The Quakers came to Costa Rica around the 1950s, and even though they were not the first foreign inhabitants, they might have had the largest impact. We had the privilege to talk to one of these Quakers that made a three month trek from Alabama to Costa Rica for a better life with less violence. As shown by the three months, Marvin encountered some unexpected problems. Choosing to drive all the way from Alabama to Costa Rica backfired a little. Crossing country borders in Central America was not easy in his jeep. The challenges of finding a way to get across into the next country paled in comparison to his challenges in Costa Rica.
Obviously, the first challenge was the language barrier. Marvin needed to learn a completely new language in a completely new place. Luckily, he said the locals were very friendly, and he traveled with some English-speaking friends. As we saw today, he has done a great job adjusting to the language and culture in Costa Rica, but that is not something that came easily.
Also, Marvin needed to find a job. He traveled to Costa Rica with nothing in line in terms of jobs or living arrangements. He mentioned a job in the war as a surgical technician as one of his positions. This worked out really well for him because he could better interact and learn Spanish faster, as well as get a job and earn money. Next, he talked about his work on a dairy farm. This seemed to increase the amount of cheese in Costa Rica and stimulate their economy.
Marvin ended with his stories about Monteverde. Before Marvin arrived, northwest Costa Rica was not a well-known region. It wasn’t much other than mountains and forests. Him and his friends saw it as an opportunity to live and work there. This part of Costa Rica was not inhabited by many yet, so they had to do a lot in terms of paving roads and making buildings. Monteverde had many forests and wildlife, so the destruction of forests to make a living could have gone terribly wrong. Luckily, Marvin and all the other people inhabiting Monteverde were very respectful of the nature. After visiting the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, we could tell just how important wildlife is for their environment and their economy. Costa Ricans care a lot about preserving their wildlife. Biodiversity is very important in keeping a sustainable ecosystem. Each species in an ecosystem plays some sort of role that is needed to keep it running, and the Costa Ricans acknowledge this and protect their endangered species.
This is also what improves their economy. It may not be that obvious that keeping nature stimulates the economy, but it is actually the greatest contributor to Costa Rica’s economy. It is because of ecotourism. Many people travel to Costa Rica today because it is such a beautiful country with great natural reserves. Costa Rica’s largest source of income comes from tourists coming here to experience the beautiful country first hand.
Marvin also acknowledged that a main reason why they decided to keep so much of the forests is because of “the water”. He didn’t elaborate too much on this, but I am guessing he means the flowing water was great irrigation used for farming, so with keeping the forests came better agricultural practices.
The Quakers came into Costa Rica with intents of finding a place where they don’t have to fight, and turned it into the thriving country that it still is today.