it has been a little over a week since we arrived in Cusco and now that we have settled down we would like to share some of our experiences with you. Upon our arrival we have received a very warm welcome by Erland, the vice-president of the organization we are working with. He supported us in our search for a flat, introduced us to local customs and even welcomed us to his family. We are very lucky to have him and with great enthusiasm started implementing with him the organizations Andean livelihoods improvement project.
Cusco is a nice place to life; the cuzqueños are welcoming people and so much more helpful than we had ever hoped for. Quickly we found our way around in the city and started searching for a flat, however first each of us had to pass a trial at the “stairs of death”; not an easy task at an altitude of 3.400m. After José took a look at several rather questionable choices we found a nice place to stay, it is close by the office and the best of all is that it has a fireplace.
Last week we visited the first community we will be working with. Patabamba is located in the mountains above the majestic sacred valley. The local community hopes to further exploit its touristic potential by improving their houses, developing new touristic routes, and receiving capacitation in marketing and administration. Currently we are collecting secondary data on the region, analyze the status of local buildings, look into development interventions which already took place in Patabamba, discuss feasible marketing strategies, and try to get a feeling for the local tourism market and its main stakeholders. On December 23rd a meeting is scheduled with the entire community and thereafter we hope to start the participatory research process as soon as possible.
We send to all of you un abrazo grande, we wish you a Merry Christmas and hope that you have been as fortunate as us in finding some friends to spend the Christmastime with!
José, Rémi and Marcel