Tour guide’s work, farming background blend together
By Daniela Vidal
Definitions can stir up emotions and sometimes conflict. “Sustainability” doesn’t lack for either. This is the second in a series of looks at how Ticos define sustainability and what it means to them.
MONTEVERDE, Costa Rica-Freelance tour guide Marcos Mendez, 31, understands the benefits of conservation. He grew up on a farm near Monteverde. He explains two trains of thought working together:
“Sustainability has two components. The first is conservation. The second answers ‘how am I going to make a living?’ I grew up on one of the largest farms in Guacimal, about 300 acres with 200 cows. My dad’s environmental ideas are along the lines of improving the grass to keep more cows. My [younger] brother plants trees though, because he knows and realizes the need to have a healthy environment. Tourism doesn’t impact him but he knows we need to be more careful of what we do here [on the farm]. Sustainability boils down to what these families in the countryside see and think of the environment, whether they have a brother who works as a guide or not. It’s not the same on a mid-size farm as on a small-sized farm. On a small-sized farm, sustainability is about growing plantains necessary for the next six months. There are various ways one can make money from the land, coffee, cattle. Sustainability works differently for different people.”