Blog Post- My stay at Longo Mai
I recently travelled to Longo Mai as a graduate student from Elon University in the United States. We came as part of a project to redesign their website, and we needed to learn as much as we could about this community in the span of less than one week. We spent four days in Longo Mai talking to as many people as we could to learn about the history of Longo Mai, the daily lives of those who live, and some of the most relevant issues that affect the community.
I did not know what to expect going in to this trip, and I was nervous because I had never travelled to Central America before and did not speak Spanish. When we arrived, we were welcomed by many members of the community and greeted by Don Cris, who speaks English. Our group was split up (2 guests per family) and we were introduced to our host family and fed a delicious meal. We stayed in their guest room, and despite the fact that we did not speak Spanish and our host family did not speak English, they were extremely welcoming and accommodating. We ate meals around 6:30 in the morning, 12:00 noon, and 6:00 P.M. Meals varied depending on whose house you stayed in, and our meals mostly included rice and beans or some variation of that, usually mixed with a meat or vegetable. Breakfast usually consisted of a dish like this, or a dish like pupusas with hot coffee to drink. One of my favorite parts about the meals here were the drinks they were served with, which were usually natural fruit drinks and tasted delicious!
During our stay here, we experienced much of what Longo Mai had to offer including going to the Convento River to swim, taking a guided hike through the forest surrounding Longo Mai, and seeing the sugar cane fields and the processing facility. We enjoyed several recreational activities when we were not working on our project, including learning how to make chocolate and pupusas (Salvadorian dish that is very delicious!), learning Latin Dancing, and listening to the music of Guadelupe Urbina at Casa Madremonte. Some of my favorite things about my stay in Longo Mai included how connected the community was with nature- every family has a dog and many have more than one! Everywhere you look you can see a large variety of different plant species and many different types of animals as well (although mostly livestock in the village itself). The community is very united and passionate about conserving the natural world around them, and overall it is a very close, tight-knit community. Everyone’s door is open and people frequently come in and out of each other’s houses.
If you are looking to visit Costa Rica but want a more authentic experience instead of a resort I highly recommend coming to stay at Longo Mai, even if it is just for a couple days. This is a truly unique experience and it will make your Costa Rica trip different and extremely memorable. Make sure you are well-prepared to come here, and be sure to check out the list of what to bring and what to expect while in Longo Mai.