As you know, we created Thaki in our own image! A human-sized agency that works for its adopted country! Anne and Jérôme are recognised as major players in the Bolivian guiding community. We sponsor children in the Cordillera Royale. We provide financial support for trekking guides, high mountain guides and cooks (donations, training in partnership with Ifremmont, French and cookery courses, etc.), as well as helping communities to develop their tourist industry. We finance exploration expeditions in the mountains, as well as video reports. With the royalties from my book “Cordillera Royale: Trekking and mountaineering in Bolivia”, we made a donation, half to the guides’ association and half to the children of the Cordillera Royale.
OUR TOUR OF FRANCE!
At the start of 2017, Jérôme and I decided to travel to France… A first for Thaki Voyage since its creation in 2011. We left the agency in the hands of our small local team and set off on a ‘promotional’ tour.
So we took up our pilgrim’s staff and went to France to promote Bolivia, look for new markets, consolidate partnerships, talk about the country and about us, our solidarity actions and our dreams too… For my part, I have an expedition project in Pakistan to complete an ‘8000’. So I’m looking for sponsors, partners, support, advice… I’m also dreaming of showing our films at festivals in France. In short, lots of projects!
We’ve had our share of highlights this year too…
It all started with Jérôme returning to his roots in Paris with a wonderful meeting in the colours of the world, during the seminar organised by the prestigious agency Terres d’Aventure to celebrate their 40th anniversary. We were given a warm and royal welcome. It was a wonderful meeting with incoming agencies from the four corners of the world… a rich human exchange. Many thanks to Terres d’Aventure!
A GREAT MOMENT OF SHARING IN A SCHOOL…
We then headed off to Burgundy, to the small village of Gron, near Sens. Sylvie Santhune, a nursery school teacher, had asked me to come and talk about my adopted country and my passion for the mountains. Hugo, a mountain guide in Bolivia, and I spent a fantastic morning with the children in the class. Sylvie had presented my book and Bolivia to them.
Through photos and short videos, we were able to capture the children’s attention and enjoy a great moment of exchange and sharing. The children have a thirst for learning and discovery. They were fascinated by the landscapes, the animals, the mountain outings, the glaciers, the customs and cultures that are very different from their own….they had baked cakes for us and we all left touched and moved by this encounter. Sylvie wrote to me afterwards and wants to continue this exchange with the children by correspondence… They still have lots of questions and want to follow our Andean adventures!
It was an experience worth repeating, just like my visit to the media library in Gron, in the Yonne region, where I proudly come from!
ANNE BIALEK MEETS SOPHIE LAVAUD: HIMALAYIST WITH A BIG HEART!
The highlight of my trip was meeting Sophie Lavaud in Chamonix. This great lady, whose existence I discovered while researching the Baltoro climbs, lives in Geneva and already has 5 summits of over 8000 to her name!
Sophie Lavaud is French, Swiss and Canadian. She was born in Lausanne and has lived in Geneva for over 15 years. After twelve years in the hotel industry in marketing and sales, she ran an events company for six years. On her first foray into high altitude, she climbed Shishapangama (8020 m) and Cho Oyu (8201 m) in May 2012. Around ten women in the world have climbed two peaks over 8,000 m in the same season. On 25 May 2014, Sophie reached the summit of Everest (8850 m) via the North Ridge.
When I found out about Sophie’s career, I immediately dreamt of meeting her. And it was quite simply that Sophie replied to my letter and suggested that we meet in Chamonix! I discovered a wonderful, humble, determined and dynamic woman! I also identified with her career path, which has become a guideline for my future projects. She did her first expedition and her first two 8000m summits at the age of 44. Since then, she’s been doing one expedition after another, while supporting an NGO in Nepal.
Thank you Sophie for sharing this moment with me, for your sound advice, your experience, your mental strength, your dynamism and your humanity…..for me, it’s decided, I’m going to follow in your footsteps and find the strength to carry out my “8000” project and follow my dreams to the end. At the age of 47, I now feel capable of doing it!
Thank you, dear readers and future travellers!