Ayahuasca has became a huge touristic stuff in Latin America. I was surprised to see offers in the streets of Cusco, among the other tours in the Sacred Valley… It was hard to find the authentic experience I was looking for, but in Colombia I found the perfect place and occasion. Here is what happened, my recommendations and advices to have a great Ayahuasca experience:
Ayahuasca or Yage, what is it?
Ayahuasca or Yage (in Colombia) is a traditional ceremony of indigenous people. They call it “Medicina”. It’s not allowed around the World but it’s still used in Amazonia mainly. It’s held by a Shaman, or a Taita, considered almost as a doctor. He uses a mix of 2 plants, chacruna and ayahuasca, one containing DMT (which can make you have some hallucinations), to prepare a brew not really tasty but really not so bad (it tasted like earth).
My personal experience
Well I had 2 ceremonies in Colombia: First in San Augustin and second near Minca.
The first one is really recommended, I did it with an old shaman, his wife and his friend. He doesn’t do that for tourisism, but his ceremonies are opened to everyone. His name is Chito, he will send you a taxi to pick you up at your hotel (you can give tips to the driver but it’s up to you) and the ceremony only costs 80000pesos.
The strange thing is that he won’t explain you anything, because he thinks the plant is here to help you, so I better explain the process because we didn’t understand why we passed 2h waiting for others to come, smoking tabacco without talking…
We (my boyfriend and I) arrived around 8pm and sat around a fire in silence until 10pm, the start of the ceremony (I guess it’s a kind of meditation time). Sometimes local people come to join, but this time it was just us, Chito, his assistant and his wife. Then the shaman will dress up and prepare the room with smoke, singing and blessing the beverage.
He will invite you to drink and then everybody will lay down in a “hamaka” or mat on the ground (up to you, just be confortable because you will pass the whole night here). They’ll switch off the lights for the rest of the night, because as they say « it needs to be dark for you to see the light ». You only have the fire but I advise you to stay on your bed/hammock. Also my advice: bring a cover or a sleeping bag and if you can a pillow.
Then I cannot explain you what you will see and feel as it’s totally personal. You may want to vomit because it’s a plant that physically do that, but it’s really a detail of the night, try not to think about it. It shows that it makes effect, and it’s a good way to clean your body.
By the way it’s better to start a vegetarian diet days or weeks before the ceremony, with no alcool, no sex, no drug (even weed) no coffee or tea or even spices: more your body is clean, better will be the effect. I’m not vegetarian but somebody told me « I wouldn’t experience a spiritual ceremony with dead animal in my body » indeed… Prefer seeds (like almonds, nuts, non salty peanuts), fruits and vegetable the market of San Augustin is full of. Try to eat less sugar and fat food. Last detail: the day of the ceremony you need to stop eating 8h before the start.
The Shaman will talk to you during the ceremony, asking if you’re ok, and he might offer you a second round which is optional, up to you. He will sing few times to help to raise the effect before stopping again, leaving the place in silence.
When does it starts?
You shall feel something 45min after the first round. I personally vomited 1h30 after taking it, and I passed a night between dream and conscience. I took an other drink at 2am. Around 7am we all walked up and talked about the experience. They only speak spanish by the way. It was an authentic experience I totally recommend.
Not all are good…
The second time it was more touristic for me. The conditions weren’t the same, it was more organized but less intense (the beverage was in shots, instead of a big cup the fist time). There was a child sleeping with us, dogs… Weird! Also they charged us 180000pesos.
The most important: the contact of Chito (tell him Jennifer, La pelirroja and Julien from France send you). He only has sms but you can ask any hotel to contact him if you can’t. We were staying at Bambu hotel and they coordinated everything (again he doesn’t speak English).
Chito: +57 314 4005421
Have a good fun and if you have other question don’t hesitate to post a comment or contact me on Facebook!
My personal conclusion
To take Ayahuasca is hoping a lot of stuff… To have hallucinations, to be high, to reveal something inside of you, to see other Worlds… I cannot tell – and nobody can – tell you for sure what you will experience. The Shaman says the plant knows what is good for you, and if you react by crying, dancing or screaming it’s because you need to.
Don’t worry for the vomit or the transit you could have (I’ve been 3 times in the toilet, my boyfriend didn’t), it’s only a part of the ceremony for your body to reject any toxin it may have.
Even if I didn’t experience any transcendance, neither saw my animal totem or see my past or my future, I passed a very intense night thinking about thousands of things, hoping not to forget. But it all disapeared like a dream, leaving only good feeling. Again it’s very personal and I hope I could have help you with this post to prepare yourself about what to expect in an Ayahuasca ceremony.