• Bolivian Story: Enrique MacLean and Paola Recacoechea

    Our first trip out of La Paz after we arrived in Bolivia was to Lake Titicaca for a long weekend away. We spent a couple of nights on Isla del Sol in an eco-lodge, which is where we met Enrique and Paola. They became our very first friends here. During that weekend on Isla del Sol we enjoyed dinner together each evening, laughing and talking about everything from heavy metal to politics. Back in La Paz our friendship grew, including pot lucks at our home and sometimes Enrique and Jean would ‘jam’ together – Enrique on guitar and Jean on his clarinet. We have been enthralled by their comments and…

  • Bolivian Story: Crisil

    We decided to visit Bolivia’s largest glass factory that uses only recycled glass to produce some of their wonderfully organically shaped round glasses like the ones shown in the below photos. We were in for a very warm welcome and tour thanks to Marcelo who, along with his father and brother, run the factory in Cochabamba. Actually, it was his father who founded the Fair Trade business in 1993. After having a small workshop transforming plastic, someone suggested he could easily do glass instead and at the time the Dutch government was offering funding… and so it was born! Now they have around 100 employees who do shift work during…

  • How to make water kefir

    Do you make water kefir? Our grains are multiplying beautifully lately! Sorry… I’ve got ahead of myself… do you know what water kefir is? Well, like our milk kefir, water kefir is a beneficial probiotic beverage that tastes delicious. It’s so simple to make. The flavour is like a ‘dry, slightly fizzy lemonade’. Like kombucha it is first cultured by introducing a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts) into sugar water – the SCOBY in this case are called grains. The beneficial bacteria and yeasts present in the water kefir grains metabolize the sugar, turning it into an array of beneficial acids and infusing it with beneficial microorganisms, additional B vitamins…

  • Bolivian Story: Luis Alberto Quispe Ochoa

    One day we visited the Museum of Contemporary Art here in La Paz, Bolivia, and became captivated by the works of Luis Alberto Quispe Ochoa (check out his website here). After much deliberation we finally purchased two works that spoke to us. Both were meticulously created with coca leaves and aguayo, which is the traditionally woven textile here. One depicts an indigenous woman’s face while the other is the face of an indigenous man who is wearing a chullo, the traditional knitted woollen hat with flaps to cover the ears. We regularly admire these pieces that now grace our lounge room and so many of our visitors have been motivated to…

  • Bolivian Story: Vanessa Vargas

    I met Vanessa when she was heavily pregnant with her baby, Rafaela. She was working at her partner’s restaurant, Red Monkey, as well as producing natural products for her business, Moi. Moi makes handmade cosmetics and personal care products based on natural and organic ingredients, without the use of preservatives, artificial colours or synthetic fragrances, being careful not to degrade our bodies or the environment. Vanessa never stops. I was surprised to see how busy she was whilst heavily pregnant and even since having her little girl it is not uncommon to find her in her workshop making products with her baby strapped to her or sleeping nearby. She’s a strong woman with…

  • Bolivian Story: Marcelo Teran Mitre

    During many days volunteering at Red Monkey I have admired the vibrant colours, shapes, organic patterns and uniqueness of their plates and bowls. I wondered if there might be a chance we could meet the artist behind these functional works of art and last Friday we were blessed with such a meeting in Cochabamba. Entering Marcelo’s workshop we could feel the creativity, experience and passion that has created this small craft business, MTM Ceramics. For more than 30 years Marcelo has been collecting the clay for his pieces from local rivers to then shape it into plates, bowls, decorative pieces, mugs, bonsai pots and more. He feels he was born for the purpose of…

  • Bolivian Story: Gabriela Rebeca Santa Cruz

    We met Rebeca the same night as Pablo, at Red Monkey, the only vegan vegetarian restaurant in La Paz. Rebeca was behind the bar mixing unusual cocktails that combine typically Bolivian ingredients like huacataya and locoto with fresh juices and of course, alcohol. When I turned up at Red Monkey for my first day volunteering in the kitchen Rebeca showed me around their food production garden, which is her baby and love. As we talked it became clear to me that she was feeling overwhelmed as the only person working in the garden, so I suggested I come one day a week to help out. It wasn’t a completely selfless offer, I…

  • Bolivian Story: Pablo Santa Cruz

    We first met Pablo in his restaurant, Red Monkey. Within weeks of it opening we were there – eager to try some healthy, vegan food in this city of meat and fries! Looking down the menu I was impressed to see kombucha listed and gave a little shriek. I thought we were the only ones in La Paz to be making kombucha :).  Pablo came over to our table, curious about my enthusiasm, and before long I was sharing our culinary images from Making Sense Of Things and Pablo had invited me to do a ‘guest chef’ evening there. Whilst I haven’t had the confidence to take up his offer,…

  • How to make apple cider vinegar

    Homemade apple cider vinegar, ACV, is so easy! I just love turning trash into treasure, and this apple cider vinegar recipe is great example of that. Start your ACV: We simply take our apple scraps (normally after making juice), including the peels and cores and put them in a large glass jar. We then cover the scraps with filtered water and cover the jar with some paper towel secured with a rubber band to keep out bugs and dust. We then put it in a warm, dark place. You want a temperature of 15-27°C. Fermentation occurs more quickly at a warmer temperature. Some people add sugar or honey to kick start the…

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