Sept 2017 - A Dream Come True
Updated: Jan 27, 2018
La Mesenia village has always been a difficult place to reach. The one vehicle road track was built over 30 years ago and advanced very slowly apparently due to the difficulty of the terrain. The end of the road was until recently over 2 miles away. Anyone wanting to visit would have to walk or do it by horse or mule to were the local jeeps could pick them up. This place was known as "La Punta", where the late Don Eusebio used to live (photo below).
Also, La Mesenia is traversed by the San Juan Antioquia river which is also the boundary of the municipalities of Jardin and Andes. Therefore, little is done by the Majors of the towns of Jardin and Andes, since they allege laws would be violated if they invest on a village from another municipality. Additionally, La Mesenia was for many years caught in the cross-fire between insurgent groups and the Colombian military forces. Sadly, many villagers were falsely accused of pertaining to guerrilla groups and were killed. These factors have contributed to the isolation of the village and most inhabitants have to look for work in nearby places as producing anything comes at a very high cost.
In May 2017, THC proposed to the Community Action Board a plan to open the road by hiring
local stakeholders and paying them for their labor. The response was extraordinary and groups of 8 to 10 people, lead by our park ranger Jorge Jaramillo, worked from Monday to Friday on this project that finalized in August 2017. Nearly 500 "jornales" or one person's work day were spent and the result was superb.
Vehicles can now reach the sugar mill that had been built 20 years ago and was not operating due to the high cost of transporting everything by mule. Also the road arrives at the newly revamped bridge over the San Juan Antioquia river. That will be a separate story worth telling. My hat is off to the community at La Mesenia that proved to everyone that with hard work and commitment, dreams come true. No one ever believed this could be done, let alone without the use of heavy machinery.
A demolition hammer and an electric power plant was used to tear down the rocky outcrops.
Other groups widened the path with picks and shovels
The removal of boulders was a group effort with people of all ages participating to reach the same goal. A testament of the tenacity, determination and hard work by everyone involved.
And finally, a first ever. We can now reach the reserve station in a Polaris Crew, six passenger off-road vehicle. This will allow us to move easily between the Olinguito and Mesenia-Paramillo reserves, allowing us to explore more areas.