Via a Llayzhatan Bajo, Ecuador
Thank you for your feedback. We did accommodate a few extra people for this retreat as they were part of a larger group coming from another country. They begged us to let them come together even though there weren’t enough seats. There were some rowdy ones that we did our best to keep in line with the ceremony. It was a difficult situation. We are sorry that this affected your retreat. We have learned a great lesson and are making changes. It was the first time this has ever happened so we know now not to allow it again.
As for the length of ceremonies, Ayahuasca is usually somewhere between 6-8 hours in places that do this well. We are aware of some places where the shamans end the ceremony between 3-5 hours and leave everyone journeying in the dark by themselves. This is not a safe practice nor taking care of people in a good way if the ceremony is that short. We take care of people by being with them through the entire process and giving them the time that is needed for them to fully go through the processes of their journey with support.
The San Pedro ceremony is normally 10-12 hours but the language barriers and translation for so many people who did not speak English caused the extension of time. We have learned not to let so many people who need translation come at the same time. This was a difficult situation as well. We learned a great lesson. Again, this is the first time this has happened in all the years we have been doing this. We are so very sorry it happened.
Thank you for your feedback. We wish you many blessings on your journey.
Via a Llayzhatan Bajo, Ecuador
Thank you [name removed] for your feedback. The bleach dip missing in the dishwashing process was temporary when we had a substitute kitchen manager who didn’t know the system. As soon as Christine found out, the system was re-implemented immediately even before [name removed] left, she knows. Our regular kitchen manager, who is meticulous about sanitization, is back now and all is in order.
As for the flu, people come from all over the world during flu season. A lot of people arrived from the airport with the flu. We have instructed any kitchen staff to take a day off or wear masks if they are sick.
The people who got sick with diarrhea had gone into town for the day and had a meal there together. Others at the center who did not go into town did not get sick. Carry activated charcoal since that happens when travelling to other countries. It works wonders! Gaia Sagrada has regular health inspections and codes to abide by. We have always passed health inspections of the kitchen.
Ceremony Cups: We are surprised to hear this because everyone has their own ceremony cup in every ceremony. There is a metal cup behind everyone’s seat if they want their own cup. What probably happened is the shaman didn’t notice she had her own cup before he poured the medicine in the communal cup and then he simply transferred it when he saw it. We have instructed shamans to always check first before pouring the medicine from now on. It was a fluke that that happened.
Christine DID GIVE THE FULL REFUND of the deposit minus the shamanic cleansing for $35 that [name removed] did not pay for, which the shaman rightly earned. It is not true that she did not get her deposit. [name removed] was trying to get away with not paying for the shaman’s services, even though [name removed] knew the price and agreed to it ahead of time but was trying to get away with not paying for it. This review is her revenge for finally having to pay for the shaman’s services. This is why we require a deposit of volunteers.
Christine actually let the unworked hours slide which she should have also deducted. Out of the kindness of her heart she was being very lenient by giving everything except the shamanic cleansing to [name removed]. Christine was very diplomatic and matter of fact, she was not rude, but [name removed] thought it was rude that she finally had to pay for the shamanic cleansing she got. This is what has made her angry.
It rarely happens that we dismiss a work exchanger, but this volunteer was dismissed by a unanimous vote by the entire community. No one wanted to work with her. [name removed] was aggressive and argumentative if people didn’t agree with her. That is what caused some of her co-workers to say “she thinks she’s better than everyone else.” This is a very loving community, so it takes a disruptive person to cause others here to say something like that in frustration.
We wish [name removed] well and hope she can find better ways of relating to people. We gave her a lot of chances to improve, but she could not coexist peacefully with others so we had to dismiss her from the volunteer team. We simply could not let her stay. Because she is angry about this, she wants to damage Gaia Sagrada as much as possible. We hope that someday [name removed] can heal this in herself. We hope for her the best.
Via a Llayzhatan Bajo, Ecuador
This simply isn’t true. We never tell anyone they can’t make a bad review. That has NEVER been a rule. We simply ask people not to be negative to each other so the retreat experience can be beneficial to all. We pass out a feedback form at the end of their stay and ask people to fill it out if they want to give some feedback, so it is possible this person misinterpreted that as not being able to make a bad review. We never said they couldn’t. There is no rule like that. Who has control over that? If they want to, they do.
This person was very difficult to work with. We did our best! Everyone learned about unconditional love with this particular participant. This person was angry for not being allowed to wander around the Andes Mountains off property, unsupervised while on very strong medicine. We take our responsibility to keep people safe very seriously and if we don’t know where they are we cannot take care of them. We cannot give people medicine and then let them wander off on their own.
There is nature all around the ceremonial space. We DO allow people to sit outside the ceremony under a tree, walk in the gardens, or walk in nature around the ceremonial space, but we ask them to stay within eyesight or earshot. That’s all. No one is forced to stay in the ceremonial space if they want to stretch or lay in the grass. We have no problem with that.
We do have a few basic rules, but not as extensive as this person is depicting. We ask people to be respectful in the ceremonies, refrain from sexual or romantic advances toward other participants, not to gossip or make fun of other people’s experiences in the ceremony, and to honor people’s boundaries. That’s about it. These are not rules though, they are guidelines we hope people will honor. Medicines can be chaotic if there is no order, so it’s important people get some basic guidelines.
These medicines are very strong, and everyone else had a great experience with the medicines, but this person did not get much out of it because we believe there were antidepressants or pharmaceuticals involved. People do not understand that the medicines will not give them the experience they are looking for if pharmaceuticals are not stopped before coming to a retreat like this.
There are 30 people at a retreat includes the 15 work exchangers who are NOT in the ceremony. Some are helpers during the ceremony but most are up at the kitchen preparing food for the end of the ceremony. The ceremonies are not 20 hours long either, this is an exaggeration. The Ayahuasca ceremonies are about 6-8 hours long and the San Pedro ceremonies are about 10-12 hours long. We always give water and snacks in the middle of the San Pedro ceremony so people have nourishment. People are allowed to drink water if they ask, we don’t withhold water.
During the San Pedro ceremonies (not the Ayahuasca ceremonies or sweat lodge), a person is allowed to take a turn in front of the fire if they want to (optional) and the shaman gives them a blessing and may say some encouraging words if they speak about what is troubling them, but it is not psychology. There is a lot of music and laughter in the ceremonies as well! Christine was joking one time about being patient, trying to lighten the energy, but this person didn’t take it well.
Honestly, there was no way to please this person. Sometimes we can’t reach someone, as they don’t want to heal yet. When this happens, we can’t do anything but do the best we can to keep them safe while they express a lot of negativity and try to keep the impact down they are having on the group, which may feel controlling to a person who wants to express a lot of anger. We hope this person can heal.
Via a Llayzhatan Bajo, Ecuador
Christine was mourning the death of someone she cared about during that retreat in January 2016 when this reviewer was here more than a year ago, so she was not as available for people at that retreat as she normally is. That does not make a person unstable, just unavailable while they process grief. He was expecting to meet the wonderful Christine he read about in the reviews, but she couldn’t be available at that time while she was grieving for the loss of a person she cared about. Other people in the retreat were compassionate and supportive in the situation and understood she needed some time to herself to process grief.
The retreat was still great, and several of his fellow participants have already come back for another retreat and loved it, so “everyone” did NOT feel the same way he did. Several of them came back again, and others still plan to. They even left us great reviews! This is the first “bad” review we got in all our years of operation, and even this reviewer still says he got a lot out of it with the shamans, staff, and that the medicines are great, so that says a lot about Gaia Sagrada and what we offer here. The other center he is promoting is twice the cost to come to Gaia Sagrada. Why is it that it’s a year later he is promoting another center and placed a “bad” review for us? Just something curious to think about.
We have continued to get great reviews since he was here over a year ago, including what people say about Christine being there for everyone in a loving way, her words of wisdom and good advice, and being a good facilitator. Some people who have been to the most popular centers on google say we do it best out of them all, so it really is true that we get all these great reviews for a good reason. There is no trickery or conspiracy about websites like AyaAdvisor.org censoring bad reviews. If someone writes one, it’s there. No one has wanted to say anything but good things about us! It’s real!
Also, we DO offer meditation and yoga on the days between ceremonies, but they are not required for people to attend, it’s optional, so he didn’t take advantage of the other programs we offer besides the ceremonies. Meditation and yoga is always available between ceremonies.
We wish this person well. We hope he can find the healing he is looking for and that love and light are with him. Be blessed, dear brother and may love and compassion guide your way.