This story excerpt was translated from Portuguese. To read the original story in full, visit ECOA UOL. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.
TARAPOTO, Perú—"My grandfather was a healer and my father also knew how to work with the plants," Hernán Saavedra Gonzáles said, in a calm, paused voice. Soon afterwards he blew the smoke from a mapacho cigarette, a type of medicinal tobacco, into a glass filled with a dark liquid that looked very similar to tea.
Hernán and his wife, Jesús Arce Quinteros, are a couple of healers who, despite many difficulties, struggle to maintain an ayahuasca clinic in Tarapoto, in the state of San Martín, in the Peruvian Amazon jungle.
Like Hernán, Jesús comes from a lineage of healers, practitioners of traditional Peruvian jungle medicine. But she is a point outside the curve in the city's ayahuasca circuit. She is one of the few women healers, or perhaps the only one, in Tarapoto.
As a nonprofit journalism organization, we depend on your support to fund coverage of Indigenous issues and communities. Donate any amount today to become a Pulitzer Center Champion and receive exclusive benefits!
Jesús is 38 years old, has been drinking ayahuasca for 20 years, and has been working as a healer for 15 years. Despite her time in business, she assures that she continues to be amazed by the path. "Each ceremony is a new learning experience, I'm discovering and learning more."
Jesús and her husband also cultivate, in an area of two hectares, a botanical garden, with a huge variety of medicinal plants. According to the couple, many of them are at risk of extinction because of deforestation and the actions of mining companies in the Peruvian Amazon jungle.