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Miriam Simbaña

“When you are attended to well, you feel like you’re part of the family”

Miriam has worked as a waitress at Mashpi Lodge for four years. Her smile is her trademark, in spite of a work timetable that demands that she spends a lot of time away from her family. Her husband has been an amazing support in the care and raising of their children, while she brings in the financial stability for their home.

How did you become involved with Mashpi Lodge?

They weren’t so much looking for people with lots of training and experience, as for people who really wanted to work and learn, and that motivated me to come and try and get a job here.

I was first employed as a cook but my daughters were very small and it was difficult to work the shifts of 10 days in a row that they require here. So they gave me the opportunity to be a waitress. I love what I do and what I have experienced, because although I’ve lived in the area for a long time, I’d never seen anything so spectacular. Despite living close to the countryside we forget to appreciate nature.

What do tourists say to you about their visit?

People take away with them our happiness, our friendliness – that’s what they need when they are outside their own country. They value kindness and I think that when you are attended to well, you feel like you’re part of the family. I treat my guests how I’d like to be treated in a foreign country. Many people who have returned say to me, ‘You’re still here!’ In turn, I take away from visitors the generosity to teach us their language and the confidence that they give us that we really can learn it.

How has this project changed the surrounding natural environment?

A decade ago this was a forest destruction and logging zone, and when we received the BBC team for the documentary that they made, they told us that they never imagined that there would be something so spectacular in our country, even though they had travelled to lots of places around the world. This country has so much to show off in its nature, that’s what they told us.

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