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Doors of Perception: My tour of a hallucinogenic plant nursery in Mexico

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"And the tree-like one?"

"That's called Brugmansia. Tree datura. It was made famous by the 1960s hippie icon Carlos Castanada in his Don Juan books. But it's a very serious drug. Too much of it will kill you. I took it once, and I kept having to tell my heart to keep beating. I couldn't breathe."

"Did it give you hallucinations?"

"On that drug, Jane, I WAS the hallucination!"

"And what about this plant over here?"

"That's called Kratom. It does many things. It's both a stimulant and a relaxant, which is sometimes a good combination."

Rick obviously loved his plants and knew a lot about them -- he recently gave a talk on hallucinogenic plants at the PV botanical gardens -- but he was also worried that I might not be seeing them at their best. "It may not feel like it to you, but right now it is winter down here in Puerto Vallarta -- so most of these plants aren't in bloom and have very few leaves. But if you come back in two months, there will be much more to see."

"And what would happen if I ate a leaf off of that plant over there?"

"Probably not much. You have to ingest at least three or four of those leaves. That's Khat. It's from Somalia and Yemen. It's another stimulant." Rick also had several coffee plants. Nope, no appeal for me there. I have enough trouble sleeping already.

There was a scrawny little cactus plant in a pot on a table. "What's that?"

"That's agave." But obviously the poor little thing was struggling so hard just to stay alive that eating it was not an option, even for me.

So. Did I find any plants in Rick's nursery that might enable me to get enlightened enough to gain enough knowledge to be able to save the world? No. But I had a fairly nice morning rambling around in the sunshine and enjoying nature. Plus it was a hecka lot better than hitting the PV malls with the other American tourists.

"Hey, Mom!" interrupted my daughter Ashley from the other side of the garden. "Wanna go para-sailing today? Where you fly up over the beach in a parachute?" Hell no. I don't want my Doors of Perception opened that badly.

PS: Ashley finally convinced me to go para-sailing and I was so completely terrified that I entered, stepped through and even went WAY beyond the Doors of Perception -- to say nothing of almost pissing my pants. Going beyond terror, however, had a surprisingly relaxing effect -- especially when there was a mother whale and her calf swimming around in the ocean a half-mile below me. But when I safely touched down on the beach again and Bonano, Charley and Juan caught me securely, I gotta admit that I passed out cold from relief.

"Let's do that again!"


To read more about Rick's "ethno-botanical" plant nursery, go to his website at And here's the website for the Vallarta Botanical Gardens:

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Stillwater is a freelance writer who hates injustice and corruption in any form but especially injustice and corruption paid for by American taxpayers. She has recently published a book entitled, "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips For Touring (more...)
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