Friday, June 1
Today was devoted to putting our learning of the past few days into a time-frame as a tool for synthesis and summary.
We had breakfast together one last time at the Monteverde Lodge. I have been eating well, perhaps too well, and so only had the yogurt with granola and fresh fruit with my coffee. Most of the group decided they also needed exercise and so walked to the CIEE center. I took advantage of the free time after breakfast to chat online by instant messaging with my wife. She is excited about trail-riding her horse with some friends this weekend. I said I wished I would be there for that, and meant it.
I hurried to turn off my computer and go to the lobby to get in the van for the short ride to the CIEE center. Our first lecture was by Dr. Karen Stocker of Cal. State-Fullerton.
She shared twenty (20) years of research on the role of women's cooperatives in changing the economic and social status of women, and more generally the role of tourism in changing local culture.
We then broke for coffee, fruit (my favorite was the passion fruit [Passiflora sp.]) and tamales. Yum! I ate enough to qualify as lunch.
Our next lecture was by our own Dr. Ricardo Perez of Eastern Connecticut State. He covered tourism development in Cuba over the same time span Karen had covered for the local area. Tourism development in Cuba is more top-down than bottom-up and his lecture helped us appreciate the differences that leads to.
We walked to lunch so we could see more of the community. This scene shows one of the many small, locally-owned hotels:
We also saw some wildlife. Here, Van is peering into the road-side vegetation after catching a glimpse of an agouti:
Thinking of my wife's trail-riding trip had me on the look-out for horses. This handsome horse makes a fine pack animal:
As always, I admired the landscape planting, such as this Ensete:
We eventually made it to CASEM Co-Op, where women sell art and food them make:
I was full from my lunch of chicken and rice, but some were hungry for desert so we used the van to get us up the road a short ways to the Monteverde dairy
for ice cream.
I walked around the outside of the factory and took snapshots of the front:
This dairy was founded in 1953 by Quakers who emigrated from the U.S. In recent decades, cattle pastures have been converted to use for tourism enterprises so milk must be brought up by truck (seen here) on the same unpaved road tourists use from dairy farms in the valleys below. The ice cream carering to tourists on their way down from the Monteverde Cloud forest reserve (sign below) makes this dairy another example of agrotourism.
In the afternoon, we had another lecture by Dr. Stocker on intergenerational differences in attitudes toward tourism development. After that, we had a discussion led by local people of varying ages and backgrounds. Fascinating, and a real highlight of the week for me.
We all met for dinner. Over the course of that, we continued our synthesis and summary as a group with our IFDS leaders (Karen and Willow). We talked about the past week and how we would continue to learn more about the topics in the seminar in the following weeks. Most of the participants have campus obligations they have to fly to right away, while myself and one other are continuing our investigations into sustainability in Central America. Kristi is flying to Nicaragua; I am going by bus to Guanacaste province to see first-hand the tourism development issues we learned about on Monday, day one in Monteverde. I'll continue to blog about that.