Yesterday I got back from my three week internship in Costa Rica. During my time there, I learned a lot about eco tourism, Costa Rica, and sustainable business practices. I got to take hikes through the back hills and see many of the bird species I had hoped to encounter. Three weeks in one location is a lot longer than most vacation visits to a country, and I got to really know the local area. While I was there we made frequent use of the bus to get around, which provided a more personal look at the San Jose area than driving would have. One thing I grew to appreciate was how green it was compared to the US. As soon as you leave the downtown area, the urban landscape is covered with trees and tall gras between buildings. Up in the hills there are farms mixed with residential housing and completely overgrown with forest.
While I was in downtown San Jose, I was surprised by the number of public parks throughout the city. There is also a lot of street art and interesting urban development, like cafes built out of old shipping containers. Everyone was very friendly and I felt welcomed everywhere I went. One experience I particularly enjoyed was a coffee tasting I went to, formally known as coffee cupping. We got to try 12 different kinds of coffee and rate them based on their aroma, body, acidity, and sweetness. It was a unique experience and it was great to be able to try locally grown coffee.
Overall it was an amazing experience. While it will be hard going back to the coffee in the United States, I learned a lot about how to combine business with good environmental and community practices. My internship showed me you can have profits and still protect the environment and build the local community.