Caquetá: between water and petroleum

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The Department of Caquetá has 471.541 inhabitants, 88.965 square kilometers and 27° C temperature. It is a territory to explore and enjoy. Many of its social leaders, ecotourism operators, community organizations and environmental educators, have left three important lessons for the future of a planet that is at risk because of the environmental destruction.

The first. The tenacity of people to overcome the social stigma. In the collective imaginary, people associate this territory with problems of public order because of the terrorist groups and guerrilla that are operating in the depth of the jungle. Due to this fact, Caquetá usually is not attractive to visitors and tourists who are afraid. Unfortunately and because of fear they lose one of the most wonderful experiences: the beautiful landscapes, the water wealth and the kindness of people from Caquetá.  In our contact with these humble and hard worker people, they are passionate about their work, their optimism is remarkable because they hope that the peace negotiations in La Havana will be successful and help to defeat the social stigma.

The second lesson was learned on a visit to the natural and ecoutourist reserve "Las Dalias" in "La Montañita" town. We went all over the shore of the gorge "Agua Bonita" through a natural path (It has 2 kilometers in length and more than 20 meters in high. On the walls springs out water and at the same time, natural oil that does not contaminate. So the land lies on a "bag" of oil and vast water resources. Alfonso Ovalle, an owner with his family of a farm, made this reflection: 

"This place is suitable for human beings make a decision: we prefer the oil and destroy water, or we choose water, which is the origin and the source of human life".

Alfonso knows about the economic wealth that oil represents, but is deeply committed due to his environmental sensitivity, and he thinks that the present and future of humanity does not depend on the black gold, but the water.

The nature reserve "El Horeb", crossed by the Sarabando river, is another journey that raises the sacred and magic sense of nature, that has worked for billions of years. Guillermo Vargas and his partners take care of nature and have discovered more and more paths and secrets that surprise themselves and tourists. A formation of rock stones took the shape of a "womb", this geographical curiosity is told by Guillermo in a very special way, so tourists and visitors feel a new and second birth.

Third lesson. Travel on the "Marco Polo" ferry through the "Orteguaza" River and commanded by Rubén Darío Polo, a kind and generous man who represents the idiosyncrasies of these people. It was a learning experience about the meaning of these rivers and places for every human being. Ruben Dario is first of all, an environmental educator, especially if we take into account the damage that is causing the 'El Niño' phenomenon.

We owe much a lot of gratitude to Cristian Edilma Paredes Gonzalez from the Foundation "Maguaré" (3214473588), a woman dedicated to the promotion of tourism and environmental education. She was taking care of us since we got out from Armenia, during our trips and return. Thank you 'Cris' for this.

If Government and economic elites act the same, there will be a lot to contribute to save this planet.

William García Rodríguez

Taken from: Crónica del Quindío, posted on 19-January-2016
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