Hola, amigos! We are now in Monteverde, a resort very high up in the mountains. The vegetation is beautiful, and the views are breathtaking. It took us four hours to get here, but the drive was very peaceful… and interesting!
I say the drive is interesting because it is the farthest we have been outside of Heredia, so there was much to see and much to learn about the surrounding communities. For the most part, the land near the highway is like America: very rural & lots of open space. I noticed there were many scrap yards and rusty old buildings, and I wondered about what used to be in these places. There were also rustier buildings that people were living in currently. Occasionally, I would see a little girl or boy sitting outside of their house watching the cars drive by. Why weren’t these kids in school? Education must be hard to reach. These houses were of the same model as the ones in Heredia but clearly had been through a lot of wear and tear. It must cost too much to renovate them. The edges of the roads were a lot dirtier than in Heredia, which makes sense since there is no one to monitor litter. There were a lot of farms and vegetation, though I could not tell which crops. I do not think any of the crops were coffee fields. Every 5 minutes or so, we could see a different farm, but they all had the same animals: Horses, goats, cows.
Closer to Heredia, I did see some buildings that were nice, but they all looked like they might be mass producers. Perhaps, they needed space for factories, and since land is cheaper in the rural areas, they produce outside of the city and ship it back. I saw one “supply chain management” facility not far from Heredia called Yobel; I am certain they receive a lot of business and are essential to lots of exporters including Doca and Britt.
As we passed the Pacific Ocean beach, I saw some more people and houses that were somewhat closer together. I wondered how these people make a living. Do they fish? Do they farm? Do they hunt? What do they do for fun? Because there isn’t much out here. Do people have opportunities to advance in society? I saw people walking long stretches of land, both old and young. Some rode bikes, and others pushed babies in strollers. Do they really make enough to sustain life or is it a daily struggle? Must they work long hours EVERY day and never rest to provide for their family? Or are they just being sustainable by walking and riding bikes? I would have to ask them to figure it out. As we drove past one house, I saw 3 men doing manual labor while 3 kids watched (again, why weren’t these kids in school?) This made me wonder about services. If something breaks, do they have to fix it by themselves? I would imagine, since I saw a man trying to fix something under his hood (of his car) by the side of the road. Where do people go if they injure themselves working? Local healers? I think the only service I noticed in the mountains was a judicial center.
According to Don Guillermo, an owner at Monteverde, people in Heredia are more dependent on the services provided by the government than people near Monteverde. Not only are they more dependent, but they have more access to them as well. I asked him what he thought some of the other primary differences are between the communities in the two locations. He explained, “They have more influences of urban in Heredia. Ehh, they also have more chances to go to universities.” All of this makes sense, since Monteverde is fairly secluded. Yet, he has contradicted my idea of people struggling to sustain life out here. He is a co-owner of the ecotourism resort at Monteverde and helps to run the coffee plantation. Though, I feel that Don Guillermo is probably a rare case.
On a different topic, I realize that some of my perceptions have changed since I arrived. For instance, I thought that nobody would speak english, and this is not true. In fact, many people have learned English through their work or through their spouses. I also thought that since their money was so devaluated, it meant that everyone farmed and did nothing else. Well, this is also not true. There are businessmen, and they are just as professional as American businessmen (as I learned when I exchanged money in Scotia Bank.) In addition, my hostess, Abuelita, introduced me to her nephew who works at “Banco Nacional.” He has worked in Japan and New York, and he is very wealthy. Thus, it is just like America, where both poverty and wealth exists. The inequalities between the two might differ from country to country, but overall, America is similar to Costa Rica. I certainly did not expect to see prestigious corporations like Scotia and Accenture, and even my own employer, KPMG! They are similar to us culturally as well; they watch all of our movies and play all of our music. These students like our music more than their own, it seems. I wonder why they are exposed to our culture more than we are to theirs…
We only have a few days until we head back to the city of Heredia, so for now, I will enjoy my time in Monteverde!