My name is Lauren. I am a quarter of a century old and have two younger brothers. I have enjoyed studying Language and Literature in Leuven, Belgium. I was lucky and was allowed to study in Madrid for six months, a city that I still like to visit now. After my graduation I did two seasons in the French Alps. By far the nicest thing I love to do is snowboarding in deep, fresh, fluffy powder snow.
How was your first introduction to Ryce Travel?
It was snowing for the first time that year. I had missed my bus and was a bit nervous because I would arrive half an day later than agreed in Avoriaz, the village where Peter, Ferda and me would be based together for a winter season. But then Ferda and Peter came to meet me with their snowboards and I knew it was all right. In the days and weeks that followed, I met Ryce Travel. And I was sold immediately. Kyrgyzstan? Kazakhstan? Georgia? Because of their stories it almost seemed as if I had already been there myself. And I couldn’t wait to see it with my own eyes.
What do you think about the vision / mission of Ryce Travel?
Nobel. Courageous. Amazing. Tough too. Alluring. Social Enterprising. Adventurous.
What do you do in daily life?
In daily life I am a strategist at Absolute, a (rather) small communication agency at de Vaart that seeks creative answers to the communication problems of noble clients (public services) and charities etc.). I live in Leuven with five friends and my boyfriend. During the week I go climbing and go to the Russian class. In the weekends I prefer camping. In the winter I drink tea and I read books. In the summer too, but preferably outside.
What did you do as a volunteer?
Last summer I spent two months in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. I helped with the construction and expansion of a new Ryce Travel “HUB” in Karakol, where the rental (in summer camping equipment and mountain bikes, in winter ski equipment) and eventually a bar / meeting place are located. Most of the time I was allowed to be in the mountains and help in our base camp – the Ayu Tor Ryce camp. I was pretty much the link between the locals and the travelers there. We received the people, organized their stay, gave advice on the planning of their journey, and guided groups. Back home I occasionally helped with writing for the website. And I was also allowed on a study trip to Georgia and Cappadocia – the new Ryce destinations of 2019.
How did you experience volunteering?
How did I experience it? I enjoyed it to the fullest. The camp in the Karakol valley is a small paradise.
During my summer in Kyrgyzstan I got to know the country (watch out, I am not an expert yet). I have been able to form a picture of what is possible, how things work there, and even picked up a bit of Russian and the numerals in Kyrgyz (Kyrgyz is a very difficult language). I have also made great progress in communicating without words (it is not always easy to speak when you do not speak a common language). I also discovered that we Westerners can no longer wait – they are the best waiters in Central Asia. There is little planning, or none at all. The bicycle mechanic comes when he comes, we will mow the grass when we have a grass machine, and the terrace, yes, we will start tomorrow. Or the day after. Or maybe next week. But that is actually not so bad at all. In Kyrgyzstan there is a different view of time. It takes some time getting used to it, though.
What do you think the tourism options in Kyrgyzstan are?
The possibilities are endless. The mountains! The valleys! The lakes! The mentality! The food! Freeriding! Tour skiing! To climb mountains!
What time did you remember most during your stay?
That is hard to choose. I go for our two Kyrgyz friends, Ilya and Amantur, cook and lumberjack from the camp. Because I thought it was special that we became friends without speaking the same language.
What are your own dreams?
I would like to live in the mountains again.