This past weekend, ICDS coordinated our last program trip together with the Sustainable Development and Social Justice students. We visited Finca la Lucha, a community where Jose Figueres Ferrer- more commonly called Don Pepe by the people of Costa Rica- used to live and work. He was the president who famously abolished the Costa Rican military in the 70s, and he is credited for many advancements of Costa Rican society.
On Friday, we arrived in the morning and we visited a local school called Cecilia Orlich Figueres School where we introduced ourselves to one of the elementary classes and created a mural together. The children were very curious about where we came from and our lives in the states, so a few of us were crowded around by groups with many questions. One girl who was a bit shyer came up to me alongside her teacher, and the teacher told me the girl wanted to tell me something. Once I asked, the girl told me that she liked my hair and thought I was very pretty. I woke up very early that morning and rushed to get ready, so it warmed my heart to hear that. The girl’s name is Natalia María and she gave me a drawing to remember her and the other kids at the school. I must admit I almost cried.
Later that day we visited El Museo de Don Pepe, a museum of the late president’s that actually used to be his home. Don Pepe is revered as one of the most important and iconic historical figures in the history of Costa Rica and he enriched and improved the lives of many people, especially the working class. His abolishment of the military is pinnacle to the identity of Costa Rica as a country, and a reason why many people refer to it as the happiest country in the world (which is arguable, but a common saying nonetheless). I love historical sights so I enjoyed my time there, and I felt I got a better understanding of Costa Rica’s political climate. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, the second round of their current presidential election is coming up on April 3rd. Don Pepe’s son, Jose Maria Figueres, served as president from 1994-1998, and is currently running for president again this year. They are a political legacy family, and many people from more rural areas have a feeling of loyalty to them because of the history. Jose Maria Figueres and his opponent are both very controversial candidates, so although I still don’t understand everything, I feel I have a much better grasp than before this visit.
The next morning we went on a hike around the community. We saw a waterfall and a lake, and we got a closer look at the water system that Don Pepe famously designed back in the mid 20th century that they still use today.
Since we are in San José majority of the time, I sometimes forget how rich in nature Costa Rica is outside of the city. I will definitely miss views like this when I return to the states. I was really grateful to have participated in this trip close to the end of my time here. I am leaving with a much more well-rounded understanding of Costa Rica, its history and its people.
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