Via a Llayzhatan Bajo, Ecuador
First, the retreat does deserve the glowing reviews for the medicine. I experienced the transformation of the plant medicines, but as a work-exchanger, I also experienced troubling, neglectful behind the scenes lapses that put all of our health at jeopardy.
The main issue I will review here is sanitation. During the first retreat, I noticed the main cook sick, coughing all over everything he prepared and that the dishes were washed in lukewarm water with no sanitizing procedure. Germs were not being killed and people (including myself) were getting sick with colds/flu/pneumonia from this major lapse in proper protocol.
I brought this up to the owner, Christine, by email and she replied back how thankful she was that I brought the issue up and to please be “the boss” and implement sanitizing the dishes. I tried to do so and was met with hostility and personal ridicule by management. “You act like your better than us” was the shockingly inappropriate response by the two on-site managers when I asked when we might start the simple 3-basin dishwashing system.
The next retreat people were getting diarrhea. I chose to sanitize my dishes and take them back to my room each time. I never got diarrhea.
Oh, and when they pass around the ayahuasca, only one cup is used unless you ask specially and even then it’s poured into the communal cup then into an individual cup. They say things like “mother ayahuasca” will take care of any germs. This issue was brought up by another. And, really mother ayahuasca has plenty to do so, again, people need to use common sense to avoid spreading illness.
The chef and management ostracized me for trying to make a simple yet extremely important improvement so, after informing them and Christine, I left early. Not what I had in mind for part of the transformation but important lesson nonetheless.
After a very rude email from Christine and her withholding my deposit, she said they have implemented the procedure. Hopefully, they have. But still it came at a high cost both to my health (took 1 1/2 months to recover from the flu bug), mental stress, cost of travelling Ecuador early rather than staying at an unfriendly retreat and the health of others.
The medicine, the shaman and the people other than the owner and management were all wonderful. If you go, just be sure your dishes are properly cleaned and trust your intution for anything else that seems “off.”