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It Feels Like a Victory

In the "Cult of Escapism": It Feels Like a Victory

Thursday, August 9, 2012

It Feels Like a Victory

(From July 22nd)
Yesterday, the Tourism Committee and various households hosted 45 tourists and in two days, earning over $1,900 for the community. More importantly, they did all the work.

The students at the Esperanza waterfall
A few months ago, members of my tourism group invited me to a meeting with a tour operator and some potential visitors. At the meeting, I met a Returned Peace Corps Honduras Volunteer coordinating a trip for youth leaders. Some members of the Committee presented to him what we offer and I agreed to be the contact person, since it's a lot easier for me to access internet than other members of the group.

However, I did not coordinate any host families or any participating members of the effort. I just passed information from one source to another (which I wouldn't have had to do if we had some source of internet here) and hoped that the group could handle their responsibilities.

Sell, sell, sell
They crushed it. Fifteen host families, two days of taking 45 people hiking, eating and participating in cultural activities and all I did was lurk around and watch. The coordinator of the students (the RPCV) handed me all the money and I gave it to four members of the Board and reminded them to take out 10% for the Committee. And they did, no hitches. This all probably sounds fairly simple to you readers, but for me it's a major victory – the Committee that Laura and I helped found did all the work themselves, from making the initial connection, to planning, to executing, to paying all those responsible. If this wasn't a fluke then that means we have a self-sustaining group, capable of bringing money to the community from outside, which creates jobs and gives artisans and small business owners new revenue sources.

But then maybe it was a fluke. Already, only a week later, I see signs of internal division in the group and hear talk of raising prices. Raising prices?! The prices are already high and the group works just fine as it is. Greed. Greed could bring the group down. And if that doesn't bring it down, then maybe we just don't get tourists for a few months and the group loses motivation. We can't make tourists come. I want to enjoy this high; I want to think that in my last two months of service, my group is exactly where it needs to be and when I leave, they will continue kicking ass without my support. But there are so many ways to fail and so many doubts despite this recent success.

It feels like a victory, and I hope it is, because otherwise it's just a glimpse of success at the end of a service, followed by a crushing defeat.

Update from August 5th:
A traditional meal with the management team
Today, we once again successfully hosted an important group of tourists – the management team of a new hotel on an island only about an hour from my site. After doing our day package, the owner said he was interested in including it as a day trip, that would run about once a week. He also intends to contract some of the community's artisan women to sew some of the hotel's table cloths and robes. Boom baby. Job creation and a potentially consistent and indefinite source of revenue – that's exactly what we've been working towards. Please, tourism group, please don't screw this up.  


At August 9, 2012 at 8:01 PM , Blogger Ila said...

Yay! Congrats!!


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