After three weeks since the start of our internship in Panama, Team Tourism is really starting to get the momentum going for our project. Our group consists of five hard working members, all assigned different tasks within the project while still working as a whole to produce a successful product under the Kalu Yala umbrella.
Team Tourism is starting up a sustainable tourism company that is seeking to provide the best jungle adventures in Panama by providing endless adventure in the heart of the Panamanian Rainforest and exciting cultural experiences for backpackers, outdoor enthusiasts and inspiration-seeking individuals. The cultural experience might include interaction with the friendly campesinos that will be guiding the guests through the jungle during their hikes or teaching basket weaving back at our base camp. Also, being able to enjoy traditional Panamanian meals at a local fonda in San Miguel or partake in cheese making with the local cheesemaker. The company will focus on quality services and adventures, sustainable practices, and an opportunity to partake and experience the Kalu Yala lifestyle, community, and culture; all providing an authentic experience with unforgettable memories.
The last 10 workdays have been split with a few days out in the Valley and then back in the city.
At the start of this 10-day work week, our group headed out of the city and split up between San Miguel and the Valley in the jungle to do some research and get some work done out there. There were three of us that hiked into the Valley, and we stayed at Kalu Yala base camp for three days with the directors and two other interns that were out there. Our work goal while in the Valley was to discuss our plans with the directors that live there and to see how involved they want to be in our excursions and their feedback on our ideas to see if they are feasible or not. We received such positive feedback from them, it was very reassuring to know that they are excited about the project and want to be involved, as well as providing us with all kinds of ideas.We did work while we were out there! Work that contributes to the greater project of Kalu Yala itself, that directly impacts our business endeavors.
One of the days, we headed out in the torrential downpour, hiked into the jungle and carried out giant old palm leaves (and by giant, I mean extremely long and heavy) that had been cut out of the trees the day before. These palm leaves are used to build the roof of the ranchos that are being built for next semester’s interns and will be used by our tourism guests. The roofs are very solid, withstand the rough weather, and last for about 5 years before needing to be replaced. The process is very lengthy, so our team was glad that we could help out and speed things up.
The process starts with someone climbing up the palm trees with a machete and cutting down the old palm out of the trees; mind you, these trees may have snakes or scorpions so you must be very cautious! The palm is then piled up and is eventually carried out and down the mountain where it is tied into the back of the Land Cruiser and drug back to base camp. The day we helped, we were carrying 4 palms (2 in each arm) down the mountain from three different locations, unless you are Jorge and you can run out with 8 palms over your head! Craziness. After a long morning of getting all of the cut palm down the mountain we headed back to camp; soaking wet, arms all cut up, dirt from head to toe, drenched boots, and bug bites but with a great sense of satisfaction. All of that is part of the experience and we had so much fun getting dirty and working hard!
In the city, we have been focusing on research and producing all of the marketing collateral; going back and forth on the perfect verbiage, review and more review. It is a long process, but I feel as if we are making great strides. Meeting with the land development CEO, Jimmy, he proposed the idea of holding a creative session for our marketing materials. It will be facilitated by one of our group members and the participants would consist of those outside of our project, other interns, directors, CEO, and marketing and creative gurus. We look forward to hosting that next week and getting lots of ideas and feedback on content, image, design, etc.
Our 5 day vacation starts tomorrow and all of us interns are heading out to Pedesi to have some relaxing time on the beach and explore all that it has to offer. When we return, I will be excited to get back to work, start putting everything into action, and make another trip to the Valley to start working on the Jungle Activity Guide that we will provide our guests with. This is how I take advantage of the best of both worlds; by migrating back and forth between the jungle and the city! It is awesome that the work for our project consists of both locations.