A Dream, A Jeep, and A Cheese Farm

Our six hour plane ride, barring the two hour layover, was nothing compared to Marvin’s three month jeep ride from Alabama to Costa Rica.  After leaving the states to avoid war, a group of seven families humbly bought land on a mountain in Costa Rica to avoid the mosquitos with yellow fever at sea level.  They named their new home “Monteverde,” due to its green appearance relative to the brown land below.  The group worked tirelessly for years on end to develop this area into what it is today.  Marvin and his family began a dairy farm and sold cheese to the natives.  The farm now cranks out 8,000 pounds of cheese daily.  Marvin’s popular story, the cloud forest, and the beautiful scenery often attract visitors, foreigners and native alike, to Monteverde and Costa Rica.  The city of Monteverde has grown exponentially over the past 66 years, and I think a lot of that is thanks to agriculture and ecotourism.

Like many people who pass through Costa Rica, Marvin was not a native.  He said that although he did not know much Spanish, the natives treated him with respect.  Every so often, Marvin would load the cheese onto his jeep, drive to San Jose, sell it and drive home, to his tent on the mountain.  Marvin was the prime pioneer of American agriculture in Costa Rica, setting the example for future foreign farmers.  Aside from the prosperous volcanic soil, I believe foreigners from all over the world come to Costa Rica for agriculture due to the Ticos’ welcoming personalities.  The foreigners know they will be encouraged to participate in the agricultural business side by side with the natives, expanding everyone’s knowledge of agriculture and promoting better, more sustainable practices.

When Costa Rica began blocking off land for nature reserves, Marvin was at the forefront of the movement.  He knew the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve like the back of his hand, so it was no surprise when he was asked to show a couple of tourists around every now and then.  Pretty soon, Marvin was giving nature tours as a full time job.  Thus, ecotourism in Costa Rica was born.  The tens of thousands of nature reserves, the “Save the Rainforest” movement, and again, the Ticos’ laidback and welcoming attitudes all attract people from across the globe to the beautiful country.

A large portion, actually, the largest portion of Costa Rica’s industry is ecotourism.  The majority of the country’s profit is due to their ecotourism and agriculture.  Marvin, before he was even aware, was wise beyond his years.  Although most likely unintentional, him and his jeep were all that were needed to kick start the modern Costa Rican economy.  With the help of other foreigners, Costa Rica’s economy is thriving based off of Marvin’s most influential jobs, his cheese company and his tourist business.  Overall, from a foreigner’s perspective at least, I believe that the foreigner’s influence on Costa Rica’s agriculture and tourism is effective and excelling.  Having outside perspective, especially for sustainable agriculture, is no way a bad thing.  Also, if foreigners did not visit Costa Rica, there would be no tourism industry.  Marvin paved the road for foreigners’ success here in Costa Rica without even knowing it.

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