By Jessa Pillipow, Sustainable Tourism Volunteer

As the height of the tourist season wanes and fewer busloads of tourists roll through the Plaza de Armas every week, the sustainable tourism team is taking advantage of the downtime to carry out education and trainings. Through these trainings and the experience they gain welcoming visitors, the women assume more responsibility for hosting tourists every year.

Volunteer Erin Faltermeier designed and led a series of trainings in Patacancha this past month to improve the homestay experience. The women discussed how to ensure a positive experience for tourists in home stays, which are currently offered as a part of our Weaving Immersion Weekends.They learned about different diets and brainstormed together different meals that they could prepare for visitors with alternative diets such as gluten-free or vegan. Luckily potatoes, the staple food of Patacancha, work with all of the different diets! Elena, the group’s elected tourism leader, suggested that it would be helpful for the women to learn some common Spanish phrases, so Erin incorporated a short Spanish lesson into our final session.

The women were always engaged and attentive during the trainings. Although some spun yarn with their pushkas during the sessions, they’re so practiced in the art that it hardly diverted their attention! Erin, who led the sessions, stated, “I enjoy every opportunity that I receive to make the trek up to Patacancha to work with the women and to learn from them what we can do to improve tourism at Awamaki.”

Jessa Pillipow is completing a six month internship with the Sustainable Tourism Program after completing her degree in International Development. She is currently working on a Womens’ Empowerment Workshop for the women of our cooperatives.