While “chewing” is the popular term for it, the leaves should never actually be munched upon. Instead, they should be placed one-by-one into the cheek, forming a small saliva-generating ball which you just leave there. Because the stems of the leaves can hurt the inside of your cheek, you should remove them first. Some remove the stems by sliding the leaves between their two front teeth, while others use a lick-fold-tear method.
We had such a great time during our first hike with José, that we immediately scheduled another: this time through the Parque Nacional Carrasco. Carrasco is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in Bolivia, with a total size of about 2400 square miles. 5000 plant species have been recorded here, including over 200 types of orchids, and the park is home to rare animals like the Andean Spectacled Bear, the taruca (North Andean Deer), the jaguar, and the Andean Cat.
On our second full day in Villa Tunari, we struck out into the rainforests north of the village, under the supervision of José, a great guide with twenty years of experience in the region. A six-hour hike along rivers which left our shoes soaked, legs pockmarked by the itchy bites of vicious flies and minds scarred by our first encounter with quicksand. It was a blast.
Consider a distinctly US American product. Let’s say hot dogs, invented in 1870 on Coney Island and enjoyed in our great nation ever since. But in 2015, Korean scientists learn how to distill the noble hot dog into a lethal drug. Hotdogaine. International hot dog trafficking becomes a lucrative business and, over decades, people across Asia become addicted to hotdogaine, even while aw-shucks, overall-wearin’ Americans continue to enjoy the hot dog in its “natural” form.
You see where I’m going with this?