Foreigners for the Future

While in Monteverde, we learned how Quakers from Alabama were who started the preservation of the cloud forest. In 1951, Ricardo Guindon’s father, Wilford “Wolf” Guindon came to Costa Rica, along with four other men, because they did not support the United States’ war efforts. They were pacifists, so it was logical for them to move to a country without an army such as Costa Rica. What also attracted them was the fact that the Costa Rican government had a low poverty rate and the government helped support its people. The group travelled the country searching for a place to build a farm, and they found 3400 acres of land on the mountain which is now called Monteverde.

As they developed this land, deforestation allowed them to expand their farm and grow more crops. Wilford even introduced the chainsaw to the people of Monteverde, but he was then informed by two men, who were very concerned about preserving the forests throughout Monteverde, about the harmful effects of what he was doing to the environment by cutting down all of the trees. This then caused Wilford to switch his entire mindset; the man who was known for selling chainsaws then teamed up with the two men, Bill and George, to create the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

This reserve would have never been started without the foreign influence of the Quakers. Foreign influence is what has made Monteverde such a great contender within the ecotourism industry. Having such a diverse population is a good way for tourists to feel more comfortable traveling to a new and unknown place. Also, with bigger investors such as Mexico and China, travelers are more inclined to explore a place supported by these larger countries. This also allows for new commodities to be introduced into the market which Costa Ricans did not have the knowledge to produce on their own. For example, a cheese factory was built by a foreigner which brought a large amount of business to Monteverde whenever the Quakers realized it was too hot to produce coffee. Without this European cheese maker, they would have had to try to find a new product to produce.

The only real negative impact that foreign investment has on the Costa Ricans is that large investors and chains may start to overtake the smaller family run businesses such as local farmer, Guillermo at Life Monteverde. His local business is most likely hurt by foreign investment and influence. His ecotourism is based on the history of his family and their farm so his experiences are very unique. As the market shifts, his story may not be in popular demand like it is now, allowing foreign chain companies to overtake his business.

Overall, foreign influence has had a very positive impact on Monteverde, and I think that it is important to Costa Rica as a whole. One of their main industries is ecotourism which is geared towards foreigners as it is, so having some foreign investment in order to better suit their clients is definitely beneficial. In that type of market, you need to base your product or service on what the people want, and people will be happier with their experience if they feel more comfortable and “at home.” Having these foreign hotels or factories is something the Costa Ricans should embrace because not only will it attract customers, but it will also create more jobs for its citizens and stimulate the economy.

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