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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

TNT Packs a Rum Punch!

One of the mask competitors at Trinidad’s carnival. Mask traditions go back to Africa, representing ancestral spirits offering protection during slavery and servitude. Fevered competitions abound in a variety of music styles, like steel pan.

Seeking a travel break from the intrigues of a perforated ship of state? Perhaps from the curious undertows dragging the DNC out to sea? Here's a vicarious escape you might consider giving a real embrace next year. I don't think the need for an escape that shakes up the scenery will lessen.

A Melting Pot on a Carnival March Across Musical, Culinary and Cultural Battlefields
Text and photos by Skip Kaltenheuser

At Trinidad’s Dattatreya Yoga Center and Mandir, this giant statue of Hanuman Murti, the Monkey God, is the largest outside of India

Heads of state sometimes gather in Port of Spain to jockey for position, with some reaching out and some more antagonistic. Often overlooked is a lesson in personal diplomacy that the entire world might take from the host country, Trinidad and Tobago. The two islands, quite different from each other, form a single country, and have the Caribbean’s most intriguing culture. People who are often at loggerheads elsewhere in the world get along just fine here, thank you very much.

The historical layers that built Trinidad and Tobago have created one of the most splendid melting pots in the world, with a remarkable degree of affability between the diverse groups that built the nation. Understanding those historical layers is key to appreciating the country’s many grand offerings to visitors. Like many other Caribbean islands, the original population was Arawak and Carib Indians, after the latter came to the islands and conquered the former. Columbus landed on Trinidad in 1498 during his third voyage, during which he again missed India but discovered South America, thinking it part of Asia. In keeping with their usual pattern, the Spanish wiped out most of the Indian population, and assimilated the survivors. Trinidad was a magnet for French, free blacks and other non-Spanish, but Spain ruled it until the British captured it in 1797.

Tobago was much more in play. French, Dutch and British forces perpetually contested possession. During colonial times, the island changed hands twenty-two times, setting the record for West Indies turn.

African slaves formed a majority of the population, but after slaves were emancipated in 1838, the melting pot became much more interesting. The Europeans needed to fill a labor shortage, so in 1845 they begin bringing in both Muslims and Hindus from India as indentured servants in order to work the large sugar and cocoa plantations.

Meanwhile, Chinese started finding their way to the islands. A couple hundred came in 1806, on the ship Fortitude, part of an experiment in setting up a settlement of farmers and laborers, in anticipation of the eventual ending of slavery. It was a disaster, and the couple dozen who remained started shops or did carpentry or gardeners. A second wave came in the mid-1800’s after slavery ended, mostly from Macao, Hong Kong and Canton, as indentured laborers. A third wave came after 1911 and the Chinese revolution of that year. The pace picked up between the 1920’s and 1940’s, most of them families and friends of immigrants who’d arrived earlier. Instead of working on estates, they adapted to roles as peddlers, traders, shopkeepers and merchants.

Additionally, many Chinese from elsewhere in the Caribbean came to Trinidad after they’d finished their indenture obligation on other islands. When China started opening up to the outside world in the late 1970’s, a fourth wave of migration began. In 1960, Sir Solomon Hochoy was knighted by the Queen of England and became the only nonwhite British governor of Trinidad and Tobago, becoming Governor-General when the country became independent in 1962.

A parade group prepares to rush the reviewing stand for its do-or-die dance moment, perhaps to a song by Super Blue, aiming for Carnival glory

People from these divergent backgrounds have blended their heritages, and often their families. Although the number of unmixed Chinese Trinidadians, or Sino-Trinidadians, probably peaked in 1960 at eight and a half thousand, many more islanders have some Chinese in their ancestry. Among the much larger Indian population, it isn’t unusual for Muslims to marry Hindus, with a marriage in each religion to please the families. The families then just double down on the religious holidays. The racial and religious tensions found in much of the world’s regions are hard to find here. It’s a very refreshing experience.

If you ask a cab driver his family’s ancestry, be prepared to hear a long story about a well-branched family tree, likely to include Europeans, Amerindians, Africans, Indians, Chinese and others such as Portuguese, many of whose ancestors were also indentured laborers, and Arabs. They all bring something to the cultural mix, not always in proportion to the size of the population. For example, Buddhists may only be a percent of the population, but the country was recently fascinated by introduction of the Shaolin Martial Arts of Ch’an Buddhism.

Puja prayer flags at Trinidad's seaside Hindu Waterloo Temple

One of the pleasurable spill-overs of this melting pot is the cooking pot, and its been simmering for centuries. Consider the dish of curry chicken and roti, inherited from indentured laborers from India, along with curry versions of crab, shrimp, duck and potato. The roti is of various ingredients, including cowpeas. Sometimes its served on a skewer with eggplant relish and tomato chutney vinaigrette. A sample from Africa is callaloo, a spicy dish made from dasheen leaves, okra, crab, coconut milk and cilantro. Many dishes are stewed, barbecued or curried with coconut milk.

Spice is king. Hot peppers concoctions, including a hot sauce called “mother-in-law” that makes some people’s faces sweat just from thinking the name, often figure in. Mango chutney and curry mango are among the treats resulting form fusing the broad array of delicious fruit with spice.

Breakfasts include fried corned beef with onions and tomatoes. Fried figs with saltfish-- cod in a packet-- is common. Homemade coconut bread with black pudding-- a blood sausage including onions, pork fat, oatmeal and spices-- is a hit.

Bake and shark is popular at breakfast and at any time of day. The moment the shark shacks open up at Trinidad’s stunning Maracas Beach, long lines appear in anticipation. The local shark is deep-fried and and stuffed in pocket of deep-fried batter that is similar to the fry bread of American Indians in Arizona and New Mexico. Maracas Beach, one of the beautiful beaches on the north side of Trinidad, is protected by a deep bay. The broad beach is dotted with tall palm trees and hardwoods, with soccer games making the sand fly about. The hour or so drive to the beach from the capital, Port of Spain, goes through mountains covered with rainforest and along cliffs overlooking the coast. One overlook area has roadside stands selling dried sour prunes, red mango and other preserved fruits with hot spice that locals can’t resist.

Rich soups and stews are known as “blue food.” The seafood offerings are superb, particularly curried crab and dumplings, and king fish. A small fresh water fish, the cascadura, is used in a rare specialty dish, with the legend that those who eat it will return to Trinidad to spend their days.

The most popular drink is a rum punch made from sugar water, dark rum, lime juice and Angostura bitters.

The hardest working man in show business, a small cog in a giant steel pan machine in an orchestra competition, utilizing perhaps the only major musical instrument created in the prior century. This T&T original is one of wide variety of musical styles celebrated in the country.

The historical melting pot has also brought forth unique recipes for music. Among them is the steel drum. It’s a brilliant innovation that began in the 1930’s as orchestras of dustbin lids, prying pans and oil drums. The tops of 55 gallon drum tops are hammered into a pitched percussion instrument called a steelpan, with pitched notes based on the size of the ovals in the pan. One might have thirty soprano-range notes, another only three bass notes, necessitating a player to have six pans. There’s a large range of instruments between them, and pan orchestras might have a hundred or more players. High tech techniques are continually developed to better tune the pans, and some are designed at the outset to be musical instruments, including by one manufacturer in Switzerland. The music a good orchestra puts out is a marvel to hear.

The pan evolved from traditions of African drums and sticks used by slaves to communicate, which were suppressed on the islands. Percussion bamboo sticks were banned in 1883 after they were used as weapons in conflicts between groups who lost control during the Mardis Gras carnival celebrations inherited from the French. Drumming traditions were also strong in India. After the initial bans, bottles and spoons were used until the pans were created.

Another of Trinidad and Tobago’s musical gifts, Calypso, has its roots in attempts at communication between slaves. Strongly harmonic and rhythmic, the songs are often in the language of a French creole that was created to allow the melting pot to better communicate, as the slaves from different tribes and the other inhabitants originally came with very different languages. Songs are led by a griot, a poet and wandering musician who is both witty and very knowledgeable on local history and events. The griot style has been traced to West Africa and the old Mali Empire of seven hundred years ago. After slavery was abolished on the islands, carnival festivals began to develop in the 1830’s, with large tents for Calypso concerts and competitions.

Soca music is a more recent local creation, from 1963. It originally included instruments from India, though they were used less when the form later adopted elements of American soul and funk. Good times are at the core of the songs. Soca is also the venue for lively carnival competitions.

Other variations on these musical forms include Extempo, a type of freestyle calypso war for which the lyrics are improvised on the spot. Singers don’t just compete for the carnival title of Extempo Monarch. Some wander the streets with a guitar or walk onto a bus and make up songs on the spot about the people they see. Rapso is another musical style, with more political and spiritual themes, and Chutney, which grew from the Indian populations. These and other styles are woven into the carnival competitions but are prevalent throughout the year.

A Dame Lorraine, sporting one of carnival’s long-lived traditional costumes. It began as a way to make fun of the wives of French plantation owners

Rapso is well-suited to the carnival street party J’ouvert, which uses any materials that are handy to beat out rhythms. The celebration starts around three or four in the morning and lasts until a few hours after sunrise. The calypso and soca bands that lead their followers are now often on large sound trucks, with beverage trucks close by. Celebrants, known as Jab Jabs, throw colored powders and water, and smear paint, mud or oil on each other. The customs come from a disturbance long ago that became a riot, with people disguising themselves, and from a festival held by the Indian population, Holi. There are often fire breathers, using a high alcohol rum, who punctuate the darkness with blasts of flame.

Blue Devil in a mountain village. Leave the wallet at home, keep a few singles handy because non-contributors are often embraced, so don't wear the irresistible color white or anything you're fond of

Throughout J’ouvert and the daylight carnival parades, there is a great deal of “wining.” Celebrants, in mud or in risqué costumes, often complete strangers, suddenly do a comical bump and grind with each other to the music, or with onlookers who get too close, for a brief moment, and then move on. Somethings a dozen people might line up for some periodic wining as they dance along. It’s a lively reminder of ancient carnival traditions in Europe that centered on fertility, and on the chance for slaves and the lower class to cut loose. After Christianity gained control of carnival, the wildness and chaos led up to the sober period of Lent that leads up to Easter. But carnival, with its satirical traditions, always retains its resistance to authority, and its embrace of sex.

While the focal point of carnival is in Trinidad’s capital, Port of Prince, it has smaller celebrations throughout the island, including one in a village up in the hills where “blue devils” dance through the street and demand tribute from onlookers. If a dollar isn’t given-- keep the rest of your money well-hidden, the devils will grab what they can-- the devils will smear them with blue paint, (it doesn’t wash out of clothes, this writer attests).

In the evening, as with the steel pan competition, Panorama, with its huge orchestras, and the Soca and Calypso competitions, which include singers, bands and dancers, there is also a “Mas” competition for King and Queen costumes that can only be believed if seen. It’s often accompanied by elaborate music, dancers and impressive stagecraft. One person, aided by no more than two or three small roller wheels, wears a huge costume weighing hundreds of pounds, and its not unusual to see someone collapse after getting his or her costume across the stage. The technical expertise that goes into making these huge costumes wearable is part of the art form, and it’s impressive, though everyone prays there is no strong wind that might sail a contestant off the stage. Themes are often drawn from China, India, Africa and American Indians.

No less impressive are the costumes worn by children at their carnival. It’s also a pleasure to see how inclusive it is, with a good number of children with disabilities, mental or physical, putting on elaborate costumes and joining the parade with everyone else. A large number of kids are up on stilts, often very high stilts, in tribute to the Moko Jumbies. Legends had them walking across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa, to eventually walk the streets of Trinidad in freedom. They also acquired a ghost persona from the Indian population, and powers to protect people by driving off evil spirits. Adults also have Moko Jumbie bands, and the very tall, costumed figures are remarkable dancers.

A bit of incognito “wine and jam” at J’ouert, the 4 am parade beginning carnival’s celebrations, with music and beverage trucks keeping moving before sunrise. Again, don’t wear a tux or anything you're fond of, waterproof cameras recommended. A lot of paint and grease is tossed about, as here with the parade group Caesar’s Army

While many of the costumes are known for their brevity, one of the most fun is a satirical costume tradition that pokes fun at the wives of the French plantation owners of long ago, who liked to dress up as aristocracy. The carnival version adds wildly exaggerated rumps and busts, and sports parasols. There are many other traditional costume characters, including Navy sailors, Fancy Indians from North America, dragons, Minstrels with faces painted white, and Bats with big wing spans. While Tobago, better known for a huge jazz festival in April, also celebrates carnival, it’s much less grandiose. For many Trinidadians, it is a post-carnival retreat where people can calm down. They hop a plane or ferry to get to the country’s alter ego island. While Trinidad’s modern economy leaned heavily on oil and now is focused on being a major producer of natural gas, Tobago’s riches are mostly in its unspoiled natural environment.

Trinidad and Tobago’s long and varied melting-pot history includes Chinese ancestors, their spirits honored here. Senior king and queen contender costumes can weigh up to 200 pounds, and an assist of up to three wheels is allowed. Beware of the wind.

Among its natural offerings is the Main Ridge Reserve, created to ensure that sugar planters wouldn’t fell all the trees for timber. There was a remarkable realization by a mid-18th century scientist, Stephen Hales, that taking down the trees would eventually end the moisture cycles that brought rain, turning islands like Tobago into a desert and ending all agriculture there. It was a tough sell in the British Parliament, where many members also owned plantations in Tobago. But after eleven years of effort, one member, Soame Jenyns, convinced his colleagues that Hales was correct. Protected by law in 1776 not to preserve royal hunting and pleasures, but to protect the watershed, this is the world’s oldest legally protected forest reserve of its kind.

The act creating the reserve is a marvel of environmental foresight that much of the world could still greatly benefit from emulating:
"Did also in pursuance of your said Instructions remove to Your Majesty a tract of Wood Land lying in the interior and most hilly parts of this island for the purpose of attracting frequent Showers of Rain upon which the Fertility of Lands in these Climates doth entirely depend."
-William Young

Assented to by his Honour the Commander in Chief this Thirteenth day of April One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy Six.
The reserve now covers over two-thirds of the island. Most of the forest is very similar to the type of forest that dominates in the Amazon. Unlike Trinidad, there are no poisonous snakes in the forests of Tobago, making them a worry-free pleasure to hike. Waterfalls abound, including Argyle Waterfall, which has 54 meters of stepped cascades and cold, deep pools one can swim in. Along the walk to the falls from a visitors center, one can see caymans in a river, and some of the 469 species of birds on the two islands, including many humming birds.

Beyond the local birds, from August to October the islands are visited by many migratory species form North America. There are also interlopers from South America, such as the nation’s national bird, the Scarlet Ibis. It breeds in Venezuela, which is so close it can be seen from Trinidad, but spends most of its time feeding in mangrove swamps on the islands.

Many visitors to Tobago spend their time at the western tip, Crown Point, with its restaurants and bars, and the beautiful beaches of the peninsula Pigeon Point. But this writer found a great retreat at the far eastern tip. One can meander on the drive there, visiting sites like old colonialist forts and the ruins of sugar mills being reclaimed by jungle. Be very cautious on the winding roads, it’s easy to be absorbed by the views of many stunning bays, cliffs and beaches, when you really need to have your eyes on the road. Better to stop at safe places to take in the sites, or to take a cab.

The North End of Tobago is the island’s most mountainous, and the beautiful bays on the Caribbean side are great for swimming, with extensive protective reefs for snorkeling. One might recognize locations like Pirates Bay that were used in the 1952 film, “Swiss Family Robinson.” You might have to hike a ways from small villages on the Caribbean side, but it’s not unusual to find coves and beaches that you can have entirely to yourself.

Just off the southeast side of the far end of Tobago is a small island, Little Tobago, across from Starwood Bay and the resort, the Blue Water Inn. There is good snorkeling and diving, with the world’s largest known brain coral and many leatherback turtles, but the Atlantic currents are powerful and one needs a good guide and experienced boatman who can keep you from harm’s way. The area attracts many sport fishermen.

Little Tobago is a bird sanctuary with boobies, terns and the red-billed tropic bird, and offers some challenging hiking up steep slopes covered in parts by cactus and dry forest, but with much denser forest toward the top, and huge ferns. Whether or not you make it all the way to Little Tobago, Tobago is well worth exploring if you seek an experience that truly gets you away from crowds for the chance to experience environments that have mostly disappeared from the Caribbean.

Trinidad and Tobago offer a tale of two islands. Between them the diversity of people and offerings is one of the most satisfying in the Caribbean.


The Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain is an excellent carnival headquarters that also organizes carnival involvement. The hotel is also favored by heads of state, as at a Summit of the Americas, and by business travelers.

Blue Water Inn on Tobago.

Trinidad and Tobago Tourism

The eyes have it, revelers jubilant even sheltering from a passing rain.

Monday, February 27, 2017

One Way To See China For Free-- Or Even Make Some Money In The Process

Now that she's moved away to New Orleans, I don't see Ricky Lee Jones much any longer. But she was in town last week and we got together for dinner to catch up. She had just been in China. I didn't recall her having much of a following there from when we were both at Reprise, so I was very curious about how the economics of that trip worked. As best I can understand, a wealthy guy in suburban Shanghai put up a very large amount of money for her to play a kind of prestigious show for a small number of people. nice way to see China-- or at least suburban Shanghai-- and walk away with a tidy sum to boot!

The story reminded me of an HBO Vice episode from last year, "Rent A White Guy," about how it's possible for westerners, specifically white westerners, to make a bundle in China by... being white. I knew that China-- among other Asian countries-- will pay a lot for white models. But this story goes way beyond that. I mean how about being the westerner who gets hired to go out on the town with a group of rich Chinese kids who just want to make an impression-- of looking "cool and worldly?"

"White Makes You A Winner"

I was in Bangkok for much of December and January. Everywhere I looked there were billboards and signs advertising skin whiteners (or lighteners); it was overwhelming and it's creating a neurosis among Thai kids-- of both genders-- that darker skin is unattractive. I didn't like it and couldn't escape from it. Apparently it's even worse in China. The episode makes the point that "there's a grey market for whites in China. A white face isn't just a marketing ploy, but a substitute for actual professional credentials." Even doctors-- like the fake "vice chairman of clinical urology at the University of Virginia," lecturing actual Chinese doctors about chronic prostatitis, about which he knew exactly nothing at all.

The rent-a-laowai business is for real in China. And ruminative enough for an enterprising American to go over there, sign up with an agency and make enough money to live... and then some. As long as you're ok with being a prop, or even a fake celebrity. This is especially lucrative in third and fourth tier cities, not in cosmopolitan places like Beijing and Shanghai. And very often there's something shady about those hiring the foreigners to pretend to be something they're not, a white something they're not.

Friday, February 24, 2017

How Many Billions Of Dollars Will Trump Cost The U.S. Tourism And Travel Industry?

Roland and I go away twice a year-- once in the summer and once around Christmas. Last June we went to Moscow and St Petersburg in Russia and Baku in Azerbaijan. We're thinking about a Paris trip and a Tierra del Fuego trip for our next two. But Roland's worried that Trump is going to make it tougher for Americans to travel safely and comfortable abroad. How friendly are Mexicans going to be, for example, towards Americans if things keep getting worse. And Parisians may be able to laugh at Trump's ignorant fear mongering about their city now but sooner or later someone, somehwhere is going to think he's not funny.

In fact, Frommer's took a look at Trump's impact on tourism and travel from the opposite perspective-- how his idiocy is killing the multibillion dollar U.S. tourist industry. Arthur Former himself wrote about a Trump Slump that is already causing a "devastating drop in tourism to the U.S. and that "the loss of tourism jobs could be devastating."
Though they may differ as to the wisdom of the move, the travel press and most travel experts are of one mind: They are currently drawing attention to an unintended consequence of the Trump-led efforts to stop many Muslims from coming to the U.S., pointing to a sharp drop in foreign tourism to our nation that imperils jobs and touristic income.

It’s known as the “Trump Slump.” And I know of no reputable travel publication to deny it.

Thus, the prestigious Travel Weekly magazine (as close to an “official” travel publication as they come) has set the decline in foreign tourism at 6.8%. And the fall-off is not limited to Muslim travelers, but also extends to all incoming foreign tourists. Apparently, an attack on one group of tourists is regarded as an assault on all.

As far as travel by distinct religious groups, flight passengers from the seven Muslim-majority nations named by Trump were down by 80% in the last week of January and first week of February, according to Forward Keys, a well-known firm of travel statisticians. On the web, flight searches for trips heading to the U.S. out of all international locations was recently down by 17%.

A drop of that magnitude, if continued, would reduce the value of foreign travel within the U.S. by billions of dollars. And the number of jobs supported by foreign tourists and their expenditures in the United States-- and thus lost-- would easily exceed hundreds of thousands of workers in hotels, restaurants, transportation, stores, tour operations, travel agencies, and the like.

While, earlier in the year, the Administration had boasted of saving 800 jobs in the Carrier Corporation, the drop-off in employment resulting from the travel ban would eclipse that figure.

According to the Global Business Travel Association, in only a single week following announcement of the ban against certain foreign tourists, the activity of business travel declined by nearly $185 million.

Other observers, including local tourist offices, have reached similar conclusions. In referring to New York City’s $60 billion tourist industry alone, the head of the city’s tourist effort complained that his agency’s effort to portray the United States as a welcoming destination to foreign citizens “was all in jeopardy.” Several other tourist officials have made like statements.

As you can see, there is plenty of evidence for a negative conclusion.
The World Travel & Tourism Council has been highly critical of Trumpy-the-Clown's attempt to ban travel to the U.S. by nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries. The council's CEO, David Scowsil,l challenged the fascist regime directly, warning that Trump's idiotic approach could bring about a long-term slump in tourism to the U.S. He told Travel Weekly that "The more people travel, the more people spread understanding, the better off we'll be around the world." He spoke of "the reverberation that America is closing down, is not open for any business and that people are looking at whether they want to travel here or not, for both business or leisure. So there is a risk if this is not turned around that we will see a drop-off of international passengers coming to the U.S."

When confronted with Trump's rationale for the ban-- safeguarding Americans-- he simply pointed out that Trump's scaremongering is bullshit. "There is no incident in the last 30 years of a national from one of those seven countries coming to the United States to commit any type of terrorist killing. If you compare that with the domestic shootings that happen in the United States, for the last 10 years there has been an average of 11,700 Americans killed in domestic shootings. The message is: focus on what is going on domestically and don't assume that any of these gun incidents are going to be committed by people flying in to do that type of activity."

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Unplug From The Rat Race And Switch On To Nature

Last fall Jenny Holt and her husband, having been inspired by Bill Bryson’s book, A Walk in the Woods, hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail. "While we were well prepared," she told me, "our progress was slower than expected and we got into some difficulty and ran out of food. It was ok, we were not too far from civilization and completed our trek safely, if a few days later than expected. However, it did make us wonder how well prepared we are for a situation where we were much further from help/shops etc..."

Jenny is a health and travel writer, and she has come up with a delightful hiking advice sit, Backpackerverse, to develop a guide on outdoor survival skills covering the basics anyone should know before hiking in the wilds; especially if travelling in a foreign country or remove landscape. Perhaps knowing the connection between this blog and DownWithTyranny, she wrote this post especially for us.

-by Jenny Holt

You’d have to be living on the moon to have avoided all the political headlines at the moment. Everyone seems to be talking and worrying about the recent state of global affairs. But you don’t actually have to go and live on the moon to escape from it. There is a more practical, cheaper, and achievable solution. Just switch off, unplug and get outside. And we don’t mean to go and sit in a coffee shop. We mean out out. In the great outdoors.

Disconnect and Reconnect

When we are at home or work, we are always so busy and surrounded by distractions. But when you are in the outdoors, you'll likely find yourself outside of cellphone coverage or email reach. So, it's just you and the world.

  It doesn't have to be expensive either. Depending on whether you just want to hike a trail for the day or escape for a few days, you don't have to spend a fortune on kit. And once you are out in the great outdoors, everything is free.

Staying Safe

If you have got a taste for escaping to the great outdoors, you will need to do a little preparation before you head out.

In case you get lost or just fancy venturing off the beaten track, you should make sure you know some basic survival skills to keep you going until you make it back or are found. While it's encouraged to disconnect, there are gadgets that can help you when you are out in the wilderness. But they can break or stop working, so you still need to know what to do if you are unable to rely on them. Last year a Dutch woman survived five days in bushland without the help of any gadgets. Bushcraft experts have said she would have died if it wasn't for her quick-thinking survival skills.

Good for the Mind, Body and Soul

Apart from the obvious benefits of getting some fresh air and exercise, being outside in nature has some huge mental health benefits too. Experiencing nature regularly can actually help to improve complex memory tasks and has been said to help people suffering with dementia. Just being exposed to the natural environment can lower stress levels, aids with symptoms of anxiety and depression and helps improve cognition in children with attention deficit disorder.

Escaping the Hamster Wheel

Getting outdoors offers a brief escape and refuge from the pressures of the world. It may not be for everybody of course. Some people prefer lazing on sandy beaches and enjoying hot showers and clean sheets. But for some, exploring the outdoors is the perfect remedy to some of the absurdity going on in modern life. So, switch off and get outdoors, you won’t regret it.