When the group of four met on this week we were treated to a slide show from some real eco-tourists. The aunt and uncle of one of our families brought slides and photos from their trip to Ecuador. They spent a week staying in an ecotourism resort on the Napo River and were able to describe many details of their stay for us. We saw slides of the accomodation and furniture at the resort, all made from locally available materials. There were many pictures showing us the size of the trees and other plantlife. We saw some of the local animals and birds, but apparently you needed to get up for the 3am breakfast before heading out to do some serious bird watching. It was very interesting and helpful to see pictures and hear about first hand experiences.
After viewing the slide show we began round two. The ecotourism team had some new ideas to discuss before making proposals to the villagers. Most of the farmers were pleased to have made a little more money from their crops and an educational rebate. There are a few farmers who are still struggling to meet their financial commitments. Everyone seems to be keen on the tourism project but for different reasons. There is a definitely a “monopoly” mentality appearing in some of the participants, they are looking for the best way to make the most money. The village members had a meeting before our session closed and voted to pour most of the first round’s ecotourism profits back into the project for the construction of bird watching platforms on a huge tree, something they saw in the slide show. The remainder of the profits will be divided between all the village members.
When we meet next week we are thinking it might be good to involve everyone in the process of allocating income. Last time a few farmers avoided growing coffee, the crop with the highest return, as they thought everyone would grow it. This meant that there was not a surplus and those who had grew it benefitted. The children are talking together and making joint decisions about eco-tourism but do not seem to have thought about approaching farming in the same way.