How Tourism Changed My Life: A True Story by Marilyn Velásquez Alvarado

How Tourism Changed My Life: A True Story by Marilyn Velásquez Alvarado

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Thank you so much to everyone for joining us today. I'm thrilled to have you all here. My name is Angie Drake. I am the owner of We have a website   where we share information about traveling in South America, especially Andean Nations like Ecuador and Peru. Part of my job a few years ago or a couple of years ago, I started doing more sustainable tourism consulting, working with different companies to help them attract an aligned audience, the types of clients that really  bring value to a trip in that they respect local cultures, they want to work with local guides, they want to learn and understand the people that they're visiting. And it's been a joy doing that and as I started that work. I began to realize there's a lot of stories out there to be told and that they're not reaching a broader audience.

So, today is the second in our series How Tourism Changed My Life. I am thrilled to be here with   Marilyn Velásquez Alvarado. I'm going to let her  talk about herself but I do want to let you know   that I met Marilyn through another friend  in Peru, Patricia Deva... Deza sorry,   and she also works in tourism in the Arequipa  area and this is how tourism works.    Tourism for good works because people who are already working in tourism are sharing stories of other people   working in tourism. We're not competing with each  other to get each other's clients. We're helping   each other to get more clients and it isn't a  competition. It's more of a collaboration and,  

as we see tourism turning into more collaborative  ways, I think we're going to see more success for   everybody. So Marilyn, let me go ahead and start  this for you. We're gonna share the screen. Just slightly off. Can everybody see this  screen that says How Tourism Changed My Life?   Give me a thumbs up. We've got a thumbs  up. Okay Marilyn. Oh I've got.. I think   something is in the way here. There we go. Okay  are we ready to go? Yes. Yes, welcome Marilyn.   Welcome, Angie and thank you so much for this  opportunity. Good morning and good afternoon,  

everybody. I hope you are well as far as possible.   I am happy to share with you this moment and of  course when Angie too for explaining you how the   tourism changed my life and I hope that the time you are giving me is productive for all of you.   Well, I'm Marilyn Velazquez Alvarado I'm from Leymebamba when I visiting beautiful place like this   Laguna De guaman Pata is in my region I feel like  anything it's possible is the large part of why   I continue working in tourism but how did I get  here. The past, the path wasn't been an easy one. I was born in Leymebamba in this small town. It is in the north of Peru there are about

3871 inhabitants. It's a beautiful place  with a big mountains. We have two rivers, wonderful new song and  archaeological places and it's possible to stay   or have experience with a community for  example with cooking class or a textile experience.   It is two hours from the city of Chachapoyas  and it will take me two days to take the bus   from Lima to my hometown. Yeah it's so hard  the trip by bus but fortunately we have a comfortable buses in Peru. That's a long day, a  long two days, so travel just to get home from your capital city.. it's incredible. Yes, yeah. Yeah,  but would most tourists actually take the bus?   and now it's possible to take the plane. For  example, Lima to Chachapoyas directly is one hour   and 45 minutes and then two hours by by combi to  my town. Combi is like a minibus but other way is  

Lima to hang is 1 hour 30 minutes  and then 5 hours to Lleymebamba. 4 hours to Chachapoyas. So  you were born in Lleymebamba... I was fortunate to have two very  strong and important woman in my life.  

First, it's my grandmother in Peru. Like  say that was a little for example Abuelita...   a little ending ether on the word abuela Abuelita She is Mercedes. She was born with a gift. She  was a midwife who could harness the power of   the plants to heal bones and to diseases. She never  went to the school because in her time education   was only for boys. She was a life-giving  woman. Happy, lovely and strong and a Warrior too.   You could hear her singing the verse or  yaravies is the like a traditional   songs in my in my town. When we went to  fields to bring food for the guinea pigs  

and or when she walking village to village  for her way to deliver the future babies.   You have really good memories of your grandma  and these songs... yeah, I spent   a wonderful moment with her and she died  when I was seven years old. Who is this other  

woman who was important? Is my is my mom Elisa  she worked since she was very young in different   jobs and when she had her children, even more so.  She only had two years of the formal education,   in the elementary school... Two years? Yeah only two  years. Okay and the first two years and sometimes I   try teaching her to read or write and she say, it's  not necessary because I know what I need to know. Okay, yeah it's fine for you but it's okay. She  raised all her children with the help of my Abuelita   my grandmother and my father was not in  the in the picture. She always told me  

that I should study to be a good woman.  Yeah, it's the same for my other sisters and that's why when my mother passed away seven  months ago, I struggled to keep things going.   And having her die just as life was beginning  to look normal again, brought back all of the   doubts and question that come up during the  pandemic. The one that I keep asking myself   over and over was should I continue working in  tourism? But why I think about this because   I'm not feeling good sometimes and I'm sad and decide  for a few months living in the booth.. bubble   and I did a bubble you were living yeah yeah  because it did that to a lot of us I think we can   really empathize... With the Covid it's not like  this but I thinking how it's possible because   the travel the travel is don't come my country.  But when my dad my mom died, it's it's so hard  

because I'm thinking how can I talk with a tourist,  how can I Inspire them to come to my region and how   can I can talk with our partners in the  community if I'm not feeling good? It's it's   like uh yeah maybe I'm not talk with a true or  something like that. But in this time I met Angie   and she asked me to put together my story it gave  me the opportunity to to truly reflect on why   I started working in tourism in the first place. I  started with my first trip far away from from home. My first trip away from what happened  before I went to University. I left Leymebamba to go to high school in Trujillo.  The town is was 12 hours by bus.   I left because my mom wanted to me a better  opportunity. My first year in Trujillo was  

difficult because I couldn't no longer go out  to play when I wanted to because when I lived in   Leymebamba like a free... climbing, jumping, staying in the  river in the nature playing all the time of course   study too and I missed my mom. The other kids at  the school made fun of the way I spoke because we   our accent in the mountain, it's so  different the accent the people in the coast.  

so when I started college I already knew  what is why I like to live away from home. After high school, I wanted to study business  administration but when I applied to the National   University of Trujillo I didn't get in. So with my  mom and my other older sister encouraged me to   all the way I tried again and this time  I applied to for the degree in tourism.   And it ended up being the perfect fit.

The college was better than the high  school and part of why it was better it was   I began to travel in my own in my own country  and discover an experience in the the part of   Peru that International tourists knew better  than the people like me know come from the   towns hours or days aways from the big cities.  I graduate with a degree in in tourism finally. (laughter) One year before I finished the  college I found a job different from   the ones I had had before, as a waitress  in the vegetarian restaurant in Huanchaco.   One day when I was working at a double shift, my  boss Janika said to me Marilyn sit down for a   moment and rest. Tell me what do you want to drink  and I will bring it to you and it's the weird  

answer for me I didn't know how to respond that  because in yeah, in my country when you work   you're you're never at your employer expect you  work throughout your shift and will never think   for offer for being for drink or eat something  when you are working, but with Janika it's so   different because she's from Holland and thought  differently. And she taught me a lot about respect.   She knew the moment when I was ready for more  responsibility and made sure I had opportunities   to grow at my in my work. After two years,  I was running the restaurant alongside to   other women all because she saw something in  in me. But all the time, I have doubts about my   my capacity, but she all the time know how yeah who  we are and where how it's possible make the better   job. Yeah, I want to talk just a little bit  more to make sure that that this point gets   across because of how important Janika was in  changing the way you thought about yourself.  

Yeah. The idea I think for a lot of Americans,  we understand when we go to work we're given  15-minute breaks, we're told to eat a lunch break   you had never experienced this in Peru. You would  never... No, no because we work all the time yeah you   have the time for take your lunch or dinner but  is in an other part you know how is the time for   take the lunch but in this part she asked me about... she asked me how I feeling, how I want and   she's saw I'm tired possibility and say yeah take  your time and rest. That is the, yeah the different   way the business come in my in my country... She  treated you like a real person who has emotions   and feelings and was having a long, hard day  and she saw a moment to... Yeah... Yeah. She all the  

time look for for her employees and she said the  business is not only for keeping money, it's how you   put you your energy and give opportunities around  your business, in the for example in one in Huanchaco   with other organization. I like this this part... I love this story this part of your story and   I think it's key to where you went next. Yeah, the  restaurant made me brave. In 2008 I started my   first travel agency with my friend Carol. She is in the  picture. We are in Cajamarca. We sell the the trips   in Huanchaco, Trujillo, Pura and in my region too. The  experience in contact with a community, the nature,   of course the archaeological places too. And one  year later we start for create a coffee shop in my region in Chachapoya

with a propose to show the best products,  have the farmers in my in my region, the   handicraft. The idea is promote the idea  is promote the slow food and fair trade. Ten years later, by 2018, I was specializing  in the transformative and generative, regenerative...   yep yeah it's a tough word... and I will my work at  home was fulfilling. It was travel abroad through   the uh through me the greatest lesson of all. I think I love more my country and my town and   my region when I travel in other countries. For  example, when I went in Colombia or Ecuador or  

Alemania or France I yeah I learned more about  my my country. Yeah maybe sounds weird but it's   I think that's good yeah. When you were working  at this travel agency that you had started you   had an opportunity to apply for a scholarship  to travel abroad. Yeah, yeah this is a great uh   travel because it's the first time I flew in  the in the plane because when I travel in my   country all the time I travel by bus, even  the the travel is longer. For example, when  

I was the first time to Cusco I traveled for 48  hours by bus, but never I take the plane. When I   went in Ecuador is by bus too. When I went to to  Japan is yeah the first time the take the flight.   When I was 31 years old, is the first time I saw  the snow. and I yeah the really nice experience   sometime I'm playing in the snow and try to  make it the angel like the movies. [Laughter]  

And on the trip I learned in this trip,  I learned to that true meaning of love.   and the surin from the man who is now my husband.  This is Francisco Javier and me in the picture.   This was the trip that truly transformed my  my life. So first first plane trip, first snow,   and your husband... not your first husband, your only husband. Yeah, my only husband.   Yeah A big adventure because I never have experienced  the real family, Dad and Mom. Yeah that's right , 

you didn't have a dad in your life so this was, this was a new experience for you. Yeah, exactly.   But after my mother died seven months ago, I  wondered if I wanted to work in tourism anymore   even after having such wonderful life-changing  experience. Then I started thinking of the lesson   that she taught me. She was a strong and kind.  She persevered. She was an adventure by nature.  

When she was 13 years old years old, she ventured  out in the peque peque. It's a small boat like canoa   because she was she had to work in the town far  from home. Then at 15, she traveled in the bed   of the pickup truck as is the costume in the  rural Peru where few people own their own cars.  

After the age of 40, she traveled by bus to Trujillo  to visit my sister because they were the first to   leave a home to have a better future. After the  79, she had the the courage to fly the first   time across the world to visit her son-in-law,  her grandson and me here in Sevilla. We wanted   to her to know where we live and for her to live  a new experience because she knows only my town Leymbamba, Chachapoyas, Lima. But we we want to give her the  opportunity to know other countries.   She was always faithful for her  convictions and faithful for her for the rights.

My mother support and constant  remember that I need to move to grow   was that pushed me towards tourism in the  first place. Without her I never would have   traveled to Trujillo, never would have to toured  my own country, never had left it to found my own husband and tourism changed my life but it  was my mother that changed it more. Sorry and   I think... It's okay. I remember when we  were working on this part and this was  

what we call an epiphany in English, that moment of  understanding about something that we never really   could, yeah, it put to words before and when when  these words happened you were like, oh my goodness   that is the truth. That's the truth I didn't  I didn't understand. Tourism has changed my   life but it was my mother that changed it  more. Yeah, because she yeah if she never   think about giving me the opportunities, I'm not  here in Sevilla, maybe I'm staying Leymbamba with yeah worker, maybe like her with so many  childs. I don't know. Yeah and today I'm proud to   say that my business embodies the values my mother  taught me: joy, integrity, courage, authenticity and   compassion. Yeah, I think this is my values and  I put in our company too. It's a great gift your   mother gave you and it's a gift that you're  giving all of us through your business. Yeah

and today I'm probably offered transformative  travel experience to individual and small group   waiting to visit, let you know part of Peru in  Chachapoyas and Amazon and in Amazonas region. We have   never experienced mass tourism. I guarantee  an immersive journey where ancient culture, modern   traditions and Mother Nature unite. Let's take  a quick look at my website to inspire you to  

imagine what your next trip mean to light. So this  is Marilyn's website for Nuevos Caminos Travel.   Yeah, we we in the website, you find six different trips with... all is in contact with a   nature with a community but if you need something  for customized trip, it's possible design for you.   And we have, we work with hostels, hotels and  home stays near the nature with the farmers, artisans...   When you have more time later or other day,  you can explore our website and know more about   us and how we work in our community and how we  involve the protect our culture and the nature.   Would you like to choose one of these to show us  just a little bit? Yeah... for example experiential

is the fourth one. This one here. yeah This is the most popular trip, our trip. You  can visit the first time the in Churuja, know how   our ancestor prepared the traditional food  when they need travel to other town. Now we call  

box lunch, really because when it's a long time, take  your long time the trip, you keep a box lunch they   keep a different kind of food. You learn about  this and then visit Karajía is a sarcophagos,   Huancas with a wonderful views, the canyon and  stay the experience with the, with the women for   creates foods, for example. And Cuela too. In Leymebamba, it's possible visit the fourth day. The museum, they have a 200 mummies and different  material archaeological materials. Did   you say 200 mummies? Yeah. Why are there so  many mummies? Because the archaeological   found in the Laguna De Los Condores in the  mausoleos and the tombs and they have a yeah   so many mummies with a archaeological things.  I think this is something that people don't   understand about Peru. When they see Peru, everyone  automatically gravitates towards Machu Picchu and  

it makes perfect sense. It's been a National  Geographic. It's the pictures are everywhere.   When I looked for a backdrop today and I looked  for a Peru backdrop, all I could find was Machu   Picchu, Machu Picchu, Machu Picchu. Yeah. But Peru is  so rich in culture and here, hours, days away from   Machu Picchu, you have your own archaeological  ruins. Are they Incan ruins or are they from pre-Incan peoples? No, Chachapoya culture. The Chachapoya culture. and this is something I think that.. The Men of the Clouds because they (the men of the clouds, oh, that's beautiful) because they built in the the places  in the the top of the mountain for example   or find the sarcophagus. The Carajía is in  the middle of the mountain in Laguna De Los   Condores. Yeah. So there's there's rich history,  we found this throughout the Andes there were  

peoples before the Inca in most places and that  those stories are not very well known to people   even sometimes within Peru or within Ecuador that it's not always talked about a lot the ancient   history that took place in so many places. I'm so  glad that you are focusing on this in your tourism.   I think it's a wonderful opportunity for people  to get to know a different part of Peru and in a   different way and even if they've never been to  Peru, to consider starting their journey in Peru   at a place like this to get a different broader  experience that sometimes Machu Picchu, which   is wonderful, can feel very touristy because  there's so many people nowadays trying to visit.   Yeah, I know that Machu Picchu is the most popular  but it's possible to stay more more time in my   country. Yeah, first visit, for example my region  and they finish your trip in in Machu Picchu   because the Inca culture is important now too.  But yeah we have more archaeological places, more   traditional communities and different experiences  in my country and it's it's nice to visit us   and discover sorry and  discover this part of Peru. Yeah, because I would like to  thank you Mia Jarret, an amazing coach   who helped me to reconnect with my purpose  and my values and of course and help me to   improve the strategy marketing our, in our  platform, virtual platform and for yeah stay in more contact with our customers or  future clients. Tell us a little bit about who  

Meritt, who Mia Jarrett is. Yeah she's the woman  I met in the program from the enjoy in Canada   in Canadian Canadian for head of Empower  Woman and I work with her for like two months for   restructure our enterprise but  not only our enterprise just   connect with you because we are the the  soul our company, if you are good, your company   is good and your family is good too. I love  this work with a integral work. Yeah like a   holistic part, yeah, when yeah and the Enterprise.  And I strongly believe in that as well. When you   are presenting your business values, you're going  to attract the same types of people looking to   practice those values as well and then everybody's  happier with the final tourism product. We you know   they come on a trip they have the expectations  of those values. You offer them. You provide them.   They have a good time. They write good reviews. Yeah.  When they don't have a good time, if something goes  

wrong, they're much more likely to reach out to you  directly and explain to you, hey this this part of   the trip could have... and then it's so much better  working with people that understand what their...   yeah... like the final journey can look like. Yeah. I  wondered if anybody has any questions for Marilyn? I think we do not have any questions today and  that's okay. This has been a wonderful opportunity  

and I'm so glad we got to share Marilyn's story  today. And thank you for inviting me is the   yeah... it's the good way for practice my English  too because... It is a good way to practice. Oh and   that actually brought up the one question I  did have. If somebody would like to come visit   and purchase one of your tours,  how important is it that they speak Spanish? Yeah, it's important to know the the basic words  for connect with the people but our guys   speaking in English and French too. yeah English  and in French too. That's good to know. It's not   it's not a problem but it's nice when you connect  with the people and say for example gracias, hola,   adios, mucho gusto, qué rico. Yeah. Qué rico, how delicious.  Yeah, very nice thing to say after a really good  

meal. No I think that's wonderful so I hope that  we are able to convince more people to visit Chachapoyas   and your hometown as well to take advantage of  these wonderful tours that you have designed and   to meet some of the wonderful guides that are  local and thank you so much for your time   today Marilyn for everyone else thank you so  much for joining us today. If you would like   to tell your tourism story I would love for you  to reach out. We have a comment from Deb in   the comments. She says it's on my list now which  is wonderful to know and we hope to put this   destination on more lists so that people can get  to know parts of Peru that are lesser known and   not talked about very often and that Marilyn will  have the opportunity to meet so many more people.   Oh and Jasmine says I've been there twice  and it was so worth it. Jasmine oh even better  

than Machu Picchu we hope that Jasmine maybe will  visit once again. Maybe she'll bring new friends.   Which would be absolutely great. Thanks  so much for all of your participation today.   I'm gonna go ahead and sign off and thank you  so much. We will be sending out a survey that I   hope you guys will be able to answer to help us  know how to improve these events in the future.   Have a great day! Bye-bye thank  you. Bye-bye, thank you. Bye

2023-07-03 05:08

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