|In 2003 and 2004 Candis traveled to remote villages in the Tien Shen mountain region of the Kyrgyzstan republic,
Central Asia. Her goal was to introduce medicinal herbs to the villagers and assist them in starting their own local herb businesses.
The last available medical resources from the Soviet Union had been gone for some time and the villagers were surviving day to day
with little or no connection to the outside world.
The mountain region, although isolated from modern civilization, provides an abundance of lush herbs and plants growing wild-everything
from groves of walnut trees and Hawthorn forests, to acres of Elecampane. The villagers of Kyrgyzstan are lively and animated, and more
importantly, receptive to learning how to use the local herbs and plants. As it turned out, the villagers already had some knowledge
about how to use the herbs. In one village a medicine man, or "Tabib," tended animals in pastures for the summer feeding time. He took
the villager's pulses and prescribed some herbs for stomach distress. The villagers themselves understand a little Avicenna, which
utilizes hot/cold and wet/dry concepts for treating sickness. Avicenna was a central Asian physician in 940 AD, creator of the Unani Tibb
medicine. This medicine was practiced in Central Asia and the Middle East by the ancient Greeks. Candis was able to help them remember
their lost herbal traditions.
Living in the mountains, the life of the people is pastoral and in harmony with the cycles and seasons of the Earth. Living a life so in
agreement with their environment is what Westerners can only dream about. The people are secular Muslims, open and honest. Their living
quarters are rammed earth or adobe bricks. Their lives are extremely rural without televisions, phones, stores, or even running water.
The only available water is the water that runs in the ditches and through everyone's land. Fortunately, the area is full of rivers and
streams at the headwaters of all the countries of Central Asia.
Candis' most memorable class experience took place in the mountains near a villager's cabin. She gathered many herbs from the area and
arranged them on a rustic table. Mongolian looking people gathered around in front of Candis wearing colorful headdresses, clothing, and
earrings. As they laughed and smiled, their gold teeth gleamed in the sun. They took notes enthusiastically and were full of questions.
The interaction of the villagers was warm and appreciative as the wild mountains embraced them. Chickens wandered by the participants and
riders on donkeys and horses were on the road, these animals being the only transportation. As the translator was speaking, Candis looked
over the mountain and saw a large flock of goats being herded to the high summer meadows. The sounds of whistles, horses, goats, and
switches punctured the air. Later a herd of horses went up the same mountain. People, animals, plants, air, the season, the medicine, all
are one in Kyrgyzstan-there is no separation.