On our tour of the cloud forest yesterday we witnessed many animals in their natural habitat such as, tarantulas, millipedes, quetzals, and mostly other birds. The only reason we were able to explore the home of these animals is because of the collaboration of the Quakers – such as Don Ricardo’s father, Wolf – and two conservationists. As we heard from Don Ricardo’s lecture on Thursday, when the Quakers originally settled in Monteverde, their main task was cutting down all of the trees to create plantations and mills for profit. However, Wolf’s mind opened up to the idea of preservation when two conservationists approached him to explain the harm he was inflicting on the environment through deforestation. Due to this establishment, Costa Rica’s ecotourism industry has flourished, as the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve draws in a very large crowd annually.
Due to the new, attractive industry, foreign investment began to dramatically increase as well, with a Mexican company purchasing the original Quaker cheese factory, and a Chinese firm building a hotel for all of the incoming ecotourists. With larger foreign firms taking over small business jobs such as, the cheese farm, the Quakers and workers such as Don Guillermo suffer the consequences. Often times their priorities are not shared, and they do not bring in equal revenue. A larger firm, versus a family owned company, has the potential to produce exponentially higher revenue because they are able to utilize more resources. Although small businesses seem to suffer, foreign investment is also a positive thing. In such a small nation as Costa Rica, the more investment into their economy, the better off they are. Additionally, foreign investors often times will attract tourists from their country to visit their investment in another country. Overall the shift seems to be positive, the only thing that is not and should be considered by foreign investors are the values of the country they are going to move into, as well as aid to small businesses.
The influence of the Quakers was clearly demonstrated to me on our cloud forest hike when we accidentally ran into Don Ricardo giving a tour directly in front of us. This moment displayed how involved and proud he is of his routes. He was mesmerized by the nature of the forest, and he was perfect for the job.