For the 2017 Natural Medicine Gathering we have found four ceremonial places, which combined provide a little bit of everything: mountains, rocks, streams, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, pools, underground cave, beach – it looks very promising. We will still look at a few places and each of these communities still need to hold a general public assembly to make their decision to welcome us or not. Like CYRAE makes its decisions through consultation with its members, so do the communities. No autocracy at play here, no big men with golden handshakes behind closed doors: everything is out in the open and subject to local traditions of democratic decision making processes!
Here they are:
Laguna Azul – a community at the end of the road, in the upper part of Jatunyacu, which downstream becomes the Napo River and in turn the Amazon river itself. Crystal clear waters coming out of the cloud forest, running across beautiful rocks through a number of delicious pools and eventually into a wild river: bring your swimming gear, this place is fantastic, Pachamama at her best. When doing a ceremony here, despite having been up late, you want to get up at the crack of dawn and enjoy, before returning:
Shandia Lodge – an Eco-Tourism Community – with a broad sandy beach where the ceremony will take place! On the Jatunyacu River, which is the upper part of the Napo river. Bring camping gear and stay out all night. Shandia also offers nice, slightly upmarket rooms (approx. $30USD per night/per person):
Templo de Ceremonia – a natural underground cave complete with an ancient burial mound of a female shaman, a “dinosaur bone” [sic?!], therapeutic whip spiders, stalagmites, stalactites, curious rock formations and a sacred spring with healing water. The cave has been used for ceremonies since time immemorial. Cool, dark, mysterious, and set in beautiful rain forest surrounding, it feels like you leave civilisation behind. Sleep in the cave after the ceremony or make your way back to your hostel:
Pimpilitu Falls – a series of gorgeous waterfalls near a community that has a vision for community-based eco-tourism, but no means to realise them as this stage – which gives us a chance to help them. Near the waterfalls they will construct a few simple, traditional chozas (huts without walls) for the purposes of ceremonies and to be able to sleep: