A Journey to Yelapa

Exploring the Jungle and Shame

By Ryan Willms

Last spring I booked a trip to Yelapa, a small Mexican town south of Puerto Vallarta that’s only accessible by boat. There are no cars there, only donkeys, ATVs footpaths, a beautiful beach and a jungle. On weekends Yelapa’s main beach can get overrun by tourists coming to party during the day, I’d imagine how this is how most visitors have experienced the town over the years, but my trip aimed to take me a little bit deeper.

I’d never been to Yelapa before and I was traveling alone, from planes to cabs to metal boat “taxi” to meet a man with a donkey at the beach, who’d lead me and whoever else was coming on this journey, into the jungle. Fortunately it went smoothly and from the beach it was only about a 40 minute walk through the valley, crossing low water creeks, and climbing up onto the side of the hill for the next week. It was early March and the weather was perfect, hot during the day and cool in the evening, perfectly comfortable—and so it was time to get very uncomfortable.

The reason for the trip was to reconnect with the shaman and community I’d first worked with in Canada for my virgin plant medicine journey in fall 2018. That experience was transformational in many ways and thinking back to it now, it feels like I’d hardly scratched the surface, of myself I guess? I may be writing the same thing a year or two down the road, only time will tell, but at the time it was just what I needed. For my second inward adventure, as mother ayahuasca usually provides, again it was exactly what I needed.

The bay

The first experience with plant medicine I did four nights in a row of sitting with ayahuasca and that was the plan again this time. The setting was much different however. Rather than being in a rather uninspiring multi-purpose room at an off-season ski lodge, this was in Mexico, in the jungle, with an open air maloka made for just this type of ceremony. It was a beautiful setting, with the full moon high above, the breeze in the trees, the jungle hanging overhead the specially made maloka—it felt magical. Now, here we go. Four nights ahead of me. While it’s a good idea to go into ceremonies like this with an intention or series of them for each night, you still never really know where the medicine will take you and what sort of experience you’ll have once you drink down the thick prune juice-like-sludge.

It’s nearly impossible to put these experiences into words and when I’ve tried and done ‘well’, I still feel like I’ve only explained 20% of what it was like, how powerful it was, and the different layers of the experience. That’s 20% at best. Each night after ceremony I journal extensively to try and record as much as I can to keep the lessons close and accessible since there is usually A LOT to process. It can be physically exhausting, mentally stressful, or you can be completely removed from both the body and mind, and I’ve experienced both. For instance I tend to try to figure out ‘how the medicine works’ on each night, as I find once I do that I can navigate the lessons and how I can make sense of it all in a way that I can really use, but on my third night of the ceremonies in Yelapa my mind had been completely banished from the maloka. I couldn’t think, remember thoughts or ideas, I couldn’t use my mind to direct the experience or comprehend anything. All I could do was be completely present in each moment to the emotional and physical experience I was having. A powerful lesson, as anyone who knows me can probably attest to how I like to mentally sort out each and every situation in my life at every moment.


The four nights overall proved to be an incredible experience, going much much deeper than the first set of ceremonies I’d done, diving head first into issues of shame and anger that I’d never known were there, specifically with my father and grandfathers. I also was able to make true peace with an extremely painful breakup I’d had a couple years earlier which had indirectly sent me on this path (more on that later). Another night I was being tended to physically, as if in an 8-hour surgery on my entire body, I could hardly move and felt as if I was being worked on. Reading back my journal now, I noted this physical aspect as going into ‘system shutdown’ as I was receiving some new upgrades and meanwhile my mind and soul were off exploring other buried facets of my SELF.

One of the powerful aspects of this trip was the uncovering and discovery of shame. There were pieces to this that I was aware of with regards to the previously mentioned relationship, but it went so much deeper. I was able to explore the generational shame passed down by both of my grandfathers, through my father and how that had manifested in myself. I could both see and feel these burdens, and then let go of them. I was also able to dive into moments of my life that brought me a lot of shame, most of them I had completely forgot, or subconsciously buried more likely. From being caught master-bating by my father, to sexual partners I regretted, to not being able to finish or perform during sex, and watching too much pornography. These compiled into a concept that I’d never consciously read about or heard before, ‘Dick Shame’, which tied a lot of those experiences together, both from my personal past and generationally. It felt like an epiphany at the time, and it still feels powerful. These memories came flooding back into my body in both physical and emotional feelings and then all of the sudden it was time to let go. I blasted that useless shame into the universe through the night sky right out of my dick. It literally felt like I was cumming into the stars and when I was finished, I felt an incredible lightness and liberation in my heart and body.

There were many more lessons from these four nights and I enjoy reading my journal again every few months to remember the nights, but also to review the pieces I need to integrate and take action on. I feel like I’ve been really productive with the processing of this work, but I can usually find a couple of pieces that keep coming up that I haven’t delt with it. They’re sure to keep coming up in both life and ceremony until I put in the work, so that’s whats ahead on this path and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

This article was written by Ryan Willms and published on January 9, 2019