Why you shouldn't go to Victoria Bidwell's Best Natural Hygiene health retreat, also called Hygiene homestead in the woods, Nature cure raw food health retreat, or Get Well Stay Well America.
First of all, and far from the worst transgression, it is not a picturesque homestead deep in the woods. It's a fenced in acre property, you can see the neighbors next door, and Victoria lives 5 miles away.
Yes, that's right, Victoria lives 5 miles away, she usually (but not always) visits once a day, usually in the evening, sometimes at midnight, sometimes at 3 in the morning. Her reputation for loudly speaking her mind never fails her even then. She is also not above doing housework at odd hours and on one occasion using a hammer outside my room at 2am. It is not an uncommon experience to get woken up at odd hours there.
When Victoria had a knee surgery months back, she left at least one faster completely unmonitored for weeks at a time.
One man who fasted at her retreat, found himself crippled due to severe inflammation. Unable to move his hands or drive (or stand, or walk) after he finished the fast, Victoria made him live in his truck for $175 a week, even when beds became available. On his third day breaking his 30 day fast she gave him nut butter and crackers. At times she would give him things like beans and hummus, or anything that was left over in her fridge. She frequently complained to other retreaters about the burden of having him there. At one point she calls him a "dog" to another retreater. Finally she got him prednisone so he could drive out of there, but would only take him to a clinic to get the prednisone if he signed a statement releasing her of any wrong doing and praising her care.
Gossips with retreaters about other retreaters. Sometimes passive aggressively so the retreater will hear. She has a tendency to take her personal problems out on retreaters.
One retreater 35 days into a fast (I will call the retreater Mary for convenience), couldn't hold down water. Victoria told Mary, that she needed to be strong and stick it out, because that's what another retreater did. Then, 5 days later, Victoria wanted Mary to stop. Mary wanted to keep going at that point, so Victoria took screaming at her and calling her passive aggressive.
Mary spent most of her retreat in a barn, that reached sauna temperatures in the afternoons. Victoria thought this was perfectly acceptable accommodation. Despite the obvious enervating quality (not very hygienic). The cleaning lady did not even feel like she could stay in the barn long enough to clean it, let alone figure out how someone could live in there.
Mary was moved out of the barn into a couch in the library on day 33 of her fast, then moved back into the barn on day 42. As in, had to pack up all her own things and move.
Two brothers had a complete mental breakdown after their fast. It is not my place to speculate exactly why. What I do know, in their particular case they were given way too much to refeed. As in, an entire water melon each the first day. You are left to your own devices as to how you refeed, no one is around cutting up portions for you.
The refeeding likely had nothing to do with the mental break down, and it probably could have happened at any fasting retreat, the problem is that the retreaters were aware the brothers (I will call the younger one Tom and the older one Louis for convenience) were going crazy before Victoria was.
I was moved into the barn when I initially arrived, which is why Mary was moved into the library. Within a few days my allergies became unbearable there, and the heat was causing me to throw up. So, I moved myself onto the couch in the main house. Tom and Louis were staying upstairs. I had a conversation with another retreater at 2 in the afternoon. Tom and Louis requested I not have conversations in the house, so they can better deal with their healing crisis. I didn't think this was terribly unreasonable. Then, I heard them talking rather loudly when I was going to bed, so I asked them to keep it down a bit. Victoria comes by around 10pm that night. They report me to Victoria saying I had no right to be on the couch. So Victoria said I had to move back into the barn until a room became available in 2 days (she said I do not have "squatting rights"). I refused, so she said if the brothers agreed I could sleep on the couch. Other wise she would have to get me a motel (?!). Tom and Louis agreed that 2 days was fine, under the terms I had no rights as a couch surfer. So, she told me they could be as loud as they want, at any time they want, and I shant dare say anything. At that point I threatened to leave, so she said she didn't mean to favor Tom and Louis, or something like that, I don't recall exactly. In any case the brothers spent the entire night screaming and hitting each other. I spent the night on the phone with a friend, 4 days into a fast at this point, confused as to how to deal with the whole situation. Victoria was under the impression they were doing "exercises" to relieve stress.
Victoria only realized something was wrong, when Louis attacked a guest while he was sleeping. The next morning Victoria said she would have them on a plane that night. Instead, they slept at Victoria's place. She brought the brothers back with her to the retreat the next day while she checked up on people. Victoria put the older brother into the barn. I had went to get something I had left there when I noticed him, covered in scratches and bruises. Basically I was alone with a mentally unstable person who wasn't supposed to be there.
After that, the older brother went to the airport, while the younger brother stayed at Victoria's another night. He ran away from Victoria's house that night, back to the retreat, and stood outside a retreater door screaming and making weird noises. The following night, he ran away again, the police found him and took him to a hospital. Eventually his parents flew to Washington to see him and take him home.
I chose to end my fast after 11 days at her retreat because I did not feel comfortable 1)Being vulnerable in an environment where I did not feel safe. 2)Was worried she was not going to assist me in breaking my fast properly, that she might ignore my food sensitivities
(Victoria insisted on giving another retreater nuts during refeeding who was intolerant to them), or that there would be no food there if I needed to end my fast early/suddenly and she wasn't around. 3) was concerned she wouldn't even provide transportation to the bus station on time that takes me to the airport, she was an hour late picking me up when I got there.
I "snuck out" with another retreater at 8 in the morning, because we felt that we could not simply tell Victoria we were leaving without angry confrontation. This is obviously extremely unprofessional.
Over all Victoria's attitude was heavily egocentric, arrogant, aggressive, and self righteous. She does not practice natural hygiene herself, I don't think she really remembers what she wrote in her books. She is 200 pounds
over weight, has a hearing aid and cataracts at 70 (which is not standard for a practicing natural hygienist or raw vegan, see Lou Corona). She stays up all night and sleeps all day. She admits she eats meat all day 1 day a week, and has been heard bragging about her outings at the olive garden. Again, if she ran the retreat properly, that wouldn't even be a big deal.
So, obviously don't fast there, and be extremely cautious where you go for a supervised fast. Honestly after that experience I feel supervised fasting is overrated, and most people could go 20-30 days on their own. You're better off getting a motel and maybe having a naturopath you can call once a week, rather than being vulnerable around a controlling person, who's mainly out for your money.