Sunday, July 13, 2008

Plant a tree! Or not...

Ok, so yesterday I went to EPA (our version of a Home Depot, only not nearly as good) in Escazu to get a refill for the weed whacker. String trimmer. Whatever the hell they call those things. Out in front of the store was a huge flat of seedling trees in peat pots, with a sign about supporting the plant-a-tree program. I asked someone how much the trees were (figuring they were free, but of course, you never ask if something is free, that would just be rude). The guard outside didn't know (of course, because guards usually don't know anything except guarding), so we went in, did our little bit of shopping, and then I asked the cashier what was the deal with the trees. She didn't know either. I asked the guy who stamps your receipt on the way out to make sure you didn't steal anything, and he didn't know about the trees. I finally managed to track down one guy who finally, at long last, told me I had to go buy a ticket from the ICE if I wanted to purchase a tree, said tickets being 800 colones (about $1.75 more or less). Now, I could call the ICE, or one of the other companies involved in this program, but of course he didn't have the specific number to call. He did, however, hand me a brochure about the program, which had neither phone numbers nor prices of trees nor any indication of where you could go to purchase a tree. Of course at this point I gave up. I mean, how much are people expected to go through for $1.75 trees?

I'm thinking -- call me crazy! -- the thing to do is sell them at the store. You know, the store. Where they're located. Even better: give one away with every $10 purchase or something. Actually get the trees in people's hands so that they can plant them. I guess that's too much to ask.

The whole thing seems like a big corporate write-off to me. The board meeting, I imagine, went something like this: "So, here's the deal guys: we buy some tree seedlings, tell people we're doing this big plant-a-tree project, have the trees right there at the store, but make it incredibly difficult for anyone to actually buy one! That's the brilliant part! No one is going to jump through hoops for a $2 tree, so we can say we're doing all this great stuff for the environment and then, when all of the trees die because no one bought them, we can write them off! Brilliant, right?!? Am I right??"

Sigh. Bureaucracy at its finest.


  1. Hi Raven, I'm considering moving to CR in the near future. Of course, I've been reading everything I can in preparation. A friend has offered to let me stay in Santa Theresa to get acclimated to the culture. I understand the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve is nearby. Do you know the Nicoya Peninsula area? Would it be a good place to settle? I'm glad I found your blog. It sounds like you've settled in quite well.

  2. Hi Stephen,
    The last time I was on the Nicoya I absolutely LOVED it. It is beautiful, relaxed, and there are a surprising number of restaurants and hotels there now. Of course, the last time I was there was about 4 years ago, just before my son was born. Things may certainly have changed by now (become more built up, etc.), but yes, I'd definitely stay there and check it out! If we didn't have to live so close to San Jose for work reasons, the Santa Teresa/Mal Pais would look really promising to me. One drawback is that you have to take the ferry to get to and from the peninsula, but I suppose you'd get used to that after a while.
    Enjoy Costa Rica, and let us know how it goes!

  3. Thanks so much for the encouraging info, Raven. I'll certainly let you know how it goes. I used to live on an island here in the states (Nantucket) so I'm used to using the ferry to come and go. That way, only people who really want to visit me will bother. : )

    I'll be back to learn more.