Corazón del Bosque is part of the Red de Turismo Comunitario de Sololá (the Community Tourism Network of the Department of Sololá). Last November the majority of the members sent representatives to visit Ak'Tenamit (http://www.aktenamit.org/), a developed site of community tourism (one of its many programs) on the eastern coast of Guatemala, in Livingston, Izabal. One other volunteer (Erin) and I were given the opportunity to accompany the group with the goal of learning all we could from the interchange to improve not only our own sites but to strengthen the network overall. It was a quick 4 day trip (two days of travelling!) that included several meetings, a visit to their fair-trade store, restaurants, a community stay and a stopover in Rio Dulce. Here's most of us visiting the Castillo San Felipe.
This is the view we had on our boat ride from Livingston back to Rio Dulce- it's almost breathtaking to see the cliffs covered with trees that plunge down to the water's edge.
We hiked two hours to a community, spending the night at their "hotel", sharing a meal with community members and ending with a marimba concert/dance party. The community's called Plan Grande Quehueche (http://adrenalinatours.com/comunitarytourism/aldea-maya-plan-grande-quehuecche.html) Don't worry, I didn't hike in my skirt...this was on the way out, which was in a pickup.
One of the many interesting bugs we found in the jungle. It was great to explore a different ecosystem and be reminded of how diverse Guatemala is. It felt like a different country compared to my neck of the woods (all mountains, and pine/oak forests).
So I don't have a picture yet of the finished product, but here's a little taste of the playground we started building last fall. It's made of recycled tires and wood from the forest. They went a bit crazy on the colors, but what can you do. Now we're only lacking a few finishing touches, benches and flowers. I'll post when that's done (hopefully soon!!!).
Another project we started last fall was a course on making handicrafts. We started out teaching a group from the community, mainly women, on how to kill rabbits and cure the skins to use the fur. I would have included some of those pictures but wasn't sure how people would react...especially my animal rights friends! I have to admit it still makes me a bit squeamish...I'm much better at murdering chickens. But anyways, after we finished learning about furs, we moved on to making baskets, jewelry and such out of pine needles.