📆 12 Apr 2023 | ⏱️ 18 minute read

My First Psychedelic Mushroom Trip in San José Del Pacífico

Why I’m Sharing This Story

In general, it’s good to share your trip stories because it serves important social purposes beyond mere entertainment. Namely, undermining the failed war on drugs by educating people about what drugs really do, not what the thug in D.A.R.E. told them drugs do.

Personally, I planned on writing about my magic mushroom experience on this journal before I tripped in San José del Pacífico. But, after the challenging trip, I became hesitant to write about it. Ultimately I decided I have to share it though.

My thought process is this: since I planned on sharing it assuming it would be a good trip, it might cause harm for me to back out now just because I had a challenging trip. I believe sharing only positive trip stories contributes to the false impression that psychedelics are risk-free and I don’t want to do that.

With that out of the way, let’s get on to the story.

My Magic Mushroom Story

I recently visited San José del Pacífico, the magic mushroom capital of Mexico. It’s also apparently the man bun capital of Mexico. It’s a beautiful tiny village far up in the mountains surrounded by forest where shrooms grow. Despite it being de jure illegal to sell shrooms, they’re de facto legal in San José del Pacífico because there either aren’t any police there or they look the other way for the tourism money.

Buying Shrooms

I visited San José del Pacífico with my wife. I planned to trip and she agreed to sit me. It took us a few hours to get there by bus. The only way up was a very windy road which I’d underestimated. My wife gave me a bag to vomit in which, luckily, I didn’t need. Once we reached the village, we made our way to the cabin we rented where she chatted with the locals a bit and found out the best place to buy shrooms. Our cabin had a breathtaking view, but I was still too dizzy from the ride up to appreciate it. So we went in to rest for a while.

After we were all rested up, we headed for the shop. When we arrived, we encountered tourists from different parts of the world waiting to purchase their dose. There was a group sitting together at a table enjoying each other’s company and another group outside their cabins watching the sunset. I overheard that inside the cabins some people were still “in transit”. And finally there was one guy facing the sunset in the lotus position. The vibe was very positive.

By the time the sun went down, it was my turn. The 3 grams of dried Cubensis tea costed quite a lot. For those who don’t know, that’s considered somewhere between a strong and intense dose. Since we went to visit San José del Pacífico in the off-season, the shrooms had been dried and preserved for who knows how long, so it wasn’t like buying 3 fresh grams of shrooms. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to ask more details since there was a queue behind us.

Since the village rests on a mountain, I didn’t want to bring my mushroom tea back to our cabin for fear of spilling it. So I drank it all then and there. I expected the taste to be awful, but it turns out I liked it. Our plan was originally to explore the town, but it was getting dark and my wife was worried I wouldn’t be able to make it back. I wasn’t tripping yet, but we didn’t know when the shrooms would kick in. So we headed straight back to our cabin.

The Come Up

After making our way back, I brought the chess board in our room outside for us to play while my wife prepared a sandwich for herself. After I made the first move, I couldn’t hold my focus on the game anymore. The shooms were directing me inward. Suddenly our host appeared and offered to build us a fire. Realizing how cold and dark it had gotten, I said yes and she obliged.

I migrated from my wooden chair to one of the wooden stumps next to the fire while my wife was busy with the sandwiches. I began to sense a dramatic shift in my experience. In that moment, I lost any desire to do anything else or be anywhere else. That moment, just as it was, was sufficient. I sat there in front of the fire wordlessly, appreciating the fact that life had brought me to that beautiful moment.

My prolonged silence concerned my wife, who asked me, “Are you okay?” All I could think to say was that I was fine, but honestly, I was better than fine. I don’t mean in the sense of being happy. Happiness is a fleeting emotion. It was deeper than that. I felt at peace with my life. I was sitting around a fire in a beautiful town with my wife who I love. I simply rested in the moment. Nothing else needed to happen.

Before I knew it, I started shaking and became progressively more restless. The fire wasn’t doing its job of warming me up, but I didn’t feel cold enough to shiver. Strange. I chalked it up to the cold and we headed in for the night.

We got inside our cabin and started walking down the dark, creaky wooden corridor to our room. It was an eerie scene. I saw another tourist was also retiring to his room. Him and I exchanged grins. When my wife and I tried to open the door to our room, it didn’t open. It was stuck.

We fiddled with the doorknob for a few minutes without success. It was cold and dark, everyone was sleeping, we both wanted to lie down, I was tripping on mushrooms of unknown strength, and our room’s door inexplicably stopped working even though it was just working a short time ago. I rested my forehead on the wooden door in defeat and suddenly started maniacally laughing at how ridiculous the whole situation was and my wife started cracking up with me.

After composing ourselves, I started picturing how the locking mechanism worked. After a few minutes, I proclaimed to my wife “We just need to twist the knob from the inside.” She looked at me with the face of “No shit Sherlock.” That was when I realized what I’d just said was the most obvious thing in the world and started laughing all over again, this time at myself. Composing myself for the second time, I noticed that the base of the doorknob, the part that’s flush with the door, was twisted off-center. I twisted it back into place and voilà, the door opened.

As we walked in and shut the door behind us, my wife collapsed onto the bed. I walked around the bed to put my hand on the wood wall plank, which had become very fascinating. I was tired too, so I slowly and deliberately sat down on the bed, shifting my gaze to the curtain in front of me. The colors and shapes on the curtain somehow looked different, more interesting than usual. I realized I was at the peak of the trip but still not seeing any visuals. The shrooms were weak, as I’d been warned.

Let this serve as a lesson to anyone who considers visiting San José del Pacífico in the off-season looking for mushrooms: don’t. The vendors will rip your eyes out for hit-or-miss shrooms.

I was slightly disappointed that I got no visuals, but that wasn’t my main motivation for tripping anyways. I lied down on the bed with my wife, preparing to fully surrender to the experience and give the shrooms a chance to do their thing.

Revelations

As I was lying there, the shrooms started showing me that my normal mode of operation psychologically was but one of many possible ways my mind can operate. Normally, I continually focus on the problems of my life. I use distraction to keep boredom and sadness at bay. I spend time regretting the past and worrying about the future. Shrooms showed me there’s another way: being present. Not waiting for or expecting something to happen, just being intimately acquainted with and accepting what’s happening in the here and now.

The mushrooms taught me that the real magic isn’t in the mushrooms. It’s in everyday consciousness. Not I nor anybody else needs magic mushrooms or any psychedelic to be present. We only need cease our efforts to change and control this moment, to accept it as it comes without becoming entangled in the drama.

As I was having these realizations, my wife informed me that my pupils were dilated. I was curious what they looked like, so I went to the shared restroom to peek in the mirror. I noticed they were bigger than usual, but also that I didn’t feel the usual sense of being the person in the mirror. I peered into the vast emptiness of my own pupils, looking for somebody, but finding no one. I was simply the space that the mirror and person were inside.

I went back into our room and plopped myself back down on the bed. My wife looked over at me, prompting the following question in my mind: “Who or what is she looking at?” From a third-person perspective, it was obvious. She was looking at me. But from my perspective, I could not see for myself what she was looking at. If she looked at the ceiling, I could also see the ceiling. If she looked at the curtain, I could also see the curtain. But when she looked directly at me, she seemed from my perspective to be looking at nothing.

When I tried to trace her gaze back to me, I simply found the world. There was no one on the other side. So I tried again, imagining a laser beam, similar to ones that come out of blasters in Star Wars, travelling from her eyes to me. After I recognized the laser beam as an image overlaying my visual field, I realized that wasn’t going to help me find what she was looking at.

I pictured my wife looking at my head, but realized that picture was just another image in my mind. While she was looking at me, I felt a certain sense of being watched or analyzed, but I could not find myself in that sensation either. However I tried to look for myself, I failed. After a kind of “proof by exhaustive failure”, it was obvious to me that there was no “I” in awareness. No center. There was simply awareness.

Shrooms helped me see how to have a different relationship to my own mind and, by extension, other people. I felt my human vulnerability as a strength, not a weakness. I recognized that pretending to be invulnerable, invincible, emotionless, and unaffected by the trials and tribulations of life was just a culturally conditioned reflex to protect my self-image. I realized that being committed to protecting an image of oneself, regardless of what that image is, makes one lose touch with one’s impermanent reality.

Shrooms showed me that the anger and resentment I held onto towards those who had wronged me was a reflection of my own unwillingness to accept vulnerability. I realized that I sometimes resist certain emotions without even being aware of it and that accepting those feelings means letting my ego take a back seat.

It wasn’t like I was completely unaware of these realizations before. The difference is that shrooms showed them to me in a very visceral personal way by demonstrating how my mind can work differently than it tends to. That personal experience isn’t something one can get from a textbook.

Disaster Strikes

All that, the good half of the trip, took place within the span of a few hours. Now I’m going to recount the challenging half of the trip, which lasted much longer.

So there I was lying in bed having insights about my mind. All was going well when my wife and I noticed my heart racing. The restlessness I’d had before wasn’t due to the cold. It was my increased heart rate, which is a common effect of magic mushrooms. An increased heart rate had happened to me before on previous trips, but I’d never managed it well. I always found myself wanting to lie down, relax, and enjoy the trip, but I always resisted the rapid heart rate.

I had no idea how fast my heart was going. I couldn’t measure it, but it was beating fast enough to make my wife nervous. I started getting these leg twitches. Over the course of a few minutes, the twitches spiraled into involuntary trembling. I felt tightness in my chest. I was afraid to move, get up, or do anything. I became entirely preoccupied with my heart rate and began to panic.

I was also nervous because I hadn’t seen any visuals. I got the idea that the shrooms may have been contaminated or that I’d ingested a poisonous strain. There was no evidence to suggest that, since all the effects I was having were indicative of magic mushrooms. Also, the lack of visuals was easily explained by the shrooms being weak since they were preserved. And if I’d ingested a poisonous strain, I would’ve already been throwing up along with the other tourists.

But none of that mattered because I wasn’t thinking rationally. My brain had been totally hijacked by my anxiety. So I asked my wife if she would get someone to check my heart. She was reluctant to bother anyone so late at night, she didn’t know who to ask, and felt embarrassed. I told her it was okay because everybody knew why tourists came there anyways. I kept insisting to her that something didn’t feel right and that she needed to find someone quickly. She paced back and forth nervously not sure what to do.

She tried to convince me I was fine and just having a bad trip. I told her I was having a bad trip, but only because of my heart pounding. So we went into town in the middle of the night looking for a second opinion from someone who had also taken the shrooms. Walking made me feel slightly better since my body felt more in sync with my heart rate. I remember walking down the street with my arms crossed, still mentally resisting my heart rate. We stopped some Europeans who were walking the street and asked if they’d tried the shrooms. They replied that they hadn’t, but that they’d taken shrooms before. They tried their best to reassure me and were all very friendly, but it didn’t help at all.

We kept walking further into town until we ran across another group of tourists who also denied trying the shrooms. One looked very preoccupied, annoyed, and unengaged while the other started asking me questions, such as if these bad sensations were coming from my body or my thoughts. He told me that I was probably fine, but that did nothing to reassure me either. I wanted to be seen by a doctor.

As my wife discovered walking through the town asking the locals, there apparently wasn’t a single doctor in town. The only way to see one would be to descend the mountain and find the nearest hospital. I insisted, so we quickly headed back to our cabin to retrieve some cash and began looking for transportation.

There was a bus on the main street that came and went every hour, but I was concerned it would take too long, so we flagged down a taxi. We told the taxi driver the situation, so he drove down the mountain pretty fast, even for a taxi. We went past turn after turn on the windy road down. My wife and I started to feel like we were going to puke, but I wouldn’t tell the taxi to slow down. My wife kindly lent me a pair of Bluetooth headphones and her phone so I could distract myself with music. Neither of us was having a good time.

I started to feel worse and, as my wife put it, practically “wrote my will” in that taxi since I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. I realized I needed to go number two, which was inconvenient since the taxi wasn’t aware of any restrooms on the way. Luckily we found an outhouse on the side of the road next to a gas station. The taxi pulled over, my wife handed me a roll of toilet paper, and I went straight for the outhouse.

I didn’t even bother shutting the outhouse door for privacy. It wasn’t a priority at the time. My wife stood outside waiting on me and checking that I was okay. I spent a few minutes in there and felt so much better when I got out. My heart was still pounding, so we got back in the taxi and continued our descent.

My wife was worried that the taxi was driving too fast, so I told him he could slow down a little now that I was more confident I would make it to the hospital. I decided I needed to throw up to get all the shrooms out of my system. Of course, the shrooms had long since been digested. They were no longer in my stomach, so I could not vomit them up. But I didn’t know exactly how long food remained in the stomach, so I decided it was worth a try.

I’d never forced myself to vomit before. I’d only seen it in movies, but it’s not exactly rocket science. So a few minutes later, me sitting in the front seat next to the taxi driver, I forced myself to vomit into a bag my wife gave to me. (She was really well prepared) Predictably, the vomiting did nothing to help.

Finally the taxi arrived at the emergency room. My wife paid the driver and we went in. I was met at the glass door by a nurse who started asking me basic information and inquiring about what happened. She put a heart rate monitor on me and used her stethoscope to listen to my heart. The monitor showed my heart was beating at around 90 beats per minute. It had already slowed down significantly by the time I’d arrived.

The doctors told us that people’s bodies react to shrooms differently. I felt relieved by how unconcerned the staff seemed. That told me I was okay.

My wife was ready to leave, but I didn’t feel comfortable walking yet. My resting heart rate was 90 bpm and I didn’t want to increase it. I doubt it would’ve increased, but again, my brain was hijacked by anxiety. So we situated ourselves on the bench outside the hospital. My wife was not happy, I was recovering from a very challenging trip, and the only bed we had to sleep in was hours away up in the mountains.

The Return

After a few minutes of trying, I finally got my wife off the hospital bench she was sleeping on. She was exhausted. We got our stuff and I decided to look for a nearby hotel. She was sleep deprived and not in a good mood after everything we just went through and I was desperate to rest. We killed some time walking to two separate hotels, only to realize that nothing was open that late.

The only option left was to travel all the way back up the mountain by bus the same way we came. We walked for at least 20 minutes to the bus station. It was still dark and we were practically the only ones walking around so late at night, which was an unsafe situation to be stuck in, but we had no choice. Fortunately we made it to the bus station without incident, got on the bus, and my wife immediately fell back to sleep.

Several hours later, we arrived back to our cabin in San José where I collapsed and fell asleep. When I woke up, we decided not to stay in town. I had no desire to try shrooms again and she wanted to enjoy the beaches in Puerto Escondido. I felt like I owed her that after all we’d been through. Plus, after seeing how expensive the shrooms were and what happened to me, she had no interest in trying them herself.

Thoughts

It’s hard to say conclusively what happened since I arrived to the hospital only after the symptoms had subsided. It could’ve been me overreacting, but I’ve heard some medical professionals say that shrooms may not be safe for everyone, especially not for people with heart conditions. I’m certain the initial heart rate spike and insane muscle spasms were due to the shrooms. I believe anxiety and worrying took over, which exacerbated my rapid heart rate. I definitely wasn’t aware that shrooms could cause muscle spasms that intense, but I’m glad I know now.

In hindsight, I probably should’ve paid for the guided trip they were offering since this was my first time trying shrooms. It would’ve eased my mind seeing how other people reacted taking the same thing I did and I would’ve benefited from others who were more experienced. Also it would’ve distributed tripsitting responsibility as opposed to putting it all on my poor wife who had no psychedelic experience.

The experience I had hasn’t diminished my desire to use shrooms again in the future, but I will be more cautious next time. I’ll probably abstain until I get the opportunity to do them in a clinical or retreat environment with a medical doctor on-site. Like I said, psychedelics are not risk-free. If you take away nothing else from this entry, please remember to practice harm-reduction if you do choose to take them.

Thanks for reading about my first mushroom trip. When I get the chance to have more trips in the future, I’ll probably share those here as well. So stay tuned for more.