After forcing a mining operation to leave town in 1997, the 46 families of Junin, a remote village in northern Ecuador, decided to have a go at ecotourism to protect the rainforest around them — and to earn a living. But now a growing number of the residents are questioning that choice. The paradise of orchids, hummingbirds, and jaguars is no consolation to residents who aren’t happy about the village’s continued lack of electricity, telephones, running water, and paved roads. Only about three families are able to earn a living through ecotourism, while the rest are subsistence farmers. “The ecologists love the nature here and they love the fact that it’s so remote,” said resident Tarquino Vallejos. “But the fact is that not one child in the community can go to secondary school. We don’t have a school past sixth grade, and nobody here has enough money to send their child to another city.” Some villagers feel mining might now be a better alternative.
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