Meet The Story Of This Unique Black-Owned Wellness Retreat In South America
Photo Credit: Courtesy of La Vida Divine Healing Institute

Photo Credit: Courtesy of La Vida Divine Healing Institute

Meet The Story Of This Unique Black-Owned Wellness Retreat In South America

black owned business , Ecuador , south america , Wellness , Wellness Retreats , Wellness Travel
Brunno Braga
Brunno Braga Oct 27, 2022

La Vida Divine Healing Institute, a Black-owned wellness retreat in Maca a town in the basin of the Amazon jungle in Ecuador, is a place to visit in South America for those seeking a natural healing environment. The retreat, owned by Jhoselyn Catalina Riffo and Courtney Gaddy, is a result of many years of experience in individual and couple therapy in many forms.  Now, they want to spread the importance of staying in a plant-based location for physical, mental and spiritual well-being. 

The retreat works to increase the availability and accessibility of plant medicine and healing to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color). It also aims to improve other underserved and underrepresented communities.

In an interview with Travel Noire, Catalina Riffo and Gaddy shared their story of  the owners of this unique Black-owned retreat located in South America.

The opening

Courtesy of La Vida Divine Healing Institute

We opened in July 2020. The previous owners inquired if we were interested in purchasing the business since they needed to resettle back in the United States to be with their families. Jhoselyn left her 19-year nursing career to manage the retreat center full time. She has been a Curandera for the past 12 years working with Plant Medicine and training under the auspice of the Shuar community.

The Inspiration

Courtesy of La Vida Divine Healing Institute

We know there are many plant medicine and ancestral healing spaces to choose from; however, there aren’t many safe spaces for BIPOC and Queer folks. Our stories and healing needs are unique and should be intentionally addressed.

Plant Medicine Retreat, Ayuasca and Tantra Energy

Courtesy of La Vida Divine Healing Institute

We offer 6,8,10 day retreats to journey with ancestral medicines of Ayahuasca, San Pedro, and other plant medicines. During our retreats, we incorporate other healing modalities such as meditation, movement, and a complete program to integrate the experiences of our community.

Jhoselyn and Gaddy have a vast experience in individual and couple’s therapy in all types of dynamics ranging from monogamy to ethical non-monogamy. Jhoselyn has been working as a Curandera for over 12 years. The direct translation of Curandera is “one that heals.” She uses her family lineage experiences and training in diverse energy healing and meditation. Our guests experience a traditional indigenous ceremony led by our Shaman.

The South American tradition is at the forefront of the experience, while we also include customs from Gaddy’s African American roots.

Tantra means ” the weaving.” Tantra has been Jhoselyn’s path for the past 10 years. We’ve incorporated some of those teachings into our work for individuals interested in diving into a more profound energetic experience.

Main tourist attractions in Maca

Courtesy of La Vida Divine Healing Institute

Macas is a small and beautiful town in the basin of the Amazon jungle of Ecuador. The name of our town means ” Emerald of the jungle.” There are several waterfalls, delectable food, and culture.

There are excursions with trusted guides for those wanting the opportunity to dive deeper into the wilderness. Our healing hut sits next to one of the many beautiful rivers in Macas.


Courtesy of La Vida Divine Healing Institute

We don’t know of another BIPOC and queer-run center worldwide. Our hearts have immense gratitude for having a place for two severely underrepresented and marginalized communities. Additionally, Gaddy is on the spectrum. We are designing a program specifically for Nerodiverent individuals so they can also receive healing in an environment conducive to their needs.

Plans for the future

Our lives have been forever changed by the healing we’ve experienced. Our mission is to extend love and support to all who step through our doors. We yearn to aid those seeking a life where they are healed and free. Some of our plans include expanding and creating more spaces worldwide for healing journeys.

A Black-owned retreat in South America

Courtesy of La Vida Divine Healing Institute

Seeing how much ancestral healing has been done here has been incredible. I’ve connected to my roots and ancestors more here than in the United States. My African ancestors had an affinity and appreciation for nature, and my love and gratefulness have grown significantly since moving here. It’s been a pleasure learning about the Afro-Ecuadorian population. The culture is rich and fascinating. There’s a section of our property that we’ve designated for our ancestors. We honor them with plants, and some guests have even poured libations to those who have walked before us. 

How to contact

Courtesy of La Vida Divine Healing Institute

There are several ways to connect with us. Here’s the link to our website.


Below are our social media handles.

Facebook: Ayahuasca In Ecuador

Instagram: Ayahuasca_En_Ecuador

Tiktok: Ayahuasca_En_Ecuador

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