While traveling through Costa Rica, it’s interesting to observe the many sides of this extraordinarily diverse country. Yesterday, we had the chance to explore one of Costa Rica’s most urbanized areas by touring the capital of San Jose. Today, however, we saw the other side of Costa Rica while driving through the mountains and rain forest areas. It was truly incredible to see so many different aspects of Costa Rica in such a short period of time.
The most noticable observation I saw during our drive was the overall layout of the country and how different it is from the US and from my initial expectation. In most places in the US, there is at least some obvious sign of human impacts on the environment and landscape in the area. Even in rural places, these can be seen through the neat farmlands and carefully maintained greenery around the roads. However, there were several times during the trip to Monteverde during which there was no evidence that people had explored the area. Even in areas where you could see peoples’ homes in the mountains, they simply blended in with the trees and seemed to be a part of the environment rather than acting as a direct threat to it. This was a direct contrast with the US where most places, even those in more rural areas have some human activity. However, there was still some evidence of the impacts of deforestation from the agricultural industry in areas that had clearly been cleared and now have very dry soil. Despite this, it still seems like the Costa Ricans are overall much more concerned with respecting and protecting the environment than we are in the US.
Since arriving in Costa Rica, I’ve begun to have a much better understanding of the differences between Costa Rica and the US. It is especially interesting to see the ways that the more recent industrialization of the country has impacted how it looks today. Hearing about how the Quakers helped to develop the Monteverde region and seeing the discrepancies with what we would normally expect for that time period enhanced my understanding of how this effects a country. For example, even though it was the 1950s, none of the Quakers’ homes had running water or electricity. These differences were very apparent during the travel and talk today.