I have recently applied and have been accepted to work in
Brazil this summer! I will specifically be working with high school
students engaging them in english immersion, leadership activities
and creating economic opportunity for the next generation of
Brazil. I am excited to have the opportunity to travel to Brazil
and to be exposed and immersed into such a wonderous and vibrant
culture. I am creating this post seeking any travel adventures you
may have had and want to share of Brazil, any advice that you may
have of things that I cannot miss, travel advice, advice on
Portuguese, music, culture, the people. Any links to stories,
articles or photography you may have. I want to hear all about it!!
I would love to hear you ideas and stories. I found this picture
and could not help but share it…. an intro to Brazilian culture,
if you will.. (psst! more to come) “A woman sits on Selaron’s
Stairs (Escadaria Selarón), a mosaic staircase made of colorful
tiles, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 13 February 2012. World-famous
staircase, mostly covered by vibrant yellow, green and blue tiles
(inspired by the colors of the Brazilian flag), is the masterpiece
of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón who considers it as a personal
tribute to the Brazilian people. Connecting the neighborhoods of
Santa Teresa and Lapa, the stairway is made up of 250 steps and
measures 125 meters long. In 1990 Selarón began work on the
stairway, creating a constantly evolving piece of art, now adorned
with over 2,000 brightly colored tiles collected from over 60
countries. Selarón funds his one man’s project through donations
and the sale of his black-and-red paintings which mostly depict a
pregnant African woman or himself. Living his passion, the
eccentric 65-year-old artist claims that this crazy and unique
dream will only end on the day of my death.”
While travelling throughout Perú it is easy to recognize the major tourism industry that has been developed and counted upon my many native Peruvians. Many locals and their families have come to rely solely upon tourism and the support that it provides for their families and communities. In a report, “Peru’s Tourism Cluster-Macroeconomics of Competitiveness”, it is stated, “since 2004 tourism arrivals have grown 12% annually, over three times as fast as average growth rates in the world” (World Economic Forum, 2009). This paints a picture to show how impactful this industry has become for Perú and its citizens. Keeping this in mind it is of utmost importance for tourists to become aware of the impacts their decisions can make on the people, the environment and who they are supporting. By making the choice to travel responsibly when in Perú, you are able to help sustain and help preserve the livelihoods of this unique and wondrous culture. One such outfit that resonated with me and is a beautiful example of sustaining and supporting local community is Awana Kancha: Museo Viviente del Ande.
What is Awana Kancha and how are they creating positive impacts in the lives of the natives through the tourism industry? Awana Kancha in Quecha means the “Palace for the Weaver” . The vision began in 1989 when three brothers travelled throughout Perú searching to embody the richness of Peruvian life. In 1998, they opened the doors to what they now call the “first living museum of the living Ande”. The brothers recognized the importance of the llama, alpaca and vicuña to the native people and wanted to exemplify this to the tourist population. They also wanted to make the Peruvian camel accessible to tourists in its natural environment. In doing this, they have created an operation that is associated with over fourteen local communites consisting of over 420 families. This project embodies the entire process of dying, spinning and weaving which has been an ongoing tradition for the native people for many years. Lastly, you are able to purchase the high quality textiles on-site where 100% of the proceeds goes back to the local community.
My experience at Awana Kancha was unique. This place has resounded with me since I have returned home. Going to Perú with the intention of being a witness to the tourism industry and hoping that I was not seeing the country being exploited by irresponsible tourists, this was refreshing to observe. I was excited to learn that Peruvian culture to the natives is one that is highly cherished and will continually be preserved. Awana Kancha is one impactful way that this was showed to me during my travels.
When travelling the world or even at home, when we are creating our own human footprint it is important to become aware of the impacts that we are making on the earth and its people. To support local projects such as Awana Kancha creates small yet very impactful change in the world. To respect a foreign culture and to cherish and help preserve its beauty should always be a priority and this has been illustrated through the efforts of the people associated with this project.
I am taking inspiration for this post from a recent comment on my first article written here. Many times in our travels we find a simpler way of living or Pura Vida- the pure life theory in South America. There are many cultures that sustain their lifestyles only based upon what they need. It is interesting in our society how we have convinced ourselves of the material things, the social status, the money and power that we need. Living consistently this way endangers us of losing touch with some of the most important things in life. Such as who are true selves are and the beauty that exists within the world outside of material possession. Simplicity.
I have attached a photo from the “floating islands” in Lake Titicaca in Puno, Perú. These families live soley on a small island about the size of a football field made out of reeds. Their diet consists of mainly fish and potatoes and corn that are traded with the nearby city. For pleasure, the play soccer or volleyball to keep the layers of reeds tamped down to support the structure of their island. Pretty amazing, simplicity.
In your opinion, what is your version of Pura Vida? Do you believe it is a beneficial way of life?
A photo I took in Arequipa, Perú outside a local market
When was a time in your life it may have take a little creativity to make it possible?!
Calling all quinoa lovers
Quinoa has been the rave in the states. And since we discovered it carries major amounts of protein and could ultimately be considered a ‘super’ food we have increased our demand for this nutritious food in copious amounts. Unfortunately, with high demand from a major economy comes loss of a staple substance for local communities. Here is a great article explaining the specifics..
Thoughts? Would you stop consuming quinoa for this purpose and if so what would be a good alternative?
Creative alternative in Perú
Here is an amazing company that has developed an alternate route through the Andes mountains to the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu. There are two traditional ways to get to the beautiful city and one is the Incan trail. This trail sees 3000 people per day (and that is regulated). In other words, that’s a lot of footprints. By Mountain Lodges of Perú doing this they have integrated the local natives to help create development. For example, they have empowered and financed an elderly woman in the community to provide her jam for all of their trips. This alone has created huge impacts in her life. The lodges are run as eco-friendly as possible from technologically sound water filtration systems to well-thought out composting sites to reduce waste and over-consumption. In addition, Mountain Lodges of Perú has sponsored a local NGO, Yanapana Perú, that focuses on education for over 150 communities and help promote active development in the area.
Pretty amazing stuff.
http://mountainlodgesofperu.com/blog/ (this is a link that has a great video on their work with Yanapana)
Is this a trip that you think you would enjoy? Why?