We’re off on another three-month teaching tour of seven countries and even though I packed my suitcases the day before (what a relief!) we still rush out the door at the last minute. We left Rayne in the expert care of Kim Carneal, a TTEAM Practitioner-in-Training, and the angel who is responsible for reviewing many of my videos and getting them onto YouTube. She’s also taken on the responsibility of getting a separate Animal Ambassador website up. Mahalo Kim!
We had a bit of a shock arriving at the airport to discover our plane was leaving 30 minutes ahead of our printed schedule and we were told we were too late. However, with a typical aloha attitude, the United Airlines employee at the check in counter made an exception and hustled us on board. Whew! Were we grateful. Our 5 suitcases even made it.
We stayed overnight in San Francisco and climbed aboard the almost 10 hour flight to Frankfurt rested and thoroughly delighted to discover we had been upgraded to business class on the newest United plane with seats that lay flat like a real bed. Plus we were upstairs which is our favorite. It’s like being on cruise ship with individual large video screens and many bells and whistles. The seats are so comfortable that I worked all night on my computer and Roland spent most of the night listening to Pavarotti and some of his favorite opera music, and I found some exquisite classical music to keep me inspired.
We had a short layover in Frankfurt and then on to Slovenia. This is our second trip to Slovenia and we were eager to meet our friends, Darja & Andre Znidersic who have organized a dog and a horse demo for me, to highlight their weekend of “open door” celebration of their new TTEAM, TTouch and Animal Ambassador Center.
Flying into Slovenia gave me the impression of landing in a fairytale. Spectacular mountain ridges, lush valleys and small villages lay beneath us like something out of a children’s story tale. The airport in Ljubianja is small for a capital city – something I prize in this age of gigantic airports that look alike no matter what country we’re in.
Darja met us at the airport with her friend Simon Dvorsak, who is the conductor of the Symphony Orchestra Domzale-Kamnik and will be opening the Saturday evening program. with a concert at the ranch. Driving through the Slovenian countryside through small villages – with every house surrounded by flower gardens and garlanded with flower boxes – between fields of ripening crops – and through mountain valleys with steep tree-covered slopes – was a welcoming feeling, like entering a magical kingdom in a former time.
A narrow winding road leads through the woods to the Kaja and Grom Ranch. And what a treasure is this newest center featuring TTouch and Animal Ambassadors programs. My first visual impressions were of the horses grazing peacefully in pastures on one side of the road and on the other side a pair of sheep and a pot-bellied pig. And then the most beautiful wooden houses with window boxes and gardens of flowers with flagstone entrance, framed by forest on one side and a distant mountain range beyond, the forested rolling hills. The love with which Darja and Andre have built most of this with their own hands, can be felt from afar. Their daughter, Manca, graciously turned over her upstairs bedroom to us, where we have cable internet and the sweetest view from the curtained windows. Sleeping in a totally wooden house that has been built with loving, caring hands, deep in the forest where the only sound at night are frogs and the occasional night bird, is a luxury I have seldom experienced.
Darja and Andrej moved this house board by board from their former location. its the library and teaching room for the summer camp and daily visits by school children who come to learn how to be with horses, sheep, potbelly pig, goats and chickens and walk and often sleep in the woods to listen for the fairies and creatures of the forest. TTouch has been an integral part of the learning for more than 2000 children a year over the past decade.
this peaceful morning scene - the stone walkway to the library and the mascot Lippizaner behind the bush take me back to the magical feeling of the new TTEAM/TTouch Center Slovenia at the Kaja & Grom Ranch.
Arthur, a 32-year-old retiree rescued by Darja and Andrej to live out his life, roams the property freely during the day and grazes on the lawn in front of the main house. The white Lippizaner is huge, and I dreamed of exactly this horse the week before I visited their former center and when I saw this horse in the yard I knew we had much work to do together.
I am blown away by the organization for these two days of my demos. Darja has made up notebooks with pens attached for each of the 200 participants. I signed 200 printed Certificates of Completion – with each person’s hand-printed name. The certificates and the program are all printed on recycled paper, as are the bookmarks, with photos of the ranch animals – with a famous poem on the back – which are gifted to each participant.
Darja arranged for the translation and printing of two of my books into Slovenian – TTouch for Dogs, and Let’s Ride. I have to change all my bios now, to show books in 13 languages.
The Ranch is designed especially for eight-week summer camps for children who come from nearby European countries and as far away as America and Russia. The international blend of participants is part of the valuable training given to the youngsters in the summer program.. There are two bedrooms for the children who range in age from 7 to 18. One bedroom has 9 beds and the other 3 beds.
two thousand children a year come to Kaja & Grom Ranch to be with Darja and Andrej and their animals. Roland enjoying an early morning moment of peace.
Darja (squatting) and I with teenagers who have been coming for many years to the magical summer camp at Kaja & Grom Ranch
During the rest of the year, children come for the weekends as a part of an official school program. They learn about conservation, work with horses and other animals, caring for each other and TTouch. Andre takes them for an overnight survival course where they learn to track and catch fish and cook over a fire.
I am waiting for the chance to get enough time online to post all the beautiful photos taken here at Kaja and Grom Ranch. Check back!
To visit the Kaja and Grom Ranch website: Go to TTouch.com and click on TTouch and TTEAM in Slovenia. You will find the English version of Darja and Andre’s website, KajainGrom Ranch with many photos of their activities and Animal Ambassador Programs.
© Linda Tellington-Jones 2008