Santos & Virgilio

After hiking Amboro, spending many long hours with soggy boots and trying my best to keep my backpack dry alongside our guides Santos and Virgilio, I began to notice a palpable similarity between our ever-smiling guides and another storied group of local guides whose home is on the opposite side of the world. It is safe to say that men like Santos and Virgilio make the trek back and forth through Amboro day in and day out, all the while carrying food for tourists and always seeming quite happy with doing whatever they can to cater to the tourists’ needs.. very reminiscent of the sherpas who guide expeditions through the Himalayas, no?

Knowing how many of the Sherpas in the Himalayas feel about tourism and especially how they feel about the way tourists do or do not respect the ancient traditions and beliefs surrounding the mountains, I cannot help but feel that guides like Santos and Virgilio harbor at least some degree of similar feelings when it comes to tourists who enter their forest. What mistakes may I have made regarding their culture and traditions that they may have noticed? Of course, I would never knowingly make such mistakes, but surely it happened nonetheless. Regardless, Santos and Virgilio went on smiling; but if I did indeed make a wrong move, I wish nothing more that they had said something to me about it.

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One thought on “Santos & Virgilio

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  1. I think the comparison between your guides and sherpas is really interesting. I, too, often wonder what our “guides” are thinking as they show us around different places. Amboro is certainly not as remote and/or extreme as the Himalayas, but the realities are similar: They live (in large part) from tourism, which puts them in a very different kind of interpersonal relationship. What do they think about tourists who both want to see “pristine” nature and also demand “comfort”? That must be a difficult balance. How does someone break through that to establish more “pure” relationships between guide and tourist?

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