One of the most picturesque and informative photo books about the Riviera Maya I have found is one I bought recently from the author herself; Svetlana Aleksandroff, a woman who has been researching, studying, making and using plant-based remedies for most of her adult life.
I met Svetlana, a tall blond Russian-born woman through a mutual friend in Tulum when she learned of my interest in great books about the Riviera Maya.
They both came to visit me at my cabana at Coco Tulum.
Svetlana has been living in the area for over 8 years. Her initial contact with the Mayan plants was in a course called ‘Herbolaria Maya’ – ‘Mayan herbs’ taught in Tulum by a local shaman Maria Galindo.
After taking Maria’s course Svetlana decided to begin compiling her book that would show the great importance that plants hold in human society, integrating the medicinal and other uses of Mayan plants.
The beautifully designed, photographed and printed book would be perfect as a souvenir coffee table book as well as a reference guide to visitors of the area.
Aleksandroff explained that the flora of the Tulum area is very abundant and unique.
“The sealine area has mangroves and plants that tolerate salty soil; it continues into a mature jungle with natural wells, cenotes and beautiful lagoons. The roots of the trees reach deep between the rocks to get to the underground water, and tree trunks are covered with vines, bromeliads and orchids. There is wild growing pitahaya, passionfruit and prickly pears.”
With her appetite for cuisine and with ten years of exploring native Mayan ingredients Aleksandroff has also included 50 delicious, healthy and easy-to-prepare recipes.
“Food has always been one of the important pleasures of my life, and cooking; my appetite is well appreciated by my family and friends.
“Having a combination of native plants like chaya, achiote or henequen, and many introduced-ones like mango, tamarind and aloe vera resulted in the creation of the unique cuisine on one hand and diversified herbal medicine on the other.”
Her passion for Mayan plant remedies, cuisine and photography is portrayed in her beautiful book called ‘Plants in the Mayan Culture’, which is available at various shops and locations throughout the Riviera Maya.
Svetlana concludes with – “Preparing food and eating it – both pleasurable activities – can be used to a great benefit for the physical body, if done properly and with love and enjoyment. Learning about food and nutrition is most important for any human being who wants to lead a happy and healthy life. Make plants your friends and love your food!”