So… I smoked the poison of the Mexican frog, Bufo Alvarius. I knew very little about it going in, and honestly, that was probably for the best. No amount of research or prior knowledge could have prepared me for what was literally the most mind-blowing experience of my life. I’ve taken loads of psychedelics before, but Bufo was in a league of its own. There’s no use trying to compare the experience to an acid trip or a dose of mushrooms.
It was only a few days after our New Years’ shenanigans left me absolutely drained and exhausted. I smoked DMT for the first time on New Year’s Eve. Well, for the first, second, third, fourth, fifth time, and maybe more. I was also on two tabs of acid and popped an ecstasy. We had a wholesome night renting a cabin by a lake and huddled around a fire with our San Cristobal travel family. From the outside looking in, it was a cozy night spent with friends. In my mind, I was on twelve different planets.
I thought that would have been the most out-of-this-world I could ever be. Or, at least for a long, long time to come. I had no idea that not even a week later, I would have experienced death and came crawling back to life in absolute tears with a renewed perspective on the world.
My well-connected friend Will met a shaman who was experienced in Bufo and Kambo, and happened to have both frog medicines available. Not knowing when I’d ever have the opportunity again, I decided to take the leap. Little did I know that it was one hell of a deep, deep leap.
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What Is Bufo Alvarius?
Bufo Alvarius is a frog native to the Sonoran Desert of Mexico, and it is verrrry psychoactive. The two main secretions of Bufo Alvarius are bufotenin and 5-MeO-DMT. I could go on and on about what Bufo Alvarius is scientifically, but basically, you smoke the secretions and you get transported to another dimension entirely. As far as I know, you don’t actually lick the frog or whatever, because we just smoked it. And boy, was it one hell of a ride.
I couldn’t find a royalty-free image of Bufo Alvarius, so here’s a random frog instead.
Is Bufo Alvarius Safe To Smoke?
Bufo is 100% something that you should do with someone experienced in the medicine. For your first few times, I recommend doing it with a shaman. Do not ever do it just by yourself. My friend vomited both times he smoked the bufo. If we didn’t have a shaman around who was experienced with this reaction, we quite frankly would have had no idea what to do. My other friend was rolling back and forth during her trip, and at times, the shaman had to adjust her to make sure that she could breathe properly. Having a sober friend around to make sure you’re okay is good, but someone truly experienced with the medicine is vastly better.
During the bufo trip, you truly have no control over your body or your mind. It can be a terrifying experience, especially if you have to undergo the entire ordeal on your own. Having a group of people to slowly guide me out of the trip and welcome me back to reality was much more helpful than I realized at the time.
My Experience With Bufo Alvarius
A group of four close friends and I met up with a shaman experienced in Bufo and Kambo. Two of our group decided to do Kambo, a different type of frog secretion that is placed into your body through cuts or burns. It is an extremely powerful, draining, and exhausting physical cleansing and purging of your body. I decided to pass on Kambo this time around, and maybe forever. Who knows. The bufo, on the other hand, I was all in.
We smoked the bufo one by one, waiting for each one to finish the journey before moving along. The three of us who skipped the Kambo went first, with Jack leading the way. He inhaled the bufo, and shortly after, his legs started shaking and getting weak. The shaman guided him gently down to the ground where he laid silently for a few minutes. After the trip, he came back, sat up, and was speechless. Quite frankly, it was the first time I’d ever seen Jack be speechless in his entire life. Erin was up next, and her experience seemed similar to Jack’s.
Even seeing my two friends take it before me could not have prepared me for the experience whatsoever. The shaman took me to an open grassy area and blessed my heart and head with the pipe before lighting it. Once the bufo started burning, he held the pipe to my mouth and told me to inhale for as long and as deeply as possible. I held it in until I couldn’t anymore, and started coughing.
The effects were immediate and intense. The trees in front of me started blending into spirals and fractals. These were the sharpest and most vivid visuals I’ve ever experienced. My body started feeling weightless, and with my last conscious physical action, I saluted to my friends, signaling that I’d see them on the other side.
I slowly fell to the ground as the shaman gently helped my body float comfortably onto the grass. The world exploded into colors and shapes. The best way I can describe what happened is I just became part of all of those colors and shapes. I lost all physical control of my body and just blended into what I was seeing or imagining. I can’t even remember if my eyes were open or if this was all going on in my head.
It was the most vibrant, vivid, and chaotic feeling I could ever imagine. And just as quickly as they came, everything turned black. Everything became quiet and still. The weird thing about smoking Bufo is that I consciously have very few takeaways from it. However, I felt like my subconscious underwent a very challenging spiritual journey, one that left me absolutely shaking when I returned to the physical world.
In real time, this entire sequence couldn’t have lasted more than thirty seconds from the pipe leaving my mouth to me blacking out. I wish I could tell you what happened in between me losing consciousness and me regaining it. I slowly regained my senses, the ability to hear, see, and feel again. I think hearing came first, and then sight, and then finally I turned over on the ground and clung to the Earth. It felt like what I’d imagine being back on dry ground felt like after being shipwrecked at sea and left for dead for weeks.
Despite not having any recollection of what just happened, I felt like I had just undergone a long, arduous, spiritual journey. I wasn’t able to put words to it at the time, but upon reflection and reading about other people’s journeys, I could best describe it as experiencing death and then coming back. At the time, I didn’t know if I was coming back, and maybe had accepted the peacefulness of death.
Like I said, I couldn’t remember anything from the journey itself. It was all blackness, quietness, and stillness. It was peace, and I can perhaps imagine that that nothingness and lack of consciousness was what death must be like. To come crawling back to life from that abyss gave me one of the most important epiphanies of just how precious life is.
I couldn’t stop crying when I came back. I remember feeling bad because my two friends’ trips before me seemed very straightforward. They smoked it, laid down, blacked out, and came back to the real world pretty easily. On the other hand, I was a sobbing mess and I had no idea why until I gave myself a few sober minutes to process everything. I didn’t want to get up from the ground, and remembered staring at my hands for a really long time trying to process that I was alive and conscious again.
I was indescribably grateful to have come back from the abyss.
My Biggest Takeaways From Smoking Bufo
Sometimes, it’s not about the journey but about the lessons that you take away from the journey. The crazy thing about Bufo is that my friends and I all had vastly different takeaways from it. Though some of us may have had similar experiences and journeys, the way we interpreted our individual journeys varied greatly. All we could agree on, though, was that it was going to be a bitch going back to mundane tasks like answering emails and having work calls in a few hours. Just a typical Monday, am I right? Transcend reality and experience death, followed by some Indian food and Zoom calls.
For me, the biggest takeaway was just how grateful I was to be alive, and how precious every moment was. I couldn’t stop crying, and I couldn’t put to words why I was crying at first. Eventually, I realized that it was just an overwhelming love for life and every single precious moment.
I remember clinging onto a moment before smoking the bufo. My friend Jack was laying on the grass while Lorenzo the dog cozied up against him along the river. It was such a normal scene, but one that seemed so beautiful at the time, and infinitely more so after my intense newfound appreciation for life.
I separated myself from the group as I tried to process what just happened after I smoked the bufo. The setting we were in was far from beautiful. We were basically in someone’s backyard, along a river and laid out on some grassy patches. Across the river was an active construction site, which often took away from the peace and serenity from our ceremony. The house on the property was quite a shanty little thing. However, all of it just seemed so beautiful to me at the time. Things that I wouldn’t have initially given a second glance all held a special meaning to me during those fleeting post-bufo moments.
I wanted to embrace life and every single one of its moments.
I didn’t think I was coming back from the abyss. I swear when I rolled over and felt the ground for the first time, I had never been so happy and grateful. Bufo put life into perspective, very quickly and very intensely. It definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you feel like you are in a healthy and sound state of mind to do it, it can be one of the most life-changing experiences a person can have.
If this post helped you out, show some love and support for the blog and help keep my adventures going by buying me a beer! My adventures are entirely self-funded, so any show of support is greatly appreciated, and allows me to keep writing helpful travel guides and creating travel content to help you all travel the world on a budget.
My Complete Mexico Itinerary
Be sure to check out my complete Mexico backpacking itinerary, a jam-packed 68-page guide covering 30 of my favorite destinations in magical Mexico.