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Excerpted from Spontaneous Healing by Andrew Weil. Copyright 1995 by Andrew Weil. Excerpted by permission of Fawcett Columbine, a division of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  Web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"I was searching for a shaman, a Kofan Indian named Pedro."

Andrew Weil, Spontaneous Healing, Part 1

Prologue in the Rain Forest

Let me take you with me to a faraway place I visited more than twenty years ago: the sandy bank of a wide river on a sultry afternoon in 1972. The river was a tributary of the Rio Caqueta in the northwest Amazon, near the common border of Colombia and Ecuador, and I was lost. I was searching for a shaman, a Kofan Indian named Pedro, who lived in a remote hut somewhere in the huge, dense forest, but the trail that was supposed to take me there left me at an uncrossable river with no sign of how to proceed. It was getting late in the day.

Two days before, after a long, hard drive, I left my Land-Rover at the end of a dirt road and took a motorboat to a tiny frontier settlement, where I spent a restless night. The next day, I found some Indians who took me by canoe to the beginning of a trail they said would eventually bring me to the clearing where Pedro lived. "Half a day's walk," they told me, but I knew that half a day's walk for an Indian might be more for me. I had a backpack with essentials, but not much food, since I expected to be staying with the shaman. 

After several hours in dark forest, the trail forked. No one had said anything about a fork. I listened for the whisper of intuition and decided to go to the right. After another hour I came upon a clearing with several huts and five Kofan men painting each other's faces.

I was terribly hot and thirsty and asked in Spanish for water. The men ignored me. I asked again. They said they had no water. "No water?!" I exclaimed. "How can that be?" They shrugged and continued to apply their makeup. I asked for the shaman. "Not here," said one of the Indians. "Where can I find him?" There was an offhanded indication of a trail beyond the huts. "Is it far?" I asked. Another shrug.

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