This morning the alarm on my phone went off at 9 AM. It was a pleasant change to my alarm going off at 7 AM the way that I’d grown accustomed to during the past week of classes. It was definitely a nice break, getting to sleep in two hours. We had a long and busy weekend at Monteverde, and even though most of us napped on the bus ride back we were still all exhausted. Sleeping on a bus simply does not compare to sleeping in a bed. Even though we weren’t getting Memorial Day off, like we would have if we had class in the states, I think we were all more than grateful to have class start two hours late.
The weather was especially pleasant this morning. The sun was bright, and there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. The morning air felt especially warm, because Monteverde had been noticeably cooler. But I was glad to be back to where the sun was warm, and the clear sky gave me hope that the rest of the day would be equally beautiful, which would be a nice change from the usual rainy afternoons.
When we got on the bus this morning it was eerily quiet. Normally, even though my roommate Kathy and I are the first Global Scholars to get on the bus, a few UPeace grad students were already on the bus. Their school year had finished at the end of last week. So, instead of going to the regular bus stops, and all of the Global Scholars arriving on three different buses, one picked all of us up.
Today’s class discussion was extremely interesting, because it was our first opportunity to really bring together what we were seeing around us in Costa Rica and what we were reading and had been discussing for the course. We intended to only spend about an hour discussing what we’d observed in Monteverde over the weekend, but instead we found ourselves discussing our observations for the entire hour and a half that we had before lunch time.
As with any good class discussion, I think it created more questions than answers.
When we talked about Monteverde we wondered: was tourism the best choice for the town? Was it the most efficient economic choice that the town could have made? Had the value on conservation or ecotourism come first? Were the community’s prioritization of conservation and ecotourism dependant on each other? Was tourism helping or hurting the environment? Had it not been for the Quakers moving to Monteverde would there be tourism in the area? Had the Quakers moving to Monteverde helped the environment because they specifically protected certain areas of land? Or had the Quakers causing the dairy industry to grow created more damage than they prevented?
After lunch, a professor from UPeace came to address us. His name was Mihir Kanade. He was an extremely intelligent Indian man who specialized in international law, and more recently international development and human rights. He did a really good job of providing us with a background of what he was defining human rights to be, as an essential part of development because he relied primarily on Amartya Sen’s definition of human rights as freedom. He proceeded to question the real value of the United Nations’s Millennium Development Goals and point out their inherent flaws. It really helped me understand that while efforts to help developing countries are admirable, sometimes they are ineffective and serve more to make an organization look good rather than actually help the developing countries.
Unfortunately, during Professor Kanade’s lecture the skies open and the rain began. It was the loudest rainstorm that I have ever heard, but it was beautiful. It rains hard in DC, but it pours in Costa Rica. Still, there is something especially beautiful about tropical rains! Because it was raining I decided to spend the afternoon and evening in, catching up one some reading, writing, and communication to my friends and family back home.
It was another beautiful day in Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica!