Zihuatanejo Project

island by Louise Bristow

The Zihuatanejo Project was an intentional community created during the summers of 1962 and 1963 by Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert under the umbrella of their nonprofit group, the International Federation for Internal Freedom (IFIF). The community was located in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, and took up residence at the Catalina Hotel. The idea for the community was based on the fictional story from Aldous Huxley’s 1962 novel, ‘Island.’¬†Immigration officials were tipped off to the project when the Mexican media began reporting stories about an ‘LSD Paradise.’ In the summer of 1963, after only six weeks the Mexican authorities shut the community down.

More than 5,000 people applied to the IFIF in the hopes of joining the project in Zihuatanejo. Out of this pool of applicants, a small, select group of people were chosen. Amenities cost $200 a month per person, including food and lodging in bungalows near a secluded beach. Fishermen supplied a bounty of fresh fish from the bay. Leary and 35 guests rented the Catalina Hotel for a month using the ‘Tibetan Book of the Dead’ as a guide book for LSD sessions, while Ralph Metzner and Richard Alpert helped manage the group. Group LSD sessions began in the morning with the consumption of liquid LSD, with a dosage of 100 to 500 micrograms ingested by participating individuals; the experience would usually last until late afternoon.

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