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How ecotourism is felt throughout the greater Monteverde region with an emphasis on local happiness

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Title:
How ecotourism is felt throughout the greater Monteverde region with an emphasis on local happiness
Translated Title:
¿Cómo se siente el ecoturismo en toda la región de Monteverde, con énfasis en la felicidad local? ( )
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English
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Findlay, Hannah, L
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Subjects / Keywords:
Ecotourism   ( lcsh )
Happiness   ( lcsh )
Costa Rica--Guanacaste--Cañitas   ( lcsh )
Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Monteverde Zone   ( lcsh )
Ecoturismo
Felicidad
Costa Rica--Guanacaste--Cañitas
Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Zona de Monteverde
Tropical Ecology Spring 2010
Ecología Tropical Primavera 2010
Genre:
Reports   ( lcsh )
Reports

Notes

Abstract:
Within the last two decades, the zone of Monteverde, Costa Rica has been targeted by the tourism industry as an ideal destination for conservationists and adventure-seekers alike. This study investigates many of the potential cultural impacts (including changes in individual levels of happiness) brought upon by the drastic shift in the economic focus of the community from agriculture to tourism in the past 20 years. I conducted 100 face-to-face interviews, each consisting of 18 questions, in all major regions of the zone of Monteverde. Questions aimed to obtain demographic information as well as the participants’ attitudes towards ecotourism and their reported happiness (on a scale of zero to ten) as of 20 years ago and presently. The mean happiness 20 years ago was 8.28 (±2.12) and today’s average is 8.565 (±1.86). I searched for meaningful interactions among demographic variables (age, gender, education level, occupation, percentage of income from tourism, etc.) and reported happiness and did not find any statistically significant correlations. However, valuable conclusions can still be drawn from this overall lack of correlation between demographic data and reported happiness. A more detailed appraisal of individual responses demonstrates that the needs of locals are often conflicting with the needs of tourism which can have detrimental cultural implications. For this reason, additional studies are warranted to more carefully define how the specific effects of tourism affect specific aspects of local culture and happiness and quality of life of the locals.
Abstract:
En los últimos 20 años, la zona de Monteverde, Costa Rica, ha sido dirigida por la industria turística como un destino ideal para los conservacionistas y las buscadoras de aventura igual. Este estudio investiga muchos de los impactos culturales potenciales (incluyendo los cambios en los niveles individuales de la felicidad) a causa del cambio drástico en el enfoque económico de la comunidad de la agricultura con el turismo en los últimos 20 años. Realicé cien entrevistas orales, cada una consistía de 18 preguntas, en las principales regiones de la zona de Monteverde. Las preguntas estaban dirigidas para obtener la información demográfica y las actitudes de los participantes hacia el ecoturismo y sus felicidades reportadas (en una escala de cero a diez) desde hace 20 años, hasta ahora. La felicidad media hace 20 años era de 8.28 (±2.12) y la media hoy es 8.565 (±1.86). Busqué interacciones significativas entre las variables demográficas (edad, sexo, nivel educativo, ocupación, porcentaje de los ingresos del turismo, etc.) y felicidades reportadas y no encontré ninguna correlación estadísticamente significativa. Sin embargo, todavía hay conclusiones valiosas de la falta de correlación entre los datos demográficos y las felicidades reportadas. Mirando los datos se demuestra que las necesidades de los locales a menudo discrepan con las necesidades del turismo, que puede tener impactos culturales perjudiciales. Por esta razón, las investigaciones adicionales son necesarias para cuidadosamente definir como los efectos específicos del turismo influyen en los aspectos específicos de la cultura local y en la felicidad y calidad de vida de los locales.
Language:
Text in English.
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Born Digital

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usfldc doi - M39-00300
usfldc handle - m39.300
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Within the last two decades, the zone of Monteverde, Costa Rica has been targeted by the tourism industry as an ideal destination for conservationists and adventure-seekers alike. This study investigates many of the potential cultural impacts (including changes in individual levels of happiness) brought upon by the drastic shift in the economic focus of the community from agriculture to tourism in the past 20 years. I conducted 100 face-to-face interviews, each consisting of 18 questions, in all major regions of the zone of Monteverde. Questions aimed to obtain demographic information as well as the participants attitudes towards ecotourism and their reported happiness (on a scale of zero to ten) as of 20 years ago and presently. The mean happiness 20 years ago was 8.28 (2.12) and todays average is 8.565 (1.86). I searched for meaningful interactions among demographic variables
(age, gender, education level, occupation, percentage of income from tourism, etc.) and reported happiness and did not find any statistically significant correlations. However, valuable conclusions can still be drawn from this overall lack of correlation between demographic data and reported happiness. A more detailed appraisal of individual responses demonstrates that the needs of locals are often conflicting with the needs of tourism which can have detrimental cultural implications. For this reason, additional studies are warranted to more carefully define how the specific effects of tourism affect specific aspects of local culture and happiness and quality of life of the locals.
En los ltimos 20 aos, la zona de Monteverde, Costa Rica, ha sido dirigida por la industria turstica como un destino ideal para los conservacionistas y las buscadoras de aventura igual. Este estudio investiga muchos de los impactos culturales potenciales (incluyendo los cambios en los niveles individuales de la felicidad) a causa del cambio drstico en el enfoque econmico de la comunidad de la agricultura con el turismo en los ltimos 20 aos. Realic cien entrevistas orales, cada una consista de 18 preguntas, en las principales regiones de la zona de Monteverde. Las preguntas estaban dirigidas para obtener la informacin demogrfica y las actitudes de los participantes hacia el ecoturismo y sus felicidades reportadas (en una escala de cero a diez) desde hace 20 aos, hasta ahora. La felicidad media hace 20 aos era de 8.28 (2.12) y la media hoy es 8.565 (1.86). Busqu interacciones significativas entre las variables demogrficas (edad, sexo, nivel educativo, ocupacin, porcentaje de los ingresos del turismo, etc.) y felicidades reportadas y no encontr ninguna correlacin estadsticamente significativa. Sin embargo, todava hay conclusiones valiosas de la falta de correlacin entre los datos demogrficos y las felicidades reportadas. Mirando los datos se demuestra que las necesidades de los locales a menudo discrepan con las necesidades del turismo, que puede tener impactos culturales perjudiciales. Por esta razn, las investigaciones adicionales son necesarias para cuidadosamente definir como los efectos especficos del turismo influyen en los aspectos especficos de la cultura local y en la felicidad y calidad de vida de los locales.
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Happiness
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Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Monteverde Zone
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Ecoturismo
Felicidad
Costa Rica--Guanacaste--Caitas
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How Ecotourism is Felt Throughout the Greater Monteverde Region With an Emphasis on Local Happiness Hannah L. Findlay Departments of Anthropology, Biology, and Spanish, University of Illinois at Chicago ABSTRACT Within the last two decades, the zone o f Monteverde, Costa Rica has been targeted by the tourism industry as an ideal destination for conservationists and adventure seekers alike. This study investigates many of the potential cultural impacts (including changes in individual levels of happiness ) brought upon by the drastic shift in the economic focus of the community from agriculture to tourism in the past 20 years. I conducted 100 face to face interviews, each consisting of 18 questions, in all major regions of the zone of Monteverde. Questions aimed to happiness (on a scale of zero to ten) as of 20 years ago and presently. The mean happiness 20 years ago was 8.28 ge is 8.565 (1.86). I searched for meaningful interactions among demographic variables (age, gender, education level, occupation, percentage of income from tourism, etc.) and reported happiness and did not find any statistically significant correlations. However, valuable conclusions can still be drawn from this overall lack of correlation between demographic data and reported happiness. A more detailed appraisal of individual responses demonstrates that the needs of locals are often conflicting with the n eeds of tourism which can have detrimental cultural implications. For this reason, additional studies are warranted to more carefully define how the specific effects of tourism affect specific aspects of local culture and happiness and quality of life of t he locals. RESUMEN En los ltimos 20 aos, la zona de Monteverde, Costa Rica ha sido dirigida por la industria turstica como un destino ideal para conservacionistas y buscadoras de aventura igual. Este estudio investiga muchos impactos culturales pot enciales (incluyendo cambios en niveles individuales de felicidad) a causa del cambio drstico en el foco econmico de la comunidad de agricultura a turismo en los ltimos 20 aos. Realic cien entrevistas orales, cada una consistente de 18 preguntas, en t odas las regiones mayores de la zona de Monteverde. Las preguntas estn dirigidas a obtener informacin demogrfica y actitudes de participantes hacia ecoturismo y sus felicidades reportadas (en una escala de cero a diez) a partir de hace 20 anos y ahorit a. La media felicidad hace 20 aos era 8.28 (2.12) y la media hoy es 8.565 (1.86). Busqu por interacciones con sentido entre variables demogrficas (edad, sexo, nivel de educacin, ocupacin, porcentaje de ingresos del turismo, etc.) y felicidades repor tadas y no encontr ninguna correlacin con significancia estadstica. Sin embargo, todava hay conclusiones valiosas de la falta de correlacin entre datos demogrficos y felicidades reportadas. Mirando los datos se demuestra que las necesidades de los lo cales a menudo discrepan con las necesidades del turismo, que puede tener impactos culturales perjudiciales. Por esta razn, investigaciones adicionales son necesarias para ms cuidadamente definir como los efectos especficos del turismo influyen aspectos especficos de la cultura local y felicidad y calidad de vida de los locales.

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INTRODUCTION The Earth provides us with an abundance of natural capital as well as the newly discovered capital derived from ecotourism, which largely deals with the act of making nature into a commodity (Costanza et al. 1997). When a community relies too heavily on tourism, it will often mass market et al. 1990). The needs of local people often conflict with the needs of tourism which usually leads to detrimental impacts on local society in terms of both culture and economics (Brown et al. 1995). Although ecotourism is generally welcomed from an economic standpoint, some may worry that not all of the revenues are reinv ested in conservation as they should be (Vanasselt 2000). Efforts to protect natural areas through ecotourism may not be effective if governments ignore the immense political and social problems that contribute a great deal to environmental degradation (Is aacs 2000). Tourism is part showbiz, part international trade in commodities, part innocent fun, and part a devastating modernizing force (Stronza 2001). With about 6,000 year round residents and over 250,000 tourists per year, Monteverde has undoubtedly b ecome a popular touristic hub (Rasmussen 2008, Costa Rica Guides 2009) Between 2003 and 2004 alone, the number of foreign visitors to Costa Rica increased by 27% (Aylward et al. 2004). During the past 20 years, Monteverde has undergone a total economic sh ift from agriculture to tourism, which has greatly accelerated widespread cultural changes (Martn 2004). It is difficult to study the impact of ecotourism from a more social, cultural, and political standpoint (Diggs 2009) but I aim to gather this type o f information from personal interviews. I happy people were before and after the drastic rise in tourism and whether or not they feel ecotourism is impacting the ir culture. These are important questions to ask as my findings may show that cultural traditions are more valued than economic success. MATERIALS AND METHODS Study Sites and Participants I conducted 100 interviews throughout the greater Monteverde reg ion between April 3, 2010 and May 2, 2010. Participants were carefully selected based on the following factors: they had to be at least 20 years of age and they must have lived in Monteverde for at least two years and considered themselves locals. I chose these two discriminating factors to ensure that the interviewees had the knowledge and experience necessary in order to complete the questionnaire; in order to report on the change in the past 20 years, individuals must have been alive at least 20 years ag o. These 100 locals lived in the towns of Caitas, Los Llanos, Santa Elena, San Rafael, La Lindora, Abangares, Cerro Plano, Cerro Plano Heights, Los Tornos, Bajo del Tigre, Monteverde, La Cruz, and San Luis. Interviews I created an 18 question Spanish s which case I would translate every question); the first third of the survey focuses on demographics while the rest of the questions aim to investigate the attitudes towards eco tourism, the eff ects of eco tourism on Monteverde, and the happiness of individuals 20 years ago as well

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as today (Appendix 1). All 100 surveys were orally administered by me; I carefully noted the responses meanwhile recording the interview in case additional input on a would be needed. Responses to open ended questions (specifically numbers six, seven, 12, and 16 from Appendix 1) were grouped into categories so that the data could be more easily quantified. After reviewing all of the demographic d ata, I placed the occupations into four categories: none/house wife, farmer, indirect association with ecotourism, and direct association with ecotourism. Education levels were broken down into the following six categories: none, primary school, some high school, high school graduate, university graduate, and post undergraduate studies. The questions related to happiness prompted a numerical response. Participants were asked to report their happiness on a scale of zero to ten (with ten being the happiest) The remaining open ended questions were grouped into categories of responses based on what the participants reported; all responses were placed into at least one category (these six categories were created by simplifying and tallying up all 100 responses. The categories for impact by tourism are as follows: financial (meaning that the response involved money or jobs), drugs (the response explicitly stated drugs), cultural (the re sponse accounted for any reported changes in community), infrastructure (the response dealt with specific changes in the landscape, such as a new paved road), education (the response explicitly stated a change in education), and family (the response stated a change in family structure). When asked about the biggest social change in Monteverde in the past 20 years, the responses were grouped into the following nine categories: population (response included growth of the area by both locals and foreigners), business (response included changes in types of jobs as well as financial changes), infrastructure (response dealt with specific changes to the landscape and construction), culture (response accounted for any reported changes in community), tourism (respon se explicitly stated tourism), environment (response accounted for reported changes in climate, biodiversity, or increased trash and pollution), education (response stated a change in education, including rise of teaching of English), disintegration (respo nse described a feeling of disintegration of community), and none (no reported change). All responses were accounted for by at least one category. RESULTS Demographics I interviewed 100 individuals, 32 were females and 68 were males. The mean age of pa rticipants was 39.67 and the mean time an individual had lived in Monteverde was 22 years. Forty one percent of participants live in Santa Elena, 16% in Caitas, 12% in San Luis, 10% in Monteverde, 6% in La Cruz, 6% in Cerro Plano, 4% in Los Llanos, and 1% in Los Torros, San Rafael, La Lindora, Cerro Plano Heights, and Bajo del Tigre. Three percent of individuals had no education, 21% attended primary school, 43% attended at least some high school, 21% graduated from high school, 10% graduated from universi ty, and 2% continued post undergraduate studies. Ninety seven out of one hundred individuals agree that Monteverde depends on ecotourism. Additionally, there are no significant correlations between happiness and education level, happiness and age, nor happ iness and number of children for the 100 data collected.

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Family Eating Patterns There was an interesting trend of a change in family dynamics over the past 20 years. When asked if participants were accustomed to eating meals with their families and if th at had changed in the past 20 years, five individuals reported eating more meals with their families now than 20 years ago, 53 individuals reported that they eat fewer meals with their families now, and 42 reported that there had been no change in their fa mily eating patterns in the past 20 years. Life Impact by Ecotourism When asked how ecotourism has affected the lives of participants, 50 individuals replied with a financial comment, 3 with drugs, 22 with a cultural impact, 5 with infrastructure, 10 wi th education, and 8 with family. It is interesting to note that, despite some reported negative impacts, 70 locals viewed tourists as good while 28 viewed tourists as both good and bad and only 2 locals viewed tourists as all bad. Biggest Social Change One hundred locals were asked what the biggest social change in the Monteverde region has been in the past 20 years and their responses were grouped into 9 categories (Figure 1). Each gories, depending on how many categories their response touched on. FIGURE 1. Locals comment on the biggest social change in Monteverde in the past 20 years. Locals were asked in April of 2010 in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Happiness Twenty years ago, p articipants reported an average happiness of 8.28 (2.12) on a scale of zero p = 1.03, df = 99, p = 0.31. Figure 2 shows the four occupation categories compared against reported happ iness of all 100 individuals; there was no significant difference between happiness and occupation.

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FIGURE 2. Four categories of occupation in Monteverde compared against the reported happiness of all 100 individuals, 20 years ago and today. The happin ess scale ranges from zero to ten. There is no significant correlation (one way ANOVA shows 20 years ago, F = 1.0512, P = 0.3737, df = 3, 96. Today, F = 1.5634, P = 0.2033, df = 3, 96). Data gathered from questionnaire given in April 2010 in Monteverde, Co sta Rica. DISCUSSION Out of the 100 individuals that I interviewed, 97 agree that the region of Monteverde depends on ecotourism. There is no doubt that the relatively recent influx of ecotourism has altered the lives of the locals, but my goal was to fi result of this altered lifestyle in Monteverde. The Happy Planet Index shows Costa Rica as the happiest country with an overall score of 8.5, on a scale of zero to ten, (Murphy 2009) which coinc ides with my recorded happiness averages of 8.28 (20 years ago) and 8.565 (now). These numbers can be contrasted with the happiness of the United States which has an overall score of 7.9 (Murphy 2009). In retrospect, I would have liked to add a question ab income now compared with 20 years ago; it would be interesting to compare this added factor says a lot; Ticos are happy people in spite of the rapid change of lifestyle. The results also indicate that, regardless of education or occupation, the vast majority of residents report relatively high levels of happiness even in the face of relatively rapid cultural and economic change. In other wor ds, particular groups seem to have not been disproportionally affected by the changes due to ecotourism in either positive or negative ways. The changes seem to have affected most everyone in similar ways. I chose to incorporate a few questions in my su rvey about family eating patterns as it is something widely understood and the responses generated a great deal of information in few words. Just by figuring out how many times a week somebody eats with their family, I was able to infer patterns associated with family integration or disintegration over the past 20 years. Food

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is a very important cultural marker (Super 2002) and the fact that 53% reported that they eat fewer meals with family now has very large cultural implications. Has the homogenization o f eating practices reached Monteverde? So far the area is still free from McDonalds but the decrease in frequency of meals eaten at home could be the first step towards food homogenization. Surely the drastic increase of tourists over the past 20 years has propelled this change in eating patterns. I focused a large portion of my questions towards better understanding the reported impacts of ecotourism on the lives of 100 individuals. When asked how their lives are impacted by ecotourism, I found that inte rviewees see their lives most impacted in an economic sense by ecotourism. As tourism is the primary economic source in the zone of Monteverde (Nadkarni & Wheelwright 2000) so it comes as no surprise that the economic aspect of ecotourism is felt so strong ly throughout the community. However, when I asked about the biggest social change in Monteverde in the past 20 years, responses suggesting a cultural change (37%) dominated. Only 23% of participants reported the biggest change to be business (financially) related. This is interesting as it shows that by slightly changing the wording of a similar question, the responses could change drastically (see Appendix 1 for actual wording of questions). Most participants said that they enjoy the cultural exchange tha t comes with the tourism, but 19% reported that they felt a disintegration of community. This result was surprising because I expected that disintegration would be a negative feeling that may lower your overall happiness. That was not the case, however, bu t to account for this seemingly paradoxical result, I could have asked for happiness not only in a wholesome sense but also happiness with the community of Monteverde now and 20 years ago. Thirty five percent reported that tourism was the biggest social ch ange followed closely by infrastructure at 34%. The rapid and uncontrolled growth of the greater Monteverde area is evident in the poor urban planning that gave rise to Santa Elena (Martn 2004). Considering my results from a holistic perspective emphasi zes the myriad ways that ecotourism can transform local communities as well as the lives of the tourists that visit these communities. When tourists and locals come into contact, both have the opportunity to glance at another way of life as well as to refl ect on their own lives through another set of eyes (Stranza 2001). It is in this way that tourism was once credited as the single largest peaceful movement in the history of the world (Lett 1989). This may not be exactly the case for Monteverde, Costa Rica but my results demonstrate that the vast majority of the locals have welcomed the change that ecotourism has brought upon them with open arms and happy hearts. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Pablo Allen deserves a great deal of thanks for his positive and encouragi ng demeanor throughout this journey also for the translation of my survey and other such technicalities. A special thanks to Moncho Caldern and Yimen Araya for being there for me, in every sense of the phrase. Many thanks to my newfound lifelong friends f or an endless supply of inspirational words, hugs, and Excel tutorials. Muchsimas gracias to the one hundred individuals that invited me into their lives by allowing me to interview and talk with them. And, lastly, thanks to Paul Gulezian, whose teaching never fails to reach across countries.

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LITERATURE CITED A YLWARD B., K. A LLEN J. E CHEVERRIA AND J. T OSI 2004. Sustainable ecotourism in Costa Rica: the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. Biodiversity and Conservation 5: 315 343 B ROWN K., R.K. T UR NER H. H AMEED I. B ATEMAN 1995. Tourism and Sustainability in Environmentally Fragile Areas: Case Studies from the Maldives and Nepal. CSERGE Working Paper. C OSTANZA R., R. D RGE R. DE G ROOT S. F ARBER M. G RASSO B. H ANNON K. L LMBURG S. N AEEM R. V. EILL J. P ARUELO R. G. R ASKIN P. S UTTON AND M. VAN DEN B ELT 1997. ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature. 387: 253 259. C OSTA R ICA G UIDES 2009. http://costaricaguides.com. D IGGS J. 2009. Through the eyes of the locals: The role of ecotourism in the Monteverde region of Costa Rica. CIEE Tropical Ecology and Conservation Fall. F ENNELL D.A., AND P.F.J. E AGLES 1990. Ecotourism in Costa Rica: A Conceptual Framework. Journal of Park and Recreation. 23 34. I S AACS J. C. 2000. The Limited Potential of Ecotourism to Contribute to Wildlife Conservation. Wildlife Society Bulletin 28: No. 1: 61 69. L ETT J. 1989. In Hosts and Guests: An Anthropology of Tourism. University of Pennsylvania Press, Pittsburgh, PA. M AR TN L.M. 2004. Tourist expansion and development of rural communities: The case of Monteverde, Costa Rica. Mountain Research and Development 24: 202 205. M URPHY M. (Ed.). 2009. Happy Planet Index 2.0: new economics foundation, London, United Kingdom. N A DKARNI M.M AND W HEELWRIGHT N.T. (Eds.). 2000. Monteverde: Ecology and Conservation of a Tropical Cloud Forest. Oxford University Press, New York, New York. R ASMUSSON J. 2008. Water use, wastewater disposal, and water conservation attitudes in the Montev erde zone. CIEE Tropical Ecology and Conservation Fall: 186 204. S TRANZA A.2001. Anthropology of Tourism: Forging New Ground for Ecotourism and Other Alternatives. Annual Review of Anthropology 30: 261 283. S UPER J. C. 2002. Food and History. Journal of Social History 36: No. 1: 165 178. V ANASSELT W. 2000 Ecotourism and Conservation: Are They Compatible? World Resources Institute. APPENDIX 1: Questionnaire Administered to 100 Participants 1. Sexo: 2. Edad: 3. Lugar de residencia: 4. Nacionalidad: 5. Por cunto tiem po ha vivido en Monteverde: 6. Mximo nivel de educacin alcanzado: 7. Ocupacin: 8. Qu porcentaje de sus ingresos provienen de actividades relacionadas a eco turismo? 9. Cuntos hijos tiene usted? 10. Acostumbra a tener sus comidas en familia? Cuantas veces por seman a? 11. Ha cambiado esto en los ltimos 20 anos, o mientras usted creca aqu? Cmo ha cambiado? 12. Se ha visto su vida influida por el eco turismo? De qu forma? 13. Y su familia? 14. Qu piensa usted sobre los turistas que visitan Monteverde? 15. Cree usted que Montev erde depende del eco turismo? 16. Cul ha sido el cambio social ms grande en Monteverde en los ltimos 20 a os? 17. Hace 20 a os, qu tan feliz era usted? En una escala de 0 a 10. 18. Ahora, en da, qu tan feliz es usted? En una escala de 0 a 10.