The Formation Years – Page 2

young3After completing military service, Dr. Vecco gladly put him back to work in his previous job, but this time brought him closer like a son. In the next couple of years he instructed José about his personal hobby that consisted in studies of Inca archeology, paleontology and pre-history. In the weekends, the doctor included José in his day trips to the fossil sites in the San Martin region, where he taught him how to find and appreciate prehistoric fossils.

Dr. Vecco was a devoted scientist that around 1984 founded the “Patronato de Ciencia y Cultura”, a type of non-profit foundation that organized and sponsored scientific lectures, field trips, and conferences for the advancement of science and the Inca culture. He invited doctors, university professors, and other professionals to join as members and it became a successful meeting forum of the intellectual community of the region. Dr. Vecco delegated to José the operations of the foundation and started to expose him to the foundation members. Not surprisingly, he became a well known and likable person among them. He travelled with them to the archeological field trips and even became a sort of tour guide in certain ruins that were visited frequently. José was thirsty for knowledge and nourished himself informally in many different areas. For instance, the German biologist, Reiner Schulte, took him under his wing and taught him about the different indigenous snakes and all about the poisonous and hallucinogenic frogs of the San Martin region.

Relevant at this point is an anecdote that has a very special place in José’s memory. He remembers how a regular day of work at the doctor’s office became an unforgettable one. It happens that the waiting area of the office was decorated with several glass covered displays containing the doctor’s fossil collection. He saw an old lady watching very carefully to every single fossil in the displays, something that José found curious, as local patients normally paid little attention to such strange looking rocks. While he stared at the old lady, she suddenly turned to him with a piercing look in her eyes. José got closer to her and without further signals she said: “You have the spirit of the curandero and you will become a good one, that is written in your destiny”. This sparked José’s interest and they engaged in conversation for several hours. She was Dona Marta, a well known San Pedro curandera that invited him to experience her medicine. José got excited and the following week he was initiated in the San Pedro medicine, his first entheogenic experience. He wanted to explore it further and did it several times in the following months.

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