Friday, July 22, 2005

Intentional Community/Monteverde

Visitors to residents in no time

... As we flogged the 4x4 up the final pot-holed track to the town, we thought of the pacifist Quaker settlers who had come here from Alabama in the early 1950s to avoid imprisonment for refusing the draft for the Korean War.

A community of 40 Quakers was drawn to Costa Rica because the country had abandoned its army in 1949. They buried themselves in the jungle before emerging gradually to raise cattle and start a cheese factory.

One of the settlers was the father-in-law of Tim Curtis, who runs the Quaker school in Monteverde. "The cheese production was a great success, and after that the community gave some of its land as a biological reserve," he said.

"Scientists came to investigate the marvellous cloud forest, and they found species of plants and the famous golden toad that exists nowhere else. Tourism quickly followed in their wake."

Many of the Quakers are now involved with tourism. Tim's wife makes items for the arts and crafts shop; his brothers guide bird-watching trips and hikes into the forest. The town actually looks like somewhere in the American west, although quad bikes are taking over from horses.

I was aware, wherever we went in Costa Rica (and we covered only a small part of its thousands of square miles of parks and reserves), that tourism had sprung from a real desire to study or enjoy nature.

Whether we were taking a plunge in the hot thermal pools and waterfalls of the spa at the foot of the Arenal volcan o, having an exotic boat trip, visiting an exciting ranch (Ensenada, overlooking the Gulf of Nicoya) or staying in a comfortable eco-hotel (Finca Rosa Blanca in San José), we found tourism was run by individuals with respect for the land and its people. ...


At 8/07/2005 5:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 17 year old son will be taking a Spanish immersion course in Monteverde, Summer 2006. I would like to find a Quaker household where he could live and help with chores. My email address is Thank you


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