Posts by ilainie:
- 1: If you have this number, you have natural leadership skills and plenty of independence. You have ambition and want to be an achiever. You also like to be in control and enjoy being creative.
- 2: This number is associated with peace. You are the king of person that likes to listen and help people. Diplomacy is a strong skill as is the ability to reason with others. A creature of habit, you like to have routines in place.
- 3: Creativity is key for those with this number. If this is your number, you will enjoy arts, writing, and dramatic arts. You are good at solving problems and always tend to look on the bright side of things.
- 4: This number is linked to practicality and organization. If this is your number, you are idealistic and practical but also very committed and a high achiever.
- 5: With this number, the chances are that you are keen to progress. You like to see justice done in the world but can be quite skeptical. A little on the eccentric side at times, you love a little adventure but your focus is on the wellbeing of other people.
- 6: People with this number tend to be very paternal or maternal. Kind, honest, and domesticated are some of the traits that others will see in you. You like comfort, having others around you, and embracing the happiness of others.
- 7: Perfection is important to you if you have this as your destiny number. You like to analyze things but you can also be quite spiritual. You have strong emotions but are good at guiding others. This number is linked to strong leadership skills and loyalty.
- 8: If you have this number, then you are a hard worker with plenty of ambition and drive. Leadership comes naturally to you and your career is very important. Although you are sensitive you can make the mistake of looking for material happiness rather than spiritual.
- 9: This is the most emotional number so you will have a range of strong emotions. This includes compassion for others. You are also intellectual and deep, which can make you quite intriguing to others.
- The problem with two people on stage isn’t who will be speaking, it’s with the person that isn’t speaking! What should they do, how should they act?
- Danger of the talk is making it too dreamland, add some difficulties. Make it more human. Real life lessons they’ve learned. Weave it into the talk. Talk about successes and failures.
- If you want to be associated with a word or concept, repeat it a few times. Explain it.
- Minimize the amount of slides/the use of slides. Use big pictures. Make it really simple. Slides aren’t there to bring across the content of your story, the slides are there to bring across the emotion of the content of your story.
- You don’t have to actually write a speech after the outline! Do what you always do to memorize talk for a conference.
- Tell stories. Tell stories about what touched you on your travels, the big turning points, and the funny moments. Become okay with being vulnerable.
- Have fun! You’re fun people!
We’re still at it! After nine years on the road our focus is on worldschooling education. Let us know what you think!
Miro & Lainie talk about Worldschooling at the TEDx Conference in Amsterdam
After a month of preparation, crazy travel plans and lots of rehearsal, here is our TEDx Ed talk Miro and I delivered on April 20th, in Amsterdam.
In numerology, there are certain numbers that are considered important in terms of your destiny. One of these is known as your life path number. Also known as a destiny number, this is made up from the numbers in your date of birth. Your birth date is, of course, very important when it comes to numerology and by adding the numbers of your date of birth together, you can come up with your destiny number.
You may have heard about these numbers on channels such as Fox News. Some believe that your destiny number can play a big part in your future success including your educational achievement. Given the amount of debt many people get into to study at university, it is not surprising that we all want to succeed although you can help to cut the cost of your borrowing by finding the best student loan refinance rates. So, can your destiny number give you more of an idea whether you will succeed at university?
What does it all mean?
So, what is your life path number all about? Well, the numbers that are used in this process run from 1-9 and your number is thought to impact on many things, such as your nature, what you are capable of achieving, your relationships, and your educational success. So, let’s take a look at a quick overview of the different life path numbers:
As you can see, some of the qualities associated with different numbers are qualities that are essential for educational success. This includes ambition, hard working, analytical, organized, and practical. If your life path number is one of these that includes these qualities, further education could be the ideal choice for you.
Worldschooling? Can anyone do it? What are the benefits of worldschooling?
Over the years, I’ve answered these questions over and over, in both interviews, presentations and in person. In invite you to read my thoughts below. If you have any questions you want answered about worldschool, please send me a message and I’m happy to answer your questions.
What is your personal definition of worldschooling?
For me, the broad definition of worldschooling is experiencing the world as your classroom. With that are lots of subtle differences to just unschooling, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
As a worldschooler, you can do whatever helps you access that place inside of you, inside the learner to create learning moments.. You can live a stationary life, in your home country, but consciously invite in elements & experiences of a global nature into your lives.
You can be an expat living in a foreign country or be a traveler or any type. The thing that travel provides that general unschooling does not provide is seamless exposure to new things, which inspires learning which can be in many forms.
As travelers, we look at the subtle and not so subtle differences of the world around us, and by the nature of it being new, and as a worldschooler, constantly stimulated by the outside world, the internal world is automatically inspired to be conscious and present. Similar to unschoolers who trust the process, they know that learning is happening and do see it in may aspects of the learners lives. However in my experinece, worldschoolers are actively engaged in the learning 24/7 since it’s partially survival as we strive to make sense and understand the world around us and know more, ask questions and research and partially the nature of travel, meaning that it doesn’t feel like “learning” it feels like traveling instead.
The final bit to the puzzle that in my experience is the key, is that through worldschooling I finally am present in my life and with my son. I no longer move through the day based on schedules or routines. No longer am I preoccupied with getting checks in the mail, picking up my son from school on time, taking the dogs out, making play dates or any of the other numerous responsibilities that once occupied my mind, removing me from experiencing whatever I was doing. For me, travel was my formula to stay present. I am not saying travel or worldschooling is the only way to be present, I’m saying it was my way.
Can an individual worldschool without being an unschooler? Can traditionally educated students also worldschool?
Yes. I feel more than anything else, the intentionality to learn, inspired by the world, the eyes to notice the newness, the differences and similarities, the culture, politics, history, the ecological, geological and environmental and more are all aspects of worldschooling. Sometimes people need travel to give themselves permission to do those things. However, no matter how you slice it, it’s natural self-directed learner-driven learning with a dash of intentionality and presence.
What are some of the benefits, in your opinion, of worldschooling?
Besides the feeling of being connected to one’s own internal ability to learn in real time, the consciousness of it really, the love of learning is absolutely experienced through worldschooling. As an unschooler who worldschools, I can see in real-time, learning that covers every single academic subject (language, arts, history, science, etc.) expected for a young learner to learn. Additionally, I also see so many experiential “soft skills” being honed in through travel. Examples run far and wide, but consider learning patience, teamwork, leadership, service, compassion, critical thinking, problem solving, self reliance, vast social interaction with people of all ages and walks of life, being able to have a voice to advocate for themselves, etc.
Miro and I were invited to give a talk at the TEDx Ed Conference in Amsterdam. We said “yes!” Below you will find a post written by our teen intern, Katie Mitchell, who is traveling with us and helping out Miro and I for a period of 6 months with Project World School. Here’s her first post on the preparation process:
By Katie Mitchell
Outlines. We all hate writing them, but we’re all grateful for them in the end.
It’s no different for the outline of a TEDx Talk.
Miro and Lainie had over a month to write their first draft of their speech outline. In this month they’ve hosted a retreat in the jungle, where internet was almost non-existent, and moved from Mexico to Peru. We were also planning upcoming retreats and business ventures whilst they tried to write this outline. Every minute possible there were TED talks playing from their computers; researching. What do they do when there are 2 speakers? What about when it’s just a kid?
March 29th the first draft of their outline was due to their coach. They were full of questions during the coaching session, and he was fantastic.
Q. (Lainie) Should we write an outline, or a full script?
A. Everybody goes about it differently, do whatever feels most comfortable to you. Some people write it all out, some people write it down once and that’s all they need.
Q. (Lainie) What I’m nervous about is not making it about us. All the articles I’ve read say to not make it about us, to make it about the bigger scheme of things.
A. Watch Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford. Your stories can be about you, about your travels, or an anecdote. How do you want people to feel? How can the listeners benefit from your lessons? Drench the talk in a central theme. Make the theme in the title. What will the take away of the talk be?
Q. (Lainie) Is our backstory necessary?
A. Yes, my first question reading it is where’s the depth? How’d you come up with this?
Q. (Coach) What is the take home message?
A. Maybe the fact that learning is a lifelong experience, it doesn’t end when you leave the traditional school setting, you don’t need someone teaching you in order to learn. Also, you’re empowered to learn.
They had to opportunity to talk with Jerry Michalski and get his help, too!
Jerry gave a TedXCopenhagen Talk back in 2012 about trust in the school systems. Check it out here:
He also had some advice:
So now what?
A slide show, a story brainstorming session (or 5!) to figure out which of their many stories from 7 years of travel will make the cut, and actually rehearsing the speech.
Lainie interviews Bolivian Author G. Antonio Portugal Alvizuri about the Mystical Side of Bolivia [VIDEO]December 3rd, 2015
For those of you that have been following our journey over the last six and a half years, you know I’m fascinated by the alternative researchers, archeology, history, anomalies and the ancient alien theories. Although I have no idea what the actual truth is, I’ve been enthralled by topics along those lines and have been inspired to go deeper, ask more questions and explore into the unknown.
Most of all, I’ve learned how to keep an open mind, not judge any piece of information and simply integrate that into my growing knowledge base of possibilities. One of the greatest gifts this journey has afforded me is the flexibility to say “I don’t know what the truth is, and that’s ok.”.
It is from this perspective, I ask questions, dive deeper into the rabbit hole and find myself not with answers, but with more questions.
This is an interview I did with a Bolivian researcher and author I met by chance, on our recent trip to Bolivia. We hope you listen with an open mind.
Below this video, you will find information from show notes page from Conscious Consumer Network, where the interview originally aired. You will find information about Antonio’s books, links to his web site and more.
Lainie Liberti interviews G. Antonio Portugal Alvizuri
From Antonio Portugal Alvizuri.
“I have a message for you and for human kind: We are not alone. We have not been alone. Ancient sites present clear evidence of advanced thinking and engineering.
But most of all I have had experiences that proved me that we are not alone and that we, as humans, have a mission.
Our mission is related to our lives, our existence, and our civilizations.Whether you believe what I am writing or not, there is a sense of purpose in the life of every living being.
We, as the dominant species on earth have a duty toward Nature, The Animal Kingdom and our fellow humans.
Progress is made by knowledge but also by wisdom. The wisdom of finding value in love, kindness, respect and harmony with Nature and every living being.
We are called to promote such balance and such harmony. If you believe your existence can influence reality, society, your family, your friends, your peers, then indeed you can.
All you need is believe that you can and just seek to be a better human being in the widest sense of the word.
Seek to be a good son/daughter, a good father/mother, a good human being, seek to live loyal to your heart and seek to help and be of service to you, your fellows and protect mother nature and the animal kingdom.
If you do that, besides living a life with purpose, you will be impacting your surroundings.
And I in the name of those who can not speak, in the name of those who can speak and are not listened, in the name of those who exist but are not seen, I will thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Because my interest is nothing but your well being.
You don’t need to believe a word of my experiences and my message….you only have to perceive it and feel it in your heart.
The message I have can be listen, but most of all, has to be felt.”
~Antonio Portugal Alvizuri.
Lainie Liberti interviews G. Antonio Portugal Alvizuri specifically about his experiences shared in two of his books, In Contact with the Grand Masters and Pakari the Andean Giant. Antonio’s words come from the heart and his story is fascinating to say the least.
We sincerely hope you enjoy this interview.
More information about all of his books can be found below.
Antionio talks about the Secret Tunnels under Lake Titicaca in Bolivia
Secret Tunnels of the Titicaca is a lively and fascinating testimony of the discovery of the largest and deepest pre-Columbian tunnel ever found beneath Lake Titicaca, on the unusual circumstances surrounding its discovery and on the strange beings of light that forbid disclosing its exact location but instead make other many revelations. We will find irresistibly entrapped in the abysmal gravitation of the tale.
Antonio Portugal Alvizuri’s Books
In Contact with the Grand Masters
“In Contact with the Grand Masters” is the third book by writer and investigator Antonio Portugal Alvizuri, who on this occasion lets us know details about his contacts with great characters that dwell in the magical and still secret realm of the Andes.
The book reveals new experiences just as impressive as the ones referred to in his previous works, related to the deep world of the Andes and principally in Lake Titicaca. This way, this information about his ‘Mission’ given by the beings he is in contact surfaces.
Those beings show him details about their past lives and explain the reason of their presence in these mysterious dimensions as the astral guides. These beings allowed him access to many of the secrets of the past, knowing the landscapes and characters of other times in an exceptional voyage through time and space going through experiences with ethereal beings through out of body experiences, levitation and journeys to other dimensions.
Read more and / or buy the book on Amazon here.
Secret Cities in the Andes, the Messages of the Beings of Light
Secret cities in the Andes, the Messages of the Beings of Light, is a testimony of a fascinating book. It tells about the incredible astral journeys that the author has carried out through the tunnels or chinkanas to the pre columbine inter terrestrial cities in the region of the Bolivian Andes, as well as the existence of a city of light underneath the Minor Lake of the Titicaca, or Wiñay Marka (eternal city), and the city and tomb of the Great Master Lhasa in the region of Los Yungas.
Antonio Portugal in his narrative not only reveals the existence of such amazing cities, but also has the mission of continuing with his archeological investigations and a wait for the trip that he will carry out a few years from now to the great cave in the mountain of Mururata where greats secrets are Kept of the Lemur Continent.
The messages that he has received from the Beings of Light, are revealed partially by him in this book, the rest of the messages are jealously being kept until the Great Master allow him to reveal them.
Pakari the Andean Giant
The presentation by Antonio Portugal to the Spanish speaking readers, that takes place in our Andean land, typical of our diversity in Bolivia, is an important task in our present for his books have awakened a special interest on the subjects written about in his previous four books : The Chinkana of the Titicaca (the secret tunnels of the Sacred Lake), Secret Cities in the Andes (the Messages of the Beings of Light), In Contact with the Grand Masters and From Tibet to the Andes, the encounter of two cultures, where he narrates the encounter with beings of light and other contacts that lead to the mission entrusted by Superior Beings. In this opportunity, the author offers his readers information on a new contact that take him to secret places such as the Great Gallery beneath Tiwanaku as well as new missions that lead him to find an underground city known as: “Latent City” or Secret City describing structures built thousands of years ago. In company of a shaman named Kupa, they see giant beings, Cyclops and dwarf beings in a state of hibernation and finding out the reason they are on our planet; the discovery of machines alongside these beings and their apparent function to reanimate these slumbering beings that will help humans in the oncoming destruction as well as their mission to permanently aid people in their astral development. He will also include the description of space ships that will serve as transport vessels for humans in the future.
From Tibet to the Andes, the encounter of two cultures
From Tibet to the Andes, The Encounter of Two Cultures is Antonio Portugal Alvizuri’s fourth book which passionately narrates one more mission he must embark on in order to obtain altruistic goals and noble ends that have been given to the author of these tales. In this opportunity, the Tibetan culture emerges that in spite of many people’s disbelief, has settled in middle of the Apolobamba Mountains.
In the early 1950’s several Tibetan monks fled their homeland towards India, Nepal as well as the Andes Mountains of South America becausethe Chinese government invaded and took over Tibet. Many of the monks arrived at a region of the Apolobamba mountain range in the north of the department of La Paz in the Republic of Bolivia. Since then, they live in peace and harmony together with a group of members of the Kallawaya culture. You will discover in this book how they break the secret codes so they can finally live and enjoy their new found freedom in the Andes.
Antonio Portugal Alvizuri’s trademark is to rescue the cultural values ofthese parts of the world known as Bolivia located in the heart of SouthAmerica. He shows us in every moment the great achievements of the past and Highlights the presence of those ancestral values in our daily lives even though many will try to identify customs and traditions as belonging to other foreign cultures and not as they should be: The Bolivian Andean Culture.
The Mysteries of the Tunupa Volcano
The new book from Antonio Portugal Alvizurri, ¨The Mysteries of the Tunupa Volcano¨, will take the reader to intense experiences lived in one of the most beautiful and mystical places of Bolivia: The Salar of Uyuni and the majestic Tunupa volcano, its perpetual natural guardian.
As it is already a characteristic of his books, the challenges and extreme situations present themselves constantly in the narrative of this magnificent book in which the main character, inspired by trust, faith and perseverance, has to overcome grave obstacles while accomplishing ¨missions¨ were trusted upon him by the Beings of Light and the Grand Masters. To reach the summit of the impressive Tunupa, in adverse and painful conditions will be one of the first tests that Portugal has to achieve in order to achieve an encounter with beings from outer space.
Going into an unusual and splendid city located under the Salar of Uyuni, as well as the revelations obtained in its interior of the city, will take us according to the author to the conviction of being privileged by the Creator and to make us proud to be part of the Andean Cultures.
Read more and / or buy the book on Amazon here.
The Chinkana of the Titicaca, The secret tunnels of the Sacred Lake
The Chinkana of the Titicaca is a lively and fascinating testimony of the discovery of the largest and deepest pre-Columbian tunnel ever found beneath Lake Titicaca, on the unusual circumstances surrounding its discovery and on the strange beings of light that forbid disclosing its exact location but instead make other many revelations. The reader will find himself irresistibly entrapped in the abysmal gravitation of the tale.
To find out more about G. Antonio Portugal Alvizuri, please visit his web site: www.antonioportugalalvizuri.com or his author page on facebook: Antonio Portugal Alvizuri libros or buy his books through Amazon.com
Lainie Liberti spends most of her time talking about alternative education and hosts the popular show here on Conscious Consumer Network called For the Love of Learning – Voices of the Alternative Education Network.
She has been traveling with her son for the last 7 years and has not only facilitated her son in finding his passions, she has also discovered and pursued her own passions. One of Lainie’s passions has become archeology, ancient cultures, traditions and the mysteries of our planet. As a self directed learner with an insatiable curiosity, it is no wonder Lainie and Antonio sat down for this interview.
Thank you CCN for providing a platform to share these explorations.
You can find out more about your host, Lainie Liberti at her website RaisingMiro.com and the alternative education & world schooling project she runs with her teenage son at: ProjectWorldSchool.com. You can also connect with her on twitter @ilainie & facebook.
For full archives of this show and programming schedule, please visit:
Find us on facebook: For-the-Love-of-Learning-Voices-of-the-Alternative-Education-Movement
For comments, questions, suggestions or if you’d like to be guest on the show, please contact us here.
This video presentation was recorded at the Un in the Sun, unschooling conference, October 31st, 2015 in St. Pete’s Florida. Our entire presentation ran just over an hour, then followed up with a questions and answers session, which is not included on this video.
Below is the video presentation of our talk with video and visuals added. We hope you enjoy it.
Here is brief outline of our presentation:
I. Our story in brief:
II. How does natural learning occur?
III. What is worldschooling & why does it work with unschooling so perfectly?
IV. Let’s talk parenting, connection and attachment
TRAVEL AS EDUCATION
V. Contextual learning or immersive learning – Real-life instances of immersive global education
VI. What other kinds of learning does travel offer?
VII. Strategies to keep your family engaged
VIII. Why is worldschooling important???
IX. How you can worldschool from home?
X. How do others worldschool?
PROJECT WORLD SCHOOL
Have a Proposal for Us?
Interested in learning more about worldschooling, life on the road as a single parent family, third culture kids or Project World School‘s temporary learning communities? Lainie and Miro would love to receive a proposal for your conference or event.
Please contact them here.
I sat down with Maya, the owner of Hanaqpacha Travel to learn more about visiting Bolivia. She shared with us several of the special tours she developed through the city of La Paz. Maya also talks about many of the popular and off the beaten track attractions throughout Bolivia to consider on your next trip. If you are planning a visit to Bolivia this video will be a valuable resource for you.
If you are interested in booking a tour with HanaqPacha Travels, please contact them using the info below. Be sure to tell them that you are a “worldschooler” for a very special offer!
Calle Jaen #734
Our three day excursion to visit Bolivia and particularly the Salar de Uyuni (Spanish for Salt enclosure) also known as the Bolivian Salt Flats, or simply salt flats, was filled with so many emotions: awe, equanimity and more. This alienesque landscape is truly unfathomable as a geographic wonder, making this trip one of the most remarkable expeditions of our lifetime.
Many travelers and people often describe a bucket list of places they wish to visit, whether African safaris, hot pools in Sweden, or Alaskan cruises. For Miro and I, it had been the Bolivian salt flats for quite a while as one of our top worldschooling destinations. We choose the salt flats after researching geologic formations of the places located in South America, entrenched by years of Spanish and indigenous culture, it seemed the perfect fit. Our planned mini-excursion to visit the Salar de Uyuni was definitely on our to-do list!
We set off on our three-day excursion after an overnight bus ride from La Paz, delivering us directly to the town of Uyuni, where our guide was to meet us for the three day trip.
The Salar is the world’s largest salt flat, geographically it is found in the Oruro/Potosi region of Bolivia, not far from the Andes. The ancient origins of the salt flats themselves span over 10,500 square kilometers and are located 3,600 meters above sea level, and are a short 45-minute drive from the town of Uyuni.
Our guide picked us up in front of the agency at 10.30am and our first port-of-call was the abandoned trains named the ‘train cemetery’. This now touristic area was once a thriving mining and locomotive hub that connected the area to the Pacific Ocean until political instability led them to flee and leave behind their 19th-century locomotives. All that is left is a dusty barren landscape with a surreal feel to it, some opportunistic graffiti and tourists from all around the world.
We took plenty of pictures of the abandoned trains and after a period of time headed out towards the salt fields passing through a small town named Colchani, where we were able to purchase souvenirs and mingle a bit with other tourists and chat with our tour guide.
The Great Uyuni Salar
Our next stop on the three-day excursion was the actual salt plains themselves. Let me explain: coming here is like tracking off to an unexplored world, where reality surpasses the imagination. If you have the travel gene and are looking for new experiences you will certainly find them here. You can see the Andes mountains on the horizon, and the ultra-clear blue sky we experienced was further amplified by the thin layer of water on the salt beds, that created a blindingly mirrored effect of the sky. It really is an awe-inspiring and otherworldly experience that is difficult to succinctly put into words.
The tour guide was expertly knowledgeable on both the geographic and historical facts of the Salar. I learned many things from him. This vast salt desert was formed thousands of years ago and was once part of a prehistoric salt lake named Lago Minchín, which covered most of southwest Bolivia. After the lake invariably dried up it left behind the planet’s largest salt pan in the Salar de Uyuni. The white encrusted salts of the Uyuni are mineral rich, the main minerals are halite, table salt and gypsum (a common component of drywall), which explains how the hotel that was previously mentioned was built.
I think I took over 100 pictures just in this location alone, partly due to my amazement of this natural spectacle and partly because, well, I just had to.
The tour continued across the salt pans to Isla del Pescado (Island of fish). An ‘island’ area that appears to magically come into sight out of the desert. Here you get to see llamas sitting in relaxed fashion among huge cacti that stretch over 9ft tall appearing almost monolithic in stature. We were also able to have lunch here while taking in the vastness of the Salar.
The next stop on our incredible journey is the Thunupa Volcano a now dormant volcano in the northwestern part of the Salar topographically it sits at over 5000 meters above sea level and over 1600 meters high. At the foot of this dormant natural wonder lies ‘the cave of mummies’. These caves are a local sacred spot and house over 1000 perfectly preserved mummies due in part to the arid climate. This stop is was one of my favorites, as enchanting and mysterious as it sounds.
As the dusk starts to set on the Salar our tour guide takes us to the next and final stop of our day, to a small town and peaceful town in the furthest western point of the salt flats named Tahua and to the Tayka de Sal Hotel. This is hotel made entirely from salt bricks with locally sourced cactus wood and other things that furnished it. Here we enjoyed dinner and woke up the next day well rested.
After breakfast we headed out to the many lagoons that are dotted around the Salar, which included Laguna Cañapa, Laguna Chiarkhota and Laguna Colorada where we saw wildlife indigenous to the area such as flamingos, chinchillas, Andean foxes, and Andean goose. It really is an amalgamation of the native fauna of the region including various species of wildlife and is sure to please avid wildlife fans. The lakes are as rich in color as they are wildlife, deep reds, purples and vibrant greens, caused by red pigment sediments and algae…
Travelers to the region will also enjoy visiting the Siloli Desert. Our first stop in this desert landscape is at the El Arbol de Piedra (stone tree). This wind-shaped tree created from stone has been shaped naturally over years, by the winds and salt that blow over the desert plains and is known to have inspired artists such as Salvador Dali in his paintings.
The day comes to a close staying at the world’s most uniquely amazing hotel: a hotel made entirely from salt. Everything in the hotel is made from salt: the tables, the walls, the chairs the ceilings and more, we tried, probably like others have before us have, licking the walls, and yes they tasted like salt!
We woke early on our third and final day in order to see the Sol de Mañana (morning sun) in this geothermally active area of the southwestern portion of Bolivia. Here you will get to see steam pools, mud lakes and volcanic sinkholes, the best of which randomly emit steam over 50m in the air.
Depending on what time of the year you go the morning air can be quite chilly so it’s good to know you can get to relax in the Termas de Polques (hot springs) which produce natural occurring sulfurs and other minerals that locals pronounce to be very beneficial to those with joint problems such as arthritis. We were glad to be able to experience the healing benefits of these waters after a couple of days of traveling across this landscape.
The highlights of the last day of the tour include visiting the Laguna Verde (green lagoon) which has a green-blue hue and really looks like an optical illusion in the desert. This marvelous spectacle inherits its color from the high levels of minerals such as copper and arsenic in the lake. The color is out of this world, it almost has a fluorescent tinge to it, just behind the lagoon sits the inactive volcano Licancabur Volcano. This could very well be the cherry on top for a wonderful three-day journey across the Bolivian salt pans. It really is a mind-blowing landscape and is impossible to not be mesmerized by it and forms the perfect photo opportunity!
The evening will see you head back to Uyuni – back across probably one of the most inexplicably surreal and beautiful landscapes on earth, and one I will surely return to see again.
Miro and I booked our travels through HANAQPACHA TRAVEL
If you are interested in booking a tour with HanaqPacha Travels, please contact them using the info below. Be sure to tell them that you are a “worldschooler” for a very special offer!
Calle Jaen #734
The World Heritage Site describes Tiwanaku as the “Spiritual and Political Centre of the Tiwanaku Culture”. Today, much of Tiwanaku comprises of ruins to the capital of what was once a powerful pre-Hispanic empire in the Andes, which reached its pinnacle of power and dominance between 500 and 900 A.D. The Vast Empire cut across what is today southern Peru, northern Chile, Bolivia, and sections of Argentina.
According to UNESCO, Tiwanaku city is located in Bolivia, in the Ingavi Province, Department if La Paz. It sits on a valley on the Altiplano, near the southern shores of Lake Titicaca. Tiwanaku rises to an altitude of 3,850m. It is famous for being one of the highest urban centers ever built.
The original city, mainly built from adobe, has today, been blanketed by the modern town. The city’s only surviving structures are the monumental stone buildings that marked the ceremonial center. They are currently under protection in the archeological zones.
Tiwanaku – a place of cultural and political significance- started as a small settlement. It’s unclear as to exactly when the settlement began, but people started settling in the Lake Titicaca around 4,000 years ago, according to Denver Art Museum curator Margaret Young-Sánchez, in her 2004 book, “Tiwanaku: Ancestors of the Inca”. This could have been the same time the Tiwanaku settlement began. By this time, people had already domesticated the llamas (pack animals), camelids and alpacas (for their fur).
The original settler farmers perfected the growing of hardy, pest-resistant crops such as tubers and quinoa. Water for farming came from natural rainfall and from the mountain slopes through artificial channels. 1000 years later, the adaptations had advanced further to “raised-field agriculture”. The technique involved the creation of elevated planting mounds, which were separated by canals.
It is from these adaptations that larger and more sophisticated settlements emerged. One of them was Tiwanaku, which would later become the dominant force in the region. Vanderbilt University professor John Wayne Janusek, in his 2008 book, “Ancient Tiwanaku”, argues that Tiwanaku rose to dominance because it had competitive political practices, dynamic trade routes, environmental shifts, and an energetic ritual cult. After Tiwanaku’s collapse in the 12th century, the only remaining monuments include the Akapana and Semi-Underground Temples, and the Kalasasaya astronomic observatory.
Religious and social culture
Ancient Tiwanaku had a dense urban population. People lived in spatially segregated neighborhood that were perfectly-defined. . The segregations were bounded by gigantic compound walls made of adobe. Residential neighborhoods consisted of domestic structures, including sleeping quarters, storage facilities and kitchens.
In Tiwanaku, the religious atmosphere of the city is characterized by a set of architectural structures corresponding to the different cultural accession periods. These are the Sunken Temple, Temple Semi-underground, Pumapumku’s Pyramid, Kalasasaya’s Temple, and the Akapana’s Pyramid. The Palace of Putuni and Kantatallita are representative of the administrative officer, who is also the city’s politician.
These architectural structures are symbolic of a period when the city’s political structure was sophisticated and the religious culture was firm. The Pyramid of Alapana is, arguably, Tiwanaku’s most commanding monument. Originally, the pyramid had seven platforms placed over one another, with stone retaining walls that stood over 18m high. Today, only the lowest of the platforms stands.
Kalasasaya Temple is to the north of Akapana. It is a large, open, rectangular structure believed to have served as an observatory. To access the temple, one uses a flight of seven steps located at the center of the eastern wall. The temple’s interior is characterized by two curved monoliths, and the epic Gate of the Sun. The gate is one of Tiwanaku’s most important artifacts.
Economic and political culture
Evidence of the city’s economic foundation is seen in about 50,000 agricultural fields known as Sukakollos, locally. The fields capitalized on irrigation technology that made it easy for different cultures to adapt to the area’s climatic conditions. One of the greatest contributions to agriculture in Tiwanaku were the artificial terraces. Not only did they sustain farming, but they also contributed to the cultural evolution of the Tiwanaku Empire.
Politics in Tiwanaku was closely linked to religion. Under Tiwanaku rule, many towns and colonies were creates. Tiwanaku was the capital of a powerful empire, which lasted for centuries. The empire utilized new technologies in pottery, textiles, metals, architecture, and basket-making. Tiwanaku’s political ideology had a religious bearing, which was deeply etched into the ethnic groups occupying different regions in empire.
Tiwanaku’s decline and reincarnation
Tiwanaku city declines and fell at around 1000 A.D. Following the decline, its inhabitants abandoned it. The Wari culture of Peru also fell around the same time. Scientists have considered environmental changes in the Andes as being instrumental in collapsing both civilizations.
Even after its collapse, Tiwanaku persevered in become an important religious site to the locals. Later, Tiwanaku was integrated into the Inca mythology as being man’s birthplace. The Inca also built additional structures alongside the Tiwanaku ruins.
Miro wrote a poem inspired by the day:
Dormant giant stands
watching modern man
his brothers crumbled in time
but from time he ran
He thinks of his past
and how our age will fade fast
a mournful titan
for of his kind, he is the last
And now he rests his eyes
in a museum; an untimely demise
he’s ready to become history
no longer running, time will let him die
Bolivia. We love you. For all of your wackiness, rich culture, historic sites, remarkable landscapes, friendly people and rich rich traditions.
The majority of our six week stay, Miro and I dug in deep into La Paz, Bolivia’s administrative capital, located high on the Andes range near snow covered peaks. One of the most popular stops for the backpacker crowd is the cultural circus called Cholita Wrestling. In fact, your Bolivian tour is incomplete unless you see the Cholita Wresting in La Paz.
Cholita Wrestling – three hours of pure fun
Cholita wrestling is a staged wrestling event along the lines of the WWF bouts. Shows are held on Sunday nights at El Alto’s Multifunctional Center. The main participants are indigenous Bolivian women in colorful traditional costumes. They put up an entertaining show as they tackle their opponents and try to get the upper hand in this mock fight.
Like the WWF, it’s a crazy, but fun filled show that will keep you at the edge of your seats for the entire event. The bouts are very professional with participants grappling with one another, jumping on each other, grabbing each other’s necks, slapping their opponents, defending themselves and performing many other antics in hilarious fashion.
Cholita wrestling evokes a lot of interest and the events are very popular with both tourists and residents. The three to four hour shows are attended by hundreds of people every week. Although the event is centered on the bouts, the attire of the participants is no less interesting. Women with long braided hair wear traditional costumes with colorful multi-layered skirts and fancy hats. The dresses may look unsuitable for a wrestling bout, but the participants seem to be very comfortable with them.
Although the contests are wild, absurd and comical, the artists are well trained and the show does not result in any real injury. However, the audience may die of laughter. The show begins in a relaxed, carnival setting with bands playing and people enjoying street food from the stalls outside the venue. It starts off with a male wrestling bout, but before long, the star performers enter the ring, the crowds come alive and the real fun starts. The audience joins in by throwing stuff like empty bottles, popcorn and potatoes at the participants to stoke up the fights. The Cholitas love the crowd attention and it’s an essential part of the show.
History of Cholita wrestling
Wrestling became a popular sport in Bolivia somewhere in the middle of the twentieth century, but Cholita wrestling came into existence only in the last decade or so. At first, it was just a stress release outlet for women who were struggling with domestic violence and abuse.
The immense commercial possibilities of the sport became apparent only when a wrestler named Juan Mamani decided to create a new publicity event involving Cholita wrestling. Initially, the women wrestlers were part of a group called the Mamani’s Titans Of The Ring, which had participants from both sexes. In 2011, most of the women members decided to move out of the Titans and create their own wrestling association.
Originally, Cholita was a racist term used to refer to women of indigenous or mixed decent. Over time, the racist label has worn off and the term is now seen as a positive way to refer to strong, proud and resourceful women of local origins who believe in themselves.
For centuries, the Bolivian women have been considered inferior to men in a society that discriminated against them. Cholita wrestling is seen as an outlet for such women to prove themselves in a sport dominated by men. The wrestlers take great pride in their job and their abilities. In fact, some women wrestlers formed a group called The Flying Cholitas where men and women performed together in a variation of wrestling called Lucha Libre.
Although racism and discrimination against women are not completely rooted out, the society is changing for the better and the Cholita wrestlers are spearheading that reform. Now, the indigenous women of Bolivia have begun to command the respect that they always deserved. Besides the social benefits of Cholita wrestling, it also gives an opportunity for these women to earn money and become independent. This is important considering that many of them come from poor social backgrounds of poverty and exploitation.
Going to the event
Although you can go to the event yourself, you can join one of the tours organized by local tourism outlets if you are not familiar with the city. Most of these tours start after 3 p.m. and you will be back in your hotel by about 9 p.m. It is very affordable and the package includes transportation, a translator, VIP seats, drinks and a souvenir. You can check with your hotel or contact the local tour companies directly for reservations.
If you prefer to do it on your own, go to the El Alto’s Multifunctional Center. Tickets are available at the gate. Buses ply between San Francisco church and the venue and you can reach the place in about half an hour.
If you are going to Bolivia for the first time, don’t miss the Cholita Wrestling in La Paz. It is a tourist attraction that is fun to watch and it will provide an entertaining Sunday evening for the entire family.
Miro and I booked our tickets through Hanaqpacha Travel and you can too:
If you are interested in booking a tour with HanaqPacha Travels, please contact them using the info below. Be sure to tell them that you are a “worldschooler” for a very special offer!
Calle Jaen #734
Following our interests, a coffee-infused-worldschooling education
It is no secret that Miro and I love coffee. Well, I love coffee and Miro is extremely happy when I have some. We travel with our small coffee press and search high and low for the best coffee available at every new place we visit.
As you may have read in Miro’s article review of the wonderful cafe we stayed upstairs from for three of the six weeks we stayed in Bolivia, we loved the food, the hospitality, the owners and especially the coffee. The Danish-Bolivian couple who run Café MagicK place much attention into the quality of their food and the presentation and the events they produce. Plus, they serve the best coffee in La Paz. After several deep conversations about the coffee standards, Stephan shared with us information about the beautiful organic coffee farm which supplied the cafe. Just then, we added another location to our “must-see” in Bolivia list.
Early Saturday morning we boarded a bus for the three hour trip from La Paz to Coroico, where the Munaipata Organic Farm is located. We traveled over the new paved Yungas Road which was built in 2006 as an alternative to the famous Death Road where thousands of bicycle tourists test their fate every year.
Our little bus passed dozens and dozens of helmeted mountain bike riders making their way to turn off to the original dirt road pass as we remained on the paved road. I looked at Miro and asked him once again, “are you sure you don’t want to do the Death Road Bike Tour?” I held my breath, hoping to every conceivable god he didn’t change his mind. Then without hesitation, he replied with, “Mom, anything with the words ‘death’ and ‘road’ in it does not appeal to me”. Whew! What a sensible kid!
The Yungas Road is one of the few routes that connects the Yungas region of northern Bolivia to La Paz. Upon leaving La Paz, the road first ascends to around 4,650 meters (15,260 ft) at La Cumbre Pass, before descending to 1,200 meters (3,900 ft) finally arriving at the town of Coroico. The three-hour bus ride offers a quick transitioning scenery starting at the cool Altiplano terrain ending in the high rainforest as it winds through very steep hillsides and atop cliffs.
The farm, located in the little town of Coroico, has long been a favorite with visitors and residents of La Paz. The town is situated in the center of steep, forested mountains surrounded by orange and banana groves, coca farms and coffee plantations. From every side, Coroico offers stupendous views, where from the distance you can see the snowy peaks of the Cordillera Real. Even though our visit to Coroico was brief, Omar and Daniela told us there are wonderful hikes and birdwatching opportunities in the countryside surrounding Coroico.
If we had more time, Miro and I would have loved to stay and explore the area leaning of the of the cultural history of the surrounding communities including Charobamba, which was established by Jews escaping Nazi Germany. Also interesting is Tocaña, which is known as the Afro-Bolivian community established by former slaves who gave Bolivia its famous “saya” dance. And finally just a short ways away is Coroico Viejo, where Coroico was originally established before indigenous attacks caused the inhabitants to move their town.
But this day was dedicated to coffee and I couldn’t be happier.
Upon our arrival at the Coroico bus station, we walked up what seemed like a mountain of stairs to reach the main square. There, I was acutely aware we were lower in altitude from La Paz. Although I was still out of breath, it did not feel like my heart was going to jump out of my chest and caught my breath rather quickly.
After asking a few locals for directions, we made our way from the center of town to a side street about six blocks away, where we boarded a small pubic van. After about twenty minutes on the dirt mountain road, we were dropped off at the front gate of Cafe Munaipata and the organic farm with the same name.
Our coffee tour began with a beautiful meal served at Cafe Munaipata. Before we arrived we made our choice between a lasagna or llama steak. Miro and I chose the cheesy option and Omar and Daniella chose the meat. (Both looked and tasted wonderful.)
Our meal started off with the most delicious quinoa salad, accompanied with a frothy jamaica (hibiscus) drink. The main course was incredible.We finished our meal with a delicious scoop of homemade coffee ice cream. Overall, our meal was complete, satisfying and divine.
After lunch the tour of the grounds began. We were joined by another two people, making our tour complete with six people. Andres was our passionate guide and shared his love for the entire coffee process, from planting to roasting. Later, we met Renee who owns the artisanal coffee production estate.
The Munaipata Organic Coffee Farm covers three hectors, which consists of hillside and flat land. Coffee plants require 50/50 shade to sun ratio so you will find a variety of other trees throughout the farm. Each coffee plant is grown using regional organic best practices and including a variety of citrus trees and other local non-fruit bearing trees which provide shade for the coffee plants as well as a natural habitat for the local bird population. Andres told us that a portion of the coffee crop is consumed by parrots, but that that is the price for opting to remain organic and not using dangerous pesticides and chemicals.
From the start, we noticed many different elevations which must represent several different microclimates. Throughout the Munaipata farm, we found several varieties of coffee plants including catimor, arabica, criollo, and caturra. The different plants produce beans of varying flavor profiles.
Andres talked about the life cycle of the coffee plants; each plant can live between 65-70 years. Each coffee plant will take about three years to produce fruit. We observed the plants with thicker stocks indicating that were older. Those plants had off shoots that were ripe for cutting and replanting to start new plants.
Alternatively, we learned that coffee plants needed to mature at least ten years to be ready to harvest fruit for seeds. We also learned that that ten year period marks the point that the plants begin to diminish both in levels of production and quality of bean.
It seemed as if Andres knew each plant personally throughout the three hectare farm and knew the age, and variety as if he was looking at his own family tree. One of the many benefits of touring a speciality trade organic farm is learning the differences between their process and the practices of most bulk producers. Growers who bulk produce coffee, often cultivate plants past their peak. Munaipata does not and the evidence can be found in the rich flavor… but more on that a little later on.
From Beans to Seedlings
We learned about the process of harvesting seeds. The beans are germinated in compost, some in larger bags, some in smaller boxes depending on the season, variety and current needs of the farm. Munaipata farm retains many of the seedlings for planting on their property, but they also sell a portion to nearby farmers.
After a few weeks, the seedlings are wrapped into little planter bags and transferred over to the nursery which is an open air greenhouse. Depending on the time of year, the seedlings remain in the nursery area for a period of seven weeks up to ten months, after which they are planted or sold.
Optimally each coffee plant should be planted one to two meters from one another, however through natural germination and growth, there are several plants that do not retain that distance.
Picking the Right Bean
It takes an experienced eye to know when the fruit is ripe for picking. Not too early, not too late. Each bean needs to be analyzed visually and picked when ready. A single branch, may have 20 beans at different stages of maturity. Andres showed us the color and size of the optimal bean, but even to the naked eye not every bean passes the final test. In fact, each coffee bean must pass through our or five tests that indicate the quality of the bean necessary to reach final product.
I asked Andres how many kilos of fruit (coffee bean) does it take produce one kilo of Munaipata coffee? He estimated it took 46 kilos (just over 100 pounds) to produce 7-8 kilos (roughly 15 – 18 pounds) of coffee. WOW!!!
Nothing is wasted. During each stage of production, the beans are sorted and the lesser ones are removed from the batch. The unused beans are either turned into mulch or fertilizer or, depending on the state, sold into the bulk market.
But nothing is ever wasted.
The Water Test
After picking, the beans are placed in a bucket of water to pass the float test. A fruit with a rotted interior, or an under formed bean will float to the surface.
After the lesser beans are separated, the remainder are then run through the device which hulls the beans, meaning he coffee bean is separated out from the skin simply leaving fruit.
Next comes the fermentation process.
After the coffee beans have been separated from the husk, a sort of gooey-like membrane is left surrounding the bean. The purpose behind fermentation is two-fold. First, to dissolve the membrane around the bean and second, to contribute the flavor of the final coffee.
Cafe Munaipata uses a fermentation tank, basically a large water container that can be covered. (For the purposes of our demonstration, the beans were pre-fermented in a smaller plastic container, seen above.) The beans are soaked in water sourced from the natural spring, which is chemical and chlorine-free. The beans are left to ferment for 15-20 hours during the warmer months and several hours more during the winter, but each batch is unique and not brought out of the fermentation process until it is “done”.
“Andres, how do you know when the fermentation process is done,” I ask?
“Experience,” he replies.
Once it is determined the fermentation process is final, the water that used is funneled to an onsite “distillery” that separates the toxins from the water so it does not contaminate the natural spring. The distilled water is drained back into nature and the toxins are stored. Miro and I were so impressed with the attention to preserving the natural balance of the ecosystem.
After the fermentation process is complete, time for one more test; washing the beans and removing the beans that are not of top quality. Beans that have defects, discoloration or cracked do not make it to the drying phase.
Just as the Incas dried many of their crops with the dry air of the Andes, the wind and sun, the coffee at Munaipata is treated in much the same way. The farm built a special drying room called a “secador”, on the edge of the hill, allowing the moving air to circulate through the “secador” and dry the beans. The “secador” utilizes passive solar drying methods with stacks of racks each containing five kilos of beans.
The beans dry for a period of seven to ten days depending on the moisture content of the bean and climatic conditions. After their time in the solar drier, the beans are measured sorted once again, the bad ones removed from the batch, based on weight and moisture content and any hints of mold contamination.
Bagging and Storage
After the beans are dried, they are placed into ten kilo bags for storage. Munaipata has created a special arid storage room. We toured this room and witnessed rows of bags stacked from floor to ceiling, each marked with dates. Each bag must be stored from three months to a year before roasting.
Rich Rich Roasting
After a three month (to a year) slumber, the beans are ready for the roasting process.
We warmed up the roasting machine, to 150C.
But before the beans can be placed into the roasting machine, their out outer encasement must first be removed. Beans with the outer husk still in tact are refereed to as “cafe pergamino”.
After the outer case is removed, the beans are called “cafe oro verde” or green gold because of the golden green color that is revealed.
And to a coffee lover, the richness of placing beans into the roaster and experiencing the aromas is a little slice of heaven.
Eight kilos of cafe oro verde can be roasted at a time. A standard roast required thirty and for the slightly darker European roast, thirty one to thirty two minutes are required.
And with that, we are just about a half hour away from finally tasting.
The Best Deserved Cup of Coffee. Ever.
Our tour ended and our group convened back at the restaurant. I was ready to sit down and enjoy a nice cup of coffee. And after three hours of walking around the farm, learning about coffee, I deserved it.
But we had to wait just a little longer.
First, our group gathered around the table and as we watched Andres take ground coffee from six bags, marked with nothing but numbers. Then after a spoonful of coffee was added to each of the cups, boiling water was added.
One by one we passed the coffee around, stirred the coffee with our individual spoons, and smelled the aroma. Each of of the cups smelled and tasted slightly different, from strength, richness, flavor intensity and bitterness. After we shared which was our individual preference and which clearly was not, Andres revealed the results.
Unanimously the fresh European blend was the group’s favorite.
Unanimously the coffee that had been ground months before and had been sitting getting old was the group’s least favorite.
Apparently we all had a good nose and taste for quality coffee.
I know I did.
And quality coffee is what we experienced at Munaipata Organic Farm.
A week later, as I am sitting down to write this and I mourn the half empty bag and am faced with the grim reality that my Munaipata Organic Coffee will be gone soon.
But the experience and knowledge will stay with me a lifetime.
Munaipata Cafe – Organic Coffee Farm
Road to Carmen Pampa km. 4
Coroico – Bolivia
Cel. 720 42824
renebrugger (at) cafemunaipata.com
Presbitero Medina n°2526, Esquina Pedro Salazar,
Zona Sopocachi, La Paz, Bolivia
T: +591 77553535
T: +591 (2) 2910625
Travel Store Bolivia
CENTRAL OFFICE: Street Comercio 1486, La Paz-Bolivia
BRANCH OFFICE: Avenue Montes 641, La Paz-Bolivia
(+591) 705 38088WhatsApp (+591) 705 38088