A World Peace Bell Made of Cartridges (South Korea)

World Bell of Peace.

World Bell of Peace.

In the north of South Korea stands a Peace Dam. It was South Korea’s response to the Imnam Dam in North Korea built in the 1980s. South Korea’s military dictator at the time, Chun Doo-hwan, predicted that North Korea would use it to create a killer flood, wiping out most of Seoul. This was two years before the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, so no time was lost or money wasted to counteract this by building a dam on the south side. Continue reading

The Perfect Reason to Visit Venezuela

Open your eyes and let the adventure begin!

Open your eyes and let the adventure begin!

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” ~Jawaharial Nehru

Los Llanos are vast plains of grasslands and savanna in both Colombia and Venezuela. In Colombia we had traversed them for six days to reach the Venezuelan border. We felt a bit saturated with the landscape, but now had to cross the Venezuelan Llanos as well, this time to get to the Andes Mountains. Continue reading

Water Management in the Netherlands – Het Kristalbad

Kristalbad, the Netherlands (©photocoen)

“The Miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.” ~Thích Nhât Hanh

A couple of years ago, when visiting my parents, my father asked me to join him for a bicycle ride. The region I grew up in, in the east of the Netherlands, is characterized by lots of green and even today still has a sense of space. The latter is not evident: the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with an average of 500 inhabitants per square kilometer (for comparison: the U.S. has 35). Continue reading

Peru’s Best Ice Cream, Produced by Deaf People – Meet Heladería Holanda in Cajamarca

Peru's best ice-cream - Heladería Holanda, Cajamarca (©photocoen)Several travelers and locals had mentioned it to us: Heladería Holanda, an ice cream parlor in Cajamarca. Since the owner is Dutch, and so are Coen and I, it made sense to visit it when in Cajamarca – what is it about wanting to connect with your countrymen when abroad? Continue reading

A Successful Children’s Home in Suriname: Sukh Dhaam

Kids painting Sukh Dhaam's church.

Kids painting Sukh Dhaam’s church.

It is Friday afternoon and it has been a long week of writing and researching. I’m tired.
“I’m going to lie down for a bit and listen to some music,” I tell Coen over lunch.

“After you do the dishes, I’m sure,” he responds, but with a smile. He has done the cooking so the dishes are mine. I’ve never had the discipline to do the dishes right after a meal, why would I do so now? The reason is simple: if I wait another twenty minutes or so, about a zillion ants will have beaten me to it, which is not exactly my idea of a proper dishwasher. Continue reading

Sharing Traditional Bolivian Dishes – What Can I Contribute?

Eating with your fingers is the way to go (©Coen Wubbels)

Eating with your fingers is the way to go (©Coen Wubbels)

During Coen’s photography assignment for evrevrijde Wereld, a Belgium NGO that supports agricultural projects with a focus on food security, we visited various rural communities in Bolivia. One of the aspects I loved most during these meetings was lunch as it was a great way to taste Bolivia’s traditional dishes.

After a meeting, which included checking out new vegetable gardens or irrigation systems, we would return to the community center, which most rural villages in Bolivia have, for lunch. According to tradition each woman brought her share and the dishes were shared. Sometimes they laid a table and put out chairs or benches, but that was only because they had visitors. The common practice was to have a picnic on the ground. Most dishes consisted of potatoes, corn and rice and so I thought about contributing something they were unfamiliar with. Would they appreciate it? Continue reading

Women Empowerment in Bolivia – a Yoghurt Factory

Doña Edelfrida daily walks 5 kms to the yoghurt factory to deliver 40 liters of milk (©Coen Wubbels)

Doña Edelfrida daily walks 5 kms to the yoghurt factory to deliver 40 liters of milk (©Coen Wubbels)

Edited to add Aug 2017: Bevrijde Wereld changed its name and is now called Solidagro.

During Coen’s photography assignment for Bevrijde Wereld (locally called Mundo Nuevo), a Belgian NGO that supports agricultural projects with the emphasis on food safety, we visited a project focusing on women empowerment: a yoghurt factory in Koari, central Bolivia.

INCCA is one of Bevrijde Wereld’s partner organizations in Bolivia and the yoghurt factory was one of their successful projects. Soon after the start of the yoghurt factory, the women were given the opportunity to sell yoghurt to schools in Tiraque (near Cochabamba), where it would be part of the school breakfast, which meant a weekly production of 14,000 bags with 100 mls of yoghurt. How did they manage?

Continue reading

Women’s Opinions Didn’t Count – Planting Trees in Bolivia

During Coen’s photography assignment for Bevrijde Wereld, a Belgian NGO that supports agricultural projects with a focus on food safety, we visited various rural communities in Bolivia. In the village of Kolga Koya each household received six fruit trees and was instructed on how to plant and maintain them.

Planting trees? You dig a hole, put in the tree, close the hole and water the tree, right? Or is it not that simple? Continue reading

El Cafetal’s Coffee Plantation

Young Coffee Plants (©Coen Wubbels)

Bolivia is one of the world’s producers of Arabica coffee. While the Yungas (north of La Paz) is Bolivia’s traditional and principal coffee growing region, the country’s largest exporter is situated in the department of Santa Cruz – in Buena Vista, to be exact. A friend suggested to check out Hacienda El Cafetal, to visit the coffee plantation and factory and, of course, to taste some high-quality, organic coffee. Continue reading

Making the World a Better Place – An Animal Rescue Center

Just outside Guayaramerím, in northeast Bolivia, we stumbled upon Ituaba Eco Hotel, a hotel-cum-animal refuge center-cum-recreation park. During our visit the animal refuge center was home to two blue-and-gold and two scarlet macaws, two toucans, two ocelots (medium-sized wild cats), wild boars, a young tapir and a couple of emus. Continue reading