Today, we woke up after a night in the luxurious Hotel el Establo at the pleasant time of 6:00 A.M. We had to meet up with the rest of the group in the hotel’s “lobby”, and then departed towards the Monteverde Cloud Forest. The forest has been established for about 60 years, and it was absolutely stunning. I consider myself spoiled that since I’m from Vermont, I’ve had the opportunity to live around a lot of beautiful forests. However, the differences between this rainforest and the ones back home were quite evident and incredible. I noticed many different trees, beautiful plants, and new animals. Our tour guide was an experienced bird watcher, and brought a telescope for us to see different birds native to Costa Rica, such as the Quetzal.
After lunch, we met with Marvin Rockwell, a Quaker from Alabama, who, after dodging the Korean War military draft, settled in Monteverde. Marvin was joined by his wife, who he met in Costa Rica and together have four children. It was very interesting to learn about how a group of Americans was so welcomed by the Ticos into their own country. We learned that once in Monteverde, Marvin and his other Quaker friends helped establish a company that sold cheese to the people of the region. With the profits from the business, they were able to buy land that today is, coincidentally enough, the Monteverde Cloud Forest and Reservation. The Cloud Forest is a hub for ecotourism, and it was amazing to see how such a beautiful area was actually due in large part to the Quakers.
During Marvin’s presentation, he mentioned how the attitude towards his group from the natives was very positive. Part of this is due to the friendly, Tico spirit but it is also thanks to the benefits the Quakers were bringing to the region. By developing more modern agriculture and strengthening the ecotourism sector of Costa Rica’s economy, the Quakers were able to be repaid by being welcomed and treated like family. I think it is definitely a positive thing whenever people can enter a new country and create positive change while also not being seen as intruders by the local population.