**update 2015-01-12 The center Luz Cosmica is now known as La Nueva Luz http://lanuevaluz.jimdo.com/
The second reason that we left the Center early was a financial situation. No it wasn’t our situation but that of the owner. One difficulty in Peru and I maybe even South America is that it hard to know what is really happening as we’ve been told by several people that everyone here lies and that people would sell their mother or do just about anything for money.
We had first contacted Anaconda Cosmica Center and we received an email reply saying that they were full and they would be sending us to Luz Cosmica instead. We thought it was nice they were helping us out and handle all of the arrangements.
We didn’t want to carry a lot of cash with us because we heard of theft, muggings, kidnappings etc… So when the option came up to do a bank to bank transfer that seemed like a great idea. We wired the money to Omar and was told that it went through.
It wasn’t until a week before we were to leave that we received an email from Anaconda Cosmica asking if we were sill coming. We told them that we had worked with someone from Anaconda Cosmica to schedule at Luz Cosmica because Anaconda Cosmica was full. We also told them that we had already paid Omar Mori Segundo. Chris had verified that Omar worked for Anaconda Cosmica and also saw that he worked for Luz Cosmica. Omar’s name was on both websites as the contact person. We didn’t think too much of this at the time and just thought it was some kind of scheduling conflict. We were a little concerned that we may have paid the wrong person. We arrived in Iquitos late in the day on April 4th and thee next day we were picked up by a mototaxi for our ride out to Luz Cosmica. Omar met us to walk us out to the Center. It was good that he was a real person.
It wasn’t until about 2 weeks into our stay that we heard that the owner of the center James Arevalo had never received our money from Omar. We started asking questions of other people staying there. Most people did not pay in full like we did. Some only paid 20%, some paid just a week at a time, some paid via PayPal and some paid cash.
This is where it gets interesting. The person that paid via PayPal, their money never made it to James despite the receipt showing that it went to the Luz Cosmica gmail account. One person that brought cash made it all the way out to the center where Omar asked for the money which he handed over. Another person, from Switzerland, had also done the bank transfer and his money never made it to James either. It seems that Omar was keeping all of the money for himself. Whether it was cash, bank transfer or PayPal, Omar was keeping all of it. James and the Luz Cosmica center were getting nothing. A few people had paid James directly to extend their stays. So he at least had some cash.
We weren’t sure who or what to belive. In the coming weeks we learned that for the people that had given James some cash to extend their stays, James would come and ask for more money. He said he needed money for food or money for gasoline for the generator or money for this or that.
Even though the money that many of us had paid to Omar never made it to James there was still been enough cash paid directly to James to take care of all food and supplies.
We weren’t sure what to think of it. We never got hit up for additional cash but it was strange to hear that James would show up at 6:00 AM and ask a couple of people for cash then disappear for the rest of the day.
We were supposed to be eating a pretty basic diet of rice, eggs and some vegetables. But when the food started getting a bit low and the generator use had to be shortened to just 2 hours in the evening and then no generator the next evening, we thought it might be time to consider leaving. There was a growing unease about the whole situation and nobody knows what the whole story and what the true story is and we never will. It was even more intriguing when we learned that James’ sister, Hilda, was the manager at Anaconda Cosmica and that her husband was Omar Mori. So was it Omar that was taking all of the money or were Omar and Hilda working together? We will never know what really happened.
I just wanted to end by saying that James is a very good healer and is a very knowledgeable shaman, but perhaps not the best person at managing money.