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Spice Health Heroes by Natasha MacAller.  Photography © Manja Wachsmuth Photography 2016. Published by Jacqui Small, an imprint of The Quarto Group

Whether we are inhaling the aromas of curry with spices like cardamom, cumin and coriander, or tasting a pasta sauce rich with rosemary, basil and oregano,  generally we simply enjoy the taste and smell food sensations. But although the word spice evokes the concept of piquant flavors and aromas of foods or drinks,  most of us don’t think of the ways in which these different herbs and spices may be altering our metabolism or have a medicinal effect. 

The Kapok Camp

The Kapok Camp gets its name from the tall surrounding trees. Kapok, the common name for the tall Ceiba Pentandra tree,  native to Mexico, Central and northern South America, is better known for the fibre that is harvested from the seed pods. Kapok fibre has been widely used instead of down as a filling in pillows or mattresses. Liquid from the boiled bark of the kapok tree has long been used as a diuretic and aphrodisiac .

Andrew Wheeler and Emmelia Gordon. Photo credit: Pink Monkey Studio.

I missed last year's run of PROUD at The Firehall so I was happy to be able to get to the opening night of this 2015 run of PROUD. Although, knowing it was a political comedy about Stephen Harper, and being far more of a fan of Harper than a detractor, I confess I was a bit apprehensive that this would be a carping diatribe against the PM and his policies.
Was I wrong!  Michael Healey has written a clever, very funny political satire. His script shoots verbal arrows that skewer his target dead on yet don't leave nasty...

Mushroom and bacon pizette

The Settlement Building on Dunlevy Street in the Railtown district east of Gastown, is home to the Vancouver Urban Winery and the Belgard Kitchen, as well as Fresh Tap, Postmark Brewing and the Roaring Twenties Wine Co.

This was my first visit and I was really happy to have found a restaurant that is only a 5 minute walk  away from the Firehall Arts Centre for a pre-show supper.  I liked the high ceilinged, light and airy atmosphere and our server was friendly and efficient.

Suspension bridge for traversing dense jungle territory

One of the advertised highlights of this Amazon River exploration was the opportunity to camp overnight in the  jungle.  Since I am not a hardy out-door type by nature, and camping is not my preferred travel accommodation, I was not so sure that I would feel safe in a jungle tent. During my pre-trip reading I seriously considered taking the offered alternate option of returning to overnight on the boat.

But when the day arrived, I thought that it would be the height of insanity to travel to the Amazon jungle and let my fear of biting insects, scorpions, mosquitos,...


From the time we were met at the airport in Iquitos and taken to our coach for the ride to Nauta, we were in the capable and highly organized hands of the naturalist team who were leading our Amazon explorations.

In my professional career I have encountered many people who were experts in their field, but the visual acuity and speed of Juan-Carlos Palomino and Robinson Rodriguez made an indelible impression on me.  How they could spot a tiny black dot high in a tree as we were speeding down river in our motorized skiff, and instantly identify the type of

Approaching La Turmalina, our riverboat

I love the jewel names, amethyst, tourmaline, emerald and aquamarine, given to this group of riverboats. La Turmalina, the ship on which we traveled is part of a fleet of four, built in the ship yard in Iquitos in the style of 19th century river boats. La Amatista and La Turmalina can take 30 passengers and the La Esmeralda and La Aquamarina can take 17 and 24 passengers respectively. La Turmalina, our expedition riverboat is registered in Peru and operated by English speaking Peruvian Officers and crew. There can be up to 14 crew members on board for a full...

A festive day in Nauta on the Amazon River
From Lima airport a direct flight on LAN Airway  took us into Iquitos, Capital of the Peruvian Amazon. Iquitos, with a population of just under 500,00, is the largest city of the Amazon rainforest and the sixth largest city in Peru. It has the dubious distinction of being the largest city in the world that is inaccessible by road, other than the 100 km road between Iquitos and Nauta, on the Amazon River. The main way to reach Iquitos is by air or by boat.
LAN at the Iquitos airport

As I was traveling with someone from California  we determined after much on-line searching that the most cost-effective way to get to Lima, the capital of Peru, was a LAN Airways direct flight from Los Angeles Airport to  Lima International Airport - Jorge Chávez. The direct flight is about 9 hours. Our flight left at at 9:15 in the evening and got us into Lima at 8:50 the next morning. Peru is 2 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time. I liked the idea of an overnight flight but I am one of those people who does not really sleep on...

Dusk on the Amazon River
The Amazon river is the second only to the Nile as the longest river in the world, stretching 6296 kilometers from its origins high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, Ecuador and Columbia to its mouth in the Atlantic Ocean. However it carries more water than any other river including the Nile, and is responsible for 20% of the fresh water carried into the oceans, more than the next seven largest rivers combined.
The confluence of the Maranon and Ucayali rivers is the area usually considered the start of the Amazon River proper, which runs through Peru and Brazil. Some of the tributaries...
Susinn McFarlen & Anna Galvin. Photo by David Cooper

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
by Christopher Durang
directed by Rachel Ditor
Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

If the names did not already tell you that Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is intended to be a comedic homage to Anton Chekhov, the bust of Chehkov in Alison Green's wonderful book-lined sitting-room set would be a strong indication.


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Spice Health Heroes by Natasha MacAller.  Photography © Manja Wachsmuth Photography 2016. Published by Jacqui Small, an imprint of The Quarto Group

Whether we are inhaling the aromas of curry with spices like cardamom, cumin and coriander, ...


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