The road to triumph
The Paz Family are Natives of the Canton Baños de Agua Santa which is a little town nestled in the skirts of Tungurahua, an active volcano. Struggling socioeconomically to provide and care for their seven children, our parents, Manuel Paz and Teresa Villafuerte were forced to migrate in order to search for better work opportunities. Forty-five years ago they moved to the region of Ecuador known as el noroccidente in the Province of Pichincha, a subtropical region located 2 hours northwest of Quito. Even though money was in short supply, our parents ensured that each of us completed at least primary school. We had to work from an early age, losing much of our childhood and adolescence, but our parents taught us the values of respect, honor, integrity and to strive for your dreams. Our dream was to be able to have a family, work in agriculture, cattle and dairy, hunting and harvesting wood. For a long time, we were able to survive making a living this way.
The Awakening of Hope.
After an awakening in 2005, the lives of my brother, Rodrigo and I were about to take a completely different path. We would trade in our current way of making a living and become enterprising innovators in bird tourism in the noroccident of Pichincha. We would become the Antpitta men, advocating for the protection of birds while at the same time allowing us to provide for our families.
Rodrigo and I created The Paz Bird Refuge on August 10th, 2005. We began by constructing a path on our parents farm which led to the lek of the Andean cock-of-the-rock. We asked ourselves, "Is it possible that foreigners will come to our farm to see these birds?" After a month, the paths began to deteriorate and we hadn't even had one tourist. Another five weeks passed when our first tourist arrived to observe the Andean cock-of-the-rock. We were all surprised and overjoyed that after only a four hour birding tour we were paid $10 which was the equivalent of a complete days work for a farmer. Thus began the miracle. That one tourist visiting The Paz Bird Refuge would soon turn into thousands and the Refuge would be known all over the world. It is now one of the most visited birding attractions in the noroccidente of Ecuador.
The Antpitta Man--Angel Paz
One day while I was walking on the new path to the lek of the Andean cock-of-the-rock, I saw a dark bird with patches of light brown on it's chest, long legs and a wide beak eating earth worms on the path. As I approached the bird, it flew away into it's habitat. The next day I said to myself, "This bird with long legs and a big beak should be my friend." I began to follow the bird into the woods, offering her worms but she wouldn't accept anything. However, I was very determined and the forest became my new home as I spent day after day trying to befriend her. Then the great day arrived and she finally accepted the worms and became my friend from that day forward. I baptized her with the name of my wife, Maria and she comes out from hiding to see me when called. Maria is now the Giant Antipitta who welcomes everyone to The Paz Bird Refuge.
It is true what they say.... "God often runs late, but he never forgets."