Who Is Venus Raquel?

Venus Raquel is a national and international traveler who explores the intersections between plants, people, and culture. Her interest in herbalism combined with her strategic storytelling nature fueled her to demystify and simplify the subject of ethnobotany with her Ethnotrots around the globe.

You’ll come to know her as prose and poetic. Carefree in her pursuits but a thrill chaser in the eyes of the village elders. When Venus falls, she gets up. If there’s blood shed, yarrow isn’t far. As she heals, she reflects. She believes her lived experience in life and in nature can teach others. Growing up, her auntie told her, “A smart person learns from their mistakes and a wise person learns from the mistakes others make.” – Rosita Salinas

Venus is the daughter of Zora, and just like her mother – she writes to capture the moment, to keep history, to teach you what she’s learned as a disciple of land and life. Read Venus’ favourite work of Mama Zora’s here


As a young woman representing the northside of Minneapolis; looking at her, people would always try to guess her ancestral background. Many saw her, few actually knew her. Her mama (Georgia) was a rolling stone raised all over by her Mexican immigrant mother (Aurora) who moved here at the ripe age of 18. Venus’ father (Robert) was born & raised in New Orleans, Louisiana; though he and Georgia coincidentally met in Seattle, Washington. These two bloodlines full of culture covertly influenced her to be who she is today but it did take time to affirm her complex cultural identities.
A younger Aurora used to sit in the back of the family pickup truck with her daddy (Santiago) in Chihuahua, Mexico, drinking fanta and looking across flat land at the El Paso city lights, dreaming about America. Aurora’s mama (Rosita) was a medicine woman, and community members would come to her for herbs and healing. This nurturing nature is strong in the women of the Salinas’ bloodline genes; as Aurora, her daughters, and her granddaughters all have taken an interest/served in the healthcare industry. Her grandma never spoke much about Mexico & it definitely wasn’t centered in Georgia’s upbringing either, thus she doesn’t know much else about that part of her heritage. On her paternal side, she knew she was “black”. Yeah, she’s light skinned but she didn’t know anything about that creole business. As far as she was concerned; she was an African descendant of slavery, Willie Lynch, Jim Crow, burnt down black wall streets, and the war on drugs. To be black in America is a constant struggle. The traumas caused by discrimination are immeasurably complex and never seem to stop, as we watch ourselves get gunned down every other day via social media. Yet, African Americans are a resilient people, capable of overcoming any type of adversity that comes our way. The influence blackness has on the world is unmatched, so no matter the challenges that arise within the black community, she is proud to be a multicultural black woman.


The melting pot that makes up her ethic background serves as a huge motivation as to why she created Ethnotrot. The media is powerful and at times it has made her feel hopeless about the things happening around the world. However, traveling/lived experience is even more powerful, it allows you to see the world and its people for who they really are, who you really are. There are no political narratives or smear campaigns when you are face to face with new cultures, new people, new traditions; only opportunities to observe, learn, connect, & reflect.

Thus, Ethnotrot is a place for the culture(s). Our first years of existence centered the expressions of the Caribbean and traditions in the southern US states. In 2020, at the age of 21, she traveled to Maroontown, Jamaica and stayed on a pineapple field owned by a very successful Jamaican family. This is where she met her first plant experts; Jafud, George, & Gavin. Jafud is an old man that moves like a young boy, he has been working on this land and a banana farm up the road for over 30 years. Now he might not call himself an herbalist but the man knows herbs. George is an obeah man and taught her about the herbs and seeds used for protection and warning in the coveted Jamaican spiritual practice. Gavin is from Old Harbour, the countryside outside of Kingston. He is a chef and plant expert who assists Venus in harvesting many herbs from around the island.

Venus has never been the type to stay at a resort, her logic was she could do that back home, so instead she usually travels to rural areas where the locals reside. Growing up in the country gives you a different quality of life, it gives you stamina & strength that the city folks lack, and you emerge in society with skills of a self sufficient individual.

Though Jamaica is very dear to Venus, it was February 2021 in San Augustine, Costa Rica when the idea of Ethnotrot emerged. She was staying at an eco-village deep in the hills of the nation’s west coast. Her son accompanied her and she would log on to team meetings via zoom. She also happened to be a part of a technology mentorship program. One day the host asked all the mentees, “ How does your business interact with technology?”. She pondered on the question but unfortunately her business did not. At this time, she was in her 4th year of business, selling her natural handmade self care products. Most of her sales were made at pop ups and directly through her. However, she knew that had to change. She needed an online presence. She had written and executed many program curriculums over the years, “Maybe I should use my travels as a way of educating folks about plant practices and different cultures.” , she thought and from that thought, Ethnotrot was born.

Between the Caribbean and the southern states, she learned a lot from everyday people, cultural bearers, and being in nature. For example, It was in Puerto Rico when she first met the cerasee bush while on a hike in El Yunque National Rainforest, but it wasn’t until her time in Jamaica that she learned who the plant was from those who knew it and brewed it.

To Venus, it was experiences in nature like this that made humanity better & brought us together. There’s beauty in the times where you allow yourself to be playful, present, and curious. Where you listened to an elder at the fruit stand’s reasoning for eating his paw paw whole; skin, flesh, seeds and all. Shoot, for her, it was being in the Caribbean, tasting the deliciousness of papaya that her local grocery stores back home could never provide. Except for El Burrito, the Mexican Market in West Saint Paul. That’s where she would go to feel a piece of paradise when back in the Twin Cities. They had quite a few of the staple herbs, produce, and cactuses of the Caribbean. Though, if it weren’t for her ethnotrotting nature and everyone she met on those journeys, she would not know the value of these imported goods. Now, it’s her turn to continue sharing this knowledge with her community for a better, brighter, unified tomorrow.