Dear future volunteers and guests,
I would like to share my experience with Pisatahua retreat what was not most pleasant.
I supposed to come to Pisatahua resort as general volunteer for two months period. We agreed timing and general conditions with Erik via e-mail and phone call. All main conditions are also written in the description about general volunteer. Was agreed that another volunteer will stay together with me in the jungle and that in the period of two months (the minimum required stay by Erik) suppose to be two retreats for 9 days each.
What was in reality?
– The resort in jungle (empty);
– No retreat for all period (they didn’t sold any, didn’t collect clients);
– No plant medicine/no shaman;
– No people (one local family was living in 500 meters distance from resort);
– No another volunteer;
– After two weeks no jungle, as Erik announced me that actually not safe to live alone in jungle.
Finally I end up in Sustainable Bolivia house in Riberalta town with no idea what to do. As the agreement and main target was to come and help during retreats, I was a little lost trying to understand what is going on and how to solve the situation:
– I had no plans to travel in South America (my plan was just to stay in retreat for two months volunteering and learning by myself more about plant medicine and how it influence the people.)
– I had no money planned for the traveling (volunteering position telling that costs are 0, only what you should buy – ticket from Europe to the jungle, what cost me about 1400 Euro both ways);
– I had no place to return – I rent out my apartment in my hometown for the period I suppose to be in jungle.
We started to talk to Erik openly and trying to find a solution. I asked Erik did he want to compensate me a ticket, as this is totally different what was agreed. He said – no and explained me that this is my problem, I took the risk, this is not his risk. Also he mentioned that we didn’t signed contract, so no legal document to proof that he has any obligations. He let me to understand and told me that he is very nice that he let me stay in Sustainable Bolivia house in Riberalta and letting me to figure out what to do, as everybody around telling him just to kick me off the house as this is not working out. He also cut the food (he suppose to supply food according the agreement and written application in website). Finally he announce that I should share the room with another guy, so I made a decision to move to go to travel. He bought me ticket from Riberalta to santa Cruz (about 100 USD).
What I did as a volunteer? Not much – cleaning the territory mainly in the resort and in Riberalta I helped with fundraising, also spent one day in orphanage with kids.
What surprised me most? I said that I planned to spend almost no money during 2 months, just like few hundreds USD for some additional food or mini trips. Erik said: how you could expect it? don’t you think that it is too good to be true to live in jungle with all included and not to spend money? … (bellow you will find what they tell in the website)
Kitchen help: cooking, serving food, and keeping the area clean
Setting up, organizing and planning guest arrivals
Community garden work: planting, weeding, composting, harvesting, etc.
Healing services such as: massage, meditation, yoga, art therapy, etc.
Ceremony sitter: provide basic assistance to guests during ceremony
Content writing/ blogging
Videography and video editing
We provide dedicated individuals the rare opportunity to live in one of the most biodiverse areas of the Amazon, while learning about plant medicines from traditional healers. All volunteers receive accommodation (at Pisatahua and Riberalta), food and drink, travel to lodge, and access to on-site activities and ceremonies.
$0. This position is available (with all the benefits mentioned above) at no cost to volunteer.””
Erik’s words and attitude surprised me. I do not feel that this is right for any volunteering position, especially plant medicine retreat where each word should be weighted.
What they write in the website – half of it not true.
The premises are new and nice – that’s true. The place is in jungle – that’s also true and you can not swim in this beautiful lake as it is full of snakes, alligators and piranhas.
I ended my trip volunteering in similar retreat near Rurrenabaque where I felt total harmony with people and place.
I got very good lessons out of this situation and happy that it went like it went.
With all my love,