By itself, the word “worth” has many different meanings. By definition, worth can be the quality that presents something desirable, the material or market value of something, wealth or riches, or a quantity of something that may be purchased for a certain amount. But how is worth defined in a country such as Costa Rica? It isn’t the economic value, the GDP, or a price put on imported and exported goods. These things, although important, don’t even begin to measure the true worth of such a beautiful place.
In just the short time I have been here, I’ve seen a number of things that make Costa Rica worthy, not because of their ability to increase any kind of numerical or economic value, but simply because they exist. Costa Rica is home to many natural plants, animals, and insects that have a way of helping out on their own. The country is highly dependent on pollinators including different types of bees. According to the Earthwatch Institute, there are more than 400 species of wild bees in Costa Rica and they play a very important role in the production of fruits and vegetables. For example, because corn is not a self-pollinating crop, farmers will plant flowers on the edge of their corn crops to attract bees and other insects to help the pollination process.
Bees are beneficial in other ways as well. The Tetragonisca angustula, sometimes referred to as Mariola, is a specie of bee native to Central America. This type of small bee creates a special type of honey that is not only sweet, and healthy too. It has a unique flavor, medicinal properties that can help prevent infections, and in some areas, costs ten times more than regular honey.
Although they are very important, bees are just one of the many different examples of Costa Rica’s natural worth. When visiting different farms we were able to see how each plant played a beneficial role in the production of another.
For example, Roberto’s family planted banana trees among potato plants so the banana leaves shaded the plants underneath. Potatoes need a little bit of shade to grow so they used a very natural way to solve this problem. To me this is extremely worthy. They didn’t have to spend money on any sort of man-made structure, they simply let nature do what it was meant to do. They were able to have a successful banana and potato production on the same area of land.
The most important thing I’ve learned while being here is that Costa Rica is an extremely natural country. The country’s inhabitants embrace nature and let it be the power behind their success. The bees and the example of the plants are just two among the many things that make Costa Rica worth something more than money. Albert Einstein once said, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” It’s hard to see the worth of something so small like the placement of plants and the importance of bees, but Costa Rica shines a special light on its intrinsic value and worth.