The Hummingbird Healing Center provides a wonderful experience with a great blend of ceremonies and psychology/metaphysical information to facilitate a more integrated experience.
1) Dieta: For my first retreat experience I jumped all in with a 14-day personalized retreat that included an 8-day dieta. Dietas are tough and definitely challenging, but highly rewarding and worth it if you stick with it to the end. There are several plants available. Based on your talk with Jim (the facilitator) and Manain (the ayahuasquero) a plant will be selected for your dieta. The rules are fairly simple, only eat what you are specifically provided, no drinks other than water and caffeine free teas, no salt, no physical contact with others, limited interactions, and no chemicals on or in the body. The last one means that any products you put on your body, i.e. deodorant, moisturizer, sunscreen, etc. and your toothpaste must be 100% natural or you are going without. It takes some research, but it’s doable. Lunch is the best meal of the day. The dieta helps to synergistically further the healing process that comes from working with Aya and San Pedro.
2) Ayahuasca and San Pedro Ceremonies:
Hummingbird provides the opportunity to work with both Ayahuasca and San Pedro, aka Wachuma. Where Aya is the female energy that you work with in the dark of night, San Pedro is the male energy that you work with in the full sun of the day. They complement each other, addressing your issues in different ways, balancing the healing. While you will have the opportunity for amazing visions with both Aya and San Pedro, but can be task masters and take you to dark places to help you face your issues. I strongly recommend reading the book on surrender suggested by Jim, particularly before working with Aya. I always enjoyed the plant bath before each ceremony.
Manain is like a snake charmer with his Icaros, Aya responding inside your body. Manain’s ceremonies are powerful even when you are not taking Ayahuasca and when he does individualized healings during the ceremonies, they are incredible. I would have sworn I was being showered with the sound of the rattle falling over and all around me, but he was standing a good foot away from me. I definitely felt safe and well taken care of during the ceremonies. Manain is a delightful person and generous soul that gives 100% during ceremonies, even when sick.
San Pedro isn’t indigenous to Iquitos so there are no ceremonies per se with a shaman. You come together as a group in the morning and ingest the plant medicine and then go off on your own for the day. You will find a new connection to nature while working with San Pedro and find you are seeing the world around you in a different way.
3) Group Meetings: The day after ceremonies Jim holds group meetings to allow participants to share their experiences. At times Jim’s comments can feel confrontational, off the mark, and/or triggering. I found contemplating the comments over a few days, instead of reacting as I would normally, even though I ultimately disagreed with the assessment, created a major shift in my perspective.
4) Jim, the Hummingbird Staff and Retreat Center: Jim is very giving of himself during the retreat and is available to talk and assist participants on their journey during the retreat. He does a good job of providing useful information from a number of Western modalities to both facilitate a more enlightening ceremony experience and to integrate and keep the lessons learned after returning home. The staff is very friendly and always pleasant and accommodating. The staff only speaks Spanish, so brushing up on your Spanish skills or installing a translator app on your phone will be helpful.
The Retreat Center is rustic–it’s the jungle–but comfortable. I recommend the tambos as you have your own hammock and toilet in the room and there is more of a feeling of privacy. The grounds are pretty with a pond to swim in and plenty of jungle to walkabout during off time. The food, when not on the dieta, is natural and while on the blander side, delicious. There were a number of extracurricular activities during the retreat, i.e. a visit with the bone doctor, mud bath, jungle walk, and visit from the Shipibo tribe to sell their wares. With all the activities, why there was plenty of downtime, I was never bored. The jungle sounds, particularly the sounds of the numerous varieties of frogs, are crazy.
5) Sense of Community: The retreat fosters a wonderful environment where people feel safe to share about their lives without judgment and come together like a family. This communal experience definitely fosters personal growth and the healing process of the ceremonies. It was an unexpected boon.
6) Final Thoughts: I was resistant to coming to Hummingbird even though it was recommended, as it felt too Western-oriented. I had previously studied Peruvian Shamanism and wanted something authentically Peruvian. I looked explored multiple retreat centers in Peru and a few in Ecuador and Brazil. Somehow, I kept circling back to Hummingbird when the other retreats I contacted didn’t feel right. Jim responded promptly and patiently to all my emails. Ultimately, I found the inclusion of Western psychology and metaphysical modalities really augmented the experience. I am definitely glad that something kept pushing me past my resistance to experience Hummingbird. I would definitely recommend the Humming Bird Retreat Center as one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.