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The morning after the San Pedro ceremony (Lost On The Mountain entry) I could barely move. I ended up getting back to the room around 3:30am, peeled my clothes off and jumped into bed around 4am.

Around 7:30am my brother kicks the door open and spills into the room, waking me up. “I know you’re resting and you had a long night, but there have been some changes to your plans. “The ayahuasca retreat in July (he had planned for me to go to) had filled up before we had a chance to save a spot. The good news is…” he said, “There’s another one in June”. “The bad news is, it’s today and they are meeting in AN HOUR”

My eyes were barely open and my brain couldn’t even comprehend a meeting with about two-dozen people, let alone getting out of bed. “You don’t have to go, you could always wait and see if a spot opens up in July”

That sounded good. Sounded better than getting up, being social, and signing myself up for a six-day commitment in a moments notice.

He left me to ponder on the decision. My head swirled, lethargic and exhausted. There’s no way I can get up right now…

“…or is there?” whispered a tiny voice in my weary mind. “You didn’t come all this way to say no to things,” it reminded me.

True. Very true.

I should go. I shouldn’t go. I can miss this. I shouldn’t miss this. I shouldn’t push myself if I’m this wasted. I can get over it. Yes. No. Yes. No. The battle raged on for nearly 40min as I mentally justified each path. Thankfully, the tiny voice grew stronger and stronger, eventually throwing down its enemy; doubt wrapped in the guise of an alternate route. I would join the retreat.

Ten minutes later I found myself scrambling to get out the door. I jumped onto the awaiting motorcycle and we disappeared into the dust of the dirt road. The Shaman’s house appeared in the distance and before I knew it, we drove through the awaiting black gates.

Inside the house, I finally met the Shaman of my brother’s legend. For years I’ve been hearing of this man, hearing of his stories, hearing of his practice, and now, he stood before me.

He stood up and towered over me with a full body’s length. With a wide and excited smile he welcomed me to his house and said how nice it was to finally meet me.

We spoke briefly before he ushered me outside to join the still growing group I would soon be apart of. Four strangers awaited me out on the patio, two Americans, one Australian, and a woman from Switzerland. Following close behind was a small group of friends from Poland and an absolutely stunning young lady from London. Worldly strangers appeared in a steady trickle until we were all called back inside for the official meeting and instructions.

There we sat, a group of unknowns from around the world. As the shaman spoke, I scanned the faces, one by one, admiring the fact that, like me, they were here for similar reasons. There was something that drove them here, and amongst them, we all had to courage to do something about it in a most unconventional way.  For the next six days we’d go through a journey that was, at times, a variety of pure bliss mixed with debilitating horror and painful emotions.

We each had our own journey, no two were the same, but we all shared a common desire to overcome whatever obstacles were holding us back. I personally had one of the scariest moments of my life, which thankfully ebbed into something beautiful and left me with more overall meaning than terror.

And through that, through our experiences, through our fear and desires, a bond was formed unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before in my life. A week ago I didn’t know these people, yet when the week was up and our time together ended, I found myself near tears when the last taxi disappeared from the grounds.

The words on this page cannot express how much these people, this overall experience meant to me. It literally makes my heart race to think that I almost missed this opportunity so that I could sleep for an extra few hours.

Our conversations, our sharing, our bond, the medicine was only part of the experience. The people made it what it was for me. Talks of botany, of losing ones self and of the emotional roller coaster we all entered into voluntarily. Brilliant, intelligent and hilarious conversations. I learned so much and laughed so hard over the six days we spent together.

We climbed mountains, both literally and metaphorically.

Can’t wait to go home and frame the group shot

Join, participate in, and love an ayahuasca retreat

Visit a Peruvian textile village

Visit Moray

Visit the Peruvian Salt Mines

Stroll the Sunday market with new friends

Return to the ruins during the day time

Share my stories during group integration

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There were so many firsts I’m having a hard time remembering them all. But for now, these will do. Thank you all 🙂

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~M

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