Hello and welcome ...
to our Summer 2016 newsletter
After nearly 28 years of running veggie/vegan holidays, I am now semi-retired, happily practicing yoga and growing pumpkins. In early May I returned from a month in Peru; a fabulous adventure visiting some of my old haunts and friends who have hosted VegiVentures tours since 1992. Please read about the highlights in my Reflections. We are still offering holidays e.g. the Christmas Houseparty continues with our 4 night event in rural Gloucestershire, and I'll be leading VegiVentures' final tour to South India in Jan/Feb 2017. There are places available on both these holidays. Yoga holidays carry on at Yuva/Faralya see 'Safe Turkey'. Please see below and please do contact us for further details. Happy Travelling - Nigel
Journey to South India
25 January – 12 February 2017, space available
Ernakulam - Fort Cochin - The Malabar Coast - Kerala Waterways Cruise - Kumily and the Cardamom Hills - Madurai - Tirunelveli - SCAD and its projects - Varkala Beach
We offer a taste of two states: Kerala & Tamil Nadu. There are two parts: Part one begins in the historic port city of Kochi (Cochin) on the west coast of Kerala. Then we travel south by train to Alleppy. Boarding our waterways barge, we cruise past rice fields and villages, observing the abundant wildlife. We drive on to Kumily and trek in the jungle-covered Cardamom Hills. Journeying over the Western Ghats and into Tamil Nadu, we visit the Meenakshi Temple and Ghandi Museum at Madurai. Part two begins with a train journey to Tirunelveli where we stay as guests of SCAD, Social Change and Development. SCAD is an Indian NGO with a wing that supports the low caste, disadvantaged and poorest of the poor. We spend time visiting SCAD’s many projects. Returning west, we complete our tour with two days to relax at Kerala’s Varkala Beach. There are opportunities to attend yoga classes and classical Indian music and dance performances. The tour is led by Nigel Walker, founder of VegiVentures, and Indian guides. Earlybird price (parts 1 & 2) £1332, including 17 nights in India, excluding flights. 2017 marks our third and final tour to South India, your last chance to travel with VegiVentures on this exciting journey! Please contact us for full details.
Christmas in the Cotswolds
23 - 27 December 2016, limited space available
We will be returning to Hawkwood College in the Cotswolds . This is our 26th Christmas Houseparty. We offer 4 days of relaxation and a warm house-party atmosphere. We expect about 35 guests. Both traditional and creative events are organised. Enjoy: yoga, country walks, dancing, singing, creative activities and great veggie/vegan food. Choose to join in, or simply toast your toes in front of the log fire. Please contact us for a copy of the brochure by email or post.
Safe Turkey Holidays
Come to Yuva Eco Holiday Centre (right by the sea) or The Faralya Hotel (with magnificent sea views), both in the peaceful mountains and forests of the Turquoise Coast. The area is known for its safety and warm Turkish hospitality. Swim in the sparkling Aegean at Yuva or in the Faralya's pool, walk in the coastal mountains and enjoy delicious local veggie/vegan food. Take an Independent Break or join a friendly group Yoga Holiday that will leave you feeling revitalised, energised and inspired.
Yuva Programme click here
Faralya Programme click here
The current 'state of emergency' and media reports may give you the impression that Turkey is in turmoil. On the ground, this is not the case. In Faralya village everything is functioning as normal. Those of you who know the people and the area will understand this. Of course, absolute safety cannot be guaranteed anywhere in the world but, in my view, this corner of the globe is peaceful.
We are looking for volunteer catering assitants for Christmas in the Cotswolds. It's quite hard, but rewarding work and lots of fun! In return you get free board and lodging. When not working, you can join in with the activities. Please contact Nigel for further details.
We are also looking for a Christmas GROUP FACILITATOR. This is a paid job for a person with the appropriate experience, skills and understanding. Please contact Nigel for a full job description and further information.
Reflections on Peru
Some highlights from VegiVentures tour in April 2016.
I'm sitting in the peaceful Plaza de Armas, Cusco's main square. In the light, heady atmosphere of 11'000 ft above sea level, I peel off several layers as the morning sun breaks over the distant green mountains and warms the centre of this ancient capital of the Inkas. Before the Spanish conquest began in 1532, the Inkas and pre-Inkas were impressive folk. The Inkas ruled an empire that stretched north/south for 3000 miles from modern day Columbia to Argentina. For their era, they governed with a remarkably advanced system of social justice, where everyone's basic needs were provided. They were experts in agriculture, road building, ceramics, textiles, metal-work, hydrology and many other crafts and sciences including architecture, masonry and city building, sometimes on the tops of mountains! Today's Plaza de Armas is large, bordered by colonial colonnades and churches, but in Inka times it was twice the size surrounded by massive palaces with earth-quake proof walls. As I sit, I reflect on my first visit here in 1975 when it felt like a country town with a population of 50'000 and campesinos (indigenous farmers) in traditional dress filtering into most parts of the city. Now Cusco is a bustling, cosmopolitan metropolis of 350'000 with abundant police controlling everything, apart from the dogs. As I stroll back to our elegant old residence, the Amaru, I pass some of these Inka walls, the massive blocks of stone still intact and fitting perfectly together with no mortar.
Since 1532, Peru's history has been a classic example of ruthless exploitation by manipulative, xenophobic, plundering colonisers supported by (so-called Christian) religious bigots. Yet, despite centuries of ridicule, suppression and massacres, pockets of the earth-and-human-centred indigenous cultures remain and shine brightly. One day Karen and I visit Cusco's 'Textile Museum.' The main feature is a fully functioning workshop where 7 women in traditional dress sit in a wide circle, weaving on backstrap looms. I admire the skill with which intricate patterns are created using naturally dyed wools. The women chat in Quechua and laugh, absorbed in their work, oblivious of us.
I am dancing on a grassy hillside overlooking the farms, ancient agricultural terraces and fertile fields of the Sacred Valley. We're at Piscac 10'000 ft above sea level and are guests of Kusi Kawsay (Happy Life) a Waldorf inspired school combining indigenous Quechua culture with Rudolf Steiner's philosophy of education. It's Sunday, so no children here today, but the staff and supporters have just fed us a wonderful lunch of Oca (Andean yellow tubers), choclo (corn on the cob), vegetables, qucha yuyu (Peruvian seaweed), and herb/chilli green sauce. Now we are being treated to an afternoon of indigenous music, and men's, women's and group dances. We (our group of 13) are invited to join in. We spin and weave with this energetic local troupe, who quickly exhaust us at high altitude.
We are travelling by boat and have just left Puno on Lake Titicaca 12,500ft above sea level. Puno is a busy commercial city, full of traffic, shops, markets, mobile phones and whiffs of 1930's decadence, underlined by the many art-deco buildings and cafes. It is also Peru's main port on this vast inland sea (15 times the size of Lake Geneva) that divides Peru from Bolivia. It takes about 3 hours by motor boat in the thin morning air to reach our destination,Taquile Island. The location is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Taquile rises steeply from the shimmering blue-green waters, and has views of the distant snow-capped peaks of Bolivia. We land on a seemingly deserted rocky pier. Suddenly members of our host families emerge from nowhere, as if they had sprouted out of the landscape. They bundle up our bags and nimbly carry them up the steep rocky paths, while we puff and pant our way to the simple adobe home-stays.
The Taquilenos are a strong, conservative community and, despite huge pressures, have preserved their crafts, traditions and life-style down the centuries. The only power is a little solar electricity. There are no land-lines, and mobiles only work if you climb to the highest point on the island. There are no motor vehicles. - The men dress in black trousers, white shirts and colourful hats and belts. The women in multi-layered skirts, red tops and black shawls. They are proud of their costumes and customs. We spend a couple of days learning about their culture and visiting the island's ancient sites. The Taquilenos are famed for their textiles. The women weave and the men knit. They are expert agriculturalists. Even at this altitude they grow quinoa, corn, broad beans, onions, tomatoes and many varieties of tubers and potatoes. During our stay, we share their delicious, simple food, e.g. breakfast: a nourishing, thin quinoa porridge, served in a large mug, accompanied by freshly-made, deep-fried corn and quinoa breads. For main meals there is always a substantial, tasty vegan soup followed by a variety of cooked home-grown vegetables including ch'uno (potatoes that are naturally freeze-dried on the hillside, and can then be stored for up to 20 years). The family eat cheese, but meat is only consumed at festivals.
On our final evening on Taquile, our hosts throw a party. One of the best I've ever attended! It takes place in a large room in the main family house. All the men enter in line, wearing traditional costume, playing drum and panpipes of various sizes, some huge deep noted pipes and some tiny high pitched ones. They form a circle and march around with small rhythmical steps. The energy and pace is dictated by the drummer. It creates a haunting, deeply earth-connected sound. Now the women get up and join the dance, then invite us. Their invitation is kind and the steps are simple to follow. More men appear (perhaps attracted by the beer we have brought) including some 'black hats,' like a black cowboy hat. The men who wear these are members of the 'Autoridad.' They have been elected to the island's governing body for 12 months. They join in too, playing pipes and dancing. It's beginning to get crowded and this adds to the fun and intimacy. The atmosphere is warm and friendly. - Frequent celebrations are woven into the Taquile calendar and sometimes last several days. We were given a small taste of their longer, bigger events!
This was VegiVentures final tour to Peru, completing 24 years of such holidays. Huge THANKS to the hundreds of guests who have travelled with us. Oda Seedhouse, my colleague who has led these journeys for us since 1992 now runs her own company in Peru and we recommend her and her lovely guesthouse and yoga centre at Limatambo, about 2 hours drive from Cusco. Please click here for further information: veggieperu.com
Each time we take a flight or travel by car CO2 is added into the atmosphere. One way we can help to reduce the impact is through carbon offsetting. There are several organizations that offer this service. We suggest Pure Leapfrog, click here Offsetting isn’t the answer to climate change. The first step should be to see how we can avoid and reduce emissions. However, some emissions can’t or won’t be avoided. That's where offsetting has a role to play. It’s a way of compensating for the emissions produced with an equivalent carbon saving. - You could also consider donating to Trees for Life. It’s not directly a carbon offset provider, but a very worthwhile forest regeneration project in Scotland: www.treesforlife.org.uk
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