Santa Lucía as a training site.
Two weeks ago we received a group of young Ecuadorian guides from Baños / Puyos region. The visit was based on an idea by Javier Robayo and co-financed by the WWF and the Ecominga Foundation.
Our visitors were mostly youngsters who were raised to work in non-sustainable agriculture and who have found their way out or are working on establishing more sustainable practices. While some have made a step towards eco-tourism and work as guides or are setting up their own eco-tourism destinations, other try to implement agricultural techniques that are more enironment-friendly. In our discussions we concluded that the later one also has great potential to be a tourist or volunteer magnet.
The idea behind their visit was to showcase Santa Lucía as a place were a local community of farmers has moved on into conservation and has - on the way - found a new sustainable business modell.
So, we had the chance to provide some knowledge about our forests and its inhabitants (some of the young guides were true-to-the-bone bird watchers) as well as about the long road it took us to get to where we are know.
Of course, this was a wonderful experience for both sides and we hope that such visits become more common and that Santa Lucía members / staff will also be able to visit other places in Ecuador that are different phases of their transition towards conservation.
Finally, we may even be able to help one of the visitors with a future business directly as she makes artistic drawings on the so-called MonteChristi hats which might be a great thing to sell as a souvenir at the Santa Lucía lodge.