Thursday, December 04, 2008

Quakers in Monteverde

Wrote Saturday, 11/29
Last night after supper Lindblad (the tour company) arraigned for a talk from one of the Quaker founders of Monteverde. Marvin was one of the Quakers who left Alabama in the very early 1950s to settle in Costa Rica. He and his brother had refused to sign up for the draft because of the Quaker commitment to nonviolence. After serving six months in jail, they were released on probation for another six months.(Marvin is now 86) His family and a number of other families in a small Alabama town decided it was time to leave the US. The looked for a country to emigrate to and settled on Costa Rica--

  • A relatively large middle class
  • Not a lot of extremely rich or poor
  • A good economy
  • AND NO MILITARY (Costa Rica abolished their military in 1949)

While most of the families sold all their procession and flew or took a ship to Costa Rica; Marvin's family (he was 20 at the time) decided to drive a truck and a jeep to Costa Rica (his parents at the time were in their late 60s)

Marvin told a great story of never letting a roadblock stop the trip.
  • First, they discovered at the boarder of Mexico they needed an export certificate for the truck and jeep.

  • Next, they assumed the Pan-American Hi way was finished. When the reached the boarder southern boarder of Mexico, the road stopped. They loaded the truck and jeep on a narrow gauge railroad and headed to the Pacific coast where there was a road that continued south.

  • At the boarder between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, the road stopped. They drove to the port on the port on the coast. After getting there, they discovered the ships anchor off the coast and there was no way to get something as big as a truck, or even a jeep, on board.

Most of their party went by ship to Costa Rica. The three young men (early 20s) drove the jeep and truck back to the end of the Pan-American highway. They then started hacking at the forest, building a bridge, and making a corduroy road over a swamp. One month and 18 miles later, the reached a "road."

The end of the story is they bought a tract of land, divided up much of it into individual dairy farms, started a cheese factory and put the headwaters of the river into joint ownership as a preserve to protect their water supply. The cheese business now supplies dairy products to all of Costa Rica, the rest of Central America and the Caribbean. The headwaters preserve was the start of the protected zone of the Monteverde cloud forest.

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