Heritage Ways


March 2011 046

Most people who visit Dominica exclaim over and over how green it is!

Most of the people who live here say one of the reasons they put up with all the challenges of living on a small island with low incomes is the access to nature.

Lucky for me growing up my parents loved to immerse in nature; our most frequent family outing was an experience in nature; visiting a lake or a park for a day or a week holiday. I still remember the feelings of well being after being immersed in nature and the deep refreshing sleeps after.

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Immersion in Nature is now scientifically proven to be healing!

I first learned this concept – nature is healing as part of a conscious lifestyle for health and wellness – in the 1980’s from the Rasta’s I studied during my year’s sabbatical in the West Indies studying Herbal Medicine; Appropriate Technology and Vegetarian Cooking!

Repeatedly as I interviewed people who were part of the Rasta Movement and interested in Healthy Conscious Living I heard that Immersion in Nature – gardening; hiking trails; nature walks; river baths; hot water soaks or visits to ‘Dr. Sea’ – was an intricate part of their Healthy Lifestyle.

Now Forest Bathing is offered everywhere.

The scientifically-proven benefits of exposure to nature include:

  • Boosted immune system functioning.
  • Reduced blood pressure.
  • Reduced stress.
  • Improved mood.
  • Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD.
  • Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness.
  • Increased energy level.
  • Improved sleep.

 

 

 

 

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“A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.”  — Paul Dudley White

 Join us for Hike Fest 2012! Walk in the footsteps of the ancestors. Take this unique opportunity to experience the healing energies of Dominica’s natural areas.

Hiking is a traditional way of life in Dominica. Only 100 years ago these same trails were our main method of getting around. In those days if you were from Grandbay, Castle Bruce or La Plaine and you wanted to sell your eggs, milk, or fresh produce in Roseau market you carried it over the paths often during the night cause if you left at dawn you could not get there early enough.

The Carib Indians paved their major paths with stones, you will see an example of this on the first hike of the fest. I love the thoughts of tredding on the same stones as those amazing people, who were so closely attuned to nature and such great navigators.

The Maroons, freedom fighters from the days of slavery, mapped the whole island out in trails joining all their villages, at one place called Jaco Flats there was a pulley system built to get big loads down the mountainside. These freedom fighters knew their paths and forest so well, foreigners thought they appeared and disappeared in the forest at will.

To this day our school trips are often “Belle Marches”, a much healthier and environment friendly school trip with many educatonal opportunities.

The Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association are an amazing example of what people can achieve working together to create a dream.

One part of the many ways DHTA promotes tourism here is their yearly Hike Fest.

As a visitor or resident this is a lovely opportunity to immerse in nature, explore the trails of Dominica and learn about the island while meeting a mix of people of many ages from Dominica and all over the world.

This year DHTA has partnered with the Waitukubuli National Trail, Discover Dominica Authority and various other Hiking Committees and Tourism Stakeholders to plan Hike Fest 2012.

This year’s itinerary:

Saturday May 05th

Waitikubuli National Trail Segment 5 (River Hike)

Pond Casse to Castle Bruce, ending at Castle Bruce playing field.

This trail nestled within the Morne Trois Pitons World Heritage Site traverses the Old Carib Trace – a Kalinago stone pathway that leads through the Emerald Pool and Fond Melle areas. It features the long standing contributions of our indigenous people, the struggles of a resilient people and the value of our forest and water resources.

Vegetation Type: Rain Forest, Cultivation & Coastal Forest

Distance: 12 km or 7.5 miles

Estimated Walking Time: 6 hrs

Climb: 533 miles or 1,750 ft

Type of Hike: Moderate, family hike

Areas of interest:

Old road (Carib trace)

Emerald Pool

Castle Bruce Swamp

Forest Station & Nursery

Neg Maron Headquarters

Savanne David

Castle Bruce Village

Jaco Cave

Morne Turner (Morne Neg Maron)

Creole Gardens

Spanny Falls (optional)

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Saturday May 19th

Segment 10 and part of 11 (Cross Country Hike)

Starting Colihaut Heights and ending in Picard, Portsmouth.

This trail traverses old and abandoned farm and estate roads, heavily forested areas and sections of the Northern Forest Preserve. It provides an excellent opportunity to sight the rare Jaco or Sisserou Parrots in their natural habitat. While walking this trail, one can learn about our farmers, about our many trees and listen to the merry sound of our birds. Morne Diablotin National Park is the most popular spot on island for bird watching. Maroons used this trail in the 19th Century!

Vegetation Type: Rainforest; Secondary Rainforest; Cultivated

Distance (km): 6.4

Estimated Walking time (hrs): 4

Type of hike: Easy hike, family hike

Climb: 610 metres or 2000 ft

Areas of interest:

Morne Diablotin

Secondary forest

Agricultural farming

Parrot habitat

Syndicate Nature Trail & Welcome Center (optional)

Lookout points

Morne Diablotin National Park

Rain forest

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Saturday May 26th Beach Hike

Eden by the Sea, Wesley to Londonderry, ending at Cabana Beach

This beach hike with dramatic views of the Atlantic Coastline will commence at Eden on the Sea in Wesley and will end at Cabana on the Londonderry beach.

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The health benefits of these hikes are amazing.

Walking in nature is a proven stress management technique; it releases hormones that fight depression and strengthens our bones and muscles. Hike for Health.

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I love to meet people, and these hikes are a great way to get to know other people who love nature and being active while exploring Dominica’s nature spots.

After each hike there will be a celebration in a nearby village where you can purchase food and drinks.

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Price:

EC$40 for 1 hike

Ec$ 70 for 2 hikes

EC$90 for 3 hikes (DHTA Members)

EC$100 for 3 hikes (Non-DHTA Members)

Price includes: Transportation, Water and a Hike Fest 2012 t-shirt!

Waitikubuli National Trail

Hike Fest on Facebook

Dominica is a leading producer of Bay Oil; the West Indian Bay Oil is antiseptic and the scent is heavenly; we export the oil all over the world.

I have been using and promoting the use of bay oil as a cleaning agent for over 20 years.

I utilized this oil to make my own cleaning products for Eco Clean, an ecologically friendly cleaning company I owned and operated in Canada people raved about the scent.

Pimenta racemosa. Indigenous to northern South America and the Caribbean, this tropical bay is a sturdy, evergreen tree of the Myrtle family which has been cultivated for commercial purposes for 80-90 years in Dominica. Not to be confused with the bay leaf or laurel (laurus nobilis) native to the Mediterranean area.

To grab a handful of these leaves and steep a tea is truly heavenly and a gift from the earth ….. but that is a whole other post!

Bay oil is used in herbal healing preparations, perfumes and cosmetics of all kinds and also for making Bay Rum.

There are at least 3 kinds of Bay tree grown throughout Dominica but the distilleries I know use the most common bay and are concentrated in the Carib Territories and the south east of the island. As you tour the island you can often smell the distillery before you see it!

The oil is produced in several small distilleries, many of which are run as co-operatives, by distilling the steam from boiling leaves, a traditional process using fire that gives Dominican oil its distinctive dark colour and sweet, spicy, aroma. This oil can be used for many, many things and the agro processing waste is traditionally used as a soil enhancement.

Recently we have been producing a more highly refined bay oil extracted by steam distillation of  the leaves. This is a clear oil that is claimed to be more potent and is a natural product but I love the dark oil made traditionally and I hope efforts are made to keep this knowledge alive.

I clean with bay oil and wrote my first article about bay oil for the Times over 10 years ago. It is a great cleaning agent for almost all surfaces. It may stain a pourous surface so test it out before using if in doubt. It imparts a nice scent which is said to repel cockroaches and some other pests plus it kills bacteria without impinging on the environment.

I would hope other niche markets for tropical bay oil may also evolve as medicinal uses are further investigated.

It is, for instance, an important ingredient, in a herbal supplement promoted for aiding stress associated with the withdrawal symptoms people suffer when quitting smoking.

The bay tree itself is hardy and can even be grown on poor, rocky soils, we could take advantage of this and the fact that unlike some other plant extracts, it is not easy to produce an acceptable synthetic substitute, as bay oil is a particularly complex essential oil with over 20 components. We all know what happened to vanilla when they found a chemical copy.

This oil is easy to store and ship – as most essential oils do, it has a long shelf life. We could truly become the world source for organic bay oil!

Dominica Essential Oils and Spices Co-op right here in Dominica is the best place to get bay oil; you can buy the oil right there in small medium and large bottles. Once in a while they don’t have butafter over 15 years of purchasing there, that has hardly ever happened to me.

Buy Bay Oil add it to your mop water or cleaning water – just a few drops required and a few drops of any liquid soap (liquid soaps are very similar – dish soap and shampoo are not that different and they rarely contain phosphates) to distribute the oil evenly through the water; you will be amazed how easy it is to clean greenly.

Cleaning with Bay Oil means we keep the environment clean too!

The next message you need is always right where you are.
~ Ram Dass

About a week ago I started to realize I had a chemical taste in the back of my mouth.

The only thing I could think might have caused it was I might have eaten perhaps a food that was laced with agrochemicals.

The taste came and went over the next days and I finally connected it to something!

I remembered that recently I had thought I might have a local skin condition so I purchased a cream made locally that contains sulphur. I used it off and on over the weeks – what I was tasting was the sulphur in the back of my throat. It had travelled through my body in just hours.

Experiment: I stopped using the cream for a few days then used it at 1 oclock in the afternoon; I realized I was strongly tasting the sulphur by the time I reached Portsmouth to teach my class at 4 pm.

That is how quickly what we put on our skin enters our blood stream and circulates through the body enough to come out on the breath!

This got me to remembering a friend of mine who was the guniea pig in an experiment at a Massage School in Toronto They wanted to know how quickly what they put on the skin travelled through the body so they put crushed garlic on her feet; within a very short period of time they were smelling it on her breath; they were shocked at how quickly!

This also got me to thinking of some of the stuff that is in cosmetics ; and how that would be coming out our breath within minutes of applying and entering our brain and other organs!

This experiment inspired me to start making my own cosmetics over 30 years ago.

I am glad I only put ingredients on my and my families skin I can eat! Less chemicals in my body and in the environment around me.

Traditionally Dominicans often made their own skin creams from local herbs; coconut oil; cacao butter and beeswax. 

What you put on your skin ….. goes into your body and comes out on your breath.

The hiking in Dominica is extraordinary. There is a multitude of trails, one for almost every person and every level of fitness. Stress is forgotten and the heart soars at the beauty of the natural surroundings. ~ Trudy Scott Prevost  

 Hiking is an excellent exercise program. A good hike works almost all the muscles of the body, enhances deep belly breathing and improves stamina.

  • Eat a good breakfast.  For a sustained source of energy during the hike.
  • Warm up before a hike. A quick self massage and/or gentle stretch of the legs, lower back, arms, shoulders and neck will increase the blood flow to muscles that you’ll want to have functioning smoothly when you hike. Remember; your muscles aren’t ready for a deep stretch until after the hike.
  • Practice deep rhythmic breathing when hiking. This increases stamina and enables more oxygenated blood to flow to the muscles.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. The whole body is thrown out of alignment when our feet are uncomfortable.
  • Drink plenty of water. You need to drink more often to stay well hydrated in tropical environs.
  • Pack carbohydrates. Roasted plantain, dasheen or yam; breadnuts; granola; dried fruits and nuts and fresh fruit provide an instant pick-me-up on the trail.
  • Use a hiking stick or hiking poles. To give extra stability and help prevent sore knees and hips by taking some of the pressure off knee joints and leg muscles and putting it on arm and shoulder muscles.  
  • Stretch at the trail head after the hike. It is a fact that hiking dramatically tightens certain muscle groups while doing nothing for others. While your muscles are still warm, do a deep stretching routine especially stretching the hamstrings, calves, quads and shoulders. Do all stretches on both sides of your body. Hold each stretch for about 8 to 10 seconds. Devote 10 to 20 minutes to stretching.
  • Circle the joints before and after hiking. Picture drawing a circle with the top of the head, hands, big toe (movement is from the ankle) and shoulders. Working each area slowly, in both directions, one at a time with full focus on the area. This increases range of motion and prevents and alleviates stiffness.
  • Massage at home after the hike. The massage – whether by your own hands or your therapists’ – can also be done deeper and harder to really work the lactic acid and kinks out of the body.
  • Remember the health of the environment reflects the health of the society. Do not leave your trash behind. Stay on designated trails and walk in the center of the path to avoid trampling trailside plants. Leave plants, rocks and historical artifacts for others to enjoy.

Hiking and walking was built into the lifestyles of our ancestors; the ancient system of trails in Dominica were made by the Kalinago; the Arawaks; earlier indigenous peoples and the maroons; and kept alive by the people of today who hike our trails in the Heritage Way!

 Please consult your doctor before beginning any exercise or diet program. 

For more information on healthy lifestyles contact Trudy Scott Prevost at Rainbow Yoga: 317-3754, rainbowyoga@yahoo.com.