Monday night, September 12th 2011, here I was at the beginning of my (very packed) two weeks trip to Haiti. I was focused on the goals to establish relationships with a botanical garden and a farmer’s organization to plant indigenous medicinal gardens and compostable latrines. On my parents’ native island of Ayti where there are thousands of medicinal plants and a rich history of indigenous/traditional healing practices, it only makes sense to blend my love for natural medicine and my medical training with my passion for the renaissance of edible and medicinal gardens in Haiti!
The rich south…
Well… in this rich southern green belt of Haiti, in the very rural part of Les Cayes where gravel roads are flanked by what looks like endless lanes of green trees, where water is in abundance, and where there is more fresh fruits than can be consumed, I was in for the suprise (s) of my life. There it was, one big (body the size of the palm of an adult hand and the legs the size/length of fingers) juicy, shiny, furry, ebony spider, than another one…and another one! The jumping, screaming and erratic movements of my flash light in sync with my body, shocking the calm darkness of the house, thoroughly amused and eventually annoyed my family members. These ‘lovely’ spiders came out at night seeking warmth inside our house…with me!
My aunt’s solution to appease the sezisman (nerves, shock in Haitian Kreyol) of this city girl was to take a warm bucket “bath”. I remembered that my mom used to take bucket baths en plein air ( in the wild outdoor in French), when she visited my grandparents during her summer vacations. So without hesitation, I thought “why not… let’s try”!
Of all the nice memories of my trip, this one is the sweetest… I don’t recall EVER so deliciously enjoying a bucket bath, en plein air. Picture it; a full, bright, shiny moon beaming on me, against the persistent darkness of the open yard. As I slowly poured water and soap over my body, the sound the lather, the sound of my water scooper hitting the water container, the sound of water dropplets falling off my skin onto the cement, the sound of wild insects mating/singing along the very distant sounds of drums, created a veritable orchestra of sweetness flanked against a background of silence. All this natural cacophony suprisingly calmed me down!
Nevermind the spiders! With every splash of water, I felt the stress of my flights from Seattle, the anxiety of driving from crazy Port-Au-Prince traffic for straight 5 hours, the uncertainty of all my unanswered questions completely melt away and down my body. It was the simplest, most cost effective stress reduction intervention: castile peppermint soap, freshly drawn well water from our yard, ”evening sunlight” in lieu of electricity, warmth and humidity against my skin and sweet rural wild life orchestra to my ears.
With this calming baptismal “moonbath” my trip could only be fantastic. And it was! I had just created a memory and planted roots upon which to build my goals.