Simplicity is the rule I live by. I find that this keeps stress to a minimal level. Be it the food I nourish my body with, my relationships with others, or the outfits I choose to clothe myself with; simple has always worked for me.

Two years ago I was desperately searching for self-peace and guidance. I was in much need of some spiritual and physical cleansing. I wanted to go on a retreat in the Caribbean; specifically up in the mountains, away from any tourists, noise or disruption. I just wanted to be alone with nature. I began searching for mountain cottages in Jamaica and came across a place called “Good Hope” in the province of Westmoreland. It seemed to be exactly what I wanted – in a remote location, no other tourists as there were only two cottages for rent, and high in the mountain with a panoramic view. In the midst of this Garden of Eden I turned to the Rastafarian Ital lifestyle for my spiritual and physical cleansing.

Growing up I always had a fascination with the ways of life of traditional Rastafarians I encountered. They were always physically fit because their Ital diet consisted of fish, fruits and vegetables only. They seemed to possess useful knowledge of the medicinal properties of their natural surroundings that most people did not care to appreciate. They always seemed stress free when most others were constantly worrying about material possessions. This was the peace - physically, mentally and spiritually – that I admired about the Rastas.

Arriving at Montego Bay airport, my host, a slim young lad sat patiently waiting for me at the arrival bar. We spoke of his father, the artist that lives in one of the cottages, and about the possibility of taking a trip to the YS Falls to swim, as well as stopping at the Appleton Rum Factory in the waterfall’s vicinity. The journey to the cottage up the mountains was a bit dizzy as the road up meandered frequently. The air increased in humidity as we elevated in altitude into the hills; so much that by the time we arrived at the compound my hair had turned into a complete frizz ball and my face glistened with dew.

The host showed me how to navigate the path down to my cottage. It was a stone path that blended naturally with the trees that covered the perimeters. The variety of tropical fruits hanging from the trees brought water to my mouth – plump golden mangos, blazing orange papayas and sugarcanes the thickness of my arm were among my favourite. When we finally got to the final step in front of my cottage, I instantly began daydreaming of the books I would read on the red and blue striped hammock that hung in front of my entrance door. The balcony next to the hammock had that view advertised on the internet: a picturesque sunny clear sky overlooking the green, lush land beneath the mountain top. You could see Negril and the sparkling Blue Fields Beach at a distance.

And so began the cleansing from day one. My routine consisted of daily morning meditations and conversing with the children that passed along as I walked down the hill after meditations. Carambola, pineapple, freshly squeezed orange juice and cappuccino brewed from the coffee beans behind my cabin were my breakfast staples. After my smoothies blended from the bok choy grown on the compound, I silently let my mind wonder through the pages of Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle.

I picked up a few interesting beauty tips during my curious explorations trough the gardens. The host had explained the wonderful healing properties of aloe vera. I put aside my store-bought face mask and applied freshly cut aloe vera to my skin before bed. To my surprise my face glowed and felt smoother after the first application. I was also told that avocado and coconut water served as deep conditioners for extra dry hair. This tip was a bit messy but I must admit that I presently still use this do-it-yourself conditioner to combat dryness in my curly hair.

I would have never imagined that two weeks of Ital living would result in me being a few kilos lighter and having smoother glowing skin, emotional stability and most of all stress level down to non-existent.

Meditation, walks, abundance of rest and consumption of organic products were my simple remedies at that time, and this Ital lifestyle has become my solution when I need to reset the motions of my life. After spending two weeks in that mountain, it saddened me the day my vacation at Good Hope came to an end. I was going back to what the Rastas called “Babylon” - the globalized world where stress, materialism and inorganic lifestyles dominate. The memories of me laying on the red and blue stripped hammock, staring at the hummingbirds chirping and flapping their wings above me, still bring good hope and peace of mind when I desire those simpler days after the pressures of daily life starts to overwhelm me.