Paul Theroux’s Drug Junket

“Paul Theroux planned to follow in Burroughs’s footsteps and experience the ultimate high in the rainforest, but instead he found oil prospectors, exploitation, and tourists in search of healing.” Theroux writes about it in The Guardian:

TherouxDrug tour was my name for it. “Ethnobotanical experience” was the prettified official name for it, and some others spoke of it as a quest, a chance to visit a colourful Indian village, a clearing in the selva tropical, where just a few decades ago American missionaries sought early martyrdoms among the blowguns and poison-tipped arrows of indignant animists resisting forcible conversion to Christianity.

The people who organised this drug junket characterised it as a high-minded field trip, eight days in the rainforest, to experience eco-awareness and spiritual solidarity, to learn the names and uses of beneficial plants. One of those plants was ayahuasca. There was no promise of a ritual yet heavy hints were dropped about a “healing”. We would be living in a traditional village of indigenous Secoya people, deep in Ecuador’s Oriente province, near the Colombian border, on a narrow branch of Burroughs’ Putumayo, where the ayahuasca vine clinging to the trunks of rain forest trees grows as thick as a baby’s arm.

More here.