We had a very interesting day which started with a guided tour in Monte Verde where we got to see a sloth, a quetzal and many many plants! Our guides were incredibly intelligent and engaging and it was nice that they were local. Ecotourism is so important for the local economy because the jobs and the profits go directly to local people and business.
Costa Rica has a Five leaves Program, where ecotourism business are ranked one to five in different categories of sustainability and they receive an overall rating that can only be as high as their lowest category. This is an amazing idea that encourages businesses to implement environmentally friendly practices so that they can display their green leaves with pride. If you are interested in this, you may check out this website for more information:
After lunch, we took a zip line tour, which was wonderful to bring all of us students together as a team and it was an amazing way to see more of the landscape. The combination of facing our fears and seeing the amazing surroundings was thrilling and refreshing. For those of you that are interested, our zip line tour company received two leaves in the five leaf program and included a sky tram and sky walks and a hummingbird walk, so there was something to do for everyone, which is important to bring in tourists.
We had a very interesting conversation as a class last night as to whether we would classify zip line tours as ecotourism or as just plain tourism. There are small things that every tourist company can do to help the environment and certainly the zip line tour was doing some of these, but are they doing enough?
After dinner we took a dance lesson with a man named Geovanni, who works here at U.G.A. Monte Verde and who is also a local and has been dancing his entire life. We learned the meringue and the cumbia. This was a blast! Hopefully we will get to show our new dance skills tomorrow night for New Year's Eve