Archive for November, 2007
The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world and the most dynamic ecosystem on the planet. Through the tireless efforts of environmentalists and conservationists we have been shown that the region once thought of as tough, hostile and chaotic is really sensitive and fragile hanging by a tiny thread of symbiotic balance. Indiscriminate logging practices, mining, and rampant farming of soy threatens to disrupt that balance putting the health of the planet in jeopardy.
Since 1990, the Amazon Herb Company has been working with remote indigenous populations challenged by encroaching development. Their goal is to provide these communities with new models for sustainable economies. Working with the Regional Institute for the Development of Native Communities in Peru, they are helping the local people learn how to harvest and use herbs and plants for commercial purposes. At the Yarinacocha Ecological Reserve, the harvest of camu camu and local herbs has helped the community to not only have a new source of income but also to buy up, secure and protect native land and rainforest from development.
I recently learned that during one of his recent visits to the Amazon, Jean-Michel Cousteau, has taken an interest in the work done by the Amazon Herb Company. The products produced are 100% natural and very rich – containing ingredients unique to the Amazon Basin. If you would like more information on the products and the work of the Amazon Herb Company you can check their website at www. amazonherb.net
Long before it was trendy and fashionable, body tattoos and piercings were reserved for the heartiest of sailors. The tradition started back in the 1770’s, after Captain Cook’s first visits to Tahiti and New Zealand. Seeing the elaborate tattoos and piercings of the islanders his men were quick to emulate the custom. By the time Cook returned home after his first voyage, not only were his men covered with Polynesian tattoos, they had learned how to render their own designs into personal symbols and decoration. Even the prestigious Sir Joseph Banks returned home with a tattoo. From that contact the association of tattoos and sailors was born.
No, this is not to announce that the newest addition to the onboard spa services will be tattoo and body piercing (however, you never can tell!); I wanted to share with you the origin behind some popular nautical traditions including sailing around Cape Horn!
During the Age of Discovery men set out on the smallest of sailing ships with only a sketchy idea of what lay ahead. Having experienced bad seas myself, it amazes me that anyone ever survived those early voyages. Though the course became more predictable, the sea never did. Every trip, no matter how routine, became an adventure from which no one was certain to return.
One of the most perilous journeys was around Cape Horn. Until the opening of the Panama Canal this was the only way to pass from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Cape Horn is actually a small island, the southernmost in the Wolleston Island Group owned by Chile. It was named “Hoorn” in honor of the hometown and ship sailed by Dutch explorer Willem Schouten. However, not knowing the provenance of the name many associated the anglicized “Horn” with the Devil which made sense given the turbulent nature of the sea. Fear and superstition mounted as sailors reported tales of unbelievable hardship at sea. To prove their valor tattooing became the universal means of communicating how salty a seaman you were.
Just for fun, I’ve summarized some of the most popular and interesting. I am sure that many of you are qualified for several of them. Who knows? You just might get inspired!
- A sailor would get a swallow tattoo for every 5000 miles he had sailed because a swallow will always find its way home.
- Golden earrings were used as a means of ensuring they were buried properly should they die at sea or in a foreign port.
- The five pointed nautical star was the most popular symbol as it represented the North Star and celestial navigation.
- The pig and the rooster are tattooed on either the calves or the top of the feet, to prevent a sailor from drowning; these animals were originally carried on most ships in wooden crates. When a ship goes down these crates would float and then catch currents and wash ashore with the other debris from the ship, making the pigs and roosters often the only souls to survive a shipwreck. A tattoo of a pig on the left knee and a rooster (cock) on the right foot signified “Pig on the knee, safety at sea. A cock on the right, never lose a fight.”
- A turtle standing on its back legs symbolizes “shellbacks or those who have crossed the equator and have been indoctrinated into King Neptune’s court.
- An anchor usually noted that the sailor served in the Atlantic or was in the merchant marine.
- A dagger or a dagger through a rose signified a willingness to fight.
- Sailing around Cape Horn, men used a fully-rigged sailing ship and the words “homeward Bound” to guarantee safe passage.
- A black star on your left ear lobe showed you sailed around Cape Horn 1x; a black star on both lobes was for someone who had gone around 5x; and a red star on the forehead for anyone who sailed around 10x or more. It is said that he (or she!) who has such a tattoo will never have to buy a drink in a bar in Liverpool. Yahoo!