One of my favorite little islands is Curacao; part of the “ABC”(Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) chain in the Caribbean, about 40 miles north of Venezuela. It is a combination of both a bustling, cultural city and a humble undiscovered destination.
This past March was my fifth time to Curacao. You know how when you repeat something, it’s easy to get into a ”routine”… only gravitating to your favorite, familiar spots? Well, this time I went with very different eyes.
And with this increased curiosity for history and flora, I discovered a gem!
Off the beaten path, on a rocky dirt road(shared by donkey!), miles away from street signs and post markers was an aloe plantation. Very low on the radar, a metal building was nestled back on the land with fields of spiky cactus-like plants surrounding it on all sides.
After reservation wondering, “Do you think we are allowed any further?”, we proceeded to park by a little house(what looked like the farm hands stay) and entered the shop. Lo and behold, it was an operating storefront with a viewing window into the aloe process.
Lucky as it was to find this tucked away plantation, luckier still that they were processing the harvest that day, an occurrence that takes place only a handful of days per month. Well, I was in my glory! I eagerly looked through the glass window and was immediately stunned to see how simple the set up was.
It consisted of a truck, loaded with plastic crates, filled with huge leaves of aloe, an outside crew hosing down the pick, an inside team(all suited up with rain gear and gloves) scrubbing the aloe, rinsing again and slicing off the bottom 2 inches(this I found out was to let the “bitter” drain, for about 30 minutes before the next step). Then, the aloe pieces were hosed down with water one more time and off to the slicer(a man with a huge machete), who proceeded to cut the sides of each leaf by hand, to send it off to be pressed in a stainless steel ‘juicer’. Once this ‘liquid gold’ was extracted, it flowed to specially designed and patented holding tanks where the product was naturally preserved.
The workers with their radiant, black faces and shining white smiles seemed as fascinated with us watching so intently, as we were with the amazing, systematic procedure.
At the plantation, a very small amount is kept for an in-house line of aloe infused items that range from sun care to natural soaps and beverages. With their high reputation and no synthetics, additives, chemicals or pesticides used in their process, the majority of the yield is exported and utilized in pharmaceutical formulations.
A Few Aloe Facts:
- Founded on the Island of Barbados by a botanist, Phillip MIller who officially named the plant Aloe Barbadensis Miller.
- Takes five months for an aloe to mature to the point it can be harvested(at the plantation, they mindfully use only 2-3 bottom leaves, per harvest).
- Not related to the cactus family–but the lily family.
- There are 400+ types of aloe.
- Historically listed on the top ten most medicinal plants in the world.
A Few Aloe Healing Benefits:
- Very popular to heal wounds.
- Regenerates skin cells and aids in skin conditions, like eczema.
- Speeds the healing process of burns.
- Soothes insect bites.
- Powerful anti-fungal-helpful in treating acne, athletes foot, mouth sores, etc.
- Internally, aloe juice has been taken to improve digestive and elimination disorders, improve lung congestion and general body detoxification.
Aloe & Essential Oil Blend Recipes~
After Sun Care-this is a blend utilizing the healing qualities of aloe and 2% essential oils. It can be applied liberally, when cooling relief is desired. May be stored in a flip-top container or a fine mister.
Pure Aloe Vera Gel: 1 oz.
Lavender(Lavandula angustifolia)- 10 drops
Wound Care- this blend is at a 3% dilution for the aid in healing cuts, scrapes & burns. It can be applied directly on the wound, several times throughout the day.
Pure Aloe Vera Gel: 1 oz.
Lavender(Lavandula angustifolia)- 5 drops
Sandalwood(Santalum album)- 5 drops
Frankincense(Boswellia carterii)- 3 drops
German Chamomile(Matricaria recutita)-3 drops
My mind always associates Curacao with “Cure-a-Soul”. The Aloe Experience was just one more reason to love this intriguing corner of the world.
Until next time,