friend and I talked at length about such ideas, taking moments occasionally to have a peek outside. The bay was calm, just a bit ruffled from a 15 kt breeze which tumbled through occasionally. The moon was full or nearly so and the way the moonlight caught the troughs and faces of the swell was hypnotic. My vision seemed significantly enhanced, though not to the same extent as on the LSD trip earlier. It was as if the scenery had been made for my eyes, rather than my eyes having been enhanced for the scenery.
San Pedro is a long trip with many stages. I imagine that taking San Pedro and going to Disney Land or some such thing would be awfully exciting. At my age, that's just not what I'm into. To me, psychedelic experience is about reprocessing stuff that's already in me through stimulating experience with an altered perspective. Unfortunately that fact makes for a bit of a boring trip report if the experience is related as a narrative. This is why I've chosen, now that the scene for the trip has been suitably set, to move on from narrating my experience in order cut straight to the guts of the trip, the great revelation which can only be fully appreciated weeks after the experience it's self.
One big lesson I learnt is that it's time to come off quetiapine. I'm plagued by lethargy and am completely dependant on the drug to enjoy any semblance of regular sleeping patterns. I'm sure it's wrecking my already hyper sensitive immune system too and I hear that it can cause brain shrinkage. So, I'm gonna get off the quetiapine in the new year by reducing the dose by half every week for three weeks whilst controlling my histamine receptors with loratadine or something.
Life's too short to be in bed at 10 am every day.
Another big lesson is yet to come. I have a friend, as salty as the Pacific, who just bought a big yacht. He wants to sell his 26' boat that he's been living on for a year or so. My friend and I are going to take a 1300 km road trip over Christmas to check out the boat, which I reckon my friend has already bought in his head. If the purchase takes place, we'll sail back down by mid January. I've done the trip a few times before and it presents the opportunity to be the adventure of a lifetime, with a guarantee of marine mammals, game fish, sun and the pristine parts of NZ's East Coast.
To be instrumental in someone's induction in to the hallowed club of the blue water mariner is an honour and to have the opportunity to help two mates in one deal is a win-win-win kind of bargain.
... and I get the TV coz it's too big for the little boat.
There are many things that came up that night on the bay. One that I can't shake is that many parts of the world are in a shit state and I'm sitting around like a polystyrene chunk on the bay. I've been giving it a lot of thought since then and, as happens in my jilted lump of head fat, I've come to some intriguing conclusions.
All the angst and disharmony in the world today is inciting people to make some really stupid decisions (Donald Trump as president, the global meth epidemic, selfies...) and when it comes to making bad decisions, I excel. There are people out there who are really well trained at decision making and delegation and I like being told what to do by people who are good at it. The trouble is, I've been to prison for a year (great bad decision making skills) which means that nobody wants to pay me to take an order.
Except, maybe, the French Foreign Legion.
I know, I'm a bit old, would have to hide the fact that I'm nuts and have a history of myocardial infarction and drug addiction, and have flat feet, but I'm actually a lot fitter than the average 25 year old soldier and have a better understanding of the human condition than any twenty something. All that, and I've seen worse than anything the legion can serve up... maybe.
The fact is, I'm bored and want a job where I'm expected to take care of my self and my peers whilst performing basic tasks in a critical situation. With my record, I can't think who else would hire me for such a role. At my age, they'd probably turn me down at the gate, but I'm gonna try.
So, the upshot of all that is, I took a trip with my mate after another trip. We talked about the state of things and how the world's fucked, then he decided to buy a boat and I decided to give up my boat and meagre possessions to join a mercenary army.
What a trip...