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A Green Mountain with a Valley Just Right - The World Food Prize

A Green Mountain with a Valley Just Right - The World Food Prize

Hemken 2land bridge

Hemken 2land bridge between North and South America. The country, roughly twice the size of Vermont at51,032 square kilometers (“Background Note” 1), boasts four mountain ranges, two of which arevolcanic, coastal black and white beaches,and hosts dry tropical forests, cloud forests,mountain paramos, and mangroves. CostaRica (Rich Coast) created its National ParkService in 1970 and it now encompassesnineteen national parks (Nickle 26). Morethan twenty-five percent of Costa Rica’sland is under some type of protection; eithergovernmental or private, while the averageis just three percent worldwide (1 Honey139). The approximately 17,000 hectare(Rachowiecki and Thompson 228) ReservaBiológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde(Monteverde Cloud Forest BiologicalReserve), located in the Northwest region ofCosta Rica, is one of the largest private protected areas and it was originally started by the NorthAmerican Quaker settlers of Monteverde.It was because of these Quakers that I was walking that Saturday night on a winding lane. Yousee, the sign where the lane originated identified thisplace as Dona Flory’s, a local self-proclaimed “rustic”restaurant known for its good food and low prices.Dona Flory’s husband, Marvin Rockwell, is also one ofthe first Quak ers to arrive here in 1951 on April 19 th ,what is now considered “Monteverde Day”. Previouslysome fellow MVI students and I had decided to meethere for supper, though I was starting to wonder havingyet to spot any type of build ing. Rounding a turn Ifound it, a simply three-sided tin shed attached to asmall home that housed four tables. My friends hadarrived ahead of me and we soon learned , from Mr.Rockwell himself, that the cooks were gone, but that we could await their return. Not being pressedfor time we settled in. After introducing ourselves we learned that Mr. Rockwell loves to narrate therich history of Monteverde. That being saidhe soon commenced the telling of a firsthandaccount until the absent cooks arrived.Between World War II and theKorean conflict a group of AlabamaQuakers refused to register for the militarydraft because of their religious beliefs. Mr.Rockwell was one of the four that weresentenced to a year and a day in prison fornot complying with the law. When, afterfour months, they were released for goodbehaviour, they and other Quakers decidedto look for a more peaceful country. (At thispoint in the conversation Mr. Rockwelljoked we were talking to a former jailbird.)After much searching they chose CostaRica, citing its peaceful, no-force policies and the recent abolishment of their military. Around fortyQuakers, including men, women and children, either flew or drove to San José, the capital of Costa

Hemken 3Rica. Mr. Rockwell was one of the truck drivers on the three month trip to their new home and nearthe Costa Rican border the roads were sohorrible the caravan spent one monthtravelling twenty kilometers.The group lodged in San José untilthey found a suitable area to homestead.According to Mr. Rockwell they chose thisflatter spot in the Cordillera de Tilarán,mountains of northern Costa Rica, becausethe higher elevation is better for your health,since at the time the lowlands were besetwith Yellow Fever and Malaria. Uponarriving at their newly acquired land whichmeasured about 1500 hectares(Rachowiecki and Thompson 213), theQuakers named it “Green Mountain”,Monteverde. We were shown photos of menup to their knees in mud as they guided a pair of oxen in the work of pulling out a jeep on the horribleroad to Monteverde. In fact, forawhile the new settlers had to parktheir vehicles in Gaucimal and ridehorses up the mountain to theirnew home. This road, which leadsfrom the Pan -American Highwayto Monteverde, has not improvedmuch and remains the majorcomplaint of residents and visitorsalike, including me. I cannot counthow many times I was splashedwith the contents of a pothole,almost run over as vehicles tried toavoid the worst ruts and, as apassenger, banged my head on anauto’s ceiling. I have heard theinfamous road described as“muffler-mashing and jeep-torturing” and that it “consumes the unfit.”Some members of Monteverde community opposed certain parts of the tico (what Costa Ricans callthemselves) government’s recent plan toimprove the road . The two parties have yetto come to an agreement and the repairshave yet to be implemented . Tourists havebeen flocking to the Monteverde areadespite the “bone-jarring” road, though theydo plenty of grouching. One touristdescribed the infamous road to a friend ofmine as not having “potholes in the road,but a road in the potholes.” Only 450tourists came in 1975, then the countjumped to 8 thousand in 1985 and surged tomore than 50 thousand in the late 1990s (1Honey 4). In fact, Costa Rica as a whole,with a population of 4.24 million in 2004

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