The courage to go at your own pace…

Life goes soooo fast sometimes, that I decided to take some time off  and explore… Not a holiday, not a break from work but an opportunity to find the courage to go at my own pace. My journey started with some homie adventures with my brothers. Biking, hiking and moutainering in the Andes of Ecuador just set the tone for a great adventure. Funny enough all 3 in our own sabbaticals and explorations shared a beautiful Shamanic drum meditation before leaving <3.


Quilotoa Volcano – Ecuador




Rumiñahui Volcano-Ecuador







I then spent some good time doing yoga, volunteering, biking and walking at the beach in Portugal, went skiing and beer/wine testing in Czech Republic (yes! white wine is pretty good in CZ) and finished helping prepare soil in a lovely permaculture project in the UK.


Jablonec-Czech Republic

I am back in Ecuador now, full of energy and  joy and want to share the 5 things I learned from my 6 months Sabbatical ..

  1. You are not the only one wanting to slow down and take life easier, and more important you are not crazy or irresponsible for wanting to do it. The more you travel and meet people the more you realise that a LOT of people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s… from all over, with all sort of motivations and life journeys use a sabbatical to slow down and bounce back better in whichever their path is.
  2.  A sabbatical allows you to crystallise and put your ideas together. Depending on how you plan your activities, you might end up having a lot of time with and for yourself, thinking maybe,  or NOT thinking at all.

    Praia São Julião-Portugal

    In my case, having a lot of time outdoors, hands-on activities, looong deep silent moments helped me be honest with myself and reminded me that nature, sports, healthy food and people is pretty much all I need to feel happy, creative and energetic. … as easy as that.


3. Volunteer volunteer and volunteer! Travel with a purpose if you can, it is incredible how reguarding “selfless jobs”  can be and how important is to leave a positive impact wherever we go.  Your skills are valued, needed and maybe can’t be afforded by some the most inspiring people and initiatives. In some cases you can exchange your expertise for food and accommodation which could make your journey more affordable as well.


“Behind every successful woman there is a tribe of other successful woman having her back”

4. Meet Like-minded people doing what you love!  It might seem obvious and intuitive but if you go to places  and engage in activities that make you smile… you will meet people with your same interests and ideals.  Surround yourself with people that inspire you, support you, respect you and nourish your life…find those whose weirdness is compatible with yours!

5. Visit and grow your global community as often as you can– Finally, it was overwhelming for me to realise how big, welcoming and loving is my global network of new and old friends, family, colleagues everywhere I went. So many laughs, hugs, walks, wines, talks, silences, adventures…so much love! THANK YOU to all who made my trip  an unforgettable experience  and from now on I will take life just as it is, live it at my own pace and keep exploring! 😉






Namaste people!


view from the Nagarkot Tower

From Kathmandu with love….

” Namaste: an ancient Sanskrit greeting still in everyday use on the trail in the Nepal Himalaya. It means “I bow to the God within you”, or “The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you” beautiful!

Today, I want to share with you some amazing lessons from Nepal’s approach to conservation, climate change and people’s livelihoods.

We have heard a lot of stories about the conflicts between people and wildlife in buffer zones of protected areas. And how challenging it is to find good measures to  deal with this. In Nepal, small holders in rural communities see their staple crops affected by deers, wild rhinos, elephants, monkeys and climate change. For these communities, wildlife is a constant threat to their lives, food security and economy.  An innovative solution to increase communities’ resilience to climate change and to mitigate human-wildlife conflict  is the cultivation of crops that are not appealing to wildlife. Yes!   Communities here plant mint, lemon grass, chamomile and other aromatic plants to extract essential oils and export them abroad. Wild animals seem to not like these plants very much and they stay away from this kind of crops. Isn’t it great? People practice this in between the cultivation of their traditional crops such as rice, wheat and maize, so their food is secured as well.  The result at the end, is an opportunity for small holders to increase their resilience to climate change by having an alternative source of income, a reduction of the conflicts between wildlife and people, and an interesting approach to conservation in buffer zones. Maybe, this could be an innovative solution for a better management of buffer belts around protected areas. This is my lesson learnt from Nepal… 🙂


Business ideas for Conservation


Otonga Cloud Forest

I’ve been called ‘idealist” several times in my life, especially when the discussions are around business, consumption patterns and biodiversity conservation. BUT I do believe that there are different ways of doing business, different ways of consuming…and more important I do believe that business can enhance the protection of the natural environment and that consumers have the right and the power of choosing sustainable and ethical products. Here are some of my ideas of innovative business models that might work…

Wild orange marmalade from Otonga- My business innovation idea for the conservation of the Otonga Cloud Forest- part 1

In a nutshell, the idea is to sell the best wild orange marmalade to the best restaurant(s) in Quito. The chef will prepare the best dessert based on wild orange marmalade and row sugar from the Otonga Cloud forest. The best-informed clients  will attend the restaurant and pay a fair price for eating a delicious dessert that has a social and environmental purpose. The owner of the restaurant, will invest part of its revenues in the sustainability of its source of production (wild oranges + row sugar + local entrepreneurs of the area). Sounds good right?naranja agria


– The environment is seen as an opportunity for investment rather than as an externality.

– Profit for the marmalade producers and the restaurant.

– Low-income communities in Ecuador can improve their livelihoods by running social enterprises compatible with biodiversity conservation.

– Protection of the cloud forest in Ecuador

– Awareness rising among consumers in Quito

Who’s joining me in my start-up? 😉



Step by step…how to create a social enterprise?

Our social entrepreneurship program is getting to its end. Last week Vivamos el Bosque held its legal advice workshop at “El Maltón” community. Here, Jorge Muñoz, shared his experience as a business owner and entrepreneur. He gave good advice about certain topics that need to be taken care before “legalizing” any venture. For example, some of our young entrepreneurs are under 18 years old, what makes impossible for them to sign any legal document; and most of them are still studying so their availability is limited.
como construir una empresa Besides that, Vivamos el Bosque shared with the students, a comprehensive list of things to-do to legalize their venture. Where to go? what to bring? how much does it cost?
With this information they can start their business once they feel ready to do so.
One more workshop left!!! keep following the blog!

Solidary Economy and Finance Management

Why solidary economy? DSC_0156

The second workshop was held during the second weekend of December at “El Maltón” community. We had 9 participants that joined us to the session held by Raúl Proaño, leader of a citizen school for about 20 years.

Why solidary economy? It is important to know a little about the Ecuadorian context to understand the foundations of this workshop. In 2008, Ecuador passed its new Constitution where a new development model came into force. The model is based in the “Well living or Sumak Kawsay”, and is sustained in the development of the human being and the care of nature. And more important it has an article in which the social solidarity economy is the axis of economic development.

It seemed to me a good idea to give a workshop in solidary economy along with finance management since the nature of our social veture is the conservation of the Cloud Forest.

“Vivamos el Bosque” studied these changes, and learned from fellow experiences at the social organizations, peasant and indigenous organizations and NGOs, working to sustain this State model change.

The workshop was really interesting and got really engaged to our young social entrepreneurs. They learned about basic concepts of economy and social values that need to lead any social venture. With games and simple exchanges of products, simulating a community market, important concepts were covered and valuable information about the local situation of each of the participants could share.

I was lucky to share such an incredible experience! I am looking forward for the coming one!

Social Entrepreneurship and Conservation Program

Finally started! After a long preparation, the first weekend of December 2012, “Vivamos el Bosque” held its first workshop under its Social Entrepreurship and Conservation program for youth at El Maltón Community.
Youth social entrepreneurs

I had the pleasure to host six youth from El Maltón community in Quito and two inspiring Social Entrepreneurs that work hard every day to conserve the biodiversity of Ecuador, Gabriel Iturralde from Floare, and Lola Guarderas from Wikiri. FloareTheir personal experiences leading a social business that aim to protect the Orchids and the frogs in Ecuador, gave as a clear overview of why, how and when to start such a business. Wikiri

The workshop was interactive and rich in information. We had lunch together and went visit some shops in Quito where products from other social business are sold. DSC_0145

The sessions help me with the later preparation of training modules and curriculum that will respond to the needs identified in the training need assessment, and we worked on the development of a curriculum and an implementation plan for a proposed mermelades business.

Time to let the soul lead…

…and listen to the forest ooooonce again!

This week has been full of good news, surprises and whispers from the forest telling me to not lose focus and reminding me of my inner motivation in life. I went back to the cloud forest today, met Oscar, one of the youth entrepreneur that will benefit from Vivamos el Bosque. A warm conversation showed me again the reason I put all my enegies in protecting the Otonga Cloud Forest and all its beautiful people. We planned together the coming social entrepreneurship pilot program that will involved 7 youth from El Maltón Community. Thanks to Dekeyser and Friends Foundation who supported the project with 1000 Euros, the last weekend of October, Vivamos el Bosque will run its first educational program along with its second photography workshop with our friends from Tropical Herping… 🙂

So far the Social Entrepreneurship pilot program will bring 7 experts, including FLOARE and WIKIRI, friends of the Project that will share their social business experience and lessons learned to conduct the workshops. The topics are:

– Workshop 1: Product development: social enterpreneurship
– Workshop 2: Economic Sustainability
– Workshop 3: Financial management
– Workshop 4:Product design
– Workshop 5:Legal advice
– Workshop 6:Networking and communication
– Workshop 7:Sanitary requierements and permissions

At the end of my great visit to ¨El Maltón¨Community I had the chance to share some time with Don Amable Yanez, founder of ¨El Maltón¨ community who delighted me with one of his songs that I share here with you! Enjoy! and follow Vivamos el Bosque!


The Web of Life World Tour: Ecuador

Do you remember what is “The Web of Life world Tour? ” mmmmmm… nop? a quick reminder for everybody. While in Germany at D&F Academy, the 13 fellows (including myself) of the Engage in Conservation Project mentored by Jane Goodall, organized the “The Web Of Life World Tour: Hamburg” to share our findings from collaborating at D&F Academy and to engage in an open exchange with guests from our host city Hamburg. We aimed to raise questions about the nature of the Web of Life and what can be done to preserve and restore it worldwide. We dreamed of organizing the Web of Life in our countries and encourage all Roots & Shoots groups to do the same. That is how The Web of Life World Tour: Ecuador was born. I decided to organize with the community of El Malton an event on the 27th of July 2012 to offer a variety of activities to engage community members and guests in biodiversity conservation, providing a space to discover the community’s needs and assets and meet youth talents. A traditional community fair provided a framework for many conversations and allowed guests to interact with community members and understand their social and economic situation. There we had the chance to taste delicious traditional snacks from the area, including pineapple mermelade, sugar cane syrup, home made cookies, green plantain chips and more.

Then, we all had the chance to experience the unique ambiance created by the theatrical performance of the Council of All Beings, which was hosted by children from the school of El Maltón. Children represented many animals from the Otonga forest and speak out from their perspective. They shared their concerns with their human fellows.

The bees, the armadillo, the golden beetle, the frog and many more raise their voice during the event.
Finally, to close The Web of Life World Tour: Ecuador, a professional group of acrobates and theatre performers, engaged everybody in a highly interactive discussion about biodiversity conservation.

Childen, youth and adults shared a beautiful moment and committed to protect the Otonga cloud forest. People live the forest, respect the forest and help each other to build a better future for their families.

Thank you to all Vivamos al Bosque Team, Giovanni Onore and to Otonga Foundation for their support! It was an unforgettable day 😉

A wonderful week in the Cloud Forest by Celina Perez-Beck

I’m Celina Perez Beck, a volunteer of Live the Forest. I spent a week in the community El Malton together with Anggie Escalante and Paola Zambrano, also volunteers, working with the people there, mostly with the kids. When we arrived to the community everybody was so welcoming that it made me feel that I was part of them.

We went to the school every morning to work with the children. We did activities like the Tree of Life, where every kid wrote its own pledge and commitment with the environment in a leaf forming a tree with all of them together. We also did the Cloud of Dreams where each of them writes their dreams in a cloud forming the sky.

They all worked great with us, from the youngest one to the oldest one in a single class. They were all so greatfull and glad to have us there, and that made us really happy.
One night we organized the screening of a film for all the people of the community. This activity was meant to involve youth from the area to know more aout their interests. It was not that successful because the film was about nature and I think they expected something else, but we still had a great time. The good thing is that the gathering attractes all the youth from the community! It was a pleasure to know that they are open to doing activities like this all together organized from people like us.

We also asked teenagers if they were interested in having courses to learn other things for them at the community since they don’t have that kind of education there, and it was so good to know that they do want to learn. They asked for computer and English courses.
I want to thank everybody from El Malton for making my week a great experience for me, and especially to the teacher of the school, Glenda, and her family for letting me stay at their home the hole week and for treating me like I was really special.

And my life has never been the same again…

There are some moments, people, places or even smells and flavors that somehow impacted me in such a way that changed my way of thinking and living…

While I was a second year student of biological sciences, for example, I had a professor of zoology-entomology, Prof. Onore, who always encouraged me to “think outside the box” and challenged me by taking me out of “my comfort zone” without even noticing it. He had a particular way of sharing knowledge with his students. He mainly relied on the power of story telling and personal experience. He was teaching us about insects, and for every single family of insects he had a special story to tell, a particular anecdote to share or a funny joke to laugh about. He was very engaging! Soooo engaging that I became and entomologist, just like him! You would probably think I liked insects, but actually nooop! I didn’t. I was planning to study neurobiology before meeting Prof. Onore, and I was pretty convinced that was my way!

After converting me into an insect lover, he kept challenging me to move further and further away from my comfort zone. As one of his students, I always felt his support and encouragement, and we developed very quick a nice friendship based on shared values and ideals. In 2005, he invited me to collaborate with some activities concerning environmental education, reforestation, and biodiversity conservation in a cloud forest located in the west slopes of los Andes in Ecuador. He is the executive director of a small NGO that aims to protect the biodiversity of the forest with the active participation of the surrounding communities, especially children. It was my first real experience working in the field and I loved it. The incredible work that he has done in the area, really inspired me to follow his steps and work toward the same goal, protecting the forest by helping people to help themselves.

Since then I’ve been collaborating with several initiatives to preserve one of the most diverse endangered ecosystems in Ecuador, but the most important, since then, I keep my eyes, heart and mind quite open to let the magic of life happen…

En español