Meet The Team
Jonathan first landed in Colombia in January 2009 while traveling toward Brazil from Mexico. He met his wife Melissa in Cartagena shortly after and never made it past Colombia. He fell in love with the country and its people, and he now considers Colombia home.
In 2011, while developing and operating hostels in the Coffee Region, he was first introduced to Yagé when volunteers staying with him invited a Taita from the Valley of Sibundoy to share his medicine with a small group of people from around the world.
That first ceremony changed Jonathan’s life forever. He found something in shamanic plant medicine he had been looking for his entire life. He had visions of himself working with medicine and developing a sustainable community like LACUNA.
He found a Yagé community near his home and businesses in Quindio, Colombia, and started attending weekly ceremonies with another great Taita from Sibondouy who relocated to the area. Being surrounded by curious travelers and volunteers at his hostels, he started bringing them to experience traditional Yagé ceremonies. The medicine attracted many great people and kept them around to continue to learn. Some stayed for weeks, others months, and some years.
After some time, Jonathan started to lose interest and his way in life. He ended up in significant debt and separated from his wife, and moved out of their family home. It was a rock bottom moment for him. A friend of the medicine and shaman told him that he should visit Taita Jairo in Putumayo, as he was the only one he knew who would be able to help. Jonathan called Jairo, who immediately invited him to Putumayo to cook Yagé.
Taita Jairo was different from all the others Jonathan had met and sat with over the years. He broke all of the rules and limitations that other shamans had set. They drank Yagé during the day, by rivers, in waterfalls, and hiked the Mountains of Putumayo with the medicine. Jairo showed no fear in exploring the unknown and expressed curiosity and creativity in a ceremony like none other..
After ten days with Jairo in Putumayo, on his last night there, Jonathan had a vision of his family and got the call to return home. The next morning he got in his car at dawn and drove for 22 hours, where he reunited with his wife at 4 am. They have been together since.
Jonathan has a love of hospitality and a curiosity to understand the world and humanity. Creating a community abundant with water, food, and medicine has always been at the top of his life goals. Over the years with his wife and teams, he has hosted over 100,000 guests in Colombia and shared Yagé with hundreds of people.
He has sat in hundreds of Yagé ceremonies and has dedicated his life to learning from and serving the plants.
Taita Jairo Aconcha - Jari Soma
Co-founder & Shaman
Taita Jairo was born a shaman and was drawn to a spiritual path from a young age. Jairo grew up with five uncles who were shamans that worked with Yagé. When Jairo was nine, the leader of the group gave him a bottle of Yagé to drink on his own and explained that he would be a great Taita and that he would teach many other shamans. He has not looked back since.
Jairo followed a path to Putumayo, known for its Yagé and Taitas who serve it. He connected with the Inga tribe and began his study to become a Taita. He has always been called to the jungle, searching for sacred lands to hold ceremonies. Jairo is known for his humility and grace, as well as his powerful medicine. He serves all who come to him with deep reverence for their personal healing.
Melissa grew up in Colombia in a land full of indigenous tribes but says that her American husband introduced her to those roots. She has been working with plant medicine since 2016, awakening her own spiritual and healing path.
Melissa loves hosting people. She managed a staff of 40 employees, welcoming up to 150 guests daily in her time operating hostels in the coffee region. She is known for her exceptional taste and attention to detail. Melissa is dedicated to ensuring that her guests have everything they need to feel safe, welcome, and comfortable while at the retreat center.
Register for the June LACUNA Retreat Today
Interested in attending a plant medicine retreat? Complete the form below and you will be directed to book an introduction call with the LACUNA team.