Duncan, the city where we are, is the main town of the Cowichan Valley, off the Trans Canada Highway, halfway between Victoria and Nanaimo, about 60 miles in either direction. Cowichan derives its name from Quw’utsun.” Cowichan, is literally translated from Coast Salish, the local indigeneous lanquage, into "The Warm Land.” So, after all, everything is relative. The average temperature here in the valley is the highest in Canada, at 52 degrees Fahrenheit, or 11 degrees Celsius. So, for this North American area, this is weather paradise, but for a tropical girl like me, it is still good old cold Canada.
But going back to alternative culture. During my first week back in Duncan, I walked into an herbal store where I could get Aura-soma readings and admire the dozens of colorful bottles displayed. AURA-SOMA speaks, heals and protects through a choice of 108 beautiful bottles of rainbow coloured oils, special essences, pomanders and quintessences. I had my first reading in the early 90’s in California and I feel I am due for another. Then, my friend Barbara offered me to check out a healing wand called AM AMEGA to heal my painful right shower from carrying suitcases and a backpack through South America. While I waited for a wand to arrive, Na, a Cambodian monk, trained in traditional Chinese medicine, was able to get my shoulder bone back into its socket and the range of motion of my right arm back to about 90% in just three sessions. Before that, it was painful to move my arm laterally to the side.
Then, I heard about the O.U.R Ecovilage, an alternative community in Shawnigan Lake, 30 minutes from Duncan, where among other things, they teach folks to build with natural materials, including COB - a mixture of soil, sand, water, hay and straw bale. The buildings there are a work of art and the principals of permaculture thrive. Barbara took me there and we participated in the inauguration of a labyrinth and had a delicious vegetarian meal, potluck style.
The Cowichan river is a mighty one, always nice to be back to and look at it - pristine and constant, traveling at about 5 miles an hour towards the ocean as Paul, Joanne, Peter and I were able to witness during our walk a week ago.The trees and bushes all around are very vibrant this
time of year. And the best part is that we can walk or bike to it, as well as other parks and wild areas. So, life here is not as sun-sunny as I would prefer but there is lot of warmth, light and healing.
The indigenous community is strong here, at least more so than in other parts of Canada and very active as well. A lot of the land in the Cowichan Valley is owned by the tribes, which is great, because they don’t mind us using it and try to keep it as is as much as possible.
Last weekend, the 6th annual Cowichan International Aboriginal Film Festival was on. I met my new friend Juliana for the opening night to see, among other things, Tzinquaw dancers and drummers that hypnotized me and sent chills up my spine all the way to my neck. How I wished to be in a forest witnessing this ceremony! I could probably watch it for a whole night without being tired of it. The films showed were all from aboriginal perspectives, mostly directed, performed and attended by indigenous people - what a breath of air that is in a world that is becoming more and more virtual, plastic and fake.