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Five Weeks in the Amazon: A backpacker's journey: life in the rainforest, Ayahuasca, and a Peruvian shaman's ancient diet Paperback – December 2, 2014
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"I had never heard of Ayahuasca before and your journey to track it down and experience it was fascinating...Thanks so much for sharing your book/journey will me, I was happy to go along!" - Cindy Morrison
"Your story is so honest and has many phrases that are written like poetry. I laughed and really felt your pain as well as your joy. Overall, I feel it is a story that many people can relate to, feel empowered by, and feel more connected to you by. Have you submitted to literary agents as yet? Again... thank you for reminding me of my inner power." - Carrice H
From the Back Cover
Could a shaman save me?
Or was I just looking for an excuse to get high?
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It made me laugh and made me cry, but most of all, made me think about the truth we all hide and bury deep inside, about the pain and the things we all have to let go in a healing process, the power within ourselves and that being happy is our choice.
Never got bored while reading. The Prologue and the Introduction were quite intense. The first chapters, in Lima and the initial arrival to the jungle, where fine and easy reading. But I really got hooked at Otillia's, when the Ayahuasca ceremonies started and with it, all the inner findings and discoveries.
In a certain way, I identified myself with it (self-sabotaged my success). I think this time it has been the youngest (Sean) who taught the elder (me) about strength and courage.
The author provides good insight of what it's like to travel, alone, to countries where a foreigner has difficulty communicating. He also talks of his drug use, loneliness and the excitement of new experiences. One of his new experiences was participating in an Ayahuaska ceremony. Ayahuaska is a South American vine, the use of the bark is a hallucinogenic alkaloid used by Amazon Indians.
While the book is well written, there are a few typos, words in the wrong place, a double period that I noticed, however it doesn't detract from the story. I'll read this again and look for books by the same author.
As I was reading, I couldn't help but believe that Five Weeks In The Amazon was a love story. It’s not a new romance or a tale about finding love; it’s about realizing who you’re in love with and, just as importantly, learning how to love yourself. While love is scary and overwhelming, so is trying to overcome your own fears and past pains.
Although there are serious elements that he discusses, Sean mixes humor so naturally into his story that it’s almost as if he’s right in front you telling it all himself over drinks. That’s what actually kept me reading, feeling like I was being told a story straight from him instead of just reading words on a page. I’m not one to read biographies and exploration books, but I’m very glad I took a chance on Sean’s novel. Not only did I learn about what it’s like to spend five weeks in the Amazon, but I learned that someone else out there knows what it feels like to hit a wall and not have any good explanation for why you feel the way you do. I know how that feels, and it’s comforting to know that someone else does, too.
I highly recommend this novel to anyone wanting a good, entertaining, and insightful read. Looking forward to more stories from this author.
As some of the other reviewers said, yes, there is a fair amount of profanity (but not at all excessive I would say) and a fair amount of drug use (not Hunter S. Thompson proportions, but quite a bit). I always find it bizarre how self-righteous individuals will be so intolerant of a person who swears and indulges every now and then. Give me the person who swears, drinks, and smokes every day of the week over the "squeaky clean" one who chastises everyone. When the day comes to open everyone's closet, the greatest horrors will be found in those of the later.
When I was the editor of LivingInPeru.com, I remember that we'd occasionally run an article on Ayahuasca and we'd instantly be overrun by comments of people claiming how "terrible" it was. The fact of the matter is that Ayahuasca is the traditional medicine of the people indigenous to the Amazon. Have a little respect. Also, I think it's bizarre how Americans in particular can be completely accepting of people who treat depression by ingesting the toxic pharmaceuticals routinely prescribed in the US (some of which have been known to make people suicidal). The belief that the "bad" things pharmaceutical drugs do to you are "side effects" is one of the greatest cons the general public has ever fallen for. They're "effects" people, there's no distinction.
Hayes details a relatively short, but intense period in his life when he lived on a small commune in the outskirts of Iquitos and participated in regular Ayahuasca ceremonies. He's not shy about mentioning that he was suicidal before the trip, and based on this work, the treatment seems to have helped.
I've been to the Amazon, and although I never participated in an Ayahuasca ceremony, I have found just being in that wonderful place does have a magnificent positive effect on your psyche and sense of well-being. Depression is a real thing, and telling people to "take a trip" is one of the few ways to divert a person from a path of self-harm. I applaud anyone who recognizes they have something not working in their life who then takes steps to change those things, even when the steps are reckless.
This is a nice book. Read it and think not so much of yourself, but think of the people in your life who might need to hear the words between these covers.