Hola! I’m Ariadna Boixader (Ari for friends, family and also social media) and I’ll be your curator for the week of August 10th to 16th. I’m an anthropologist-turned-travel-agent who wanted to be either a veterinarian or work on an NGO as a child. It seems strange, but everything has an explanation.
All my family is from Berga, in the Pre-Pyrenees (province of Barcelona), but because of my parents’ jobs, I happened to be born in Lleida 38 years ago and grew up in a small village in the middle of olive oil country (les Garrigues county). That made me quite the rara avis of the family, always longing for an olive grove and even having a bit of a western Catalan accent.
When I was 19, at that time when you feel invincible but really have no idea what to do with your life, my father, with great criteria, “invited” me to apply as an au pair to finally putting into practice all those extracurricular English classes. Well, my one-year au pair adventure in North Carolina (USA) became a ten-year adventure overseas, complete with my BA in Anthropology at UNC-CH and a master’s degree in Rural Studies at Colegio de Michoacán (México). Catalonia was always on my mind and I really wanted to come back to work here.
I finally came back exactly ten years ago. The smell of the groves and the dryland aromatics, the color of the sky, the taste of the freshly pressed olive oil, the local idiosyncrasy, the slow pace of life. All this was too much to escape. So I moved into olive oil country and enrolled in a master’s degree in anthropology at URV to begin research on local economic and social dynamics. Meanwhile, I worked as a corporate social responsibility technician at the local government administration and was very lucky to be part of a four-year amazing project for the implantation of CSR in the rural areas of Catalonia. I met lots of wonderful people and got to discover very singular projects first-hand. Many of them had in common values such as quality, transparency and a true love for the land. So putting together these shared values and my passion for and knowledge of the territory, becoming a destination management travel agent was just the natural way. Along with Ignasi, my partner and professional photographer, three years ago we cofounded Olea Soul, a food travel and responsible tourism agency. At Olea Soul, we offer self-guided and hosted off the beaten path olive oil, wine and culinary tours all over Catalonia, with emphasis on the olive oil country that watched me grew up.
During my free time, I enjoy spending time with our rescued five dogs and one cat (did I mention I wanted to be a veterinarian?), working on bringing the old abandoned family olive and almond groves into life and keeping up with my studies about the never ending wonders of olive oil, wine and food culture.
It’s a privilege to be a curator of the @Catalanvoices and I really look forward to share this time with you all.