A Green Mountain with a Valley Just Right - The World Food Prize
Hemken 10astounded to learn that the stores do no t accept dollars at all. Living in the Monteverde hadaccustomed me to cashiers not batting an eyewhen presented with dollars as payment. Oneproblem with the spreading use of dollars is thatcompanies typically pay their employees incolones. This causes the employees spendingcapacity to decline, and their money is worth lesshere than in shops in San José. Those who workas waitresses, guides, taxi drivers, or in otherpositions where they will be tipped, do benefitfrom dollars received directly from tourists (Klein15).With all the tourist companies that have been orare being established and all the workers floodinginto the area to be employed by them, the SantaElena and Cerro Plano communities arebecoming semi-urban developed , with no planning. Until recently there were no zoning laws and alarge number of houses are being squished into a small area.“Most of the pieces of land that are suitable for building arefull or privately owned (Klein 10).” This means that peoplehave begun to construct buildings on a rock base or nearwater sources. I’veseen many a structureon the bank of astream, some withonly a foot of spacebetween it andflowing water.Residents now feelcrowded and like anoutsider in their owncommunity. Manycomplain about the traffic congestion, one can no longer stopyour vehicle in the street to chat with your friend who isdriving the other direction without some impatient personhonking. Another problem is high-speed driving, especiallyof the popular dirt bikes and four-wheelers. I have had tojump into the drainage “gutter” carved out in the commonclay-like soil along the road many a time to avoid a collisionwith these vehicles. The younger generation seems to have the opinion that the faster you drive theless you feel the bumps.Also in the Monteverde community is anincreased amount of air, sewage, and solid wastepollution. Many of the new habitants came only forwork and do no t care for community orenvironmental matters. Tourists are becomingincreasingly disappointed in the area, because ofthe poorly maintained houses, trash scattered in theroad, and erosion problems besetting manyvicinities. Another grievance cited by locals is thesharp rise in the price of products and services,along with westernization (Koningen 57).
Hemken 11Furthermore, a holiday atmosphere seems to constantly permeate over the community. Many youthshave the opinion that since thetourists are partying, they should beas well. The traditional culture,unfortunately, is gradually decayingfrom the steady onslaught offoreigners and their morals. Touristsdo bring added revenue into thelocal economy, but it has succeededin benefiting noticeably only a few,while the problems that so manyforeigners cause affect the wholepopulation.The area economy dependingon tourist dollars as its mainstay isnot healthy. One day, a fellow MVIstudent and I were discussing thisvery subject as we enjoyed ice cream in the newly opened Sabores. Just looking out the window wecould spot four eateries on that street alone and there are many other restaurants and hotels scatteredthroughout the community. Wenever did come to a conclusionof how all these businessescould be sufficientlysupported, even with thepresent level of visitors. Withhalf of the communitypopulation working indirectlyin tourism, many have lesserincomes during the low touristseason. Moreover, if a warstarts, some misfortunehappens to tourists in the areaor a region’s (i.e. the UnitedStates or Europe) economyfalters, the first unnecessaryexpenditure that people cut istravelling. If any of those things come about, a large number of Monteverde residents would be out ofa job or have extremely diminutive incomes.In 1996, a slump occurred in the tourist flood,causing the amount of hotel rooms to outnumber the tourists (1 Honey 155), but sincethen the number of tourists has been steadilyrising. Unfortunately, tourists are people andfickle as well, they are not a dependablemarket. They want to travel to the currentlypopular destination, feel immersed in the areaand secluded from the world. When a locationbecomes too populated or developed orcrowded with “other” tourists, theattractiveness of a site decreases (Koningen17). If this occurs, the urban tourism workers who live in the homes crowded into the Monteverdearea will not have an effective way to sustain their families.