After a couple of months of researching retreats, I found ECA. Whereas several others took days to respond, often with barely a 2-line email, ECA responded immediately. The next day one of the organizers Skyped with me for over an hour, answered every question and was very informative. That was the first sign of the level of intention and attentiveness Jesse, Bobby, and Hans put into their work. That level of care carried through to the very end of the retreat.
–Cost- yes, there are some cheaper places, but ECA has several pricing options. Also, you absolutely get what you pay for. You’re very well fed, accommodations are great, shared spaces and the surrounding area are beautiful, and everyone involved is constantly working to make sure you’re comfortable. Beyond that, I never once felt unsafe, even during the most intense ceremonies. Added bonus, from US/Canada, flights are $2-300 less than they are to Iquitos, Peru.
–Healers/Facilitators- Everyone involved is serious and discernibly dedicated to the work they do. When you leave the hut to purge, a facilitator is 2 steps behind. At very intense moments, they’re there to calmly talk you down. They are lucid, super-attentive, and really good at keeping everything smooth. They’re all also totally accessible to chat, and are genuinely great guys.
–Medicine- most importantly, the medicine here was strong, pure, safe, and definitely did not short change you on intensity. What else can you ask for? The ceremonies are serious and intense, but well curated. That’s not say they weren’t often fun too, but an environment is provided where you can really work with the medicines and focus on your experience.
Downtime was also really nice here, with plenty of incredible food and great grounds for just hanging out–fire pits, hammocks, great view of Medellin.
Also, the healers and facilitators live on the grounds, practice what they preach, donate 25% to Amazon land conservation, and they don’t jam 30 people into ceremonies. Aka- this is not a tourist trap in it for the money.
Lastly, notice how many reviews single out the staff by name. That’s a result of, again, everyone involved working really hard to make sure you have a great experience.
If you’re trying to choose a place, I’ll just say, flying to a foreign place to work with extremely potent medicines to sort out often deep internal issues is daunting enough. Do it somewhere trustworthy, with good people, where worries about safety et al won’t distract you from the work you need to do. ECA is totally that kind of place. I’m glad I went, and hope to go back.