It was the fall of 2001, Spring above the Equator, as things are opposite above and below it, like the way water spirals down a drain, but you won’t notice that unless you’re told about it, and I was 40. I was riding my thumb to Buenos Aires, over 1000 kilometers away. I had no money at all but was on my way to Brazil, which would require a 25 dollar visa to get into, if I recall it correctly. At that time Argentina was on the U.S. dollar, and that was a lot of money for a vagabond traveler like myself. I’d been in South America for about a year, having spent most of that time with my traveling partner Douglas, but we’d had a falling out in the Bolivian Amazon, having gone there to find an Ayahuasca shaman. We went to a small village that only had had a road to it for six years, and we found two shamans there, one that wanted us to live there with him for some months before we took the trip, and another that asked us if we wanted it to take it there or to go. I think that says something about Ayahuasca. The fight we had prevented the Ayahuasca trip, but this story is not about that falling out; it’s about encountering a demon.
You have by now put your guard up I know. I’ve said fighting words, but hold on a minute. Remember when you had an open mind, weren’t either completely glued to the religion you’re in or completely turned off by any mention of anything non-material? Anyway, I’ve got a story for you. You have to understand I was unhooked from electronic media, television, radio and the like, had been more or less unhooked for years. I was, however, beginning to check email, every few months, but I hadn’t started surfing the net yet, as it was just in its early opening. The only newspapers I read were the ones in machines or such that I happened to pass by, and then I read only headlines. The only books I read were the occasional ones I found somewhere synchronistic-like, and the books of my teacher Sri Aurobindo that I carried, of which his 800 page epic poem Savitri I read in most every day, what I carried in a side pouch, and what consequently didn’t get stolen at the bus station in Buenos Aires when my backpack was, but that’s another story. Add that unhooking from media with keeping a very tight rein on social relations – on the move all the time you don’t have time to cement any bonds, and when in the hitching mode you have just enough time to say hello and goodbye –, and you get a wide open look on the world, what I’d call cosmic, but you’d be apt to cry New Age. That box makes everything look hokey. In short I was, for those vagabond years, outside of the constraints of society, too much at times, but that’s another story too.
I remember I’d left the Patagonia and the beautiful mountains and forests and was in a semi-arid countryside punctuated by barren hills, but there was plenty of flatland for an occasional small farm. Maybe I was a couple of hundred kilometers from my starting point on Highway 40, but I don’t remember where I was. I spent years as a vagabond traveler, passing through 20 countries on three continents, North, South, and Central America, and Europe, before settling in India in 2004, but it wasn’t just straight traveling. I roosted here and there working at some odd job or soaking up the vibe. I guess it was all a part of that unconventional thing, being the social rebel, but I didn’t carry a camera, thought it unnecessary to the raw experience, and I didn’t keep a travel journal because it was all I could do to keep one of my muse (inner voice and vision), and the muse became constant in Brazil, but those conventional things are so needed to tell the story. At any rate, it was in the beginning of that journey up Argentina that I met It, if you look at the world from up and down that is. It seems to me it’s neither as it spins in space, but that’s a story too broad to be grasped by any of us I reckon.
Walking down the road with my thumb out, I saw the police checkpoint in the distance and considered trying to outflank it so as not to be seen. I didn’t know the law on hitch-hiking or on hippies. Outside the constraints of society, I looked a bit wild to say the least. Although I wore the dust from the road, was slightly disheveled, I had no matted hair or caked dirt or anything, but I did wear those colorful, nonconformist clothes and that long, wavy kind of hair that, if you have a long, untrimmed beard to boot, makes you look like someone that, if you haven’t broken the law, you aren’t apt to respect it much in regards to drugs and such. I decided to just walk through it pretty as you please. I’d learned from watching this bold person and that one, that if you just acted like you belong there, wherever there might be, and that what you were doing was as right as rain, and I’m speaking about a full on attitude, not a flimsy thought in your head, you couldn’t get away with murder, but you could at least get out of wherever without a hassle. I put on that attitude and walked right through that checkpoint. The three or four policeman didn’t say a word, just looked at what the wind had brought their way, or what the cat had dragged in, depending on how they saw it.
Seeing on how they seemed to not mind me there, I set up shop a little down the road from them, meaning I put my pack down and my thumb back out. I was primarily a walking hitch-hiker, not so much the stand and wait kind, a veteran as I was of the Green Berets, a rucking, humping bunch of soldiers, which, I might add, gave me the skill set to be a bit more bold of a vagabonder. A couple of hours there no luck. It was getting late. Across the road there was a farmhouse and a very large barn, and I picked up my pack and went to investigate. The barn held well over a hundred goats, and you could hear them bleating. Getting close you could also feel their heat. The fence they were in was just inside the barn, but there was enough room between the fence and the end of the roof to lay my sleeping bag down and get some sleep. I went and asked the farmer if I could, and he gave me permission. I’d lived in Spanish for the past couple of years, although here it was called ‘Castellano’ like it was in Spain, and so the knock and ask thing wasn’t a problem. When to ask and when not to? That depends on mostly on how close you are to the farmhouse and how the farmer feels as you look at his or her spread. Here the house was about 20 meters, and the farmer felt like he’d want me to ask him. You want an exact science do you?
By the time I got my gear out, it was starting to get dark. I laid down my sleeping bag, an old army down-filled one, in a little nook on the side of the ‘front porch’ of the barn, with my head very near the fence behind which bleated sporadically the goats. It was just enough room, but I had a wall I was up against, and a roof over my head, giving me assurance against any rain, and the skies threatened that. If I’m not mistaken, I cooked something I don’t remember for dinner, but it would’ve been a simple one dish vegetarian something or another, as I was a vegetarian and had been for years, cooked it on my very small, one burner, rubbing alcohol burning stove, the most useful and versatile camp stove I’ve ever had. Then I laid down to sleep, at dark as you tend to do when you’re dead tired and you’re sleeping outside the city lights of civilization.
The evening secured into night. I fell asleep. I was awoken by a foul presence standing over me. It must’ve been 2 or 3 or so, but I’d long before gotten rid of any watch to tell the time, something I consciously did so as not to dance to society’s conforming bell, and so I could only guess the time by the feel of the night. It was raining slightly and was quite cold. I poked my head out of the warmth of my sleeping bag to see what was standing there but could see no form at all, but see it or not, it was there. This will take some explaining. Although it felt to myself that I was wide awake, I was still partly asleep, or, put another way, I was awake and having a vision, or, put yet another way, a sleep or inner element was mixing itself into my waking moment. The first explanation is the one I’ll choose here, although the others stand good too.
To Be Continued…