Tripping on Hallucinogenic Frogs (Part 1/3)

Uploaded by vice on 19.10.2012


I'm Hamilton Morris.
We're currently boating through flooded forests on our
way to meet the Mayoruna Indians, a formerly
cannibalistic tribe who use a strange frog derived
drug they call sapo.
They use it to give themselves energy before hunting.
They use it to abort pregnancies by rubbing these
womens' vaginas with it.
This venom contains an opioid peptide that's 100 times
stronger than morphine.
And some people say that it's psychedelic.
It doesn't activity any of the psychedelic receptors
are far as I know.
But there's also a lot about the venom we don't know.

The venom produces some kind of a strange
effect to make you vomit.
And then supposedly you spending the next eight hours
in some kind of a daze.
And wake up feeling fantastic the next day.

And they're going to ritualistically burn me and
rub the frog venom into my wounds.
And then it's going to produce some sort of a strange effect.
I'm not exactly sure what it's going to do.
But we'll find out.
ANNOUNCER (OFFSCREEN) Thank you for flying with

HAMILTON MORRIS: I have arrived in Tabatinga after
days of traveling.
It's an impossibly humid rainforest city built by drug
traffickers and sandwiched between the borders of
Colombia and Peru.

I feel like I'm being gang banged by vegetation.
Every visible surface is coated with growing plants.
The streets are overrun with motorcycles,
scooters, and mopeds.
I can feel that the jungle is near.
I go to the dock where the journey will begin and meet
our guide, Juan.
Before we exchange a word, he looked at my long hair and
started laughing hysterically.
He said the Mayoruna Indians are going
to think I'm a woman.
They're going to kidnap me as a wife.
Then he repeated the joke a million times during the
course of our day.

HAMILTON MORRIS: I board a boat, which is a 30-foot long
canoe with a wicker awning in the middle.

I meet the other crew member, a man introduced as the
captain who will run the boat's small motor.

We make a quick stop to pick up a giant block of filthy
frozen river water.

The ice block is dragged out of the freezer through a heap
of bloody gutted catfish.

The captain then proceeds to smash up the ice blocks with
the rusty machete and throw the chunks into a couple of
styrofoam coolers which will hold our
minuscule food supply.
Juan says the ice will last six days, but that seems
totally impossible.

We're on the Amazon River right now.
We're still on the border of Peru, Brazil, and Colombia
with Columbia this way, Brazil this way, and Peru that way.
Because of it's proximity to Colombia and Peru, Tabatinga
has become one of the main entry points for cocaine
traffickers into Brazil.
I'm told the chance of us encountering cocaine being
shuttled around is not too low.

The rainy season is when the Amazon River swells over the
land and life hemorrhages out of everything in sight.
There are trees growing on trees, ants crawling on ants,
and penis fish swimming up the urethra of other penis fish.
It's exhausting to watch.
In order to save time, we take a detour
through the flooded jungle.

Our crew consists of Juan in front with the machete, the
captain in the back motoring us around, and Alex who is in
charge of security should we run into any hostile drug
But that's sort of something that hasn't been discussed in
too much detail at this point, I guess.
It's going to be three days up river.
Each night we're going to stay on the side of the river in
some sort of a shack.
And then we find the Mayoruna.


HAMILTON MORRIS: The sun sets and we dock at the home of
some strangers.
The river surrounds their home and
reaches up to their doorstep.
Apparently, families living on the river are obliged to take
in travelers.

HAMILTON MORRIS: Here we are on the banks
of the Javari River.
This is where we're going to be spending the night tonight.
These are our hammocks, complete with
mosquito-proof netting.

There's a very nice view of the river.

Here is the bathroom.
It consists of a board with two holes cut in it.
I'm not exactly even sure what to do with
it or what it means.
I just peed into the hole that had the most
pee surrounding it.
This seems like a pretty authentic Amazon experience.

I like this dog.

I think he likes me.
Night comes and our hosts cook us a chicken meal.
I'm ready to eat some chicken, get some fitful sleep, and
then spend another day on the boat.


HAMILTON MORRIS: There's definitely
mosquitoes inside my tent.
I can, like, hear them buzzing next to my
face as I was sleeping.
But it was too dark to do anything.

It's ten in the morning right now.
Last night we stayed at someone's house.
And there was a big debate about whether it was OK to
bathe because the bathing water was right next to the
peeing and shitting water.
And there really didn't even seem to be
any reason to bathe.
Because it's only the second day.
I didn't feel the need.
But a lot of other people in our crew decided that it was
hot and they would sleep better after they
washed their hair.

Around 11:00 in the morning we stop for a bite to eat.
Alex stabs open a can of winners with a giant chrome
hunting knife.
I eat a few.
And they taste like wet toilet paper.

Every time we stop for someone to pee, flocks of majestic
yellow butterflies swarm around us.
I'm going to go pee into this flock of
butterflies right now.

Here we are in another flooded forest region.
It's pretty spectacular actually.
We're just floating on the tree tops.
We're floating halfway up a forest.
The river is, like, S-shaped.
But since it's the rainy season, we're able to cut
through sections of forest that have flooded.
And this isn't normally a river.
It's only a river six months of the year,
or maybe even less.
But we're just floating by the top of a tree.
It's, like, very strange.

Around noon I have to shit off the side of the boat while
everyone films me, not fun.
I was definitely poisoned many times over by last night's
chicken dinner.

I sincerely fear that I may shit my only pair of pants.


I recently learned that we were on
this expedition illegally.
FUNAI, the Brazilian agency dedicated to indian affairs,
patrols these waters looking for unlicensed groups like
ours who are trying to contact the Indians.
Juan also tells me the Amazon is full of creatures
scientists know nothing about.
Once while deep in the jungle, he encountered a fur covered
beast with only one eye.
Him and the beast exchanged a glance.
And as a result, Juan suffered a five month long fever.
I had been smoking JWH-018-laced cigarettes and
was too high to be skeptical.
So instead, I opted for extreme fear.

The sight of FUNAI will be of plenty to worry about.
There's ramped malaria, and hepatitis epidemics.
The waters are infested with piranhas, snakes, and Candiru
penis fish, and the air is filled with biting insects.

The homes along the river are becoming
further and further apart.
And we dock early today with a small family
living on the shore.

HAMILTON MORRIS: The air is vibrating with swarms of
I've never seen anything like this in my life.
The insects are impossibly bloodthirsty and they remove a
plug of flesh when they bite.
In minutes my hands are covered with
bleeding, swollen sores.


HAMILTON MORRIS: I'm just hoping that I don't get bitten
too terribly tonight.
And that the food doesn't poison me too severely.


HAMILTON MORRIS: Night falls and the incredible number of
bugs discourages me from bathing once again.
I lay in my hammock while mosquitoes
squeal past my ears.
The mosquito net and bug spray are only a
formality at this point.
There is no escape.

I wake up totally massacred by bugs.
It would be much easier to describe where I don't have
mosquito bites--
my hair, fingernails, asshole, and the inside of my mouth.

We take a Polaroid of our host's daughter, give it to
her, and get out of there.

Today, we are scheduled to arrived at the Mayoruna
village, the ancient village of the frog.

Day three, I still haven't bathed.
But I think that's going to change soon because I want to
look my best for the Mayoruna.
I have mosquito bites on every square inch of my body.
My neck is just like a necklace of searing pain.
Well, I don't even know how they were able
to target my neck.

Well, I'm miserable right now.

HAMILTON MORRIS: It's been four days since I've bathed--
four incredibly sweaty days.
HAMILTON MORRIS: It's been a long time since I've
taken off my pants.

Oh, it's very cool.
Oh, it's actually ice cold, ice cold.


HAMILTON MORRIS: We see the Mayoruna around midday.
They live on top of an orange cliff that juts straight out
of the river.
Children peer over the edge at us and then run to our boat to
carry our bags up the cliff.

The clay crumbles under my feet.
If I fall, I'm three days from the nearest hospital.

So it's actually very refreshing to be here although
it's extremely hot.
The Mayoruna village is a collection of huts spread
across a large dusty clearing.
The insects are prehistoric.
HAMILTON MORRIS: As of now, the plan is to go out tonight
and catch the frog.
And then in the morning after the frog has been caught we'll
harvest the secretions and burn me and rub
them into my wounds.

HAMILTON MORRIS: We walk into the hut of our host, a man
named Petro.
His face is covered in tattoos he gave himself with a tree
thorn needle and black fungus ink.
HAMILTON MORRIS: Juan asks Petro if he
thinks I'm a woman.
Petro says no.
Juan looks defeated.

This is the stick.
You can actually see some dried sapo.

That's a moldy bread type smell definitely.



HAMILTON MORRIS: The chief's son takes me to his pharmacy,
which is a hut stockpiled with a modest supply of
Ibuprofen, aspirin, neo ampicillin.
I think it's very good.
It makes me feel like if I come close to death after my
sapo administration, they will be able to slap me with some
It's just nice to see people on top of medicine.
It's good.
HAMILTON MORRIS: I could go for some ice cold
lemonade right now.

Here we are outside waiting for the frog to sing.
Even though it's the rainy season, it
hasn't rained in days.
And usually the frog doesn't make any
sounds unless it's wet.
So we're just waiting.
It might be hours and hours and hours before it makes any
sound at all.
But right now I'd like to just have an ice cream cone.
And maybe a cool glass of lemonade.
HAMILTON MORRIS: A little bit before dawn Petro hears the
song and calls back to the sapo imitating it's bark.
HAMILTON MORRIS: He runs out of the hut, into the jungle,
and out of sight.
He returns half an hour later empty handed.

It's 5:20 in the morning right now.
They just came back out of the woods and said that they
didn't hear it after all.
If it rains then the frog will sing and
we'll go into the woods.
But until then, I will return to my hammock and continue
waiting and scratching my bites.