I have spent most of my adult life regularly travelling to projects to work with artisans in different countries all over the world. I have loved every moment of these trips from meeting new people, creating friendships, learning new words, sounds and landscapes, scratching the surface of a new culture, and political situation, looking at the history and getting a sense of what life is like.
I miss all this, now thinking back on a place I have been going to for many years and is such a magnificent breath-taking landscape.
Javier loves a party and often disappears to attend a village fiesta far off in the mountains for days on end, his life is not dominated by money and work but by his family and community.
I so look forward to seeing him and his family again to make new pieces like the beautiful necklaces he's created with me.
I went to Bolivia for the first time in 2009 with only the name of a cooperative gold mine that was piloting to become fair trade near La Paz. I shall never forget my initial impressions and excitement of landing in El Alto airport and watching in surprise as old oxygen tanks were wheeled out for fainting and breathless passengers as the high altitude hit.
Driving down the steep mountain road into La Paz as the sun rose hitting the sharp mountain tops with golden light I was enthralled with this magical place.
But life is hard in the Andes, you can see it on people's faces, the climate and poverty and difficult history, smiles are not easily given and it takes time to build relationships of trust.
I met Javier through the leader of the cooperative gold mine. Javier welcomed me into his tiny workshop in the middle of the Coca market on a steep hill in the bustling city. Chola women with rainbow shawls, perched bowler hats and full skirts sit with vegetables and coca leaves for sale along the road. The leaves are used legally for ceremonies, tea and for chewing. All the gold miners chew coca for energy for appetite suppression and to help the body with the altitude.