RESIGNIFYING THE GUAVIARE
Edison never imagined that the day the army came to eradicate his coca crops, he would start a new life full of purpose. In the past, Edison and his family planted coca, harvested and processed it into paste, and then sold it to illegal groups that controlled the area. That day, Edison lost everything and he thought that his only alternative to provide for his family would be to become a small rancher. If this had happened, Finca Los Chontaduros would have been deforested and part of the country's historical memory would have been lost. Today the farm and Edison are an example in conservation and resilience.
Reaching Finca Los Chontaduros, takes more than an hour, by trail and swampy roads, from San José del Guaviare. A wooden house, a kiosk and a helpful family greets visitors when they arrive. Edison, invites people to know his farm while he tells them the story of his past, of when that land had hundreds of coca bushes and the raspachines (a day laborer who subsists on collecting an illegal product) haunted the land. He narrates as they walk to the old laboratory that today is disabled, but that serves to teach visitors what the process was like. Along the way, exotic animals that have been rescued and found a refuge on the farm join the group. It is an experience that seems to be taken from a García Márquez story, but it is a true story of a region and a country marked by drug trafficking.
The experience closes with a delicious breakfast prepared by Doña Yolima, Edison's wife. Yellow corn arepas and curd are the favorite dish.
How did tourism change your life?
It changed my life in my way of thinking. First, due to the nature issue, we began to focus on its conservation. Also financially. We have put heart and soul to tourism and we liked it. Meeting many people, foreign people, Colombian, from the same department, has motivated and filled us to get ahead. That was one of the most interesting changes.
Our thought now is to conserve nature, to take care of the trees, so that tourists continue to come and share this little corner of Colombia that we call the Guaviare.
Why is it important to preserve the tourism you do?
Because we are preserving species, contributing to the environment and generating income to the economy of a region that has been through a lot.
I have become a community and nature leader. I rescue animal species, some that are in danger of extinction. I have rescued them and I have them in their habitat. I have dedicated myself to caring and loving them. A few years ago we used to sacrificed them for consumption, the idea is NOT to do it. I have made neighbors and friends aware of the situation, animals deserve another opportunity, we must protect them so that tourists who come to share with us look at this very important fauna and flora that we have in our territory. That is one of the tasks that I have committed myself to and put heart and soul into.
How have you been affected by the emergency caused by the COVID pandemic?
Tourism was our only way of income and with this we are affected both economically and restricted by society and sharing with other cultures. It has been very complex.
We have potential in Guaviare, we believe in our region and we have faith in God that the pandemic will soon pass and we can return to tourism.
With the hope that the Department of Guaviare will return to its tourist and community activity, we have included the tour at La Finca el Chontaduro within the "Hope Vouchers" initiative. You can give hope to this Warrior of conservation and peace. Buy your voucher now and you will have a deadline to redeem it until December 1, 2021.
When the time comes, we help you organize your trip to Guaviare.