A Surprising Discovery en route to Machu Picchu

This is Pablo and Lucy.

Pablo's family Vicos Peru

They have been instrumental in heading up the community-based tourism project in the Andean village of Vicos, Peru for many years. They’ve hosted countless travelers in their home who have visited Machu Picchu as part of their Peruvian explorations, but the Quechua couple had never had the opportunity to see this national treasure for themselves. When Crooked Trails co-founder made a return visit to Peru this fall, she decided to make that happen for them, and a generous Crooked Trails donor also happily pitched in on their costs. (Thanks Jessica!)

Tammy, Pablo & Lucy on the plane to Cusco
It was Lucy’s first time on a plane. She was a bit nervous.

As Tammy set about making plans to travel with them from their little mountain village to Cusco and on to Machu Picchu, she realized the opportunity was there to introduce them to other Crooked Trails partners in the region. So she brought them to Chinchero, where Pablo and Lucy joined the celebrations of the annual Chinchero Festival and were introduced to Paulino and Vilma, another pair of our partners who have hosted Crooked Trails travelers at their local lodge and weavers co-op for many years. They were joined by Rony, another CT partner, and gathered together they found a connection with their partnerships through Crooked Trails. They shared stories about each of their projects and gave tips. When Roxana (daughter of Paulino & VIlma) shared about details about her new community tourism project, Pablo encouraged Roxana’s development of a homestay and backed up her intentions to make it family-style, centered around authentic connection and sharing. 

CT partners come together at the Chinchero Festival

Tammy then brought Pablo and Vilma to meet CT partner Julio at his lodge in Peru’s southern desert. Hours were spent gathered around the fire, sharing stories of their trials and successes, and comparing notes. Pablo was inspired by Julio’s stewardship of his local area. He connects travelers further to the place he calls home through an artifacts museum, the pisco he distills (and the annual grape stomp he hosts for it), and a book he has written on local history. 

As these conversations between our partners unfolded, they found that even after 20 years of slowly building their respective community-based tourism initiatives they shared many of the same challenges. Organically, the conversation turned to – wouldn’t it be great if we could all work together and support each other? 

As Tammy tells it, “The connections between our partners was natural and amazing; I only introduced them and they went from there. I wasn’t expecting them to say ‘how can we work together?’ It was a surprise and a delight.”

Pablo and Lucy went home with exciting new ideas from their experience. Paulino and Vilma, Rony, and Julio likewise were inspired and now would like to plan a trip together to visit Pablo & Lucy’s project in Vicos. Together, this group of our partners from communities throughout Peru would like to further collaborate. Naturally, they are looking to Crooked Trails for help in networking together to share marketing and other resources; to create a rising tide that lifts all boats.

It’s not just our Peruvian partners who are asking for this kind of support from Crooked Trails. In communities around the world, local visionaries are taking the brave step to launch sustainable local tourism in their area, and existing small-scale community-based tourism projects need help untangling the web of marketing and communicating with the outside world to bring in visitors. 

The first 20 years of Crooked Trails was focused in large part on developing community-based tourism and educating travelers about its many benefits. We’ve supported our partner communities as they put their sweat and tears into the homestays and community experiences by helping them get off the ground. The next level of our support is to fill the gap between their projects and travelers – help get them to market and get the resources they need to allow their efforts to really succeed on a sustainable scale.

The good news is – the travelers are there! Not only are more people traveling than ever, but the ideals of sustainable travel and locally-based tourism are becoming increasingly mainstream. As we move into our #NEXT20 years at Crooked Trails, we will work to meet the needs of these communities who are working so hard to bring cultural exchange, economical stability and ecological protection to their homelands through travel. 

Please join our efforts to support partners like Pablo & Lucy with a donation to help fuel the #NEXT20 campaign!

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