Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Being “happy” does not depend on your current location, does not rely on your life’s achievements, does not count how many countries you’ve been to or does not hinge on your bank balance. Happiness is a state of mind, accessible at any given moment. Happiness is the most magnificent gift we can give to ourselves and to humanity. However, happiness is something to be experienced, not pursued.
Happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
In Episode # 18, Lainie & Miro speak with documentary film maker, Ainara Aparici who’s working on a new film about happiness in Latin America.
The aim of Ainara’s documentary is to communicate how happiness is defined and experienced in some of the most uniquely happy places in the world, Central & South America. She has discovered happiness in the most unlikely places, countries known for oppressive governments, countries that are often thought of as being violent, countries that many identify with their history of war & conflict, and countries that are plagued with harsh economic challenges.
Hope is itself a species of happiness, and perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords.
However, those aren’t the things Ainara focuses on, as she’s been able to uncover the human spirit and find the “happiness” that lives within. Lainie & Miro first met Ainara in Guatemala over six months ago, when she was researching stories in that country. At the time, Lainie wanted to interview Ainara at that time, but the timing just didn’t work out then. However, six months later, Lainie & Miro were walking on the boardwalk in Taganaga, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia when they heard someone call out Lainie’s name.
And there was Ainara, with her large smile and warm hugs. And yes, Lainie and Miro were so happy to run into Ainara in Colombia.
Las Felicidades Del Mundo – The Happieness(es) of the World
What is most important to you? Think for a moment … For me, being happy, and to whom not? All the efforts I have done throughout my life, after all, are directed in the same direction, be happy. What is happiness for you? And for each of whom we share this planet? Great question, right? The answers are so subjective and varied as there are people in the world, probably influenced by the social and cultural context, education and geography.
Did you know that there are statistics that attempt to measure happiness? Several studies agree that most of the world’s happiest countries are among those are considered as “developing.” Many of these happy countries are in Latin America, despite a lack of considered characteristics of the welfare state in developed countries: stable governments, social services, etc.
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Then I started asking myself many questions: And why are they happier? And how do they know? How do they measure that? The statistics did not give me enough clues so this mystery has prompted the beginning of the search for happiness through Central and South America.
Since May 2010, with my camera and my backpack I have started a journey, mostly by land from Cuba to Brazil, staying in the homes of people who offer me their home. Showing the whole process on this blog, where experiences are mixed with the people and the knowledge gained. This trip is a first contact with the happy and unknown stories in this region, and it will evolve into a web page to search the plurality of the concept of happiness (with the videos that users will be able to show), some audiovisual workshops will be given after the trip, during the final phase of shooting the documentary about the happy stories I’m finding in Latin America. Follow me in this search for “happinesses of the world”…
Since Podcast #17, Miro and Lainie have traveled from Cartegena, north to Santa Marta and the neighboring town of Taganga.
Santa Marta was the first Spanish city founded in South America, which is pretty significant. It was officially established in 1525 by Rodrigo de Bastidas and quickly developed into an important port. Despite the protection of the bay by two fortresses, 26 known pirates and countless other anonymous ones attacked Santa Marta between 1543 and 1702. If you’ve been listening to the Raising Miro Podcasts, you’ll recognize some the names of these pirates: John Hopkins, Francis Drake and Martin Cote.
Santa Marta is also the home of another great historical event, the place where Simón Bolívar’s journey home came to an abrupt end. On his way back to Caracas, he was forced to stop due to an intense bout with tuberculosis. Bolivar was given refuge at Quinta San Pedro de Alejandrino, where he died on December 17, 1830.
His full name is: Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco, but most refereed to him as as Simón Bolívar. Simón Bolívar is regarded in Hispanic America as a hero, visionary, revolutionary, and liberator. During his lifetime, he led Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela to independence, and helped lay the foundations for democratic ideology in much of Latin America.
Taganga is the neighboring fishing village, adjacent to Santa Marta. Lainie & Miro stayed there for 3 days enjoying the company of their host family. Taganga is popular among the backpacking crowd, known for it’s diving schools and the crystal waters in the surrounding bay. The waterfront boardwalk is buzzing with bikini clad travelers and locals alike.
Lainie & Miro spent their time in Taganga playing in the water, eating arepas and empanadas and drrinking a lot of fresh fruit juices. And as usual, Lainie made friends with a group of younger kids and many many stray dogs, all of which make her happy.
About the Filmmaker
Ainara Aparici was born and raised in Valencia, Spain. She has always been interested in movies, particularly documentaries. In school she showed her interest in telling stories, wining a Literature contest at the age of 12. She also made her very first thriller, edited with just a VCR.
In 2003 she started her degree in Audiovisual Communication at the University of Valencia, during which she went to Italy in 2005 to study Film at the University of Padova. While in Italy she produced her first documentaries about life in the main square of Padova, “La piazza delle erbe”, and her own experiences in Italy, “Vivencias Erasmianas”.
She transferred to Autonomous University of Barcelona in 2006 where she continued her studies. She had her first experience in an Advertisement Production Company and wrote and directed a short Film “Enrique IV”, based in the screenplay of Pirandello. Other projects during this time were a self-portrait and a short experimental film.
In 2008, Aparici began studying Film at UC Santa Barbara where she participated in several projects and wrote and directed many others. Among her projects were “Pacifier” (Official Selection in Santa Barbara International Film Festival), “The Thread” (Official Selection in Isla Vista Digital Video Festival), “Hungry Love” (Official Selection in Reel Loud Film Festival), “The big adventure”, “IV LIVE”, “The Lonely Wind” and “Scarlett”. In the States, Aparici worked with two Film Production Companies (Chicago Pacific Entertainment and Azteca Productions) and more seriously pursued her career as a screenwriter, working on several short films and two long feature films.
With “Las Felicidades del Mundo”, Aparici starts a new project that will not only propel her along in her personal and professional growth, it will also have the power to affect others in their daily lives. By communicating how happiness is defined and experienced in some of the most uniquely happy places in the world, it will provide others the perspective necessary to create and awaken happiness everywhere. Using the universal draw of happiness to appeal to a large audience, this project will simultaneously entertain its viewers while also educating them as to the social, economic, and ecological context in Latin America.
Note: We wanted to share with you an article we found on happiness & traveling including a wonderful chart, authored by another traveler, Todd from toddswanderings.com. If you are seeking happiness in your life and are looking for ideas on how to achieve, pop on over to his site and give it a read.
Miro and Lainie are still in Panama and will remain there throughout the holidays. Sometime after the new year, they will venture into South America and continue their journey southward. They have been reaching out to all of our contacts and asking for references for conscious communities, eco- villages, sustainable farms and volunteer opportunities. Lainie loves working with children, Miro loves working with animals and neither of them have ever worked on a farm, but they’re open to whatever opportunities come their way. Their desire for the first few months of the new year is to participate , volunteer their time and energies. Lainie would really like to be part of an intentional community, one that practices mediation, lives consciously and gives back to the surrounding community, helping to make locals lives a little easier. They are putting it out into the universe and making it known. If you have any suggestions or contacts for us in South America, please don’t hesitate to send off an introduction. They plan on be posting all the organizations they are considering after the beginning of the year so you can participate with their decision making process.
We want to take a moment to thank a few peoplewho have contributed to our travels. Your donations have helped cover our travel expenses and for that, we are so grateful! The people who have contributed to Raising Miro are: Scott Van Pelt, Sashya Amee, Ivan Amador, Heather on Her Travels, Bradford Akerman, Tuan Vutran, Terrance O’Dowd, Eric Hammond, Chip Jacobs, Billy Horn and Sonia Kim. Thank you so much! Your support is heart-felt and much appreciated!
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To those of you who have supported us so far on this journey, the donations we’ve received and the wonderful words of encouragement. Thank you all for your comments and feedback, and please keep them coming. Thank you Hanna for giving us a wonderful professional boost with the intro & outro, engineered by Hanna Jakobson, music “Multilayered Timbres” by Dr. Pimp courtesy of CC (creative commons) license.