Cloud Forests and Tortillas: Finding Resilience in Costa Rica

Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA
Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA

Just in time for Chanukah, I embraced my first holiday of 2023. This year, the allure of Costa Rica, a country we’ve envisioned visiting for 15 years, prompted Sheila and I to embark on a 9-day tour. Aligned with National Geographic, our itinerary included visits to conservation sites, national parks, and residents who welcomed us and shared aspects of their lives. We had the opportunity to engage in small environmental projects and play, including horseback riding, river rafting, and massages. Costa Rica, renowned for its ecological consciousness, provided the perfect backdrop for our experiences.

We planted trees along riverbanks, studied botanical specifies in the forest, looked and found bird and monkey species, and discovered local traditions such as extracting sugar from canes and crafting delectable corn tortillas using a multi-generational recipe.

We traveled with a small and engaged group of newfound friends and reaffirmed my belief in the interplay between psychological and environmental resilience. One interesting resilience story emerged from the early 1950s when forty-four Quakers from Alabama, driven by their commitment to peace, sought refuge in Costa Rica to avoid military service during the Korean War.

Choosing to settle near Monteverde, a haven for one of the world’s rare cloud forests, they, as dairy farmers, initially cleared substantial portions of the primary-growth forest for livestock grazing. However, recognizing the vital role of the hills above them in sustaining the cloud forest and providing clean water, they set aside a significant portion of their land as a “Watershed Property,” establishing one of the country’s pioneering environmental reserves.

Despite their well-intentioned efforts, their forestry practices adversely affected the environment, posing threats to wildlife, water quality, and soil retention. In the 1980s, a resilience initiative was initiated to restore the forests. During our visit to the Monteverde Institute, where we contributed by preparing soil bags for tree seedlings, we learned of the Institute’s efforts to reinvigorate the forest. In their thirty years of existence, they have planted over 300,000 trees.

The ongoing transformation of the forest back to its natural habitat serves as a testament to the profound resilience inherent in nature. It underscores the notion that while Mother Nature is the most outstanding teacher of resilience, we humans can help her on the journey to balance.

We knock ourselves around for hurting the environment. We do a great deal to help her, and this trip helped me reconnect to another element of resilience.

© Richard Citrin 2023

Share this post


Subscribe to Richard’s Resilient Wednesday:

Get a Midweek Boost and a bonus Sample Chapter from Strategy Driven Leadership

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top

Subscribe to Richard’s Resilient Wednesday:

Get a Midweek Boost and a bonus Sample Chapter from Strategy Driven Leadership

Create a Powerful Workplace Culture

Discover the 10 Keys To Strategy Driven Leadership