Feedback from a reader

A very interesting comment arrived to our previous post that we thought should be posted. Thank you Laura for the effort!

I just got back from the Mirador and am happy to see that someone has posted this information. We ran into a lot of trouble because we had booked a tour through Humberto (listed above) because a friend recommended him. On the morning we were to leave DIPRONA (the protected areas police) and representatives from the cooperativa were blocking our entrance onto the trail.

They have passed a rule and are being supported by CONAP (council for protected areas) to only allow licensed guides from INGUAT lead trips. The only people who are licensed work for the coop. This means that only people from the coop can take you.

I agree with these comments that if you have the time, speak spanish, and want to support an example of community led conservation and tourism that you go to Carmelita and try to find a way to work with the cooperative to negotiate something cheaper. Otherwise just book with the travel agency and you will not have a headache from seeing a community being torn apart by regulations to protect the land around them.

What we ended up doing was spending 3 extra days in Carmelita staying in Humerto's house while we worked out a compromise. I don't think the coop wants to work with other people in the community. They have a list of members and have a rotation for who gets work next. Humberto wanted to be our mule driver out of his cycle. We ended up paying 1,000Q for the guide and going through Humberto for everything else. I don't think that the coop was happy about this compromise but we had already paid him through bank transfer and did not feel it was fair to take the money from him just to give it to his neighbor.

The people who do work for the coop are paid a fair wage and are ensured dividends twice a year but what the coop earns. We paid Q1,000 for the guide. He got Q700 of that and Q300 went to the costs of administration of the coop. This is why it creates friction in the community because people don't understand why money should pay for a secretary to sit in front of a computer. Also only people who have done a 7 month course can be a registered guide so it is not easy for illiterate people who have been working as guides for years to become legal.

Don't let this stop you from going. It is beautiful. However as most beautiful ecosystems left in the world there are a lot of external pressures that are making the regulations even more important. Unfortunately it is causing struggles in the community of Carmelita.