JOURNEY TO SOURCE / COLOMBIA / VENEZUELA / 8 JANUARY 2020
Time to next expedition:
“The journey does not start when we hit the road, and does not end when we reach the finish. In fact, it starts much earlier and practically never ends, because the ‘memory tape’ turns around in us, even though we have not physically moved away for a long time. After all, there is such a thing as a travel-bug and it is a kind of disease that is basically incurable.”
JOURNEY TO SOURCE
COLOMBIA / VENEZUELA
This journey will take place in the area of the Venezuelan Amazon, sailing on the tributaries of the Orinoco River and meeting with the indigenous communities of Piaroa and Yanomami.
Traditionally, during the Colombian part of the trip we visit the Caribbean beaches, located on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada, inhabited by the Kogi Indians. We visit the postcolonial port city of Santa Marta, and work with the traditional medicines – Yage, Yopo, Dada and Rapé – with traditions and ceremonies that have been cultivated by the indigenous people of the Colombian Putumayo and the Venezuelan Amazon.
This unique trip will be the first attempt to combine travel between the two neighbouring countries, where the tradition and rituals of indigenous people have conserved their original character.
IDEA OF THE MONTH LONG TRIP:
The duration of the trip – a month’s travel across the country; has a meaning that results from the very nature of the trip – travelling long distances, conditioned by the size of the country, journeying to the most remote corners of the Amazon requires concentration, strength and time. This is not a tourist and recreational trip, but a spiritual journey, which, with the passage of time, whilst traveling the country and encountering indigenous cultures, triggers an internal process of change in each one of us.
After about two weeks of being together, new spaces open before us, allowing us to see things that until now, are hidden deep in the subconscious, and were not perceived. In this dimension, time has a healing effect and allows you to look at different places within yourself to make changes on a regular basis. Therefore, the second part of the trip allows you to put into practice the newly acquired experience. Constant contact with beautiful wildlife and medicinal plants supports and strengthens this process.
Away from tourists, infrastructure, and worn trails, and cradled to sleep in hammocks – we remember what is present in us and what is missing in urban realities – a deep connection with self and nature. It is She who sharpens our senses and expands our perception, deepening our mindfulness and contact with ourselves. Nature contains answers that we also carry in ourselves.
Being with others is also an important component in this process. In addition to individual work on yourself and observing your own process, the expedition is a kind of alternative trip community – being together and following what will naturally appear in the common space. Our own space expands, becoming a shared space. We intuitively begin to sense more and more subtle energies and thus new possibilities of cognition open before each of us.
To consciously participate in this process with others, authenticity, communication and transparency are also important. The opportunity to look at these values will lead us to meetings in a circle, initiated depending on the needs of the group. The circle is a kind of living organism, a space of mindfulness and being; whereby listening to each other and sharing what is important to us in the moment and giving attention to ourselves and others is valued. In this way everyone is heard, and no one’s needs are ignored. By learning from each other, we become part of a whole in which everything completes and reflects itself.
Listening to yourself and others, experiencing the constant changeability of the world, brings inspiration from being together, from expanding borders and exchanging. This supports development; not only on a personal level, but also invites changes in the functioning of the group. What is important in this is trust in the process, a lively response to life, and living in the moment. Softness, breath and relaxation are the keys to expanding perception, and allow you to give up fear and opens you to a natural flow of life. This is the key to finding yourself and your place in the world.
Specify your personal “What for?”, and then embark on a trip with us, during which we will support you in finding the essence of what is most important to you at this moment in time.
EXPEDITION PLAN AND ROUTE
Trip length: 27 days
Starting in Bogota: 8th January
Ending in Bogota: 3rd February
Arrival in the capital of Colombia, Bogota – transfer to the hotel and meet other travellers. During dinner we talk about the rules of cooperation in the group and discuss in detail the program of the expedition.
In the morning we stroll the streets of Bogota, visiting attractions in the historical part of the city. Our goal will be the famous Gold Museum and the Monserrate Hill, which offers a panorama of the 8-million metropolis, and a view of the mighty Tolima volcano. There will be time to learn about the local cuisine and numerous local curiosities.
Day 3, 4, 5:
We take a tour of Bogota, and spend two nights in the city, at our first meetings with the Yage medicine. The ceremonies are hosted by Taita Jesus Agreda Chindoy, son of Taita Floro.
Day 6 – 20:
VENEZUELA, PIAROA AND YANOMAMI COMMUNITIES – ON THE ORINOCO RIVER – 15 days.
After a night’s rest in the hotel, we begin the journey to Venezuela.
Despite all the reports in the media about the current political and economic situation in Venezuela, the scope of our trip covers territories that our trusted guides consider safe. We visit regions distant from large cities and crowds. Our goal will be places where a traditional lifestyle prevails, uncontaminated by the activities of the modern world.
The route starts in Puerto Careno, on the border between Colombia and Venezuela. After an hour’s trip by boat and to cross the border on the other side of the river, we go by car deep into the jungle (a 2 hours’ drive from the Venezuelan town of Puerto Ayacucho).
The purpose of our trip is encounters with two Indian communities from the deep Amazon: Piaroa and Yanomami.
The Piaroa community is also known as De ‘arua (Forest Masters) and Wothuha (People of Knowledge). They are ancient people who live along the Orinoco River, and just getting to their homes is an exciting experience.
Piaroa are known as guardians of the Yopo ceremony and ritual with the mysterious Dada plant, in which the rope (as well as in other customs and stories passed down by the ancestors), is introduced to us during our stay in their territory in Yahuarapu. In addition to Yopo and Dada, we learn their Ayahuasca drinking tradition, which they call Tuhuipä. They prepare this medicine in a slightly different way, often combining with the intake of Yopo.
FILM ABOUT PIAROA INDIANS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKzIFN6NVSk
Piaroa shamans are responsible for maintaining prosperity for their central ceremonial house, Churuata. The shaman’s wife expects him to work for the whole family, for the abundance of wild fruit and fish in the rivers. The “tools” used by Piaroa’s Meñéruhua shamans are Tobacco, Tuipa (Caapi), La Ñua (Yopo) and Dada, and their basic and most important method – very sublime family songs that are transmitted orally by parents to their children.
Both the shaman Meñéruhua and his companions, while singing, strike their chest with a closed fist so that the sound coming out of it vibrates properly. These songs are designed to transform the structure of water, honey, food or even snake venom when it bites a man. In the last case, thanks to the ritual, the poison turns into sweet juice. Meñéruhua sing every other day into the water, using their own names of rivers and waterfalls. This ritual, depending on their intentions, serves, among others, to prevent and treat various illnesses.
After a visit among the people of Piaroa, we journey by plane, and then boat south of Venezuela to another, even more isolated people, the Yanomami.
YANOMAMI COMMUNITY FILM: https://youtu.be/SkK5I9PdfMI
This tribe, inhabiting Brazil and Venezuela, is considered one of the last living tribes almost completely isolated from Western civilization. Therefore, the Yanomami and their customs are still surrounded by mystery and sometimes misunderstanding. About half of them exist on the outskirts of settlements and religious missions, the others live in about 400 clusters in the jungle. The Yanomami language differs from other Amazon tools. There are speculations that the Yanomami may be descendants of the first inhabitants of South America.
We have a unique opportunity to meet them personally, living with them in Shabono – large round houses with a diameter of over 50m, in which the entire settlement lives, not just individual families. Dozens of families live in each such cottage. Each of them is centered around its own bonfire. The Yanomami guest can expect the host to offer his wife for the night to show respect. Members of the tribe deal with hunting, they also fish, sometimes poisoning the water with special herbs and bark. Again, we will be given the opportunity to learn and try their medicines, such as Yopo, Rapé , as well as an extremely rare medicine -Epena, which, like Rapé and Yopo, is blown into the nose. Locals believe that this plant gives them strength and provides hunters with abundant booty.
To return from this leg of the journey, we have an unusual six-day return cruise on the Orinoco River and its tributaries where a large safe boat becomes our home. We sleep in hammocks and eat what we prepare ourselves, stopping at indigenous coastal villages to attend the Yage, Mambe and Rapé ceremonies.
After the trip, we return to Bogota, where after a rest in the hotel, we prepare for the further journey to the Caribbean beaches of Colombia.
Day 21, 22, 23:
From Bogota we go by plane to the oldest port city of Santa Marta. This is the first Spanish settlement of Colombia. Here, we savour the port climate and excellent Caribbean cuisine. From here we go through the rainforest to the place of Playa Brava – a remote nature reserve on the coast of the Caribbean Sea in the heart of Tayrona National Park. From this beach we set out to visit other holy places, led by Mama Manuel, the head of the Kogi Indian community living in nearby villages. Here we also sleep in hammocks (optionally in bungalows).
We spend the last weekend of our monthly journey in Kalache, where, surrounded by mountains and forest, on the river with waterfall, in our ceremonial Maloka we take part in our last two Yage ceremonies – Ayahuasca, conducted by Taita Florentino Agreda, a guide from the Kamentza community.
Day 26 and 27
We return from Kalache to Santa Marta, enjoy our last day together, exploring the city with time for last-minute shopping and reflections before the return flight to end our trip in Bogota on December 3.
AND GUIDES TO EXPEDITIONS
Group leader – translator – responsible for logistics during ONE RIVER trips.
Darious is a founder and organizer of the One River Project and as a host he is responsible for logistics during all expeditions. Since 2010 he has been organizing trips to Colombia, exploring local culture and rituals. He is a guide, traveller, musician, animator of events in Poland, the USA and Colombia, speaks Polish, Spanish and English and regularly translates between all three. Darius treats life as a journey, combining work with passion. A free spirit, he loves people and make friends with teachers and leaders as well as the indigenous people of Colombia and Mexico. A practitioner on the spiritual path associated with traditional medicines of the Amazon and the Andes, he has learned ancient techniques that in our reality have turned out to be proven tools for therapy and personal development.
“Walking on the streets of Medellin in 2012, not accidentally I came across a beautiful movie poster depicting a powerful, turbulent waterfall and on its edge you could see indigenous inhabitants standing and looking down at the foaming waves. Captivated by this sight, a few days later I found myself in the movie theatre watching that documentary called “Apaporis- in Search of One River”.
The movie is based on fragments from a book written by an anthropologist, Wade Davis. The book is about his teacher, Harvard professor, anthropologist and ethnobotanist Richard Evan Schultes, and his multiple trips during the interwar period into the Amazon forest in searching of gum trees – mostly for the purpose of dynamically developing arms industry. Schultes was fascinated by the riches of the Amazon rainforest and decided to stay with the Indian tribes for many years in order to study medicinal plants and accompanying them rituals.
The medical tradition was the reason why many indigenous cultures and their cosmologies survived and the trailblazing work of Professor Schultes is still considered to be one of the most important achievements in the field of ethnobotany and anthropology.
The movie brought me to a magical world of indigenous cultures that lived in seclusion for millennia. The beauty of the landscapes and poetic style of this film enriched with a narrative based on professor Schultes’ reflections taken from his manuscript as well as the indigenous shamans and inhabitants of the Amazonian village, mesmerized me to the point that I promised myself to organize a journey to that place.
Several years have passed already and this idea hasn’t withered, it only has matured and is constantly evolving.
It is my great pleasure to invite you on a journey to Colombia for one month long adventure and a spiritual expedition, thanks to which the whole project earned its name: ONE RIVER – “Journey to the Source.”
Therapist and group supervisor.
Agata has been working as a psychotherapist for many years and she calls this chapter “her third life”. Before she started working in this profession she graduated in Fine Arts obtaining a master degree in Illustration. In her “first life” Agata launched an exhibition of her artworks, illustrated several books and published a page for children in Pomeranian Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper.
In her “second life” she worked as a journalist, writing mostly for newspapers. She hosted several radio programs and dozen TV shows. She ended this chapter many years ago and began to organize empowering workshops for women along with year-round development groups for women. These experiences pushed Agata to deepen her knowledge in the area of development, psychological help and psychotherapy.
Her “third life” was established during the training at the College of Psychotherapy in the Psychoeducation Laboratory and the training of Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy. She learned from Arnold Mindell (POP) and Josette ten Have-de Labije (ISTDP). In 2018 she completed a Somatic Experience training (work with traumas), and currently she is in the course of the SOMA Embodiment training. Both of these trainings concentrate on the physical body, being in the body and returning to the feeling of an authentic Self. It is not only a container for knowledge or thoughts, but also feelings – and rooting those feelings within your true Self.
During our travels, Agata will support the group process, leading meetings after ceremonies, helping integrate insights and experiences related to ceremonial work with Medicine.
Not a jungle, because it has already called me years ago. It was then, among the Panare Indians, that I felt the time rolling over my body cells, drop by drop, connecting me with infinity. And I feel this connection constantly. And probably not even with the group, although the joy of following what is calling only for me during the journey is great.
Colombia was a surprise, because it was never on my map, my next flight supposingly should not be to Bogota. But by accident, so suddenly and out of nowhere I read about the expedition. And the idea of the descent under the 100 meter waterfall stayed with me, coming back into my dreams, seducing with something I did not know. I broke through my anxiety about being with unknown people for a month. Also because it was Colombia and not Peru and that someone will decide and I will just follow. Nevertheless set off and found myself in the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen with the people who became very close to me during the trip. With experiences which I will never forget. Like that I have changed the course of my life.
What stayed vividly in my heart was the end of the last ceremony at Taita”s Ernesto. A moment in a small camp surrounded by cocoa trees, where during the ceremony children from the village slept under our hammocks. We sat in a circle then, and four Taitas walked between us, praying, playing, singing and dancing. Everyone at their own pace, immersed in their process, being with us and for us. The dawn, cacophony of sounds, vibrating Wairas and Medicine made me feel like a veil between worlds becoming thin, almost transparent. Looking at the singing Taitas, people I was traveling with; Darek, who was our bridge to this world, I felt very strongly and clearly at home. At home. And that this home is not a place, but a living gathering at the intersection of worlds – a moment in space, in which all what is different and separate becomes one.
When, many days later, I went out at night in the full moon, climbing 4270 meters in the Sierra Nevada, and like a mantra I repeated the words of the song „Madre tierra madre tierra yo te alabo yo te alabo, porque eres el origen de la vida” this memory accompanied until dawn. It gave me strength, as did the huge stones that the Kogui Indians called their Ancestros. And when an eagle came from far away and hoovered over us so low that I could almost see its claws, the sense of HOME, belonging and connection, being at home in my life penetrated even deeper and opened another door. This is why I am here.”
Group supervisor, guide, translator.
Alexander has lived and worked in Colombia since 2015. To him traveling is what stabilization, home, work and security means to others. He has lived in Italy, Spain, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. He used to work in non-government agencies, student organizations, at universities, schools, bars and even at a gas station. He joined OneRiver project following the path of Medicine. OneRiver is the culmination of many years of searching for his own path, or in this case- his own one river. He sees his role in the project as a messenger and a guide, but also an explorer, even if as some may say, there is nothing left to be discovered. Alexander has an extraordinary gift of listening and telling stories in spirit of Magical Realism. His open personality will be helpful in building relationships within the group, and his linguistic skills will be a great support for the expedition, especially when coming in contact with new communities. His task is to facilitate your contact with locals and people from indigenous tribes who whisper their stories of the Earth.
The question “what are travels for you?” has always been one of the hardest to answer for me. Because what are they not? For me, travel is a wonderful manifestation of the hermetic doctrine of the identity of opposites: they are everything and nothing at the same time. Everything, because it is the most natural state of mind to me, nothing – because it is so natural that it is difficult to specify. I have always been leaving someplace and going somewhere since I was a child: with my parents, for projects, working abroad etc., but I started to travel much later – it was only when I stopped expecting and comparing, and started just to be, finding myself in a new context.
Places, cultures and people who have grown out of them do not have to do anything – they do not have to be hospitable, polite, wear turban or poncho, drive safely, dance Cumbia on the streets. They have no obligations towards you or me. Those expectations of what someone should or should not morph later on into comparisons and assessments: it is worse here, better there. The journey begins when both – expectations and comparisons disappear.
During OneRiver’s trip to Columbia, this problem won’t occur: the journey itself will cope with your expectations. OneRiver expeditions to the Fountains of Colombia are journeys to the sources of Magical Realism, whose traces are not so easy to find in the everyday life of big cities such as Medelin, Bogota or Cali.
With OneRiver we will discover that what Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Louis Borges, Isabel Allende wrote about, is rooted deeply in the lands of Putumayo, Sierra Nevada or Tolima, and that this magic can be experienced in a much purer, condensed form than the literary one. With OneRiver we will be able to get drunk with this magic, walk on it and fill our hearts with it for a long time. Aho! “
TERMS OF PARTICIPATION:
COST OF ONE MONTH EXPEDITION:
THE PRICE INCLUDES:
– All local journeys, 5 flights in Colombia and Venezuela
– Fees for events, workshops and ceremonies
– Insurance (Hestia or Compensa)
– Fees for guides with the necessary experience and equipment
– Small purchases
THE PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
– Flight tickets to Colombia
– Personal expenses
TERMS OF PARTICIPATION:
– Spaces are limited, early application secures you a place
– Complete the application form
– 50% deposit payment by November 30