Select Page
Avocados and Plastic- A Few Costa Rican Challenges

Avocados and Plastic- A Few Costa Rican Challenges

Finding the nuances of various locations is one of my favorite parts of being a global citizen, as it often makes me think of things I see everyday but pay little attention. I’m keen to noticing these unique elements when I travel. Finding avocado vendors and carts in a variety of places is a prime example. To me it seems so cool and anomalous that people make their living as an avocado vendor.  So, I thought it was that easy. After talking with street vendors in a variety of locations, I learned of the issues surrounding this single seeded fruit. One vendor mentioned that many people sell avocados that are Mexican avocados smuggled through the CR and Panama border, but if they are found selling them, there is a big penalty.

So, what’s with the avocados?

Unbeknownst to me initially, there is an outstanding World Trade Organization lawsuit brought by Mexico against Costa Rica, because CR government created strenuous regulations for legal importation, creating a major decline in the avocado trade between Mexico and CR. The reason the CR government decided to create these regulations? In 2014, they began to see agricultural “sunspot disease” tested positive in the imported avocados. They wanted to protect their agricultural growth. Costa Rica will only import avocados from Mexico IF they can show a certificate that they are free of disease, and areas that have the disease. As a result, CR began importing avocados from Peru, which have a very different look, are larger, and some say, have less attractive flavor, along with a much higher price tag. I asked a few vendors why CR doesn’t grow avocados, and got a lot of theories. A few common ones had to do with the challenges to growing this fruit without heavy chemical/pesticide use and diseases the plant can get and spread to other CR plants native to the country. Interesting how one cart, one picture, one experience can lead to learning so much about culture, relationships, and history. (Below these are the Peruvian avocados)

I did learn during my stay that CR has proclaimed to become the first single use plastic free country by 2021, in order to protect the mass amount of biodiversity it contains (6% of the world’s total biodiversity; this is massive considering it is such a small country). Naturally, this intriguing fact was part of the draw for me to investigate Costa Rica. Much like Alaska, and elsewhere I have traveled with a lot of coastal waters, plastic waste has overrun the once pristine and beautiful beaches. For example, see how picturesque this beach is below:

Stunning, right? It is exactly what I would imagine tropical beaches looking. Upon closer investigation, at several points, what is more often found is large amounts of plastic and commercial fishing waste (nets, lines, etc.) cluttering the rivers, beaches, and shorelines.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation (go here for more info) predicted that by 2050 there will more plastic in the ocean than fish, and with Costa Rica acknowledging its main asset is its wildlife and nature, there needed to be a big push towards the removal of plastic in this small central American country. In 2009, the president of Costa Rica set out an extensive plan for creating a neutral carbon footprint. Find out more by going here. Looking at these images, creates a different sense of urgency of what it means to embrace and love the beaches.

Working with Futuro Verde (click here for website) and local community organizations (ASVO), Cabo Blanco Conservation, Tambor Bay Turtles, Wild Sun Research center, among others, I learned of many challenges, opportunities, and projects focuses on creating a more sustainable and green Costa Rica, focused on preservation and living side by side with nature.

One of the challenges may come from what I have found in many of my travels, in the desire to have more of the luxuries found in the states, such as pizza and soda pop, there is more waste and plastic. Along my travels in CR, were many advertising signs such as these, showcasing a great deal on these “got to have” items. This sign shows the cost is $15.00 (USD) for an 8 slice pizza and 2.5 liter of soda, by currency exchange rates in December 2018. For people in CR, this is a costly meal, both economically, and in the waste produced.

I wouldn’t have thought that avocados and plastic would have much to do with one another, but the more we learn about places in the world, in their challenges and opportunities, the more we see how what we do, and how we interact between countries of the world, are all connected. Kudos to Costa Rica for a major undertaking the world is watching. Of course there are challenges and road blocks, but a commitment to minimizing the carbon footprint is the first step, and one to support through learning and education, locally, and on a global scale.

Sea Turtle Conservation

Sea Turtle Conservation

Learning about conservation in places other than “home”, allows us to feel connected to the challenges in the world, and consider the challenges in our own community. For us, we love sea turtles, so having the opportunity to skype with Sea Turtle conservation centers has allowed learning about afar to become a part of our classroom.

Knowing how what we do EVERYDAY impacts everything else around us, makes us think hard about the choices we make. Here we see how our human behaviors impact nature.

Sea Turtles end up at the conservation center for various reasons, but most of them can be rehabilitated and returned to the wild.

When a sea turtle gets caught up in a boat motor, the shell can have breakage. Doctors make a paste and perform a procedure that allows the shell to be “glued” back together again. Here we see one as it is healing. This TORTOISE (land turtle) is healing quite nicely.

So, what DOES cause issues for wildlife at Jeckyl Island? Check out about Marine Pollution:

Our Director, Ms. Carton, got a chance to attend conservation centers several live and share back with us, or connect live during the adventure. Here is a rescue operation she took us on:

Because only 1 in 1,000 babies make it to adulthood, it’s hard to be a baby turtle, but rescue operations, like this one for baby Terrapins, allow for a much larger survival rate.


Embrace every learning opportunity to know more about the world around you, as this will help you appreciate and understand all the creatures and people that live within.

Global Holiday: El Dia De Los Muertos

Global Holiday: El Dia De Los Muertos

Remembering those who have gone before us, in a manner that honors life, treasures and preserves culture, and celebrates relationships as a key part of many global cultures. For people of Mexican-American and Meso-American heritage, that day happens November 1-2 with Day of the Dead. In Anchorage, on November 2nd, the community comes together in food, dance, and showcase to experience the celebration of love and respect for the deceased.

At Tudor Elementary, we hosted learning sessions where communities members and artists taught us about the customs and language that accompany the holiday, and helped us gain an even deeper understanding. Preparation for this year’s event took several weeks, with over 100 students participating in the learning and understanding of this global holiday and the making of our altar for the City-wide event.

Students created painted canvases, hand crafted cempasuchil (Mexican marigolds), family memorials, poems, word art, and 3-D Calaveras (sugar skulls) for our ofrendas (altar). Several students even showcased the altar in engaged conversations with community members. Here is our final showcase.

In 2008 when UNESCO made Di De Los Muertos a global holiday it created a cultural reaffirmation of indigenous people. With the explosion of curiosity brought on by recent movies, “The Book of Life” and “Coco”, this holiday has gained popular recognition. Colors, vibrancy, and celebration are the key elements that make up the event.

Overall, the turnout this year was explosive and vibrant, and busier than the year prior. This celebration of global cultures is an awe inspiring opportunity that all people should witness. Hopefully you, too, will have an opportunity to partake in El Dia De Los Muertos.

Libraries are the HEART of the school!

Libraries are the HEART of the school!

Dear Global people~

Your library can and should be one of the most innovative, alive, and engaging places in the your school and community. We at Tudor Elementary love all the opportunities the library has to offer students, before, after, and during school. We encourage you to let your community know just how amazing your libraries are and can be!


Mystery Skype/Hangout Adventures

Mystery Skype/Hangout Adventures

Students, in their various classes, in the Young Global Citizens Program at Tudor, have had Mystery Skype/Hangout sessions with over 46 schools since the end of 2016. This adventure, performed in our library, is an amazing opportunity for students to connect with others around the world, learn geography, and perform as a team.

Here is an awesome Mystery Skype Mannequin Challenge video we did in partnership with another school (click the red word)

We connect with a mystery school and use our maps to try and find out where they are. How do we do that?

We ask Yes/No questions back and forth and use our maps to narrow down the location of the Mystery School. 

Recently, we got to have an amazing session that stumped up! Once we finally realized they were not in the same country as us, we were rushing to the big map to brainstorm!

We did finally discover that our mystery school was in Mexico City! Another exciting day for Mystery Skype! (If your class or group would like to play, too, send us a message)