We recently heard about the RESPONSible tourism initiative in Vicos and today we are staying with a local family that has welcomed us with open arms. Pablos ‘s daughters laugh while their mom invites us all a bowl of hot soup prepared in a pot on a stove to warm up the body in the cold night of Vicos, a beautiful community in a small valley of the Cordillera Blanca (White Mountain Range), near Huaraz, in the region of Ancash. Vegetables cooked in the soup were grown in the field where sheep graze and the girls play. Like their dad, the girls grow surrounded by nature and in freedom. Above, the snowy Copa mountain monitors (overlooks) the land and the rooftops where people of Vicos live peacefully. They speak Quechua and Spanish and expect their native language to live over time. After sharing stories and finishing the soup they go to bed to prepare for the next day, that starts very early. Likewise for us, however tomorrow we are leaving to a route leading through the most extensive and highest mountain range of Peru. Before that, Pablo shows us a map, lights the fireplaces in the rooms and tells us that he will wait for us early the next day for breakfast, after waking up to the sounds of the field and getting ready to explore.
The family of Pablo love their town, their farms, their animals, the trees and the mountains. In the same way, there are families and communities throughout Peru that want to preserve the places where they grew up and have lived for generations, but need support to have a better quality of life and not have to migrate to a city. So, by taking advantage of the travelers that come from all over the world to explore these sites, many local families had an idea. Why not accommodate visitors in their homes? Pablo, his wife and children saw an opportunity and now are happy to host people like us who come to discover Peru. Now we can feel that we have explored a beautiful place taking with us a part of it in new experiences and friends, but also leaving a part of us in order to improve its people’s quality of life and care for the environment. We feel complete. We were able to connect more with the Cordillera Blanca sharing these days with its people and we have strayed far from our daily lives, meeting new cultures that enrich us as human beings. By doing this, we are supporting the local economy and by travelers like us, families like Pablo’s can nowadays access better food, good health facilities and most importantly, better education to enable their children to grow with skills and knowledge that Peru needs to keep moving forward.
Today, children play and grow in the field of Vicos knowing that many people come to meet them and see their valleys, animals and mountains. They feel proud of their customs and their two languages. However, most importantly, they know they are responsible for taking care of what they have inherited, and that sustainable tourism is a great tool to do so. Pablos ‘s children already know that, and as we played with them on our last day in Vicos, we realized how much we can help a country like ours if more people travel RESPONSibly.
After all, this experience led me to leave my job in the city and join the team of RESPONS to take travelers from all over the world to explore my country through wonderful experiences that promote sustainable community development and environmental protection. I invite all of you to travel RESPONSibly and feel that satisfaction of improving a little bit every part of Peru that you have explored.