Authors: Bela Voglund, Isabella Ledesma, Priest Muniz, Anna Gaier, Wren Murzyn
Aydee Vergas is a 61-year-old woman who has lived in a rural area of Monteverde, Costa Rica, since she was 6 years old. Aydee and her husband have three children. Now retired, Aydee spends her time volunteering in her community, teaching Spanish and being lady of the house. During the school year, she takes in college students attending the nearby University of Georgia. During their stay, Aydee teaches them Spanish and also cooks their meals. In her free time, Aydee enjoys walks around her neighborhood, going to church, watching soccer and caring for the couple’s three dogs and four cats. She prefers to spend lots of time outside because she likes to be connected with nature and her community. She knows every family and every child in her neighborhood.
In addition to making earrings and selling them for extra income, Aydee also likes to do community service work at the park at the end of her road. This busy lady also grows her own food and plants. When we had the opportunity to have dinner with Aydee at her her home, we learned that she grew everything on the menu except for the rice and beans. Aydee’s favorite food is rice and beans, a staple of the Costa Rican diet that appears at almost every meal. Aydee also enjoys fruit and salad grown from her own garden.
As a young girl, Aydee did not get to attend much school because she had 11 siblings, and her family did not have enough money for uniforms. In Costa Rica, public and private schools require that students purchase and wear uniforms, a cost beyond the means of many large families like Aydee’s. In addition, the community did not have paved roads, and most transportation was by horse or mule. The local school was down in the valley, several miles away. As a result, Aydee and her siblings were not educated beyond the 3rd grade.
Nowadays, Aydee’s community is still somewhat remote. A traveling doctor visits the community only once every 15 days. If a family has more urgent medical needs, the “local” doctor is 2 hours away by car and most families would have to take a taxi to get there, a trip that costs $17 each way.
Jimmy Trejos is a 36-year-old Costa Rican tour guide who lives with his wife and their two young children, a 9-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son, near the Costa Rican capital of San Jose. The family has several pets, including three dogs and one cat. Like most Costa Ricans, Jimmy and his family allow their pets a free range, meaning the animals are free to roam around without tags but are expected to find their way back for sleep and food.
Jimmy really enjoys his life of travel and adventure, and yet after every trip he is always excited to make his way home to see his family. In his work, Jimmy takes every chance he gets to teach people about the natural beauty and resources of Costa Rica. Using humor as well as many facts, Jimmy teaches about the exotic beauty of his native country, including the most beautiful birds that were ever discovered, like the Great Green Macaws, and the Keel Billed Toucan. He drew our attention to the beautiful green grass and the jungles filled with the cool, but scary, howler monkeys. These exotic monkeys woke us every morning, their howls sounding just like police sirens!
It is clear that Jimmy loves his native country. His favorite foods are the native-grown rice, beans and pineapple. In his spare time, Jimmy enjoys hiking, rafting and being outdoors in the rainforests and rivers of this beautiful country.