The Formation Years – Page 3

guitarMeanwhile, his old mentor Cesar Villanueva, had founded a non-governmental organization named CEDISA - Centro de Desarrollo e Investigación de la Selva Alta. He invited a French researcher of traditional medicine, Dr. Jacques Mabit to conduct studies in the Tarapoto region. He came to Tarapoto and offered a lecture that captured José’s imagination. He got very excited about the scientific approach to traditional medicine and knew at that moment that his life was heading in that direction.

Jacques was born in one of the French possessions and spent much of his early childhood in Algeria and Djibouti, before moving to France, where he completed his secondary education and university studies in general medicine. He pursued additional studies in tropical medicine in Belgium and then traveled to Peru, where he conducted research on the environmental, cultural and social factors for the design of an appropriate health care strategy in the Peruvian high plains. He had received a research doctorate for his thesis on that topic from the University of Medicine in Nantes in 1984 and a further diploma in natural medicine from the University of Paris XIII in 1986.

José and Jacques immediately became friends as they found in each other what they needed. José found science and knowledge, while Jacques found an intelligent local ally that would help him move around the Peruvian culture. Soon enough, José invited him to experience the San Pedro medicine with Dona Marta and they did it together in several occasions.

During his investigations, Jacques found a local curandero who initiated him in the ayahuasca medicine and gave him a life changing experience. In July of 1987 he reciprocated José’s invitation to experience San Pedro by inviting him to an ayahuasca session with Don Wilfredo Tuanama. That was José’s first ayahuasca journey. He still remembers that ceremony as the most powerful and impressive ever. He saw his future as a shaman, his travels to Europe and USA, and many things he was never been able to put in words.

Dr. Vecco was going through a divorce and José was feeling uncomfortable with the situation. After years of being equally loyal to both husband and wife, he was now feeling the pressure of taking sides. Jacques perceived the situation and offered José the same deal he had with the doctor, and he accepted immediately. The doctor agreed and he became Jacques’ housekeeper and his right hand for almost everything. They spent the next year together exploring the ayahuasca universe researching, interviewing and many times drinking with dozens of curanderos in the region.

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