Tripping on Hallucinogenic Frogs (Part 1/3)


[MUSIC PLAYING] [SOUNDS OF AMAZON] HAMILTON MORRIS: Hello. I’m Hamilton Morris. We’re currently boating through
flooded forests on our way to meet the Mayoruna
Indians, a formerly cannibalistic tribe who use
a strange frog derived drug they call sapo. They use it to give themselves
energy before hunting. They use it to abort pregnancies
by rubbing these womens’ vaginas with it. This venom contains an opioid
peptide that’s 100 times stronger than morphine. And some people say that
it’s psychedelic. It doesn’t activity any of
the psychedelic receptors are far as I know. But there’s also a lot about
the venom we don’t know. The venom produces some
kind of a strange effect to make you vomit. And then supposedly you spending
the next eight hours in some kind of a daze. And wake up feeling fantastic
the next day. And they’re going to
ritualistically burn me and rub the frog venom
into my wounds. And then it’s going to produce
some sort of a strange effect. I’m not exactly sure what
it’s going to do. But we’ll find out. [SOUNDS OF AMAZON] ANNOUNCER (OFFSCREEN) Thank
you for flying with [INAUDIBLE]. HAMILTON MORRIS: I have arrived
in Tabatinga after days of traveling. It’s an impossibly humid
rainforest city built by drug traffickers and sandwiched
between the borders of Colombia and Peru. I feel like I’m being gang
banged by vegetation. Every visible surface is coated
with growing plants. The streets are overrun
with motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds. I can feel that the
jungle is near. I go to the dock where the
journey will begin and meet our guide, Juan. Before we exchange a word, he
looked at my long hair and started laughing hysterically. He said the Mayoruna
Indians are going to think I’m a woman. They’re going to kidnap
me as a wife. Then he repeated the joke a
million times during the course of our day. [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] HAMILTON MORRIS: I board a boat,
which is a 30-foot long canoe with a wicker awning
in the middle. I meet the other crew member,
a man introduced as the captain who will run the
boat’s small motor. We make a quick stop to pick
up a giant block of filthy frozen river water. The ice block is dragged out of
the freezer through a heap of bloody gutted catfish. The captain then proceeds to
smash up the ice blocks with the rusty machete and throw the
chunks into a couple of styrofoam coolers which
will hold our minuscule food supply. Juan says the ice will last
six days, but that seems totally impossible. We’re on the Amazon
River right now. We’re still on the border of
Peru, Brazil, and Colombia with Columbia this way, Brazil
this way, and Peru that way. Because of it’s proximity to
Colombia and Peru, Tabatinga has become one of the main
entry points for cocaine traffickers into Brazil. I’m told the chance of us
encountering cocaine being shuttled around is
not too low. The rainy season is when the
Amazon River swells over the land and life hemorrhages out
of everything in sight. There are trees growing on
trees, ants crawling on ants, and penis fish swimming up the
urethra of other penis fish. It’s exhausting to watch. In order to save time,
we take a detour through the flooded jungle. Our crew consists of Juan in
front with the machete, the captain in the back motoring us
around, and Alex who is in charge of security should we
run into any hostile drug traffickers. But that’s sort of something
that hasn’t been discussed in too much detail at this
point, I guess. It’s going to be three
days up river. Each night we’re going to stay
on the side of the river in some sort of a shack. And then we find the Mayoruna. [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] HAMILTON MORRIS: The sun sets
and we dock at the home of some strangers. The river surrounds
their home and reaches up to their doorstep. Apparently, families living on
the river are obliged to take in travelers. [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] HAMILTON MORRIS: Here
we are on the banks of the Javari River. This is where we’re going to be
spending the night tonight. These are our hammocks,
complete with mosquito-proof netting. There’s a very nice
view of the river. Here is the bathroom. It consists of a board with
two holes cut in it. I’m not exactly even sure
what to do with it or what it means. I just peed into the hole
that had the most pee surrounding it. This seems like a pretty
authentic Amazon experience. I like this dog. I think he likes me. Night comes and our hosts
cook us a chicken meal. I’m ready to eat some chicken,
get some fitful sleep, and then spend another
day on the boat. [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] HAMILTON MORRIS: There’s
definitely mosquitoes inside my tent. I can, like, hear them
buzzing next to my face as I was sleeping. But it was too dark
to do anything. It’s ten in the morning
right now. Last night we stayed
at someone’s house. And there was a big debate about
whether it was OK to bathe because the bathing water
was right next to the peeing and shitting water. And there really didn’t
even seem to be any reason to bathe. Because it’s only
the second day. I didn’t feel the need. But a lot of other people in our
crew decided that it was hot and they would sleep
better after they washed their hair. Around 11:00 in the morning
we stop for a bite to eat. Alex stabs open a can of winners
with a giant chrome hunting knife. I eat a few. And they taste like
wet toilet paper. Every time we stop for someone
to pee, flocks of majestic yellow butterflies
swarm around us. I’m going to go pee
into this flock of butterflies right now. Here we are in another flooded
forest region. It’s pretty spectacular
actually. We’re just floating
on the tree tops. We’re floating halfway
up a forest. The river is, like, S-shaped. But since it’s the rainy season,
we’re able to cut through sections of forest
that have flooded. And this isn’t normally
a river. It’s only a river six
months of the year, or maybe even less. But we’re just floating
by the top of a tree. It’s, like, very strange. Around noon I have to shit off
the side of the boat while everyone films me, not fun. I was definitely poisoned many
times over by last night’s chicken dinner. I sincerely fear that I may shit
my only pair of pants. Fantastic. I recently learned
that we were on this expedition illegally. FUNAI, the Brazilian agency
dedicated to indian affairs, patrols these waters looking
for unlicensed groups like ours who are trying to
contact the Indians. Juan also tells me the Amazon
is full of creatures scientists know nothing about. Once while deep in the jungle,
he encountered a fur covered beast with only one eye. Him and the beast exchanged
a glance. And as a result, Juan suffered
a five month long fever. I had been smoking JWH-018-laced
cigarettes and was too high to be skeptical. So instead, I opted
for extreme fear. The sight of FUNAI will be
of plenty to worry about. There’s ramped malaria, and
hepatitis epidemics. The waters are infested with
piranhas, snakes, and Candiru penis fish, and the air is
filled with biting insects. The homes along the
river are becoming further and further apart. And we dock early today
with a small family living on the shore. [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] HAMILTON MORRIS: The air is
vibrating with swarms of mosquitoes. I’ve never seen anything
like this in my life. The insects are impossibly
bloodthirsty and they remove a plug of flesh when they bite. In minutes my hands
are covered with bleeding, swollen sores. [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] HAMILTON MORRIS: I’m just hoping
that I don’t get bitten too terribly tonight. And that the food doesn’t
poison me too severely. [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] HAMILTON MORRIS: Night falls and
the incredible number of bugs discourages me from
bathing once again. I lay in my hammock
while mosquitoes squeal past my ears. The mosquito net and bug
spray are only a formality at this point. There is no escape. I wake up totally massacred
by bugs. It would be much easier to
describe where I don’t have mosquito bites– my hair, fingernails, asshole,
and the inside of my mouth. We take a Polaroid of our host’s
daughter, give it to her, and get out of there. Today, we are scheduled to
arrived at the Mayoruna village, the ancient village
of the frog. Day three, I still
haven’t bathed. But I think that’s going to
change soon because I want to look my best for the Mayoruna. I have mosquito bites on every
square inch of my body. My neck is just like a necklace
of searing pain. Well, I don’t even know
how they were able to target my neck. Well, I’m miserable right now. [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] HAMILTON MORRIS: It’s been four
days since I’ve bathed– four incredibly sweaty days. [SIGHS] HAMILTON MORRIS: It’s been
a long time since I’ve taken off my pants. Oh, it’s very cool. OK. Oh, it’s actually ice
cold, ice cold. MALE SPEAKER: Help
him, [INAUDIBLE]. HAMILTON MORRIS: We see the
Mayoruna around midday. They live on top of an orange
cliff that juts straight out of the river. Children peer over the edge at
us and then run to our boat to carry our bags up the cliff. The clay crumbles
under my feet. If I fall, I’m three days from
the nearest hospital. Oh. So it’s actually very refreshing
to be here although it’s extremely hot. The Mayoruna village is a
collection of huts spread across a large dusty clearing. The insects are prehistoric. [SOUND OF BUGS SWARMING] HAMILTON MORRIS: As of now, the
plan is to go out tonight and catch the frog. And then in the morning after
the frog has been caught we’ll harvest the secretions
and burn me and rub them into my wounds. [GROWLING] HAMILTON MORRIS: We walk into
the hut of our host, a man named Petro. His face is covered in tattoos
he gave himself with a tree thorn needle and black
fungus ink. [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] HAMILTON MORRIS: Juan
asks Petro if he thinks I’m a woman. Petro says no. Juan looks defeated. This is the stick. You can actually see
some dried sapo. That’s a moldy bread type
smell definitely. [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] HAMILTON MORRIS: The chief’s son
takes me to his pharmacy, which is a hut stockpiled
with a modest supply of antibiotics. Ibuprofen, aspirin,
neo ampicillin. I think it’s very good. It makes me feel like if I come
close to death after my sapo administration, they will
be able to slap me with some ampicillin. It’s just nice to see people
on top of medicine. It’s good. [SIGHS] HAMILTON MORRIS: I could
go for some ice cold lemonade right now. Here we are outside waiting
for the frog to sing. Even though it’s the
rainy season, it hasn’t rained in days. And usually the frog
doesn’t make any sounds unless it’s wet. So we’re just waiting. It might be hours and hours and
hours before it makes any sound at all. But right now I’d like to just
have an ice cream cone. And maybe a cool glass
of lemonade. [SOUNDS OF AMAZON] HAMILTON MORRIS: A little bit
before dawn Petro hears the song and calls back to the
sapo imitating it’s bark. [MAKING BARKING SOUNDS] HAMILTON MORRIS: He runs out of
the hut, into the jungle, and out of sight. He returns half an hour
later empty handed. It’s 5:20 in the morning
right now. They just came back out of the
woods and said that they didn’t hear it after all. If it rains then the
frog will sing and we’ll go into the woods. But until then, I will return
to my hammock and continue waiting and scratching
my bites.

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