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…
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.