For our final morning in Monteverde, we visited the renowned Monteverde Cloud Forest, a safe haven for over 2,500 plant species, 100 mammal species, 400 bird species, 120 reptilian and amphibian species. There our tour guide Sergio walked us through one of the many trails in the park, describing unique plants, mosses, and insects as we kept our eyes peeled for the mammals and birds that make the reserve famous. The highlight of the walk was encountering both male and female Quetzals, colorful birds that were once regarded as holy in ancient Egypt. According to Sergio, many tourists plan their trips to Costa Rica around attempting to see the rare bird, and that we were extremely lucky to have encountered it. I loved seeing all of the biodiversity within the reserve and learning about the history and ins and outs of the forest from Sergio.
At the end of the tour, we stopped at the hanging bridge within the forest. Sergio pointed to the sign indicating the history and name of the bridge, and it turns out it pays homage to the Guindon family. The Guindon family was one of the families that were a part of the Quakers who came to Costa Rica and began a conservation initiative to stop deforestation with local farmers when they noticed how beautiful Costa Rica was. The combined parts of these individuals has led to Costa Rica regaining most of its biodiversity that was almost completely eradicated.
Now that Costa Rica has conserved its natural beauty, ecotourism has become a major topic and profitable industry within the country. Such an opportunity has brought outside countries’ companies to establish themselves within Costa Rica. This movement has potential benefits and negatives, depending on whether these outside companies value the perspective of the natives, or choose to only try to turn a profit. I believe if the Quakers and Tico farmers keep on with their same operations, they will prevail against these global companies in the long run.