tarata (bolivia)

I have just returned from my first ever visit to Latin America.

The 43hr trip included a touchdown in La Paz (remaining on the plane). Within 10min of the plane door being open I could tell we were at 14,000 feet. Then as we took off, just before dawn, I could see Lake Titicaca (look carefully, right on the horizon) in the distance.

The week brought together the next generation of trainers from throughout Latin America - 35 people from the Dominican Republic in the north, to Chile in the south. We met in a Franciscan friary in little Tarata, one hour south of Cochabamba. It was my first time in a Spanish speaking country. Much drier than I expected - and much more poor too.

I loved the way the stained glass windows coloured the room. I don't have a picture of Igor, our leader in Latin America. But after the much-anticipated joy-filled hug with him at the airport one day - it was a grief-filled hug the next day at the funeral for his father who had died suddenly overnight. So, on my second day in Latin America I was bringing 'a few words' at a funeral.

Back to the stained glass windows and one sight that caught my imagination. It is the way the windows opened up to the outside world where we could see a man on a ladder, busy in his vocation - while Christian from Chile looks like his inspired Bible has been touched with a special illumination. The sacred:secular dichotomy dissolved to create an enlightened reading of the text...

We spent the week engaging with Paolo Friere's theories - respecting the learner, aiming at dialogue and interactivity etc. Very different assumptions from Asia where it is difficult for auditors to become participants, accustomed as they are to rote learning. This interaction was modelled so well by Alex who facilitated learning using a variety of methodologies. Here a whiteboard captures small group ideas on key principles in the formation of preachers.

Not just dialogue... The man in the center of this small group, Jorge, brought a series of messages from 2 Peter. It was some of the most compelling preaching you could possibly hear - and further evidence of the ongoing place of monologue within any total communication strategy. Slow. Urgent. Weighty. Appealing. Yes, we experienced dialogical and monological learning at their best.

The Bolivians know how to market their tea. Clearly they have done their market research carefully and selected a name that will provide the rich resonance that makes people reach deep within their pockets.

Speaking of Windsors, my next stop is London and staying at Kensington Palace with my friends, Andrew and Miranda - just over a fence (or two) from Kate and William.

nice chatting


PS: After losing my bag for the fourth time in 15 months, I have just had word that it has arrived down at the security post - so I am off. Catch you later.


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