Week 1&2: 80 hours
Kalu Yala is a sustainable work in progress. The goal for our company is to create a sustainable community in the valley of Panama. This community will be a place to live as well as a place to travel to or stay for a night while passing through. My role within the company is affiliated with outdoor recreation. Currently there is a lot of work that needs to be done and people are eager to get started. Our first week was spent in Hispania, which is our home base in Panama City where we stay on our days off. The goal of this week was to familiarize our selves with the city and also to get acquainted with the company, the other interns and the directors. We spent the first part of each day completing the root series lessons. These lessons included a reading followed by a series of questions related to the company and our goals. The lesson on Tuesday got me really excited. The reading was related to local businesses and the impact they create socially and economically. After the reading we sat in a circle and answered the questions together as a group. Here are some examples of questions that that were asked during this particular lesson:
-What would encourage you to buy more goods and services from local businesses?
-What currently stands in the way of you buying more from local providers?
-What are the local businesses that should launch the economy for Kalu Yala?
These questions allowed the group to share knowledge and learn about the underlying values of the company. The agriculture department responded to many of these questions with some great ideas. The ability to create a farm and sustain a community through agriculture is a promising response to economic issues. The outdoor recreation crew started to discuss some future plans as well. We discussed future plans to work on some existing trails as well as to create some new trails. The volleyball court in the valley needs to be re-cleared and a new ground made of clay may be used. The climate in Panama supports bio-diversity and plants re-grow so quickly it can be difficult to maintain trails and areas like the volleyball court. In order to appropriately assess the adventure based side of Panama we decided to write a proposal for a business trip to Boquete, which is home to some amazing adventure recreation activities. In Boquete there is a zipline canopy tour, hiking trails, river rafting, mountain biking, kayaking and some of the only climbing venues in Panama. The outdoor recreation program is hoping to sit down with Cesar Melendez who is basically the pioneer of climbing in Panama. He has set all of the routes in Boquete and guides groups frequently. We are hoping to sit down with him for lunch and ask him some questions about the climbing company he created. This trip will also allow us to speak with some people traveling through and have them fill out some surveys we are currently working on. Here is the proposal I wrote and the budget the outdoor recreation interns worked on as a group:
Kalu Yala Outdoor Recreation Initial Business Proposal
Kalu Yala’s 7,000 acres is prime for adventure tourism. With proper research this industry can bring immediate profit to Kalu Yala. In order to create sustainable forms of outdoor recreation in the valley, Kalu Yala needs to assess the tourism industry in Panama and see what has worked for other entities in the surrounding areas.
Boquete is a perfect model for a community who is successfully providing eco-adventures to travelers and residents on a daily basis. Many of the adventures offered in Boquete could be utilized in a similar fashion at Kalu Yala in hopes to create a quick revenue stream. The only way to obtain substantial information on the services provided by companies in Boquete is to visit them first hand. Our research thus far has led us to a hostel in Boquete, which offers services we believe can allow Kalu Yala to prosper. The types of recreation being offered at this hostel and others in Boquete include zip line canopy tours, mountain biking, rock climbing, river rafting, kayaking expeditions, guided hikes, nature tours as well as many other eco-adventures. This trip to Boquete will allow Kalu Yala to assess these various services and gain insight on the logistics behind their risk management plans, management responsibilities, marketing strategies, and how to turn this idea into an immediate source of income. This is a business trip that we believe Kalu Yala can benefit from immensely.
The desire to conserve biodiversity and our natural resources is becoming a common topic of conversation among people all over the world. In order to preserve the natural beauty of the world we must recreate responsibly and create awareness for those who spend time in the backcountry. Through our research we have come to realize that ecotourism allows local people to benefit economically by preserving these habitats more than they could by harvesting them for a short term gain. Ecotourism contributes significantly to conservation especially in areas contained by rainforests. Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries and ecotourism is one of the fastest growing segments. Kalu Yala’s need for adventure-based recreation is a work in progress that could use some immediate attention. This trip to Boquete is going to allow the outdoor recreation interns a chance to gain some vital information on the successes of this community in hopes to implement similar forms of recreation in the valley. We have attached a budget plan, which outlines the expenses included for this trip.
Bus from Panama City to David $15
David to Boquete $5
Local Transportaion $15
Boquete back to David $5
David back to Panama City $15
Hostle $10 (per night)
Jon $6? (for two meals a day)
Rock Climbing and privite meeting with Cesar Mendez $40
Information gathering for adventure tourism $0
Hiking $5 (park entrance)
Grand Total $148
Grand Total for three Recreation Interns
Zac Bron, Zac Long, Jocelynn Nadeau $444
On Monday of week two we departed for the valley. The valley is situated in the countryside of Panama. Before we reached the valley we stopped in San Miguel, which is where our other home is and the base for our community outreach team. We are currently trying to strengthen our relations with the San Miguel community. We had lunch here and then the valley crew hiked into the valley, which is about a mile and a half. When we reached the valley we got acquainted with the area and learned about base camp. This gave us time to assess the camp overall and see what we can do to improve the areas where we eat, sleep and spend our evenings. On day two we got up early and got the ball rolling on some projects to improve base camp. My particular project for the day was to clear the trail to our composting toilet. This gave me a chance to get my hands dirty and work on something that will be beneficial to the group as a whole. The great thing about clearing this trail was that I could use all the brush I raked up for compost. The trail had been previously cleared but re-growth happens very quickly in the jungle. We also had to dig up stumps and any other plants that began to grow back on the trail.
On the third day we started building more shelters and furniture for base camp. This included tables, chairs and benches for people to get comfortable after a long day in the valley heat. It was really nice to get to work with tools and materials I am familiar and also unfamiliar with. Learning how to split bamboo and create walls with it was very primitive and awesome to experience. On this particular day Kari (another intern) and myself built a table to put under the shelter located next to the interns tents. Some other work we completed this day included removing stumps and small plants that are potentially dangerous especially during night when it is easy to over look a stump or rock that you may trip on. Some other interns focused on shelters and began implementing palm leafs which is a great idea for the dry season in Panama. All of these activities gave the interns a chance to work together and accomplish goals.
On Thursday we explored some areas around base camp and got familiar with the land. I also got to speak with Jimmy, the owner of the company, and express my interests and ideas for future plans. After this period of exploration we continued to build up base camp. This was a high point of the valley for me because I got the satisfaction of creating a wall made out of bamboo. Zac Bron, Rob and myself had a systematic approach to building the wall where one of us split the bamboo while the other two nailed it to the supports. At the end of the day we had completed an entire section of a wall. On the last day we hiked out of the valley back to San Miguel. In San Miguel we had a lunch and used some flashcards designed to teach various words in Spanish. After this we headed back to Panama City where we will be spending the next few days doing research for the projects we are eager to start. My personal goals for the next week are as follows:
-Clear the volleyball court
-Finish constructing walls at base camp
-Clear a trail for a bird watching hut
-Explore more of the jungle
-Assist other where assistance is needed
These goals are subject to change and may not be completed entirely this next week but they are long term and areas I would like to develop more thouroughly.