16 May Erin and Vincent’s excellent adventure⎪Bolivia
OK, so you know that we regularly travel to the countries where we purchase our ingredients from, but in April we decided to do something a little different. We invited a couple extra people along for the trip. People who use FAIR on a daily basis, people who believe in sustainability and people, and importantly, people who had never been to Bolivia before and had never met our producers (so yeah, a big chunk of the world falls into that last category!).
We had Vincent Valliere – winner of our Australian cocktail competition last year – from Pelicano in Australia, and Erin Greene, from Buddakan in New York join us for 7 days in April, Erin and Vincent’s excellent adventure’ if you will, only without the time travelling or history test, and a bunch of other things. So really, nothing like Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure except that it *was* excellent and an adventure. Anyway. Then we forced them to answer a few questions for us about their time there. Like wouldn’t let them back on the plane before they finished telling us how it was type of forced. Terribly expensive exercise when we had to buy two new international flights for them after they missed their original flight*. Lucky their answers were worth it, and are ready for you to read now. Go forth!
FAIR: Tell us about why you’re on this trip to Bolivia?
Erin: My place of employment, Buddakan, held a contest for the trip. The person who sold the most FAIR Vodka was the winner and got to experience the Bolivian culture. By simply asking if people were adventurous enough to diverge from their normal vodka (because who doesn’t want to be adventurous), I got to go on an adventure as well!
Vincent: I registered to be part of the first ever FAIR cocktail competition last year in Australia, organized by Noble Spirits. I had to create a drink using FAIR products, around the theme “sustainability”. My creation took me to the final in Sydney , which I won, and that got me this amazing trip to Bolivia.
F: What was the first thing you noticed when you landed, or you got out into the country side, and the co-op?
E: The first thing I noticed when I landed was how tired I was, haha, because it was 2:30am. In reality I felt the difference between our countries and realized how privileged I am. When I got out into the country side, I noticed how much open land there was and how beautiful the flat plains surrounded by mountains were. At the co-op I was impressed by the people’s ability to pull together and work as a unit. From building the place in which we met, to mounting a working Fairtrade business model.
V: First thing I noticed was definitely the altitude, you can feel the thin air, and more pressure on your lungs, it’s weird! After getting a bit more acclimated, I had a walk in the city of La Paz, and I really noticed how little resources the country has. I had the same feeling when we visited the co-op. They were using very old equipment and facilities. But the shiny smile on the people’s face was really nice to see, and you could tell they were making the most of what they do have.
F: What did you learn on this trip?
E: I learned about Fairtrade, the kindness of the Bolivian people as well as how quinoa is farmed and cleaned and processed. I also learned what llama tastes like … !
V: I learned a lot about the production of FAIR Vodka. By visiting the co-op and the factory, I discovered the whole evolution of the quinoa that is used to make the vodka, from being cut and picked up in the fields to being washed in big machines in the warehouse, before being sent in containers to France. I was pretty amazed to see so many workers focused on the process.
F: What would you want other people to know about the producers FAIR works with in Bolivia?
E: The people are kind and generous. They are an immensely hardworking people and deserve to be paid fairly.
V: There is a big commitment from FAIR to make sure every single producer is taking enough profit from the trade of their quinoa. They really look after the communities to make sure everything is well under Fairtrade certification.
What memory will stick out for you on this trip?
E: Eating llama, seeing the sights, and meeting the people of Bolivia.
V: The kindness of the people and communities we visited really brought a lot of emotions. They welcomed us in the most amazing way, offered us food and wine, and showed us the way they work on their farm.
Is there anything that happened on this trip that you will take back with you and change how you live your life or go about your work back home?
E: Absolutely, we have so much as Americans, yet still find the time to complain about what we don’t have! The Bolivian farmers are so happy despite their difficult lives. They taught me to be grateful for what I have—like indoor plumbing!—and to take more moments to enjoy life.
V: I definitely took lots of inspiration from this trip, and few new cocktail recipes came to my mind. This trip also made me more humble with the life I have.
What one word would you use to sum up your trip?
*No flights were really missed in the making of this article