‘Do you see the lights on the square, the cars coming and going?’ asks Roberto excited, a 38-year-old Peruvian, while we’re sitting outside on a (bank) on the central square of Nuevo Tingo. ‘A year ago, after sunset the village would be death, except for the sound of the wind, but look now, the moon is out, and so are the villagers!’
Only five years ago he moved from Lima, the capital, to the small village in the mountains up north, to find rest and peace. However, one year ago everything changed in the village. The transformation is still going on, construction works are reviving the old village: new streets and street lightning, renovated houses, even the value of the existing houses rose spectacular.
A new Cusco
‘They want to make a second Cusco of the village,’ explains Roberto. Since Cusco [but actually Aguascalientes] is the gateway to the famous Inca ruins of Machu Pichu, Nuevo Tingo [actually the old Tingo] is the gateway to Kuelap. The biggest pre-Inca ruins formation in South America.
As Kuelap is located on top of the mountains, 3000 meters high, and 1000 meters above the village, the national government invested in a cable car. The cable car should facilitate easy access to the ancient site, and hence take away the last barrier to reach the historic treasure of the area.
In the end, publicity campaigns should attract tourists from other mayor touristic attractions in the country, since most tourists nowadays stick to the southern part of the country.
Mind the Transformation
Every street in Nuevo Tingo is under construction, the construction sites create local jobs, as does the cable car, and the vendors around the cable car and around the ruins.
But watching this happen, I wonder what the long-term impact of this transformation will be, the final impact on the villagers of Nuevo Tingo.
Will they eventually gain by the rise of tourism? Or will they one day be overwhelmed, becoming strangers in their own village, or might the rising economy attract foreign investment and make the property prices rise as such that locals are forced to move out, creating gentrification problems.
Let’s hope the Mayor of Nuevo Tingo and the national government take this kind of considerations into account before fulfilling the transformation of Nuevo Tingo into a Nuevo Cusco.