Costa Rica and San Luis de Monteverde
A Bit of History
Little is known about the indigenous history of San Luis, however, evidence exist to support the existence of indigenous populations, such as the area called “The Burial Sites” in which, for many years, small artifacts of pottery have been found and in some cases, gold. Our forefathers tell that in the 1970’s it was common to see group of people with shovels and satchels looking for and extracting these materials.
The first Spaniards were families that emigrated from the Central Valley in the 1920’s with the purpose of finding new productive land. It was in this manner that the number of inhabitants in San Luis grew and the general conditions of the region were improved. Initially, the families were subsistence farmers and traveled by foot or by horse to the communities of Puntarenas and Las Juntas de Abangares to sell their agricultural products, buy medicine, clothing and other food.
Since the 1960’s important events changed the community. Education was thrust forward with the construction of 2 schools, regional roads were improved, and new opportunities for economic growth were opened in the coffee and dairy industry.
Our Culture and Way of Life
San Luis is a farming community that has based its life and growth on values such as family and community solidarity. The constant battle to resolve the limitations that, as a family and as a community we face, and the daily battle of small farmers that work their land.
An organization based on the community, the Association of Comprehensive Development, is the most prevalent form of organization. Simultaneously, the community counts with the support of other organized groups in areas such as education, health, sport and religion.
Primary Economic Activities
Coffee: Coffee has been the traditional cash crop in San Luis. In the 1960’s, a coffee processing plant was built and marketing was established. After 1986, the plant changed hands to a cooperative of producers from the area, who grow, process and sell the coffee with the Monteverde brand. You can view their website at Finca La Bella - Sustainable agriculture and coffee tours.
Dairy and Beef Industry: Milk is marketed through the Producers of Monteverde company, an organization that has been functioning in the region for 50 years, which produce cheese, ice cream and other products both for national consumption and export.
Ecotourism and Rural Tourism: Currently many families are involved with the tourism industry in the Monteverde region in some way. Some are employed in tourism companies, many women make arts and crafts for the tourism trade and many families host visitors, primarily students, in their own homes.
The access to educational opportunities is perhaps the primary limitation of the community. There are 2 primary education schools in San Luis. To receive secondary education, students have to travel 1.5 hours from San Luis to the closest high school, which results in a high attrition rate, due to the lack of resources that many families experience. Twenty-five percent of the population older than 12 years of age did not finish primary education; 7.4% of those older than 18 years of age have finished high school and only 2.8% of the population older than 18 has a college degree.
The common vision for the San Luis community is one that strives for a better quality of life, within the framework of sustainability.
Through the tourism project known as the Pacific Slope Trail, the community tries to find economic alternatives, always taking into account the issues that surround appropriate management of ecotourism, while retaining our cultural values and promoting environmental conservation.
For more information on the community of San Luis, please contact: Noé Vargas, President of the Asociación de Desarrollo San Luis.