17 in Costa Rica
02.01.2010 - 03.01.2010
January 2, 2010
This morning was an early morning as we headed out around Lake Arenal on our way to Monteverde. About a quarter of the way there, we stopped at a wind farm called Plantos Eolicos. On our tour through the engineering room and a little of the property one of the students on the trip with us jumped and fell and dislocated his shoulder. It put a little damper on the mood but as we continued on we found a Costarican Red Cross and had him looked at.
When we finally made it to our hotel, we settled in for a bit before heading to Instutito Monteverde, where we had a talk from one of the directors on the history of the area and some issues in the area and what has changed with the development of tourism in the area. It was pretty interesting to hear his perspective and see how much he truly loved the area and did not want to leave.
We didn't have a group dinner tonight so a bunch of us headed to a tapas bar or appetizer bar where we enjoyed our small portions and large mojitos. After a few each, we wondered back to our hotels and hit the hay.
January 3, 2010
This morning we were up at 6, had breakfast and headed to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Our guide was amazing, as are all of the other guides in the park. Monteverde has a huge guide association with huge requirements and years of training. Our guide however, only gives 3 tours a month and donates them to the reserve, he is also the owner of a bakery in town and is the son of one of the Quaker founders of the area.
The interesting thing about Monteverde is that it was founded by a group of Quakers from Alabama who left the states because they opposed the peace time draft. This group came down to Costa Rica because a few years prior, they had dismantled their standing army and put the funds towards education. When they found this area, they settled it, made roads to it and started the conservation of the cloud forest in order to make sure that their drinking water was clean.
The tour of the reserve was pretty spectacular. After we had lunch at our tour guides bakery (not on purpose) but then we got to go to CASEMCOOP which is a women's artisan cooperative in the community. It was amazing to get to speak with the women their, although I spoke through a translator, it was truly amazing to hear their story and how much they had influenced the community they live in. They have had a huge impact on their children's ability to recieve higher education as well as the conservation and environmental mind set that the whole community shares.
We then had the rest of the day to walk around and experience Monteverde and Santa Elena. After a full day of exploring, we headed to Marvin Rockwell's home. He was one of the young men who was put in jail for not joining the draft and a founder of Monteverde. He shared with us his story of his journey down, what they did when they finally got here and his life since. His wife also cooked us an amazing dinner and we went to bed quite happy.