The evidence The tour operator's desk

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Andre de Mendonca is the director of South American Experience, which specialises in holidays and tours throughout South America

"I don't go to South America as much as I'd like, but I've just come back from Ecuador. People are always asking me what my favourite country is. I would have to say two - Guatemala and Colombia. This truck is called a chiva (1). In Colombia they're all over the place, packed full of livestock or fruit. The figures (2) look like ivory but are actually carved from an extremely hard Amazonian nut. If I'm having a bad day I take a look at this picture (3) drawn by my daughter. I've also got photos of my twins and a picture (4) of my daughter and me in France. Nowadays we'd be nothing without our computer system (5) as it links up to all the airline reservation systems. We use a combination of faxes, e-mails (6) and telephone calls to our agents in South America. In Ecuador they have a lot of power cuts, so it can be difficult. Our agent in Argentina sent us a CD-Rom (7) of some farms for visitors to stay at. They're 10 or 20 times bigger than a British farm. When someone books a holiday we give them information from Tourism Concern (8). It helps people become aware of their effect on the host country's environment, both good and bad."

Interview by Aoife O'Riordain

Photograph by Dominick Tyler