There isn’t much that could have prepared my heart for leaving Guam. I fell in love with so many aspects of the community; from the gorgeous teal waters and shallow beaches that my girls spent hours at a time splashing and running in with their friends, to the moving traditional stories told to me by locals as they welcomed me into their home after birth.
So much of Guam’s laid back island vibe and warm kindness shared toward all still runs through me as I’m now here in Seattle bundled up tight. I hope it never leaves.
As my family and I prepared for our farewells and final night on Guam there was one place I knew I still wanted to see. My friend Demera and I had been talking about visiting this traditional herbal farm for months! And literally on our last day on Guam we were able to squeeze in a tour. Let me just say it was so worth it! I don’t know if I would have truly appreciated all the insight and wisdom I learned that day, if I had visited earlier. It almost seemed more moving and powerful as it was our final day on an island that seemed to already play a huge role in healing areas within my own life.
We were greeted at the entrance of Amot Farm by an outdoor archway covered with climbing plants with white and yellow blooms on it. The archway led to a short path that welcomed you to a truly magical garden of fruits and herbs.As soon as I stepped in I was in love! Pops of color burst from behind bushes of ivy green shrubbery, recycled materials hung from low stretching tree branches, and all sorts of basins and containers were overflowing with life. Next to each sectioned off area of the farm stood 5′ tall signs with a photo and description of the plant it housed. Each description detailed the plants’ usage and medicinal value. Everything from curing pain and eczema to cancer and diabetes.
I understand that for many this seems a bit far fetched and purely hokey, but what we were told early on by the farm’s lovely overseer and traditional Suruhana (Herbal Practitioner) “Bernie” Nelson, is that to receive the benefits of these plants, you must first…believe. She said that if you don’t believe, then they don’t work.
And I believe in a way, that it’s true. There have been many studies where people have experienced relief or healing from ailments while simply taking a placebo. I understand very well that certain diseases are not healed this way, but I also believe in the power of our minds, miracles, and plant medicine. For thousands of years this is how people survived, healed one another, and eventually came to develop many modern drugs.
Well once we were introduced to “Bernie” and her sweet niece Bertha, we were led down the first path of wonder. Small stacks of grey stones separated us from the gardens and the kids could barely keep themselves from touching all the beautiful flowers and grabbing the stones.
We spent over an hour tasting, touching, and smelling dozens of fruit, flowers, and roots. My favorite was the Wild Pepper Grass. It looks like a head of arugula. Short, leafy, thin, and bright green. When you initially bite into one of the tiny leaves you don’t taste anything. It’s kind of bland and dry like a piece of raw spinach. But once you begin to chew, the wasabi-like spice hits you! It would make a perfect salad ingredient.
I quickly realized that it would be great if I could share with you all not only photos but a few of Bernie’s recipes and issues she uses them for. So, I jotted a few down for you below.
Pull off 10 Hibiscus flowers, remove the petals, and place them into a cup of boiling water. Enjoy with honey.
Grind the avocado pit and put into water. Drink to detoxify system.
+Atmahaya (nettle)- used to treat thrush in babies.
+Abas (Guava plant)- used for vaginal steams after birth to prevent bloating and infection.
+Cuban Oregano- the leaves are pounded and mixed with honey for cough relief.
Our morning at Amot Farms was the perfect balm for my aching heart. Though I knew I would miss Guam enormously, this tour was a reminder to me of all the wonderful lessons I’d already learned through living on the island. Ones that would stay with me forever.
Amot Farms Inc. is a nonprofit organization located on a small windy road in Dededo, Guam. It’s surrounded by other small colorful island-style homes, with plenty of jungle sprinkled between each lot.
If you’re local, you must visit if you haven’t already. It’s the perfect outing for mamas and little ones, a school field trip, or simply a anyone looking for something different to do. It’s actually just a 10 minute drive north from Two Lover’s Point too, so a perfect stop off if you’re doing the tourist thing.
You can visit Amot Farm at 613 Swamp Road, Dededo, Guam 96929, by giving them a call (671-969-3276) to schedule a tour. You can also reach them on Facebook or by email at email@example.com.
PIkaMarch 21, 2017 at 12:01 pm
Guam misses you Anjelica!
Thank you for this post. I am ashamed to say, that as local Chamorita I have yet to visit Auntie Bernie’s farm, even though my children have been healed by the natural remedies! Thank you for this loving post to the world, sharing, our Chamoru culture and traditions.
Stay warm out there! Wish I could bottle up the warm sun for you!
AnjelicaMarch 21, 2017 at 12:08 pm
Aw, Pika thank you so much!! I’m missing Guam for sure. I wish you could send me some sun too!!!!
Hopefully you can get up to her farm one day for a quick peek around. Bernie is so knowledgeable and sweet! Her and the farm are true Guam treasures.