The first few days Matt and I were here we did some work on the room—plastering, priming, and painting the walls. We also did some work with the seed planting project at Fanca and started thatching the roof at the patio.
Since then Matt has been helping Chris with work in the park, doing maintenance and rebuilding the steps for the third time. Rita and I painted the place markers [to match the self-guided tour map] for the park (dark green background with white lettering), and Chris and Matt are going to start working on putting them into the ground with cement.
We are going to talk to the police about what has been going on in the park—stealing, drugs, etc—and see what other measures we can take to deter future vandalism.
As for the Bosque project, the timeline states that we should be continuing step repair, creating and placing place markers, maintenance and developing participation with residents. The repairs to the steps are done, place markers are ready to be placed, and I have started working on a project for local resident participation.
In the past week, I have been meeting with residents of both Maria Auxiladora and San Roque to increase awareness about the park and to try and get together a group of community members who could work as guides to the park. Just yesterday I took a group of 10 enthusiastic residents from San Roque, including consejera Graciela Moreno (one of the heads of the community), on a tour of the park. Only one of them had ever entered the park before and they were very excited to see it. Rita and I went to their community meeting on Friday night to introduce ourselves, talk a little about Planet Drum, and the park. It was the women themselves who suggested we give them a tour.
I have met with two heads of the community in Maria Auxiladora, but it has been more difficult to coordinate with them since there are four different sections of the barrio and four different committees. We went to a meeting on Saturday night but no one showed up because of a big party that was going on that night up on the hill. The president of the main committee suggested that I speak at the women’s Community Bank meeting on Tuesday so I will go to that tomorrow. I will also be attending a meeting with San Roque Residents on Wednesday to follow up after the tour, and a meeting with one of the committees of Maria Auxiladora on Friday.
My hope is that if there is more awareness of the park, it will foster respect and perhaps help to decrease instances of vandalism. If people know that the park is there to help prevent erosion and therefore protect the people who live below, they might think twice before removing trees. Also, if more people from the community start using the park, it might also deter those who are not supposed to be there. As of now it is a good place for people to hide their illegal activities because very few people go there.
The other issue that I will be discussing with residents of Maria Auxiladora, is the idea of starting a community-run tour operation—a group of residents (maybe a couple of families) who could give tours of the Mirador at La Cruz and the park. Rita and I started designing a flyer describing the tour that residents could give out to tourists. In this way the park could directly benefit the residents of the community and serve to further foster the idea that it is a resource for them also, not just tourists and other gringos. It could also be a source of money to help with maintenance of the park.
About five days ago Matt sent out an email letter to try and raise some funds to build the greenhouse. He is waiting to hear the responses, but he hopes to raise $100 to $200. In the meantime, Jeff suggested it would probably be a good idea to build a more temporary structure that we can use to house the seedlings. Matt is going to start clearing out the area and can begin building the structure very soon. It will probably be like a bin, similar to the worm bins, that can be covered in plastic, shade provided by the trees overhead.