December 18, 2012 | Back to: News

Going green in Costa Rica

TRUCKEE, Calif. - This past summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica for a month. There I learned "going green" and eating organically is more than just a new trend. It is their lifestyle. I found several businesses there that use green technology and families that eat local organic food. They completely embrace the country's motto of Pura Vida, or in English, Pure Life.

While I was in Costa Rica, I stayed on a completely green farm called Pura Suerte. The owner is a man from Colorado who moved there with the mission to create a completely sustainable farm. He raises his own animals for meat and has several acres in which he grows fruit, vegetables, herbs and even medicinal plants such as aloe. He also has reforestation projects on which he works and encourages his guests to help with as well. To support the reforestation efforts, all of his buildings are made from local bamboo and fallen trees from his property. He does not use lumber taken from anywhere else.

Pura Suerte is not the only ecological retreat. We also had the chance to visit the Pacuare Lodge. It is an environmentally friendly lodge you can only reach by rafting down the Rio Pacuare. They grow and raise much of their own food as well. They also choose to not have electricity. Their goal is to use whatever they can from the land in order to lessen their impact on the beautiful rainforest around them. In addition to their relationship with the jungle itself, they also have a good relationship with the native villages nearby. They work with them and share food and plants in order to work with the resources they have available to them right there in the rainforest.

Another place that is completely self-sufficient and environmentally sustainable is Cafe San Luis. It is a small family owned coffee plantation in the San Luis Valley of Monteverde. The family that owns it lives almost entirely off their land. Along with coffee plants, they also grow fruits and vegetables, raise their own meat and even have a fish pond. Besides eating and selling most of their fruit, they also plant some of it to use as a natural fertilizer. The family makes money by selling coffee, some produce and giving tours of their eco-friendly plantation. Many coffee plantations in the area also go a step further. Along with using old coffee bean shells for fertilizer, they also sell many to the local newspapers to make into paper.

The "going green" doesn't stop with businesses. Many families also embrace this way of living. While abroad, I had the chance to live with a host family. I stayed in the small town of Buena Vista. It is a very small village consisting of one dirt road in the middle of the rainforest. The people there rely on each other and the land to live. Most families raise their own meat and many also grow their own produce. What they do not grow themselves they buy from the nearby city of San Carlos. However, even the products bought there are grown locally. All of their meals consist of local meat and produce and rice and beans they purchase in the city. For the most part, the food they eat comes directly from their back yards.

I learned from this amazing trip that it is not difficult to go green. You just need to look at it as a lifestyle rather than a phase. When people work together with each other and the land around them, they are able to more easily and efficiently get the things they need. Pura Vida!

Teens and Walking Tree

Kaylee is one of several hundred students across the country participating in the Walking Tree Travel program. It is more than an exchange program. Teen participants go to one of seven countries in Central America, Africa or Asia to work on projects to make a better world - whether building community centers, digging wells, or painting buildings.

"At Walking Tree, we offer teens the opportunity to widen their world view", said Paul Laurie, director of Walking Tree Travel. "We hope that our journalism fellows bring their experiences home and start a dialogue with other kids to better appreciate the world which we all share."

Journalism Fellowships

Journalism Fellows are responsible for documenting their study abroad experiences. Before the program departs, fellows will write a short proposal of the kind of article they hope to write and people they hope to interview and attend a pre-departure online meeting hosted by The Wandering Scholar, the partner organization in administering Journalism Fellowships. During the program, fellows will keep a daily account of interesting stories, touching moments, difficult challenges and personal triumphs. They will also encouraged to conduct interviews with students, leaders and locals and contribute to their group's blog. After their program, fellows will use their notes and interviews to attempt to publish an original article in their school paper, local newspaper or other news sources. The article will also be posted on the Walking Tree Blog and may be used in other promotional materials.

About Walking Tree

Their mission is to inspire individuals to become global citizens ... by taking an active interest in the world around them. Walking Tree strives to achieve this goal by providing unforgettable programs filled with challenging and enriching adventures.

They found the most rewarding travel experiences come from being active members of a community rather than passive tourists. For this reason, Walking Tree specializes in programs that integrate travelers into communities around the world where they will work to complete meaningful community service while living with local families. Programs are designed for a proactive, select group of travelers who are not looking for the typical tourist trip, but rather an opportunity to interact with another culture while forming relationships that can continue long after they return home. Spend time abroad with Walking Tree, opening your heart and mind to an experience you will never forget. Visit www.walkingtree.org.

Kaylee Bingham
Special to the Sun


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Dec 18, 2012 05:10PM Published Dec 18, 2012 04:40PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.