Who had the vision that Monteverde could become a mecca for tourists, biologists and conservationists? It took a convergence of fortuitous events for this place to become what it is today, and Ruth Campbell, member of the family who owns El Establo Mountain Hotel, was a part of it from the time she was only a year old.
Her parents met a group of Quakers in Fairhope, Alabama. They identified with the ideals of the religion of peace, equality, social justice and simplicity. The adventurous newlywed couple joined the group and ended up coming to Costa Rica where they bought land.
Ruth’s father was the first to install glass windows in his home, and slowly but surely progress arrived. A generator instead of candles, an icebox fueled by kerosene for ice-cream treats for the children’s birthdays were part of the changes they lived through.
Ruth’s father had the idea that cheese was a good option to make money, so he traveled to the foothills of the Irazu volcano to purchase livestock that could produce good milk. Ruth and her two siblings helped in the daily chores, milking cows and chopping firewood before and after school.
Preserving the land was natural to them, but it wasn’t so to local Costa Rican farmers who saw the forest as an obstacle to progress and growth. In the 1970’s, George Powell, a biologist who lived in the area while studying local birds for his doctorate, promoted the unpopular idea of conserving land to protect water sources and wildlife. After land donations and other sponsors joined in, what is known today as the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve was born.
“Being a Quaker to me is a way of life, not a religion.” – Ruth Campbell
Article by Katie Widdowson