Monthly Archives: January 2017


By Yvonne Blackwood~

Pareu or pareo is the French Polynesian word for a wraparound skirt worn by many women in the South Pacific Islands. It is related to the sarong. Originally, women wore the pareu, men wore loincloths. Today pareu applies to any piece of cloth worm by either male or female. Pareus are made from some of the most beautify, and colourful materials.

Tie-dye materials are popular in the Polynesian Islands, and I had the pleasure of watching a native woman transform a plain piece of cloth into a colourful one before my eyes. Many pareus are made from tie-dye materials.

Plain cloth transformed by tie-dye process. Moorea

The pareu is very versatile and can be worn in several different ways. One of the exotic ladies of Moorea created several outfits when she demonstrated some of the ways this simple rectangular piece of cloth can be worn. The fascinating thing about the creations is that needle and thread and pins were not required.


Polynesian woman demonstrates one way to wear a pareu



By Yvonne Blackwood~

Christopher Columbus is said to have described Jamaica (the place where I grew up) as the “Land of wood and water,” suggesting it is lush and green with refreshing rivers and blue seas. It certainly is. But putting all biases aside, there are some other islands that I have visited which are more beautiful with the bluest, clearest seas—the French Polynesian Islands. Looking at the ocean in Boro Boro and Moorea, the beauty took by breath away.

Amazing shades of the ocean in Moorea

Still, while I basked in the sun and soaked up the crystal clear turquoise seas of many shades, the people attracted me the most. As I continued my exploration of these islands, I attended a show at the Tiki Village Theatre in Moorea. In one of the performances, two virile-looking Polynesian men entered the theatre carrying a large, closed oyster shell. The audience held its breath. What on earth is in that thing? Maybe some prehistoric creature we have never heard about! The men placed the shell on the ground in the centre of the theatre. They tapped it. The shell slowly opened. Out stepped—not a prehistoric creature—a most exotic French Polynesian woman. Applause.

Polynesian, exotic
French Polynesian beauty steps out of oyster shell

The word exotic conjures up vivid images of aura, beauty, culture, and colour; we were witnessing these feelings as we looked on. I asked myself, is it any wonder that Gauguin did not want to leave this paradise?

As mentioned in our part 1 of this series of articles, the Polynesian women do not require makeup—eye shadow, mascara, lipstick, base, and anything false are unnecessary; they are simply, naturally beautiful, simply exotic.

Exotic men coming up soon!





By Yvonne Blackwood ~

Anthony Bourdain would probably say that the most interesting thing about roving all over the world is the exotic food—and maybe he should, after all he is a chef; for me it is the people.

The word exotic conjures up vivid images of aura, beauty, culture, colour, and different perspectives. One can employ many adjectives to describe the native people of the Polynesian Islands, but no word is quite fitting as exotic. I found these Islands populated with interesting, exotic women and men.

French Polynesia is composed of 118-130 islands (according to World Atlas and Encyclopedia Britannica) and stretches over more than 2,000 kilometres in the South Pacific Ocean. Divided into five groups of islands, The Society Islands are the most populous, and best known. They include Boro Boro, Moorea, and Tahiti. These islands are part of an overseas territory of France, originally claimed in 1843.

For the women of these islands makeup is unnecessary—eye shadow, lipstick, mascara, base or powder is not required; they are simply, naturally beautiful. But exoticism can pull you in, and we see this with the famous artist, Paul Gauguin. He travelled to Tahiti to discover the primitive and purity in Polynesian life and to get away from modern France.

Paul Gauguin
Original painting by Paul Gauguin displayed in Moorea

Spellbound by both the beauty of the islands and the exoticism of the women, Gauguin spent several years there living with and among the Polynesians. Several of his paintings depict partially nude Polynesian women.

Below: This exotic woman of Moorea welcomes us to the Tiki Village Theatre.

Exotic woman of Moorea, French Polynesia

Sorry, lady readers, you’ll have to wait for my next Theme Day series to see some equally exotic men! It will be well worth waiting for.




By Yvonne Blackwood~

To date, the articles we have written about tea covers only true tea—the beverage brewed from the Camellia Sinensis plant. I would be remiss, however, if I did not touch on another kind of beverage, also referred to as tea, or more popular known as tisane.

Tisane is any beverage made from material other than the Camellia Sinensis bush. All herbal teas—tea brewed from barks, stems, berries, seeds, and even leaves of other plants—is classified as tisane. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines tisane this way, “An infusion (as of dried herbs) used as a beverage or for medicinal effects.


Herbal teas have existed for centuries dating back to ancient Egypt and China. They have become extremely popular in the western world in recent years.

The question one usually asks is; what is the difference, other than source, between true tea and tisane? There are several differences between these two types of beverages.

First, the caffeine content. All teas from the Camellia Sinensis bush have some caffeine and vary depending on whether it is white, green, oolong, or black tea. Tisane on the other hand usually has no caffeine.

Safety is another issue to be considered when you drink tisanes. Since these teas can be brewed from a variety of plant materials they may include some plants that are known to be toxic. Some may even contain allergenic material; therefore the specific ingredients must be checked individually for health and safety. In addition, the source of the herbal ingredients, like any crop, may be contaminated with pesticides or heavy metals.

Some herbal teas can affect pregnant women. It is known that some medicinal herbs such as bitter melon, mace and papaya are regarded as abortifacients, and can cause a miscarriage.

When it comes to tisane, it is a matter of individual make-up. While one herbal tea may be fine for some people, it may have a negative effect on others.

In spite of the possible negative effects that can arise from drinking tisane, most herbal teas sold in retails stores could be considered safe; however, one should be cautious of medicinal herbal teas if they are not labelled in detail. According to an article in Readers Digest—Best Health Magazine, “Herbal tea has lots of wonderful health benefits. From soothing a troubled tummy to easing insomnia and calming a troubled mind.”

Do you have a favourite tisane?



By Yvonne Blackwood~

Auric Goldfinger, the villain in one of my favourite James Bond movies—Goldfinger—is obsessed with gold. When he murders Jill Masterson he does so by covering every inch of her body with gold paint. James Bond, always knowledgeable on every subject, explains what had transpired—the pores of the skin, the largest organ in the body, had suffocated.

In every country that you visit you will see someone making a spectacle of him or herself in order to earn a few dollars. I was shopping along the streets of the lovely town of Galway in the western part of Ireland when I came upon an interesting character. Immediately, the picture of Jill Masterson in Goldfinger, sprawled across her hotel bed—dead—flashed across my mind.

Man covered in paint, Galway, Ireland

On the sidewalk, a man sat in a large make-shift chair like a king sitting on a throne. His face, hands, clothes, and the chair were covered every inch in grey paint. He sat there motionless like a statue, and moved like a robot only when money was placed in his opened container at his feet. I prayed instantly that he had not covered his entire body with paint, but had left a space at the top of his spine for his skin to breathe—according to James Bond, this was the way to avoid skin suffocation.



By Yvonne Blackwood~

Happy New Year to all

It was sixteen years ago that we were transfixed on the dreadful possibilities of the Millennium Bug. How can we forget (of have we?) the fear that gripped us, fear that the world would end, computers would crash, extensive power cuts would occur and every possible bad thing that could happen would occur? But the new Millennium sauntered in without a whimper and life continued as before.

Another New Year is about to arrive—the year 2017. As we celebrate this milestone no doubt we will take time to reflect on the year just ended.

For many, 2016 will be recorded as a terrible year. On a global level, world peace, one thing that most of us long for, remains even more remote. Fighting occurred in every corner of the globe, spotlighted by the present war in Syria. The world also had numerous natural disasters in 2016. To list a few: Earthquakes reeked havoc in Italy, killing over 240 people; In Central Viet Nam and Louisiana floods raged, killing 37; Winter storm, Jonas, killed 48, and hurricane Mathew killed 43 in the United States, and hundreds in the Caribbean.

In my view, the most heart-wrenching disaster is not a natural one, but man-made; it is the ongoing war and devastation in Syria. So while we reflect and try to learn from the past, the arrival of a New Year should give us hope and not despair. It implores us to look ahead, to plan for something different.

A line from the Serenity prayer, “God, grant me the. . . courage to change the things I can,” should give us solace if we give it some consideration. At the beginning of the millennium I received an interesting e-mail which spelled out twenty-five things that we did the previous year versus what we would do in the new era. Three particular points still resonate with me and I’m sure they will with you too: “Last year we were thinking about all the things we didn’t have; this year we will be thinking about all the things we do have. Last year we were thinking about all the pressures we were under at the office; this year we will be thinking about the people who no longer have an office to go to. Last year peace on earth was something we prayed for on Sunday morning; now it’s something we pray for everyday.”

2016 will disappear into the sunset momentarily; we cannot change those events which occurred, however; we can go boldly into 2017 with renewed hope and an overwhelming desire to do the best that we can to make the world a better place. The paradigm continues to shift; we have embarked on a new world order and a new normal.

Happy New Year.