Open your heart to Africa!
The more I travel, the more I think that traveling has the power to heal people not just to educate, as I once said.
OPEN AFRICA : WILD COAST ROUTE – COFFEE BAY
Open Africa stimulates rural development by leveraging communities’ collective tourism assets.
HOW? By connecting remote areas with travel markets in a competitively sustainable and innovative way. From identifying products and clustering entrepreneurs to branded networks that strengthen their combined power and market appeal.
Open Africa works with different communities with the aim to sustain eco-tourism that enhances the conservation of the place by educating local people about their environment as a potential wealth creator.
During my visit to the project, I met Isaac, one of the tour guide based in Coffee Bay.
Issac was born in Hlini, one of the villages, 28 years ago. He said that he loves taking people around and show them the place where his from. Isaac is smiley, outgoing and very chatty. He loves talking and telling stories about his village. While we are walking, I enjoy taking some breaks to take photos and to simply admire the beauty around me.
(Break taken during the walk around the village)
FUN FACT : “COFFEE BAY”, ORIGINS OF THE NAME
I ask Isaac : “Why do they call it, Coffee Bay?” . He smiles and says : I was just about to tell you the story!”.
So apparently one night, a cargo ship ran around and spilled a shipment of coffee beans all over the shore. The initial name was “Coffee in the Bay” which then got changed into “Coffee Bay”. I also spoke with other locals about it and they said that some of these beans took root and began growing into baby coffee bean trees but, alas, the conditions were not suitable and they did not survive.
(The view from on of the villages)
(From the trek to the “Hole in the Wall”)
(The Hole in the Wall)
(My turn to be creative!!)
I love learning about new culture, traditions and rituals. In the picture above, Isaac is using the red soil called UMDIKI which is believed to have healing properties and it is used between locals to celebrate puberty of young women and men. Isaac told me that, few weeks before turning 18 years old, young men are sent to the forest to build a shelter where they camp for a month or two and learn about themselves and their bodies in a natural and wild environment. The time away allows young men to walk on the path towards manhood. Boys cover themselves everyday only with umdiki. Towards the end of the ritual, boys are taught to walk to the Bomvu River of the village where they wash themselves and officially called themselves “men”.
FUN FACT : Isaac also told me that after washing in the river, they spread 5kg of vaseline on their bodies, probably to moisturize their skin after so many weeks of using only soil!!!
Here is Isaac pouring some water on the red soil extracted from the root of the tree behind him.
I asked Isaac, if the same thing happens with girls and he said that it is slightly different for them because they need to be more careful with their bodies (for example cannot be so naked like the boys and explore the forest so freely).
ECO SUSTAINABLE HOUSES : NATURAL IS THE WAY
Something that really amazed me, was to see that most of the houses here in Coffee Bay are made by natural resources. The block you see in the picture on the left are made of mud. The process takes around 4-5 weeks in total and it involves :
- mixing the mud with some grass
- making it wet and start dividing it into block
- let the block dry for 3-4 week
For the roof instead, which is really common in most areas of Africa, they use thatching grass which is the craft of building a roof with dry grass. The very interesting thing about this technique is that, since the bulk of the vegetation stays dry and is densely packed—trapping air—thatching also functions as insulation!
(Here is a picture of some thatching grass being left to dry between 2-3 weeks)
This is the thickness of the roof! Looking great for being an ecologically friendly roof right?
And this is the final result! Some people, if they can afford it, also love decorating their houses with vibrant colors! It is brilliant right?
I love the look of them and the fact that these houses are all ECO – FRIENDLY!! What’s better than that?
Sending you lot of love from the wild coast guys and speak you soon!!