Quite the Quaker

A group of Quaker families were looking to move to a place where they didn’t have to serve in an army, if possible. That is, because they lived in Alabama originally, and if drafted, were required to serve in the American army in the Korean war. These families eventually found a place in Costa Rica and left Alabama. They ended up at the center of Costa Rica: Monteverde. At that time, Costa Rica had recently abolished their army, so they didn’t have to get involved in the war. After moving to Monteverde, their work with the local Ticos made a positive impact on the economy of the city. Part of the land they purchased, created income for them and for some of the local Ticos. Later, job opportunities increased for the Ticos near Monteverde, as the families and their companies grew. The land was originally used as a diary farm for the Monteverde Cheese Factory. Not only that, but they also set aside a region of land on the mountain slopes to be conserved; this region is now known as the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Costa Rica has shifted towards ecotourism and that is due to the increase in flux of foreigners, especially North Americans and Europeans. Because it’s increasing in popularity, Costa Rican land is becoming more and more expensive. Costa Rica offers a lot of benefits to their locals that are very costly to the government. For example, they offer free and mandatory education up to the end of high school to their citizens. Also, the tuition for their colleges and universities are usually a lot less than the tuition charged in U.S. schools. The increase in population from foreigners moving to Costa Rica will lead to an increase in taxes to try to pay for these benefits. When we were in San Jose, our tour guide told us about the future increase in taxes to 15 percent that will go into affect in July of 2019. It may not seem like a lot when some items are originally already taxed at 12/13 percent. But, with this new tax law, goods/services that were not being taxed before, are soon going to be taxed at 15 percent. This is going to result in a lot of small businesses closing or bankrupted, because they can’t afford it anymore.

The shift towards ecotourism is overall beneficial to the Quakers and Life Monteverde. It will help bring in more tourists, that will be interested in buying their products or learning more about their products and processes, through tours and educational days. Through the Quakers passion for conservation, the section of a region they conserved since their arrival, has now turned into a beautiful cloud forest that many foreigners and tourists desperately want to see and experience. This cloud forest has gained so much more attention and profit from tours of the forest, due to Costa Rica’s shift toward ecotourism. More specifically, ecotourism also benefited Life Monteverde. It helped bring in more students to profit from. Life Monteverde focuses on educating students and farmers about sustainability and how to incorporate different techniques to create sustainable farms, as well. This all brings us back to Costa Rica’s cycle of sustainability and ecotourism.

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