Working in Ecuador, at an Ayahuasca Retreat Center!

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gaia_5 The last three and a half months, my backpack has been emptied (for the most part) and I have been in Ecuador living and working at a retreat center; Gaia Sagrada Ayahuasca retreat center, the same place that I visited a year ago, as a guest (http://thecuriousrambler.com/2014/04/03/gaia-sagrada-retreat-center/). My journey at Gaia Sagrada this time, as general manager was a whole new experience in itself. This Ayahuasca retreat center is quite new still, a year this past January, and myself, alongside two others were the first ‘staff’ members’. Gaia had grown in the short year and needed some assistance, and I was eager. gaia web_8 This Ayahuasca Retreat Center holds 12-day plant medicine healing retreats (http://gaiasagrada.com/).  The healing capabilities of these ancient Amazonian plants are profound. With my time at Gaia, I facilitated five 12-day retreats throughout the months. I witnessed countless people come through, and with many, the transformation was obvious. It was an honour to observe individuals’ journeys and even be a small service to their metamorphosis.  The guests’ experiences definitely affected me as well and shaped my involvement and growth tremendously.  There was always so much gratitude, and love going around amongst the retreat participants and the volunteers; a delight to be a part of. I have worked in hospitality for many years, and through my travels, my life’s path I have experienced various unique environments, from a stewardess on a super yacht to an activity coordinator at a resort, yet Gaia Sagrada still has its own ranking for me – it has a very special spot in my heart, in my soul.

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Working at Gaia offered many unique opportunities, and it almost seemed surreal at times to work at such a majestic place, and not to mention that I could even work barefoot. The community setting alone was a constant rotation of kind, loving, gorgeous souls, all the while living amidst the Andes of Ecuador; it never got tiring. Setting up the Maloka for the Ayahuasca and San Pedro ceremonies was a regular occurrence, as well as cleaning up afterwards, which to most would seem so outlandish but it almost became normal.

Maloka, all set for a ceremony.

Maloka, all set for a ceremony.

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Participating as fire keeper (http://thecuriousrambler.com/2015/03/10/sweatlodgeceremony/) at the sweat lodge, twice, is an opportunity I am almost sure I will not get again.  Thank you Sofia and Salvador; I am certain there are not many Shamanas or Shamans that would have the trust in various foreigners as fire keepers with the sweat lodge ceremonies. Working quite closely with the Shamanas, and Shamans – Sofia, Salvador, Santiago, and Paulina – throughout the retreats was also a privilege and honour, and so rare. I learned many things. Thank you.

Sofia, a divine woman, and magficent Shamana, & myself.

Sofia, a divine woman, and magficent Shamana, & myself.

Two delightful souls, and a beauty couple, Salvador & Paulina.

Two delightful souls, and a beauty couple, Salvador & Paulina.

San Pedro Shaman, Santigao, my brother, a legend.

San Pedro Shaman, Santigao, my brother, a legend.

So I am out of my own again, ‘back on the road’ with my backpack in tow, almost overflowing. It is strange to be alone again, and I welcome this time to reflect. There is plenty to miss about Gaia, a unique human experience in the middle of the  Andes – the people, Carol (my ‘partner in crime’, co-facilitator, kitchen manager extraordinaire – what a sweetheart!), the dogs (oh Shanti), the air, the views, the vibe. I am forever grateful for it all.carolme Thank you to all you brilliant people that filled my experience with love, joy, and peace. It was extremely sad to leave Gaia but with every ‘end’, there is always a new beginning and life is full of new chapters to be explored. Freedom is within that.

Starting with my arrival in Ecuador, here is a photo journal of my time at Gaia, as well as a few getaways on the breaks….. 

Somewhere over the rainbow, welcome to Eucador

Somewhere over the rainbow, welcome to Eucador

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Walking back to Gaia Sagrada, arriving back after 9 months.

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Sweat Lodge

Sweat Lodge

Sofia & Salvador, preparing the rocks for the sweat lodge ceremony.

Sofia & Salvador, preparing the rocks for the sweat lodge ceremony.

Sofia's altar, with the medicine.

Sofia’s altar, with the medicine.

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Shanti giving a kiss.

Shanti giving a kiss.

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in the field_1in the fieldgaia _8gaia_14 gaia _9 gaia _7 gaia_3

The beautiful town of Giron.

The beautiful town of Giron.

Cereveza at Carnival. I got foamed!

Cereveza at Carnival. I got foamed!

Beach break in Ayampe.

Beach break in Ayampe.

This entry of my blog is dedicated to my good friend, Colin. 
Thank you Colin for reminding me of  the absolute preciousness of this life, of each moment.
Thanks for your beautiful light and laugh that I know will always carry on. Much love and peace.
Aho.
“Live as if you will die tomorrow, dream as if you will live forever.” 
My favourite tree, aka the Boddhi tree.

My favourite tree, aka the Boddhi tree.

 
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17 comments for “Working in Ecuador, at an Ayahuasca Retreat Center!

  1. May 5, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Beautiful photography, beautiful words, beautiful you! Thank you for sharing your heart, Trace. You are, indeed, a kindred spirit, and Steve and I are so glad to have you in our lives. Many blessings!

    • the curious rambler
      May 5, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      Marcia, thank you so much. I feel the same about you both – two kind, gentle, graceful spirits and I feel honoured that our paths crossed. I recently came across your website http://www.creativethought.org If only i had known what you and Steve practiced, I am very intrigued…I’m sure it would have lead to many more superb conversations. Until next time…much peace and love.

  2. Amanda
    April 29, 2015 at 8:12 am

    Lovely tracy!
    I’m so
    Happy to read your post and see these amazing pictures. You were such a big part of me journey to Gaia and I’m really glad you have your blog. It’s inspired me
    To share my story as well and I hope it offers insight into the type of (incredible) ace that Gaia really is. Wish you well on upcoming travels and adventures!

    • the curious rambler
      May 1, 2015 at 9:30 pm

      It was a pure pleasure getting to know you ‘roomie’..dream big and live each moment with truth, as i know you will :) All the best and big love to you! xx

  3. Sherrill Miller
    April 29, 2015 at 7:28 am

    Trace you simply amaze me girl……The beautiful woman you have become,so self confident and such a free spirit…..cannot wait to hear of your next adventure and see your beautiful photos.take care girl and safe travels❤️

    • the curious rambler
      May 1, 2015 at 9:31 pm

      Thank you…i am hoping our paths will meet again someday. It’s been way toooo long. Take care and much love!

  4. alec
    April 29, 2015 at 3:11 am

    Wonderful pictures and write-up on Gaia Sagrada, Trace. I’m sure you’ll be missed there. I am grateful that you remained working there at least long enough for our paths to cross. It was a real pleasure meeting you! I’ll be following your journey – many, many safe and happy moments!

    • the curious rambler
      May 1, 2015 at 9:34 pm

      The pleasure is mine Alec, truly. I am glad too that our paths crossed…you’re a beautiful spirit, a delight to be around. Perhaps we’ll meet again…happy journey to you, always!

  5. Patrice Bodhisattva
    April 28, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    Hi Trace! Lovely spending time with you being trained to take over your job here at Gaia! I’m grateful each day as I fill out the daily schedule templates you so meticulously created. You are a gem! I wish you a glorious time curiously rambling, and may you find many experiences as rewarding and beautiful as you had here at Gaia Sagrada!

    • the curious rambler
      May 1, 2015 at 9:36 pm

      Thanks Patrice. All the best to you! Happy journey to you at Gaia!

  6. Mum
    April 28, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    Another great write up. Perhaps you need to consider writing a book. You are such an intriguing and interesting story writer.
    Love you
    Mum

    • the curious rambler
      May 1, 2015 at 9:38 pm

      You never know…maybe one day. Thanks Mum..xx

  7. Marc Barrie
    April 28, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    I was wonderful to meet you at Gaia in January. I remember telling Christine that one of the central inspirations for choosing this retreat was the wonderful blog I had read called the Curious Rambler. She laughed and pointed at you across the field and said “That’s the author of it right there!”. I obviously had failed to put two and two together and figure this out on my own :))

    My experience there was amazing, in large part due to the dedicated crew of people working behind the scenes to keep everything running smoothly and providing an atmosphere of support and caring. I am sure to be back again someday, and perhaps our paths will cross again along the way. May your journey be filled with blessings, opportunities, abundance, and joy!

    • the curious rambler
      May 1, 2015 at 9:46 pm

      You were part of my first group Marc, and your patience was so appreciated. You were a delight, and brought so many gifts, so grateful. Thank you so much Marc for your kind words.
      You weren’t the only person that didn’t recognize me, it happened a few times after. Funny!
      All the best to you, may your days be filled with peace, love and joy…always.

  8. Laura Lee
    April 28, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Trace!!!! Hola! So happy to have crossed paths with you, and hope to meet you again in the flesh! Your photos are wonderful- and so happy to have the ones of Santiago, Pauleena and Salvador- as I did not have photos of these loved ones. Safe and happy trails to you…and looking forward to your ramblings.

    • the curious rambler
      May 1, 2015 at 9:49 pm

      Thanks Laura Lee..I hope to ramble to PEI one day; Eastern Canada is still to be explored for me. I’m hoping sooner rather than later but who knows. Happy days to you, may they be filled with yumminess, and peace :)

  9. laura
    April 28, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Amore!