On 10 August 2015 we set off for a journey into the jungle for an Ayahuasca retreat. We had being looking into this for a while before we decided to take the plunge and book ourselves in for what can be known to be quite life changing. Apart from following the recommended Ayahuasca diet there is not much one can do to really prepare for what is in stall during the retreat. We did our best to meet the Ayahuasca diet which is focused around MAOI safety. This sort of diet isn’t really an issue for those who reside in the jungle as many of the foods and medicines to avoid aren’t available to them or even know. The basic prohibitions are hot foods, onions and garlic, spices, salt, pork, red meat, fried food, alcohol, drugs, certain MAOI medications and sexual stimulation. Although these are easily avoided, it can be difficult to avoid all of it when travelling and when in a country where you don’t speak the language fluently enough to ask for menu changes. Nonetheless, we tried our best to meet this so we could ensure we would be at our best for the Ayahuasca.
The retreat itself was 6 nights and 7 days and we went with Estacion Kapitari as we had read reviews on this retreat and thoughts it was the best option for us for the price which was $650 USD. Retreats in Iquitos can go well over the $2000 USD mark and that just to me seemed like a tourist trap. I felt that it working with the plant medicine wasn’t about paying the most. Some retreats offer electricity and WiFi connection (shakes head). I felt it was about disconnecting from the modern world and going back to a simple life. Kapitari includes transport to and from the retreat, food, basic accommodation in a Tambo, 4 Ayahuasca Ceremonies, plant baths, fruit baths, mud baths, the Sharman Don Lucho and two facilitators on the retreat.
My overall experience with Kapitari was good but not great. There is definite room for improvement. My biggest dislike was the facilitators. I really felt they were not the people for the job. Just because you have had experience drinking Ayahuasca doesn’t mean you can guide people through the process. I think that they were both out of their depths. I am also pretty sure they both drink Ayahuasca during the ceremony and aren’t really able to assist 100%. I felt no connection to either of them and got average energy from both of them.
The female facilitator was super distant and defensive if you ever questioned anything in regards to Ayahuasca medicine. The male facilitator seemed more focused on himself rather than the group. He was also off in his own world most of the time and I am not sure he visits Earth that often. He mentioned that he didn’t like to talk to people unless they wanted to talk about things he was interested in. Seems pretty self-centered and closed minded for someone that considers themselves to be spiritual. I also didn’t think he was good at helping during the ceremony. When one of the other Kapitarians was having a hard time during the first ceremony I got to hear him trying to console him but it just seemed redundant. Repeating the same thing over and over isn’t really helping the situation when the person doesn’t really understand what is happening to them. I found this lack of care and interest in the Kapitarians was pretty common throughout the week. I think both facilitators lacked interpersonal skills. I also disliked the constant Mapacho smoke. I am not a smoker and Mapacho is common to smoke during ceremonies. However, the facilitators constantly smoked it during group circles in the Maloca and it was just plain gross. Various times myself and others moved to get away from it. I get that Mapacho is natural compared to the commercial tobacco sold today but it still cannot be good for you and I refuse to believe that chain smoking it is good for you. Everything in moderation!!
I also thought it was concerning that when other Kapitarians suggested that weren’t getting much from the medicine they suggested they drink more. I wasn’t sure drinking more and more Ayahuasca was the answer. How do you moderate the amount of Ayahuasca one takes per ceremony? Do you just keep drinking until you get something? When David and I sat out the tobacco purge it was heavily frowned upon. It just wasn’t something we wanted to participate in. I also felt during the group circles that when I was unsure what Ayahuasca was trying to show me through visions either seemed to have any idea and didn’t show much interest; they were quick to move on to the next person. David and I both felt at times that it was a bit cult like. This was mainly because if you questioned the medicine or the terms used like purging you were quickly pulled up on it. David said that he felt like he was poising his body and the vomiting was a sign of his body trying to rid it. They snapped at him and then told him it was called purging and it was not a poison it was a medicine. I think the situation could have been handled better.
All the Kapitarians were good value and it was a good week spent with them all. If you are considering a retreat make sure you look into the retreat, what is on offer, the cost, reviews online and make sure it is something you really want to do. There a horror stories out there of people dying and you should always understand the risks of anything before you do it. You have to make sure it is right for you in the end.
I got some things out of my experience but I have worked on myself for the past few years and I faced and dealt with a lot of childhood demons with a therapist. I felt very free before I went to Kapitari. I still have growing to do as with most people but I didn’t have any massive demons to face. Many that go to Kapitari go because they are there to face a demon or deal with something deep inside them. Everyone has there own reasons and experience to go through. No two experiences will be the same. I won’t be personally lining up to do Ayahuasca again for a long time but never say never.
Until next time.