The Complete Pharmacy


“Stomach problems?”, It was Robinson asking; my guide, and he already knew the answer. When four people sleep in hammocks only a few feet apart in the middle of the jungle, you can’t get up at night without waking the others. Try to picture this in your head. You sleep in a hammock deep in the jungle. You only wear shorts because the humidity and heat is so intense. The forest is pitch black and full of noises. Then you have to go to the “toilet”. You do not want to turn on the light before absolutely necessary because it attracts an extreme amount of bugs. So, you find an opening in the mosquito net, put your shoes on and flips your feet over the side of the hammock. Then you turn your light on and look carefully all around your before you set your feet down on the wet forest. You pick up a machete, tissue paper and hack your way into the darkness.


We had been eating so much strange stuff the last days but I was sure it was the malaria pills. I always get in trouble with those. So what do you do if you are in the middle of the amazon miles away from the nearest pharmacy? If you are with the right people in here, there is a solution for everything. The Amazon is the ultimate and complete pharmacy if you know what to look for. The people growing up in the jungle, have a cure for everything and the knowledge is passed down through generations. To me this is one of the most fascinating experiences when coming here.


After a short walk into the dense forest, we cut a small campsite and started a fire. On the fire, in a well used little kettle, they cooked a small cup of “tea” made from a special wood type – after this, all my stomach problems was gone. The day before, it was the same. The boat driver had sinus problems. They took a piece of a tree, chopped pieces of it, and put it into boiling water. He handed me the cup and said “I don’t know what you call it in English, but you will recognize”. It was camphor. In its pure and strongest form, and it fixed sinus problems instantly. Every day we had new experiences of the healing power of the forest. They scraped green powder from leafs for small cuts, found dry material for making fire inside trees, made mosquito repellent from tiny ants crawling on your skin and wild growing herbs and spices made every meal special.


Raw Camphor

Before falling asleep that night my mind started wondering. How did they find out everything? People have been living in this jungle for centuries and they must have been doing some sort of research – with mixed results – I imagine. And how much more is undiscovered? Maybe the cure for cancer is in here? Or the magic root to slow down aging?

It is pitch dark, the hammock slowly swinging, the massive noise of the living forest makes falling asleep difficult. Insects flying into the thin mosquito net covering me like a cocoon, wearing only swimming trunks in the extreme moist and warm jungle night, I slowly fade into deep sleep. Tomorrow will be another day filled with new exotic experiences. Life is good.


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