Logwood Project: 3/01 Update
Clinic - The use of a lot at the edge of the nearby village was purchased
in February 2000. It is located right where the path goes off to the beach
community, and in the cetner of the Perez-Brito family group of cottages.
By May 2000, Nicola had built a cottage for the clinic, library, and silk-raising
building. It was built using traditional techniques with local wood, with
the modification of using rough cut vertical lumber siding on the south wall,
rather than the traditional royal palm bark. (Royal palms have become too
rare to cut for housing). This is the first traditional style house built
in the village for probably 30 years, and it has attracted a lot of favorable
comment. A location in the village will allow me to establish fairly regular
hours for consulting and dispensing. The goal is to encourage the use of
the wealth of local traditional medicines. In addition, I would like to introduce
the techniques of classical Homeopathy, in which I was fully trained at the
National College of Naturopathic Medicine, and encourage and educate in medical
Library - Thanks to generous donations from Lisa and Daniel of Portland,
and many others, Mama D.O.C. brought many books with which to begin our library.
It is now protectively housed in the new clinic cottage. The children were
thrilled at the idea that they could borrow a book to take home, and then get
another when they returned that one. The books are beautiful and interesting.
The women love the collection of romantic novels. Adventure books for teens,
in Spanish, have been a challenge to acquire, but I did come up with Zorro, The
Other Sid of the Mountain, and a biography of Sammy Sosa. Please remember
that nobody there had even so much as a book, there is no bookmobile, the school
is a bare room with benches and definitely no books. The public library in
the city twenty miles away doesn't lend out books, and I probably have more
books in my private library than it has anyway. If you want to donate books,
we need virtually anythying in Spanish. If it's in English, it should have
lots of pictures! In February 2001, thanks again to Lisa Johnson, we added
a collection of children's books with text in English and Spanish on the same
page - learning English is a challenge many of the older children have decided
Art Supplies and School Stuff - Pastels, colored paper, pens, glue
sticks all have been used, mostly by the older children and teens for their
art. I've been presented with many, many pictures. Birds are a favorite motif.
A visit from an art instructor would be great fun with these kids. Some are
shy, but most are simply so eager to share in something where their creativity
is acknowledged, that they overcome any shyness quite quickly. Special thanks
to Dennis Wright of Portland and his sister Beth Perry of Redmond, WA who visited
for a day and brought a large satchel of art supplies and classic, illustrated
stories for the kids.
Textile Art - I brought and gave out dozens of crochet hooks, scissors,
thread and needles, and balls of yarn. From this I have at least two women
who already can and want to crochet. These are women with young children, whose
husbands work, but don't get paid. During February 2001 I worked with them
to develop therapeutic wrist-warmers of "Peace Silk" (Vegetarian silk). We
have started with some drawn-out handspun tussah yarn that I recently purchased.
Eventually these and other therapeutic warmers will be made of our own "Peace
"The Feisty Little Silkworm" Peace Silk Farm - Mulberry grows very
well in this climate. Seeds planted in February 2000 are now trees ten feet
tall. Only a few seeds sprouted, but of these, cuttings have produced thirty
white mulberries, which are growing on the village lot that houses the Clinic.
In February 2001 we raised over 200 silkworms, who reached maturity with record
breaking rapidity. The most rapid-growing began to spun cocoons at 23 days,
compared with an average 5 weeks in Portland. Eggs will be saved from the best
cocoons. We hope to produce several thousand cocoons per month for the eight
cooler months from November through June.
Bridge and Path - The first improvement we sponsered for the Los
Cocos beach community was a safe and passable footbridge over the canal which
separates them from the community of Boca Nueva. On my first visits the only
bridge was two logs of palm lain on the canal bottom, with a rickety handhold
of sticks. With a small investment of money for nails and guy-wire, and a
big investment of his labor, Nicola designed and constructed a footbridge.
Two long logs span the canal, with poles nailed to those logs to form the
footpath. Guy wires prevent the bridge from being washed away at times of
high water. It has served very well, but from the heavy use it receives,
repairs have been needed almost monthly. In January 2001, with an investment
of three weeks of backbreaking labor, Nicola and some helpers moved sand
from the beach and constructed an elevated footpath from the bridge to the
community. The field that the path traverses is often flooded, so before
the path this meant a half-mile detour most of the time.
Water - The biggest investment after the clinic lot and building.
The beach community of "Los Cocos", traditional wood and palm houses on the
sand, now has pure piped in water. This cost $2000 for the pipe, and everyone
helped with the labor of digging a trench and laying it the 5 miles from
the beach to the water main. Because of this water, in February 2001 I was
able to begin dyework. We have now begun to use the beautiful dyes of Quesuaya
to dye silk scarves on site. The quality of the Logwood purple color is unbelievably
rich, with coppery sheens and highlights. And because of the warm climate,
all dyeing can be done at air temperature, and no fuel need be used for heating
Other Dyes - Besides the Logwood and the new Fustic wood, other dyes
will be forthcoming. Madder is planted and so far is doing very well. We hope
in three years to have quality organically raised Madder, suitable to be used
internally as a kidney stone solvent, or also for dye. Big hopes are up for
a crop of Weld during the winter months. Morinda is supposed to grow wild;
Jackfruit, Mangrove, and other plants are no longer abundant enough to harvest
commercially, but at a dye workshop at the beach we will one day explore their
rust red and maroon colors.
Kitchen - Opposite the front door of the cottage at the beach, and
about ten feet away, is the door of the new kitchen. It is a copy of the
traditional house, miniaturized. The peaked roof is covered in palm thatch,
the walls are sided with petiols held in place by horizontal poles tied with
banana leaf to the uprights inside. All the wood is local thinnings, with
some gleaned from the beach. The counter is made of a wood frame, topped
by cross-pieces of saplings. They lie close enough to provide a rough but
usable surface, although a board is needed for efficient chopping. Air comes
up to keep vegetables from molding too rapidly in the very high humidity,
and water drains through to the cement and sand floor. The fire places for
cooking are two half moons set on a slightly lower counter. The horns of
the moon shapes face away; wood is fed from the back. It is all built up
of local clay, which the fire then hardens. Cleaning the stove is a simple
matter of adding a new layer of fresh clay.
Herbals - In the lovely traditional kitchen described above, I get
to make many marvelous herbals with the amazing new plants that Nicola introduces
me to. The following is a partial list:
- Anamu - insecticide. We've used it as a fumigant. I want to try an alcohol
extract water spray that I could use against sand fleas and mosquitos.
- Timacle - tincture and topical oil of this fragrant root helps with flexibilty
of ligaments to an amazing degree. It may be useful for shin splints and
carpel tunnel. It also helps the mind work more quickly.
- Bitter Ginger - a tuberous root that smells like ginger, but instead
of being hot, it's bitter. Tincture internally and oil for topical application,
it seems to be very helpful for arthritis.
- Pega palo - in high repute as a true aphrodisiac, we dug roots in the
remnant forest nearby and made a tincture.
Remnant Forest - The remnant mangrove forest nearby is in private
hands and is up for sale. This is the last, the "hundred acre woods" that
truly needs to be preserved in order that all these medicinals that I'm documenting
can become available to the world. This forest is also a natural bird sanctuary,
with several small lakes and wetlands. This would be a tremendous loss to
us all if this unique and valuable ecosystem is destroyed for another tourist
hotel. Research and lobbying of some of the international conservation organizations
would be welcome help, as well as private investors who wish to preserve
Remnant Populations - These include birds, reptiles, amphibians,
fish, crustaceans, coral, and peole living the traditional native life. All
these still exist, but they are all bordering on the edge of extinction.
This includes rare medicinal plants and the knowledge to use them. An international
effort to invest in natural land conservation is desperately needed. I am
trying to locate an international organization interested in poverty-relieving
economic development projects. Again, money invested in a land base can reap
many levels of reward.
Special Thanks - Thank you to American Airlines for consistently arranging
extra baggage allowance for Mama DOC donations. In October I carefully packed
and successfully dilivered an Internet-capable PC into the community. It will
facilitate much, as several of the young adults are eager to develop their
computer skills. When cell phone internet connections come to the area, it
will make our long distance communication more secure. It will also allow me
to work from there and relay messages like this via email. Additionally, it
will allow me to update my field notes directly to the computer when they are
fresh and I can check them with Nicola.
Lectures - Lectures have been put on hold until Nicola can deliver
them personally. Due to extremely stringent and capricous requirements implemented
at their discretion by the local United States consulate, it has not been possible
for Nicola to obtain a visitor's visa to share his knowledge with us, and to
experience first hand this culture - not its movie version image. It is especially
important that he connect with other indigenous peoples of the world, especially
to see the miraculous turnaround in the situation of the Native Americans of
North America over the past few years. Cultures have been resurrected, languages
have been respoken, traditions renewed. Economic viability has come to many
groups through many means, but all have involved the shrewd adaptation of business
management in the modern world. Through this has come the repurchase or resettlement
of native lands, and a beautifully blossoming addition tot he multifaceted
culture that is the true culture of the world.
This is what I hope and work for to happen in this strange faraway land
of the Logwood, which, by curious coincidence is exactly the place where
Columbus first began the destruction that we now try to correct.
Future Visits - If all goes well, I hope to spend the coming December,
January, and February raising the first commercial crop of Peace Silk. Organically
raised, of course, not to mention with much love. I already have orders for
cocoons. Remember that first production will be small, and we need all the
support you can offer: please consider ordering in advance.
During those three months it will be possible for friends to visit me. There
is a traditional cottage near where I live that was recetnly vacated by a
sister, and which can be rented. We are asking that a significant donation
to the community be made by those who come to visit. A suitcase of supplies,
books, the teaching of textile art technique such as knitting and crochet
variations, are some examples of ways to contribute, along with a much needed
monetary donation (which would be tax-deductible). Luxuriate in a lovely
natural area, with all the local color, friendly indigenous people, and great
natural food. You will be my guest, Nicola's guest, and attended to by the
whole huge family. An adventure-expedition kind of vacation, tailored to
your interests and desires.
Cheryl Kolander, Director