Sunday, October 14, 2007

Canaries Village Documentary Focusing on Canaries Creole Pot and Canabelle Soap

Here is great video of Canaries Village that was produced by the Ministry of Agriculture. It is great because it give you a taste of what life is like for me here and it also shows you two of the main groups I am involved with including Canaries Creole Pot and Canabelle Soap.

So sit back and enjoy.

Loving life, Leo. PS All the tourists in the video are actually Peace Corps volunteers that are serving on the island in other villages. GO EC76!!!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Coal Pot Soap Makers, Dominica

Mrs. Avriel James the Director of Coal Pot Soap.

I had the extreme pleasure of meeting with The Coal Pot a Dominica, natural soap maker. "Thanks Jerome for the tip on them."

To say I was impressed in an understatement. I was inspired, motivated, renewed and encouraged by my short visit with them. The Coal Pot was started as training series to help the ladies on the island find gainful employment. Two Peace Corps volunteers assisted in this along with the eventual formation of the Coal Pot which is now 5 years old. It is now a private company managed by Mrs. Avriel James. She recognized its potential and sunk in her own private funds to turn it into the successful cottage industry it is today. She employs between 5-8 people at the Coal Pot.

Check out their great website here:

The Soap making company is located in the gorgeous ruins of an old plantation with fresh herbs grown in the backyard that are used directly for the soaps.

I could not help but notice this young man carefully hand selecting herbs for the Coal Pot in the backyard.

As I entered the building I was greeted by a very nice display area showing their natural soap and oils and other new products they are exploring.

I was given a tour of the facilities, they have separate rooms, one for cutting and creating the packaging materials.

A mixing room the contains the fragrances and natural ingredients.

A large room full of drying racks.

Another large room storing all the finished products.

I noticed better processes they have for the soap making including drying trays that are the size of the soap instead of a large flat tray that requires multiple cutting these only require one cut across the width of the soap.

So the basic idea at this point is to work with my CDO Urania, Mrs Edwards and my MaMa, Agatha to help Canabelle Soap. The basic idea would be to help them fix their accounting, purchase some safety equipment and a blender with the money raised by Bonnie and Connie. Write up a development plan to submit to government agencies and also submit one to the Canadian High Commission who Urania already has a wonderful relationship with the focus of the proposal on improving the soap making process and acquiring more equipment and raw materials.

Most of that would be accomplished through the help and experience of Mrs James. We would fly her in and pay her a consulting fee to help us improve our formula and production process along. I am extremely thankful to Mrs James for allowing me to see the facilities and taking the time to meet with me. She is going to be critical in helping us move forward to help develop this small fishing village of Canaries.

One of the ideas I have had for a long time was to create a smaller soap to target to the hotels for their guests. The Coal Pot is already way ahead of us as you can see in these pictures.

One of the key developments that will need to be made is to create a smaller soap to market to the hotels so our production can reach a steady rate to actually pay dividends back to ladies in the Soap Co-op.

So at this point it is up to me to get motivated to finish a development proposal for Canabelle that they agree with. This part is hard because I am still in the middle of the Old Church Development Proposal which needs a read through and changes by Community Club before we can take it to the church.

So we continue marching on for the development of Canaries! Woo-hooo!!!

Did I mention I am having the TIME OF MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you, thank you US tax payers , John Kennedy, US Congress, and the Executive branch for this experience.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Dominica = Gorgeous

I am back from mid-service training in Dominica. WOW what a gorgeous island! I thought Saint Lucia was beautiful but really when it comes to natural wonders and loveliness Dominica really stomps anyplace I have ever been.

Some quick info, Dom is considered the nature island of the Caribbean, its population is only 70,000 compared to Saint Lucia which is at 170,000 and its almost twice as big. This leads to less of an environmental impact. Its also interesting to note that 40% of their power is hydroelectric from their rivers.

I was just overwhelmed by the beauty, from the old colonial structures to the abundance of waterfalls, to the untainted streams I drank from with my hands.

Highlights for me were visiting the boiling lake, snorkeling the champagne bubble reef, and scuba diving with Aldive in Point Michelle

I had a great time with my friends and fellow Peace Corps Volunteers. Props to Jerome, and Lee who really went out of their way to help me have an excellent time.

Tim thanks for taking me down the 500ft sheer cliff to the waterfall that descends straight into the black sand beach on the Atlantic coast.

The Valley of Desolation and Boiling Lake

Soaking in one of the sulphur pools along the way.

Boiling Lake Video

Here is Spanny Waterfall

Melissa and Lando, fellow PCV's

Double Jump into the river, Nick and Jerome

Hog Call just for Nick

More back of the pickup transportation, the only way to see Dom.

Me and George a ritired American loving life in Dominica. Thanks for having me over for rum and spaghetti!

Oh and here is funny picture, remided me of Carol a friend of the family from Boston, that is exactly how she would pronounce it.

Oh and lastly great idea for the clothing swap Jordan.