I realised the situational paradox I was in as I begun to type ‘authentic ayahuasca retreat’ into google, finding only retreats that charged excessive amounts of money and hearing tales of scams and disorganised retreats. Using google as a method of searching for authenticity and realness, it didn’t seem to be the answer.
After hours of searching, we stumbled across a retreat that seemed reasonable, cheap and in a beautiful environment with a lovely family. Now, having had the experience of 12 days living on this family’s property, I never would have imagined the amount of connection, love, gratitude and warmth that was experienced.
Arriving to heart-warming smiles was a thankful welcome to Casa de Lucilla y Leonardo (house of Lucy and Leonardo) in the community of San Francisco, an hour drive into the jungle from the city of Pucallpa (East Peru). Sweating from the intense humidity, we settled in to our simple little shack surrounded by the lush green jungle.
Sleeping, in our cosy mosquito-netted beds, was facilitated by the ample sounds of the animals residing in the surrounding amazon jungle. Over the next 12 days, we became accustomed to the traditional processes and rituals used in this particular area of the world. Stories from friends has led us to believe that some retreats take you in, do ayahuasca every night and then leave. Great, if experiencing ayahuasca is the main goal. Here, the healing process involves the use of dozens of plants, used in baths, saunas and for consumption. Plants were used for relaxing, vomiting and as remedies for various conditions. Our bodies felt cleansed before entering the ceremonies using Ayahuasca. This is what authenticity means to me. Lucilla, who was looking after us, radiated love, care and warmth everywhere she went. I could feel her empathy and a deep connection, leaving me gratified despite not being able to communicate properly in Spanish.
For those unfamiliar, Ayahuasca in a powerful psychoactive that enables states of consciousness beyond the familiarity of the consciousness we experience day to day (usually called waking consciousness). Ayahuasca, and other psychedelics (LSD, Mushrooms and Mescaline) allow this altered psychedelic state of consciousness to arise, often leading to intense visions, a powerful feeling of connectedness with others and yourself. Used in the right setting, the experience, for many people, is incredibly influential.
Our experiences will be far better shared in person. However, regardless of the crazy expereices and inferences gained from those experiences, we we’re all overwhelmed with gratitude just from living simply in the jungle in a culture we previously never knew existed.
Lucilla, her father Leonardo, and her family were such incredible people. They had barely enough money to eat every day yet were the happiest, most generous people you could imagine. They lived beyond exemplary lives and their generosity blew our minds. The first night of our 12 day process (or ‘dieta’ as its known) was pushed back because a lady in the community had fallen sick and they had to tend to her. They did this by taking ayahuasca to determine what was wrong and how to heal her. From a western perspective it sounds ridiculous that someone can take a hallucinogen in order to look into someone and identify the problems they have inside. However, this is an ancient practice passed down from shaman to shaman and modern day maestros, such as Lucilla, are not only able to be the communities sole midwife, doctor and spiritual healer without any formal training, but are able to use their knowledge to look inside foreigners such as ourselves and ‘see’ truths they could not have known. What she saw inside each of us was incredibly detailed and highly accurate. Its easy to be sceptical of these plant medicines but feeling the power of her visions gave us a phenomenal appreciation for this medicine.
After leaving the retreat and integrating back into the hustle and bustle of the cities, it was the simplest of things that allowed my body to radiate love and compassion. Seeing a man smile at me on the back of motorbike, watching a father play with his kids, receiving ‘hola’s’ from the locals who are stoked to see foreigners in their town. Little things like remembering how amazing it is that my body is breathing, circulating blood and the billions of tiny processes that are going on every microsecond to keep me alive and able. It’s an overwhelming feeling that occasionally brought the ol’ tear to the eye, but those experience are one of the best indicators, for me, that the path that I’m on is yielding the kind of fruit that I’m looking for and looking to forage.
I think we have a lot to learn from ancient practices like these. No doubt the way we live is incredible but understanding the roots of suffering and the importance of quietening down the crazy noise in our heads may just allow us to live in a state of ease and joy. Rather than sporadic states of competition, pleasure and suffering.
We were so enamoured by our experience with Lucilla that we wanted to help her promote her work. Hence we have created this video about the experience with her. You can check it out here:
Till next time,