Earlier this month the guides who are participating in the tourism project received their licenses from Nicaragua’s Ministry of Tourism. An evaluator from the Ministry came to Agua Fría to assess their knowledge and technique. Project manager, Luke Pekrul, reflects on the challenges of evaluation day and all the guides have achieved:

As their test, the guides took the evaluator on the Telica Volcano crater tour. Each guide took a turn presenting during one section of the tour. The guides explained how to identify local plants and talked about their traditional uses. They presented different rocks and pointed out the geological features which tell the history of the volcano’s formation. They also gave accounts of their own personal stories of living on the side of an active volcano, including their close encounters with the violent eruptions this May.

Most of the guides were nervous, but it was extremely satisfying to see their enthusiasm and confidence as they started their well-rehearsed presentation. As I watched them I was imagining their pride at doing well on what was for many the closest thing they had experienced to a job interview. However, talking with Rodi Davila afterwards, I realized it was more than that.

Rodi Davila is a great guide. She is also a mother of two and a farm wife getting her first chance at a new career and a real opportunity to lift her family out of poverty. After she successfully passed the evaluation, I asked her to share her impressions of the whole training process. Her first comments were about the opportunity to learn more about her own community: “For me this has been very important training. I grew up here in Agua Fría, but I didn’t know a lot of the things that I know now.”

When asked what she enjoyed most about the work, Rodi said that it was the look on visitors’ faces when they see what her community has to offer. “I like to see the tourists enthusiastic to learn about the history of Agua Fria. They are impressed by the many things that, perhaps in their countries, they haven’t seen. I enjoy seeing how they look when the beautiful things grab their attention.“

I saw that becoming a tour guide has given Rodi more than a chance to earn a better income, as important as that is. It has also given her a new sense of community pride. And the opportunity to share her community with others is something that gives her satisfaction, in and of itself.

When I asked her, of all the training sessions, what experience she had enjoyed the most, Rodi simply said: “To be out doing tours.”

Luke and the rest of the Nuevas Esperanzas team look forward to seeing her do just that a lot more in the future.