Really wanting to dive in, I spent 2 months at Nihue Rao in 2014, then went back in 2015, and again in 2016 for more diets, going deeper each time. I love this center. It feels like a second home. The staff is friendly, and I’ve been practicing and improving my Spanish. The flow of each day while being on retreat, deep interpersonal connection and authentic sharing, seeing new guests come each week to be “softened” as the harder edge of life are cleaned off, then friends leaving each week; the waxing and waning of the moon, and the cycles of plants in the jungle where time is going slowly, being around all the plant communication molecules and insect, bird, animal sounds around, healing is deep. I haven’t been to another center, and after my experiences at Nihue Rao don’t have much of an interest; I’m appreciative of Ricardo’s dedication to his medicine practice, guidance and dedication to his own principles. If rough spots come up with my own diet, I’ve always been able to find someone to talk to; diets have a way of putting a magnifying glass on edges in social interactions so that something can be shown to us encouraging us to look down towards the root of whatever is holding a pattern in place which we wish to heal.
Many times I’ve had the thought that the medicine experience reveals the truth of the existence of actual magic, where willpower and intention is able to directly affect reality as desired. Love is a force field and we are able to perceive its flow within consciousness. The sounds of the birds and other night animals can become synchronistic within a ceremony, blending with thought and the icaros of the curanderos. I appreciate the strict dieting; eating just the bony fish (a meditation itself, in removing all the bones), and plantains, I’ve come to love the subtle flavors (if one can call it that). Nihue Rao feels to be a safe and what I’ve been calling an “a la carte” approach to work with ayahuasca and master plant dieting. You pay for the specific number of nights you desire (unless you come with a group), then reach out and find community and camaraderie with others who are there. I wouldn’t trade the art maloka for anything: the plant medicines love creativity, too.
To be sure, no place is a utopian paradise, but the staff and healers at Nihue Rao work hard to facilitate a healing experience for everyone, where the pasajeros (passengers a.k.a. guests) have the space to do the work of healing, within and without of ceremony.
My only advice is to seek out community and guidance for integration after your time with ayahuasca in the rainforest. I’ve experienced myself the rough aspects of life as new sensitivities come online as healing is taking place, and I don’t think this is talked about enough in the medicine community. Seek out integration circles and ways of being in contact with friends for support, in anchoring the life changes you wish, as well: I can’t emphasize these aspects enough.