Ecoturístico La Tarde is owned and operated by Carlos Eduardo Castro Rojas (called Eduardo), who has been living on the Osa Peninsula for more than 36 years. Initially, Eduardo and his family survived mainly through agriculture, gold digging and hunting. These were common activities for all the farmers, or campesinos, who lived on the Osa.
But over the course of time things changed, and strict new regulations prohibited certain activities. Gold digging became more and more difficult as the gold reserves of the rivers were exhausted. Agriculture depleted the rainforest and caused problems with the wildlife. Hunting was banned. These were all positive consequences of growing conservation programs, but it became almost impossible for the campesinos to make a living. Many people left the area looking for a better life elsewhere.
Eduardo recalls a day when he was looking for gold in a small river:
“A friend came and told me about a job in a hotel in Drake Bay. I decided to leave my family behind and begin a new work experience. I met people from all over the world, some of whom were very nice. Although it was fun for them, it was difficult for me in the beginning. But after two or three months I started to enjoy being with tourists and looking for animals to show them. This was a big change in my life! I began to love animals and nature. I realized that taking care of nature and protecting it for the future is very important .
After two years working in the hotel I started to think about having my own tourist project. I quit my job and went back to my farm and my family. The first days on the farm I was busy looking for tourist attractions and trails in the rain forest; some local people thought that I had become crazy–that I had been stung by something strange in Drake Bay! They thought it would be impossible for even one tourist to visit my farm.
The most important thing was looking for resources and developing them for starting the project. I found it in the conservation of the rain forest. This is my project! It starts slowly but we know that it is difficult at the beginning. Thanks to people with a friendly heart we go forward with our project and will work on it so that the nature will recover in future from that what we have once taken away.”
Today Eduardo naturally applies the main principles of sustainability: he protects nature, enables a cultural exchange and–very important–contributes to the economic development and well-being of his close environment. In addition to his family members, Eduardo employs neighbors and local people to help with this work. For example, local women help prepare meals for the guests, and famers help him maintain the trails. Whenever possible, he buys produce, eggs, and other products from nearby farmers–from people who at the beginning thought that he got stung by something in Drake Bay!