It is an absolute delight to see how a group of people can be so self managed, where everything in sight is used as either food or a medicine. Arguably the most surprising thing was the level of choice that Las Tolas has, being spoilt enough to have a choice of four types of lemons, two types of coffee and three types of cabbage. They have even found a use for Stinging Nettles as a remedy for pain. If you have stomach problems, children will rub a cluster of nettles on there arm to focus the pain on that part of their body and also bring blood to the surface of their skin.
In the past few years this community has become open to the idea of inviting tourists to see their way of life in nature and the culture. By this, the people have agreed to show, on a very real basis, how life is lived in the Cloud Forest and have subsequently put on a range of activities to do.
Las Tolas (meaning workshop) runs a small company just below the main road making bracelets and jewellery using nothing but the resources from forest. The company has gone torrid time over the years with several large companies using their power over small time communities to take advantage, meaning that they now face huge debts. This has not soured the attitude of the people, however, who are only too pleased to welcome and show outsideres how to make your own jewellery.
Famous not only for its workshop a trip through the forest itself provides amazing views and a deep and interesting insight into the workings of an eco-system in full flow. From the coffee we drink, to the lemons we suck after a tequila shot, you can see where these everyday items actually come from to the very seed. The track ends in a waterfall, which when under, acts as a proficient masseuse that relaxes you from head to toe.
A walk up and down the town which is scattered between the trees and the thickets of the cloud forest will present you with an eerie portrayal of how these people live and how they exist. There is rarely the sound of an engine or any other artificial noise. The sound of rain is just a soporific patter on your anorak.
In what the community calls the stadium, exists only a soccer pitch with a few benched on the side. It looks over the treetops of the forest in a crazy location to have an arena of sport, but I was told that it is used regularly in a soccer mad town where tournaments are played weekly.
The large majority of the population are children (under 16), which means you often see a group in the street chasing a ball around. Despite being a three hour walk from the nearest town the children are well educated, with many of them speaking an impressive level of English, despite being shy at first.
The community is very safe and has a wonderful atmosphere of friendship which shapes a community that they build themselves on where everything is done together as one, be it picking up rubbish to planting tree.