Go see Estela!
I spent a month at Aya Madre for my thirtieth birthday. Prior to going to the jungle, I had already sat in six or so ceremonies. Going to Peru, all I knew was that I wanted a female shaman. When I walked through the gates of Aya Madre I knew I had chosen the right center. This place is different than any other retreat center for a multitude of reasons.
First, this isn’t just a retreat center. It’s a school and you will learn as much as you want to in your time there. Maestra Estela is constantly teaching about plants. How to gather them and turn them into medicine. If you have any ailment, pain, worry, or shadow she is off at a moment’s notice looking in the jungle for the plant that will help you. You don’t just take medicine here, you learn how to prepare the plants and what purposes they serve.
Second, Maestra Estela. She is a mother through and through. Her nurturing, caring spirit can be felt on every leaf throughout the center. Not once did I feel like she didn’t have me – in ceremony and out of ceremony. She is constantly working to help the center and the pasajeros and seems to be everywhere at once. I will forever carry her icaros in my heart.
Third, the plant diet. Here each pasajero is given their own plant dieta prescribed by Maestra after your consult. It’s like a prescription, but from Mother Earth. You are encouraged to spend time with your plants and really connect with them. So many retreat centers want to just shove Ayahuasca your way and let you have this wild trip, but here Maestra gets to the root of the problem by using all of her resources from the jungle and what’s more, she teaches you how to do it yourself. Thus, you learn how to heal yourself.
I had plenty of experience with ayahuasca before I went to Peru and I was not disappointed in the center I chose (because there are a LOT of choices!). This center is special and I would recommend it to everyone, but especially anyone who has never drank before and anyone who might be more comfortable with a woman. I can’t wait to go back 🙂