I met Leonie through my cousin, Weston. After speaking through email and once on the phone, she graciously agreed to let me stay with her family at Las Chullpas for nearly three months to focus on my health.
I was 18, and had been diagnosed with asthma 14 years before at the age of four. For the entire span of my concrete memory, my life had been organized around a rhythm of inhalers. Over the course of adolescence the list of medications lengthened with pills to deal with heartburn caused by the inhalers, pills to manage allergies and constantly stuffed sinuses; not to mention a digestive tract that had never fully recovered from a South African virus that tore my appendix three years before. I was a real fixer-upper.
Leonie gave me the tools and the power to heal myself. She prescribed teas, diets, and meticulous instructions for the timing and application of each remedy. Most importantly she asked me to acknowledge the self-isolating walls of guilt and anger that I had built around myself growing up.
I went off, and stayed off all of my medications following my time with Leonie. And I’ve felt alive ever since: for instance I cry now (I never used to be able to do this before when I was upset). Leonie showed me how strong and malleable my body is; she proved to me that I can always change it, and that I can always have power over my own health.
It’s a great comfort knowing Leo is in the world, performing her work with such signature, and certainly irreplaceable, passion.