A Growing Project

The retreat center’s idea is born. But they have to find the money to do so. Manu and Paula have some saving, clearly not enough for such a project, and some of the Peruvian team even struggle to end the month.

Paula decides to sell the shares she has in the dive center she built a year and half ago. Paula and Manu sell everything they have to be as light as possible and to get some money too of course. They both fly on the end of April 2018 to Mallorca, Spain, to work at Paula’s brother dive center for the high season.

They stay in an old sheep restored shelter. Very basic, but it is a free roof. It consists in entering a single empty room passing through what Manu names a “Hobbit door” because of its size, and a bedroom, well because there is a mattress, on the first floor. The ground floor room is supposed to be a kitchen, because there is a water pipe going out the wall, and actually a 1.5m2 bathroom without door looking at where the sink is supposed to be. Well, it is free… So they build the kitchen out of the cheapest furniture kit they can find to make the place as decent as possible.

They go to work with a company car. The place is so isolated that it is impossible to go anywhere without a car or a bike. One day, when they come back from work, they realize that the door isn’t locked anymore. Paula runs up the stairs to the bedroom. The room is a mess. Everything is on the floor. The house has been visited while they were at work. Very quickly, they check what was gone and find out that 1200 euros cash are missing. Well, it is just money but it isn’t the best start to raise money, knowing that they spent some for the flight from Indonesia, some diving gear, some furniture for the house and all the classical expenses you have when you move somewhere.

“Lets hope that we make this money back quickly” they think.

Meanwhile all these events, the Whatsapp group is active and the talks are about legislation, how to make a company, getting to know where to find a land, the mistakes to avoid and so on. Mercedes is the agent on the field. She spends some days moving around the province, from small boats to Motocarro (local mototaxi), some hours walking through the forest and communities to get to meet some people, taking pictures, getting some quotations.

Moving with the company car during working day is a thing but it starts to be a bit delicate during the days off. So they decide to buy a cheap car. Manu is a handy person so it doesn’t matter if there is some fixing to do. Step by step, the car starts to reveal her “mysteries”; like the left back window holds with some part of a broom stick, none of the mechanic shop would accept to fix the electric roof (the car is a cabriolet), and that it has been crashed.

Manu and Paula send some money to Mercedes to help her to move around because some people are not that close to Iquitos and all the transports have a cost. And the discussions go on. About a workshop for Mercedes, about the fact that one or two Ayahuasca ceremonies are more than enough in a week. Most of the retreat centers propose up to 4 ceremonies a week because they comply with the fact that foreigners believe that the more you take, the better it is. People don’t have time to process their journey before they drink again the medicine. It is the best way to get confused, and lost. The Peruvian people who are following the teaching and healing of “Mama Ayahuasca” just have one or two ceremonies a month maximum. The efficency of the healing doesn’t depend on the quantity but on the proper process of the ceremony. That is where the idea of having individual debriefing of the ceremonies with the Shaman comes from.

Unfortunately, things don’t work out well between Paula’s brother and Manu, and Manu got fire from a day to another, without notice, one week after they bought the car…

“There is no way we can sell this car in the current condition. I will fix it and hope we can sell it without losing more money. Meanwhile, we look for another job, far from this place and we start again.” Manu said to Paula.

So they send their CVs everywhere to find a new job. They are looking for a short term contract to start the project as soon as possible. While Paula still works at the dive center, Manu finds a Venezuela guy, outside Manacor, a town 10 km away, who can help him to renew the car’s body for a very decent price. Manu offers his help to get the job done faster. So for three weeks Manu disassembles the car, sand, and sand, shapes plastic parts, fixes the windows, and the roof.

In the meantime, they are contacted by Royal Caribbean International (RCI), a cruise company to work as Aqua stage staff. Salary is decent and as food, accommodation, health insurance and flights are covered by the company, it would allow them to finally start to save money. But working for RCI implies to pass a medical exam in Barcelona, get papers from our countries and having them translated in English, and a visa that they only can get in Madrid. The whole process cost them about a thousand euro each.

The day the car is done, they publish an announce to sell it as soon as possible. They luckily manage to sell it the morning of their departure from Mallorca, with no gain, no loss.

They land in Miami on the 8th of September 2018 and board the Allure of the Seas on the next morning. The contract is for 29 weeks, without day off and for up to sometimes almost 14 hours per day.

During their time off, Paula is looking on website possibilities. She used to do the one for her dive center and she knows the process. Also she looks online for lands, suscribes to groups who sell things so she knows some prices and gets some ideas too. Manu designs all the buildings on a software and sends the plans to the group, specially to Mercedes so she can start to get some cotations to get a better idea of the budget needed. During the talks with the groups, topics like eco friendly come up. They talk about making sure the trees used for the project are not protected species, about growing their own food, avoiding single use plastics and so on. Also comes the idea of having Yoga classes and meditation. The Amazon forest is a wonderful place to practice these activities.

On the 3rd of April 2019, Manu and Paula leaves the boat in Cozumel , Mexico. They decide to spend a week in Playa del Carmen to relax before flying to Peru on the 10th. David is in California. He found love and spend some time in the city with his girlfriend, and some time in the mountains to help some friends of his in a farm. He plans to be back in Peru on the next month. Liza is in Lima, taking care of her family and writing some articles for the website. During the relaxing week, Paula officially starts the website.

Manu and Paula lands on the 11th of April 2019 in Iquitos, at 8:10 am. It has been almost 14 months since Manu left Peru. Money is raised but Paula and Manu know how fast this can be spent, and how careful and organized the team has to be to make the project happen and give a chance to Naturalia to see the sun one day.

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