Local conversations about tourism
Yesterday was a day of 'mucho corre corre', lots of running around and getting stuff done. Somedays are like this, but it feels good to be able to check multiple things off of the to-do list.
There were some moments of rest in the afternoon, while waiting for Mr. Daza I found myself talking to an old friend Oscar, who is involved in local Theatre as well as running a prominent bakery and coffee shop in Libano's central park.
Its good to support local businesses, but as a sociologist I frequently find myself asking questions and sometimes getting unexpected answers. We started by talking about the struggles of small business ownership, not least of which is the sharp supply-side inflation we have seen since the start of the pandemic.
We also began to discuss certain aspects of the local tourism model, and Oscar was able to connect some very important dots for me. Its not that I am unaware of some of the challenges we face, in fact I know them perhaps better than most, but I was fascinated to hear a hidden history that I knew little about.
It, like many things, all started with the narcos, in this case a guy named Carols Leder who founded the famous and quite touristic 'Eje Cafetero'. With his investment the region to the south of us has prospered and becomed famed as a tourist destination.
And this in some way is the model that many are suggesting for us. While I rejected it over ten ywars ago (and went to work on the farm), nowadays we are back at it and with some of our own ideas.
The issue is that the foreigners that Leder brough were his friends and business associated, gringos with lots of money and few scruples, ready to spend any amount of money 'para desorganizarse' as long as the party was good.
And this is where the common local belief comes from, that any foreigner coming must be rich beyond belief, ready to spend ridiculous sums of money on any old sandwich or bottle of beer. This is something I have struggled with for years, and a local attitude that, while not shared by all, is part of the reason we rejected tourism years ago.
Its ugly, and doesn't make anyone feel welcome.
After I had a meeting with Mr. Daza - we are hard at work making our plans for Casa Lago now that the volcano alert is lowered, and we met up casually with a local travel agent who is also working very hard to promote Líbano to the world.
Our projects continue, things are moving, there is a lot to do but its getting done. Expect lots of updates from me moving forward.