When I hear the word Quaker, I think of my favorite cereal or the Quaker meeting house which is across from my neighborhood. For me, the term Quaker is very American, and I find it fascinating that Quakers have a place in Costa Rica. Not only do they live in Monteverde and throughout the country, they have had an impact on the culture and the economy. Our guest speaker Marvin, who was one of the original Quakers who moved to Monteverde, was adorable and remarkable. Marvin and other people from his community strongly protested the United States’ draft and position on military and war. For this reason, they moved to Costa Rica. They’re journey was long and tiresome, so when they arrived in Costa Rica, they were determined to make a good life for themselves. After purchasing a plot of land up in the mountains, they named and helped establish Monteverde.
When they were examining this land, they had to make room for their farms, but they unknowingly helped the conservation efforts. Although Marvin didn’t speak much on the issue, they left a significant portion of the forest standing in order to protect the river. They set up their land while maintaining the nature and life of Monteverde. Most importantly, they brought business to the mountainside. In order to have an income, they decided to produce something which was valuable and not too perishable. They decided on cheese and bought cows from the central valley for their dairy farms. By starting this business, they essentially created an economy in Monteverde. The households worked on the farm, and they then sold their cheese to the people of San Jose. Money and goods were flowing out of the small community on a mountain side. During this time, they also began protecting the land. From one of the local schools who partnered with a Swedish school, they were able to create the Children’s Eternal Forest. This area is owned by Sweden and is one of the biggest protected forests. The Quakers provided a base for this town to grow and flourish.
Today, their cheese factory is still very popular, but tourism has taken over the area. Besides the beauty of Monteverde, possible reasons for this growth in tourism could come from the protected reserves and the type of community established by the Quakers. Monteverde has a few shops and hotels which appeal to Americans, possibly as a result of the Quakers. Also, the mountain is not an easy place to live; there is an abundance of rain, humidity, and winds. By finding a way to make money from this land, the Quakers opened the doors for the Ticos to come and establish themselves in Monteverde. The conservation efforts are still very prominent in this area, and as Marvin mentioned, he has given many tours throughout these forests. The efforts by the Quakers to turn Monteverde in to a sustainable community are still effective and prominent today.