Note: I received a digital copy of this book from the author for review consideration.
This travel memoir was definitely an interesting ride. In it, the author, Sean, travels to the Amazon to shed his persona and find his true self with the help of a shaman and a jungle drug/hallucinogen called Ayahuasca. He goes on a special diet, abstaining from everything that isn’t pure, and purges himself physically and emotionally, in the hopes of discovering truth and healing himself.
The book is introspective and philosophical–the author tackles many of the basic questions of life during his time in the jungle and reminisces over past pains (both physical and emotional) and what he has learned from them. He spends most of his time soaking up all the wisdom he can, despite not speaking any Spanish. The book is occasionally disjointed because it’s written in journal form, with most sections written (as far as I can tell) during the author’s trip. Still, the stories are fascinating, by turns humorous and philosophical.
Five Weeks in the Amazon is full of swearing, drugs, alcohol, and sex, so please be aware if these things make you squeamish. Also, I must say that the author seemed a bit judgmental of those who choose to travel or live in a different way than he does, and that those who say he’s crazy for going into the jungle and partaking in these ceremonies with Ayahuasca simply haven’t had their eyes opened. I found some of the more judgmental passages hard to swallow. The book strays into New Age-y territory on occasion, with spiritual awakening and finding answers inside oneself as the main goal–not necessarily a bad thing, depending on what you’re looking for in your travel memoirs, but something that has never really interested me or fit with my worldview.
Check this book out if natural living, philosophical discussions, and off-the-beaten-path travel are your things–or if interesting stories can carry a book for you. Otherwise, give it a pass.
Rating: Not My Cup of Tea