MelissaWinchell's Travel Journals


What do you want to do the next time you travel abroad?

learn a language, volunteer in a needy community, work with the environment, experience a new culture through studying, experience a new culture through volunteering, meet new people, make some money, change the world [somehow], adventure travel

  • Currently in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Monteverde, Costa Rica Adventure!

These journal entries will be a compilation of my experience on the Living Routes program to the Monteverde Institute. They will be addressing adventures I go on, processes I go through and awarenesses I gain from this experience.

Mountain Adventure and Hippies

Costa Rica Monteverde, Costa Rica  |  Apr 27, 2011
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Last weekend was incredible. The Vargas' took me on a mountain hike. For all my time here I have been engaging in a staring contest with the mountain range in front of my house. Finally, I was being given the opportunity to explore this wild terrain, with a guide!

Noe's family grew up in the mountains and many of his family members had lived up there for a number of years in their adulthood. It was beautiful! We saw a quetzal (not resplendent) but it had a bright orange breast and a beautiful call. It's pretty incredible how Ticos/Ticas have such a sincere appreciation for beauty. The whole family was oo-ing and aa-ing at this small bird.

We walked for 2-3 hours before reaching the top. After bushwhacking through thorns and almost getting pushed off a cliff by my host sister, we made the top. We had a lunch and it started to rain but it felt refreshing after the strenuous hike. Noe then took me and the kids up to a tall tree to see San Luis from afar. We could see the house!

It was so much fun being able to play with the family in this way. I felt like just another sibling, pushing around one another and joking. I found out on this trip just how trans-cultural humor is. At any point when there was an awkward silence, or I was unable to keep up with the Spanish, I would throw in a joke, or they would. Doing this made us all feel more connected and enjoy each other's company.

After eating fist-fuls of moras on the way down, we made it to the river. With all our clothes on we jumped in. It was freezing cold, but what a rush! We splashed around in the river and Noe told me a bit about Buen Amigos, a finca run by "hippies". Apparently, there was a Quaker woman a few decades back who started a Tico co op of fincas. They grew they own food and supported one another. After she left, it fell apart and the farmers ended up selling their land. A gringo ended up buying some of the land and brought some of his family/friends to buy other plots. When they all settled in they had a HUGE fiesta. Noe said that there were ~200 people! There were cars all along the sides of the road. You have to understand, there is ONE main road in San Luis that is rocky and dirty--very remote. The hippy friends all dressed different and smelled different and were cooking in the streets. Many San Luisians got nervous about whether was the way things were always going to be with these hippies in town.

This story shocked me. Having a fiesta is one thing, but not taking into consideration the cultural impact/disrespect it might have, is another. San Luis is very family oriented and fairly quiet. People don't live that close to one another and when they party it does not seem to impact others around them. They do not have a huge flow of people either. Unlike Santa Elena, which is much more accessible to tourism, San Luis primarily has exchange students or visitors to the UGA ecolodge. Having 200 guests invade is the perfect equation to create resentment towards Buen Amigos.

This story was a reminder to me to be conscious of my actions, appearance, even presence when entering a new community. I see what Buen Amigos did as disrespectful and it has made me question and reflect on my entrance into this community.

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