Monteverde back to Las Juntas – Stephanie Ng

I think everyone agrees that it was so refreshing to be able to step away from the scenery and environment we had been surrounded in for the last several days to explore the other areas of Costa Rica this weekend. The road to Monteverde was a long and rough, but beautiful and worthwhile journey. The hotel we were staying in had quite a breathtaking view, and I loved waking up to the sight of the wandering cattle in front of our room, as well as the sight of the Pacific Ocean. I absolutely loved the breakfast room and the balcony because I felt so at home. Sights such as the balcony just make me reflect on life and remind me how much there is to explore. Looking out to the distance, I could see the ocean. Yet, between the place I was standing and the ocean, there is so much land in between although the water looked so close.

At first I didn’t quite understand why we stopped at Ecopaz after breakfast, but after our whole tour of the park, I was very glad we did. The man in charge of the park explained the purpose of the park, and the need to preserve and expand the nature within the plot of land especially because there is so much development in Santa Elena and Monteverde due to tourism. He also went on to explain how they were trying to connect the Child’s Forest and the forest that runs through Las Juntas and onwards, which made me think about how so many people and cultures will be able to share this wonderful piece of nature that ends up connecting everyone together. Besides their differences, they will share the common goal of preserving nature, which is a beautiful thing, similar to the ants we saw today during the walk. The ants were an amazing sight because it reminded me the importance and power in numbers. All the little ants marched in a line the stretched over an impressive distance in order to bring leaves back to their homes. I think one of the other things that resonated with me was how the man elaborated on the fact that the park was open to all individuals, and that the structures built for the park were all handmade. The whole park was one big hilly farm at first, and they had manually levelled off land in order to put in volleyball and tennis courts. He explained the importance of the park and how there was a piece of land that is untouched to remind people what the land originally was, but also to ensure there was a space for family and friends to enjoy together aside from all the tourism. So that made me question: “How much does ecotourism actually help the town”?  Sure wealth is brought to the town and locals, but changes in culture and effect on the local’s lives concerned me.

Tonight was also the night of the adventure dinner. Anisha, Ellen, and I were so excited to try the Chinese restaurant because we wanted to interact with the Chinese individuals in this community. Our experience at the restaurant was far from what we expected. Maybe we thought the food would be similar to American Chinese food, but definitely was not what we thought it would be. The best way to describe the food is like bland chicken broth. I would notrecommend it, but we were able to interact with the owner and the owner’s son. The son’s name is Kasing, and he is half Chinese and half Costa Rican. Kasing spoke English and Spanish, but not Chinese. I spoke to the father and he had told me that he has lived in Costa Rica for over 40 years. He’s from Shanghai and he has family in China, as well as U.S (San Francisco). He goes back to China every year, which is super interesting because I thought that maybe the Chinese community here would have lost touch with their roots back in China. That is definitely not the case which really intrigues me. Kasing told me and Anisha that he was going to show us his Uncle’s miner collection from when the Chinese had come here, so I am very excited about that. I hope to continue to talk to the Chinese community as much as possible for the rest of my time here. I am very fascinated by how they have become accustomed to Las Juntas and I am very happy I can connect with them.

-Stephanie Ng


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