Playa Blanca, Costa Rica Team

Our Healers

Maestra Karina Garcia Rios

Master Healer

Maestra Karina Garcia Rios, known by her Shipibo name, Inin Kena, which beautifully translates to “Covering the patient’s body with a beautiful smell,” was born in 1984 in Caco Macaya, Alto Ucayali. Maestra Karina represents the heart and soul of the Shipibo-Konibo indigenous group from the Ucayali Region, Pucallpa-Perú.  Maestra Karina’s journey with healing began in 2003 with her first …

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Maestra Maricela Rios Inuma

Master Healer

Maestra Maricela Rios Inuma is of the Shipibo nation from the area of Pucallpa in the Peruvian Amazon. Her path working with plant medicines began from a very young age – she first dieted the master plant Jaguar Caspi at the age of 13 to heal from a serious illness. Working with this plant she was able to heal completely, and this was the first step in a lifelong path of learning from the plant spirits…

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Maestro Francisco Vasquez Huayta

Master Healer

Maestro Francisco Vasquez Huayta is of the Shipibo nation from the area of Pucallpa in the Peruvian Amazon. He began his path with plant medicine dieting plants such as Nihue Rau, Marosa, and Piñon to be able to help people in his commuity heal all kinds of illnesses. Don Francisco is 70 years old, a respected elder amongst his community. He has worked in this context as an Onanya for the past 27 years…

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Maestro Soi (“A Smooth Luminous Light”) Ochavano Lopez

Master Healer

Born and raised in the community of Betania, Maestro Soi was born into a family of Maestros. This intimate connection between the plants and his family lineage, gifted him his unique name that’s taken from the feminine aspect of the sacred Tree, Noya Rao. ’Soi’ refers to the soft luminous light – an accurate description of Soi’s energetic essence. 39 yrs old, Maestro Soi’s healing path began …

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Mary Julliana Vasquez Rios

Master Healer

Mary Julliana was born in 1989 in the old Aguaypa community, Iparia district, Ucayali, Peru. Her Shipibo name is San Kenguano. Her mother and her father have been healers for many years. She learned about medicine since she was 15 years old, seeing how her mother, Maricela Ríos Inuma, prepared the remedies and …

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Maestra Olga Urquia Rengifo

Master Healer

Maestra Olga Urquia Rengifo comes from Roaboya, a small native community outside of Pucallpa, Peru. She has a natural gift for this work, having been immersed in the world of plant medicine since she was a young child.
Olga’s Shipibo name is “Bawan Same.” In her native language, “bawan” is the name of a brightly colored parrot that is known to have the characteristics of intelligence and kindness …

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Maestro Americo Lopez Sanchez

Master Healer

Américo Lopez Sanchez is from a town called Roaboya near Pucallpa, Peru. He also goes by the name Pekon Nima, which in Shipibo means “the many colors of nature.”  Américo is one of the healers that has chosen to share his medicine and love here at Soltara.  The story goes that Américo’s mother gave birth to him under a Shihuahuaco tree near a rubber plantation where …

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Maestro Moises Vasquez Nunta

Master Healer

Maestro Moises Vasquez Nunta is of the Shipibo nation from the area of the Ucayali River in the Peruvian Amazon. Born in 1981, Moises is a member of the up-and-coming generation of young Shipibo maestros who have committed to the long path of Master Plant Dietas and sacrifices needed to become …

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Our Advisors

Dr. Gabor Maté, M.D.

Advisor

Gabor Maté (pronounced GAH-bor MAH-tay) is a retired physician who, after 20 years of family practice and palliative care experience, worked for over a decade in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side with patients challenged by drug addiction and mental illness. The bestselling author of four books published in twenty-five languages, Gabor is an internationally renowned speaker highly …

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Dr. Dennis McKenna, PhD

Advisor: Eco-Initiatives, Permaculture and Mission

Dennis McKenna is an American ethnopharmacologist, research pharmacognosist, lecturer and author. He is a founding board member and the director of ethnopharmacology at the Heffter Research Institute, a non-profit organization concerned with the investigation of the potential therapeutic uses of psychedelic medicines. Dennis also serves on the Advisory Board of …

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Dr. Bia Labate, Ph.D.

Science and Culture Coordinator

Dr. Beatriz Caiuby Labate (Bia Labate) is a queer Brazilian anthropologist based in San Francisco. She has a Ph.D. in social anthropology from the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil. Her main areas of interest are the study of plant medicines, drug policy, shamanism, ritual, religion, and social justice …

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Dr. Clancy Cavnar, PsyD

Integration Support

Clancy Cavnar has a doctorate in clinical psychology (Psy.D.) from John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, CA. She currently works in private practice in San Francisco, and is Co-Founder and a member of the Board of Directors of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. She is also a research associate of the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP). She combines …

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Dr. Sharon Rafferty, PhD

Integration Support

Dr. Rafferty is a clinical psychologist licensed in the states of California and New York, with private practices in San Francisco and Oakland, CA and video conferencing capacity for clients in both states. Dr. Rafferty graduated from the California School of Professional Psychology in 2002 and holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Dr. Rafferty is a registered yoga teacher (RYT) …

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Our Staff

Daniel Cleland

Founding Partner | Chairman | CEO

Daniel Cleland is an international entrepreneur, traveller, and author of the book, Pulse of the Jungle: Ayahuasca, Adventures and Social Enterprise in the Amazon. Originating in Walkerton, Ontario, he has spent over a decade globe-trotting and hosting group tours all over Latin America and in the deepest parts of the Amazon to work with traditional indigenous medicine practices. After completing his Master’s of Intercultural …

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Melissa Stangl

Founding Partner | Chief Operating Officer | VP of Communications

After spending years working in scientific labs and corporate offices, Melissa realized the healing and transformative potential of working responsibly with psychedelics and plant medicine. In 2015, she consciously chose to leave Corporate America and moved to live and work in the Amazon jungle. Melissa has since used her background in engineering, science, and management to help advance the plant medicine and psychedelic movements …

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Ezio Cabalceta

Local Operations Manager

Ezio, born and raised in Costa Rica, comes from both Costa Rican oceans – Pacific and Atlantic. His father is from Guanacaste, along the Pacific Ocean, and his mother is from Limón, along the Caribbean Atlantic. As such, he considers himself a son of the ocean, and loves living a lifestyle that represents that, enjoying the ocean and taking care of it as much as he can, and sharing that same feeling with his wife and children. Since he was a young boy…

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Ilan Goldenblatt

Retreat Director

Ilan was born and raised in Israel. At 24 he moved to Vancouver Island, BC, Canada, which has been his home base ever since. Throughout his life, Ilan engaged in many avenues of change making, including peace activism, community activism, food activism, media activism and political work in the realm of Canadian Federal politics…
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Dr. Samantha Retrosi, PhD

Retreat Director

Samantha Retrosi, Director of Retreats at Soltara, holds a Ph.D in Sociology from George Mason University, specializing in the intersection of human consciousness and social structure. Her sociological work emphasizes the relationship between psychospiritual illness and contemporary systems of power which inform the emergence of …

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Nicole Bartzak

Guest Experience Coordinator

Nicole was born, raised and is currently based in Northern New Jersey.  Guided by a deep connection to spirit, natural curiosity and longing to reconnect to the Earth and the most exalted version of herself, Nicole first found herself sitting with Ayahuasca in February of 2012.  This experience inspired her to …
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Will Cooper

Facilitator

Will grew up in a small town in West Michigan and attended The Ohio State University on a full-ride scholarship, studying Political Science and History. Although he was a high performing student, Will began struggling with serious physical and mental health issues late in his college years, which eventually became debilitating and created an impasse…

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Jude

Facilitator

Jude was born in Papua New Guinea and raised in Brisbane, Australia. As a painfully shy 16 year old, he attended a Catholic youth weekend and was forever altered by it. It was the first time he could recall …

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Paola Paredes

Facilitator | Translator

Paola is a visual artist from Peru. She previously worked in local media for several years and later as freelance in independent intercultural projects. Currently her art is focused on exploring the relationship between human beings and plants as a way of ritual. Paola began her plant medicine path in 2012 …

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Tatiana Caravaca

Yoga Teacher | Guest Pick-Ups

Hey Namaste! My name is Tatiana Caravaca, I am 30 years old and from Costa Rica. I come from a fishing family, farmers, and artisans. I am a native of Playa Blanca in the Gulf of Nicoya. I was born in the Sea, in a small boat on the way to the hospital towards Puntarenas, and I grew up in this beautiful, powerful, and healing jungle …

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Sharon Slate

Preparation & Integration Therapist

Sharon Slate was born and raised in Alberta, Canada. She has been a Psychologist for 17 years and for the last 5 years has been exploring the therapeutic use of psychedelics to help clients. She primarily works with people who have experienced trauma and works to help them navigate their healing journeys …

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Sean Chiddy

Psychotherapist | Integration Support

Sean Chiddy is a psychotherapist providing integration support to guests in preparation for their retreats and when they return home. He has also facilitated retreats at Soltara and specialises in combining applied mindful and other psychological approaches to help people confidently navigate the medicine space and get the most from their experiences …

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Tiffany Wen

Social Media Team

Tiffany Wen is a Senior Copywriter, born and bred in New York. As a junkie for world-changing brands on a mission, she works at the sweet spot of strategy and storytelling to help brands move their biggest fans and change conversations through all things digital content…

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Mattia Montanari

Social Media Team

Mattia is an LA-based Creative Director-Entrepreneur-Yoga Teacher originally from Italy. He’s honed his creative style by blending Art, Innovation, and Zen. With a rich background at renowned creative networks and experience crafting campaigns for global brands, he embarked on …

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Beto (Porras) Matarrita Gilberto

Head of Maintenance & Groundskeeping

Porras Matarrita Gilberto, also known as Beto, comes from Pueblo Nuevo, a very rural small town located about 20 minutes from Soltara. He grew up working on a farm and loves this type of work, connecting with nature and making a farm look beautiful. When he is not making sure all is running smoothly at Soltara, that is his work and passion. He also enjoys …

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Jesse Radford

Chef | Graphic Designer

Jesse grew up in the small town community of Walkerton, Ontario only two doors down from Dan.  Attending the same elementary school together and eventually the same college in London, Ontario where he obtained his degree as a Graphic Designer in 2003.  Without even realizing it, his culinary career began at a very young age in his Grandfather’s kitchen …

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Massiel Obando Garcia

Kitchen Manager

Massiel Obando Garcia comes from a small town called Matagalpa located in Northern Nicaragua. She has lived in Costa Rica since 2009 in Playa Blanca, one of the beautiful beaches right next to Soltara. She loves cooking and everything that has to do with it, and her passion shows in the food she makes at Soltara! She loves working with local foods, local exotic fruits, organic vegetables and …

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Mayela Nunez Matarrita

Head of Housekeeping

Mayela Nunez Matarrita is from Playa Paloma, one of the beaches right next to Soltara. She and most of her family live down there, having grown up in the beautiful local community where Soltara is located. She started working in HouseKeeping at different hotels in San Jose, about 4 hours away from her home, until she found the opportunity to live …

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