Achiote: the Lipstick Tree

The achiote tree produces inedible fruit that looks a bit like a pomegranate cut in half: it is an open pod filled with red seeds that look as if they are bursting with flavor. But since they can’t be ingested, they are instead used for making dyes.

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The Incas used achiote as face paint to ask the gods within the mountains for protection, and the tree is still used to today among the Quechua people.

IMG_5015 To apply achiote: Open the fruit and mix the pulp with water in a small bowl to create the paint. The wet paint will become an orange-red extract as you mix, but turns orange when it dries. It’s used as body paint as well as paint for fabric.

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The plant can be found in the Amazon basin. In this photo, we are painting one another as a symbol of unity within the tribe of Quechua.

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I had the tribe members apply it as a lipstick as well for a natural flush. I have a feeling this was one of the first original lipsticks of ancient times.

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Extra cool fact: For ritual and religious purposes, the Aztecs added achiote (also known as annatto) to turn chocolate into a blood-red liquid for a “blood” offering to the Gods. I got to experiment with Achiote on my trek to Machu Picchu and in the Amazon Rain Forest in Ecuador.

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Baja Palmera Indigenous Tribe

Its one of the most dangerous cities in Costa Rica due to the lack of employment,  but its also the home of a team of medics that travel everyday to provide medical services to indigenous tribes. Some areas have built clinics, but the doctors only work about three days out of the month at each location. I had the pleasure of joining the team on there everyday journey to heal and support these communities.

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I love arriving at bus stations. Its an overwhelming feeling of fear with excitement. Fear because of all the movies we watch that give us the idea that theres creepers waiting for naive tourists to arrive and excitement because no bus station is always the same. Ready to take a 3 1/2 hour bus ride from San Jose to the city of Bataan in Costa Rica, I was super pumped.

We had to take a 4×4 across lakes to get to the location as well as board all the medical supplies prior to leaving. They have to be ready for any injury or disease on site.

The view of the mountain were incredible but what blew me away was the amount of people waiting with children, and elders to receive the teams medical services.

IMG_9998The View

photo 5The view with the morning fog

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Here is Dr. Christian Gomez Corrales (30) arriving at todays location Bajo Palmera. He works alongside 2 nurses Ana Marchena, Cindy Macotelo and a pharmacist Fausto Mora. Every year the doctor is switched out but the staff has been together for over 6 years.

I asked Dr. Corrales whats the worst accident he’s treated and he said a man came in with half his arm chopped off. Talk about anything goes ….

IMG_0018 2The sign in Window

photo 2 A home nearby the clinic

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Lunch room

It was such an honor to spend a day watching these heros do their daily job. I hope to definitely go back and learn more about other tribes they’re working with. The main language of this group is cabecar and they’re now becoming more modern with the world. I wanted to hear about beauty traditions but many of the women shared with me they keep their look minimal due to the lack of products and also staying true to their roots. Alot of the younger girls wore eyeliner and eyeshadow and uncut virgin hair. This tribe is one of the largest indigenous tribes in Costa Rica. They stretch from the San Jose coast to Panama.

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Removing Eye Darkness with Turmeric

I’m going to show you how to remove blackness from around your eyes, making a homemade mask inspired by my trip to India. Turmeric has been used for centuries in southeast Asia for its skin brightening properties. This facial mask will brighten skin and make your face glow.

You’re going to need

  •  two tablespoons milk
  • two tablespoons chickpea powder
  •  one teaspoon turmeric
  • bowl

The first thing you want to do is, scoop one teaspoon of turmeric, two teaspoons of chickpea flour and two tablespoons of milk. Now, you’re going to mix it together and here is your amazing eye cream.

Now, with your ring finger, you want to apply to your eye area. The reason I use my ring finger, is because it’s the most sensitive finger that you have, it’s going to be the softest gentle touch.

You’re going to leave it on for 20 minutes and that’s it, just rinse off with warm water. You’re going to see incredible results. I highly suggest you do this before you go to bed, because it does leave a little bit of a yellow look to it. People in India use it all over their face, body or just on the eye area.