There’s a New Mayor in Town: A Profile of Pablo Tadeo Cillia of Vicos, Peru

Pablo Tadeo Cillia Vicos Peru

By Tammy Leland, Crooked Trails Co-founder & Intl. Program Director

Pablo Tadeo Cillia Vicos PeruMy first night at 13,000 feet in the Andean village of Vicos, Peru was spent on the floor of a small mud house that was attached to the home of a young Quechua family. The father was the youngest member of the community tourism committee and his young wife was pregnant with their second child. His huge smile, soft eyes, distinctive high cheekbones and the respect he received from the elders in the community set him aside immediately. The 10 families involved in the community-based tourism project looked to him for ideas, and Pablo Tadeo Cillia enthusiastically organized and planned the future of tourism in his community.

Pablo and I became fast and very good friends. We talked a lot about family, farming, tourism and entrepreneurship. He was very interested in new ideas to advance his community’s education and health care. I was there the day that electricity came to the village, a project that he had spearheaded with the mayor, and I sat and watched his family in amazement when they turned on the one light bulb that dangled at the end of an electric cord, barely illuminating their dark kitchen.

Pablo's family Vicos PeruWith each passing year, a new baby came into the family and a new addition was added to his house to accommodate travelers interested in a deeper cultural exchange. Being one of those travelers, I loved the relationship he had with his wife and children. So loving, so happy.

Due to his unstoppable thirst for learning, Pablo accompanied me to other villages around Peru. He would bring back ideas from the jungle, the coast and the cloud forest that were unknown to his village. I remember once returning home to Vicos with him from a high jungle town with a different variety of chicken and a species of corn never planted in the highlands. Pablo was determined to bring new ideas to his community.

The day he built his fish hatchery, he appeared like a young child. Jumping up and down, he giggled with glee as he explained the economics of raising small trout. This childlike enthusiasm continued when he subsequently turned his focus to bee-keeping,  then to alternative energy projects, and eventually to becoming Mayor of Vicos.

I am greeted like family when I enter Pablo’s home. His five children, his beautiful wife Lucy and I now keep in touch over Facebook and plan for the next time I will visit and the projects we will work on together. Pablo continues to work at retaining the rich traditions of the past while leading his community of Vicos into a sustainable future. When I asked him recently about his vision moving ahead, he told me –

“I have initiated a new undertaking for community-based tourism, but with an objective to care for the environment, water, the Mountain Gods (Los Apus in the local Quechua language) and Mother Earth, and to recover the culture of our ancestors as well as to conserve our future.

There are many questions regarding community-based tourism in our community and the Ancash region. There are many problems to face and we continue to keep following the path to better tourism without giving up. I will continue to keep following this path even now as mayor of our community.  This is still one of my greatest initiatives. In addition, my first proposal as mayor is to construct a multi-use community center where we can come and share our thoughts of a way to better the quality of life in my community of Vicos.”

Pablo is just one of the many people who make our time in Peru special, personal and meaningful. Visitors to Vicos come away with indelible memories after staying in the home of a family such as Pablo’s and being welcomed into their lives. Click here to learn more about staying in Vicos during a travel program in Peru.

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