One morning, I sat with Geovanny, the general manager of Sani Lodge, to learn more about his life and his work. I wondered what it was like for him to be an indigenous person with responsibility for ensuring the success of the lodge and, by extension, preservation of the natural resources and traditions of his community.
He told me that at a very young age, his father and he would go every morning up the river by canoe, padding for up to two hours, to get to his school. His father knew how important it was for Geovanny to get an education, no matter how difficult. As a young adult, Geovanny continued his studies, self-funding college and graduate school. His motivation every day, he told me, is to work for the people of the community so that they can thrive – not for his family alone, but for the entire community.
“The community is one big family,” he says with conviction.
An Impressive Team
To get to the Sani Lodge from Quito, you take a short flight to Coca and then board a boat up the river into the rain forests. All of these travel arrangements are made for each visitor by the Sani Lodge team. You can imagine the systems and ingenuity required between the Quito staff and the staff at the lodge to ensure each visitor arrives safely.
I spent a week interviewing each staff member because they want my help planning marketing promotions for the year. We are also working together to determine how to make their processes easier and more efficient. Marketing is the easy part. Refining processes are much harder. It sounds overwhelming, but I know that once we start picking apart how each team member is doing things – their “ways of working” – we should be able to pinpoint some areas that could be improved.
Together, we are focused on making practical and easy fixes. A lot of things in Ecuador are still done on paper, mainly because the government’s systems for accounting and reporting is still done on paper. Everyone in the office is technology savvy, even though their computers may not be the most up-to-date. We aim to leverage the resources they have, and they work the paper system with finesse and efficiency.
I’m really enjoying getting to know this team of about 12 people. Each morning, I am greeted with a smile, a hug or a kiss on the cheek, and a warm “buenos dias.” It’s not just me. This greeting is exchanged among the team. Every morning. Lunch is eaten together every day in the kitchen. The team works long days, and it can be stressful, but yet there is a congeniality, almost a family atmosphere. Why not? So much time together, it makes sense.
As part of our continuing work with the indigenous Amazonian community of Sani Isla in Ecuador, Deborah Tompkins is sharing a travelogue of her experiences as an American in the Amazon. Deb’s company, Sage Point, works with NGOs in Africa, Asia and now Latin America to develop and execute marketing and communication strategies. She is donating her time and expertise to support RP and the Sani Warmi community. We invite you to join Deb as she introduces you to the people, the community, their Amazon ecolodge, and their forest home.
#ExperienceTheAmazon #TravelAmazon #Ecuador #SaniLodge