How did you come to live
here, what happened to you?
Traveling around Latin America in 1981-82 we fell for spacious Bolivia and its people. The striking view of the Samaipatan valley -Samaipata
means the Height to Rest-with its delightful subtropical climate, made
us settle here in this old country retreat of 6 hectares.
We called it "La Víspera" (the Eve) which in South America refers to a celebration of what is to come.....
With the years La Víspera has grown to become an Organic Farm Retreat with hundreds of indigenous trees, flower- and terraced gardens. We grow a grand variety of vegetables, fruits and aromatic herbs. In the Herbolario
we process them into medicinal mixtures, herbal teas, seasoning, massage
oils, tinctures, jams, nectars & mousses.
What came first, or was everything built at once?
We started with a house to live in (1984), then the
first for personal use only and from 1988 selling our products in Santa Cruz. The first guesthouse we built to lodge our visitors from Holland. Just when the cabin was finished (1989), weekend tourism from the city of Santa Cruz started to boom, after the road was paved. In 1990 we initiated international
tourism with group travel from EU, which enabled us gradually to add other
guesthouses and the
camping site. The success of the produce of processed herbs & fruit led us to build the
Herbolario (1997) on top of the ruins of the old cottage in the heart of the Finca. The production terraces were expanded to 40.
Despite the fact that all the lodging facilities have their own kitchens, we decided to install the
the heart of the finca now. The Native Park (2004) uphill was developed on the last 2 hectares of wild land. In order to ensure a quieter home, we moved the office and reception to
Casa Tradicional in 2006. And to
meditate & be on our own we built Atma
in 2010, a cute little round green roofed house you can come
upon walking uphill to the throne in the park.
Are you gardeners and builders originally?
Marga comes from a family where beauty, music, writing, design, painting, gardening, good food, theater, colors and fabrics were a major focus, and is known as a clear-headed lady. Pieter is a descendant from a family of hermits, pub owners and grocers, and loves building, waterworks, horses, dogs, people and trees, and life. We both worked 10 years as clinical psychologists, especially in education, and it was in that period that Pieter, who has played the piano from an early age, took up a 3 year course to become a professional piano tuner in Amsterdam during the evening. The first 8 years here our revenue came from 4 months-per-year tuning and restoring pianos in the whole of Bolivia, during which time we both came to know the country profoundly, because we often went off to restore together.
The Finca offered us plenty of space and inspiration to develop all hidden talents and thus create our own paradise.
Everything feels in balance, and all the details! How did you do it?
summary: Organically, step by step, daily good-attention, by
combining passion for gardens with the curves in the soil and the
materials available in the region, a sensible feeling for business
and good administration, inherited? Doing what the Bolivians do: to
develop different sources of income. By welcoming the surprising
talents of all those people who worked with us in the course of
time. Setbacks and disappointments we learned to see as a challenge. By
being both generous & practical in answer to the needs of guests.
Understanding nature as our biggest supporter. Our slogans
were alternately: Life is a daring adventure, or nothing, and: Is the playground feeling still there?
Nowadays: Light, Earth & Air.
Don't think us rich in money;
this paradise and the strong bond with the planet & the cosmos form
Local staff: Do they live here, how many, education level, turnover, atmosphere?
All live in the village,
5 women and 2 man (21-39 years) with young children at home, and 2 youngsters (16-19 years),
some still students at night school. Education level is low (as in the whole of Bolivia’s state education) and lies between a few years of high school, a diploma and some secondary agricultural education. The computer they hardly know. Most come from poor farmer families, are very practical, amazingly skilful & inventive and they love beauty. Here they are taught to assume a wide range of job responsibilities, to have an overlook, to team, and to teach newcomers. Their limits and hidden talents are continually tested and challenged. In Bolivia this is quite radical; normally an employee only gets a specific task to do.
So half of them quit, those who continue flourish. We can leave a lot to them and focus on an atmosphere of attention and dedication. If they start to repeat themselves it is their turn to teach a newcomer, to study, to move on.
How are your experiences with foreign employees, trainees and volunteers?
We have had trainees from bio-agricultural, business and tourism institutes & universities, highly educated employees (a variety of professions) working from 4 months to 1.5 years (tourism, reception & management), and short time volunteers. The crux is the difference in work pace, skills,
upbringing, culture & perspective between them and the staff including us. Intense experiences vary from mutually very inspiring & life long friendships to disillusion. Humor, flexibility & a good chemistry are the essential ingredients for success.
What are the Perspectives for Finca La Víspera?
After 28 years of endless creativity, we (60+) are in for reveries,
memoir writing, music & travel. This year 2012 brought us new companions: last January Susanne & Werner
fell completely in love with the finca and decided to live with us. We
are open to share the finca with other kindred spirits.