There is a place at the mountains of Costa Rica, where 60 people or less live and there is only one child. Zapotal is the name of this beautiful area, immersed in the tropical cloud forest ecosystem and the home of an amazing women, who is an entrepreneur, a mother, and the grandmother to the only child in town. The main source of work is livestock and agriculture and during the last years tourism. Here you can find at least two local restaurants with great traditional food, one nursery to learn about plants and trees, a sugar mill, an old cheese factory, and really commendable homestays for travelers, plus the last novelty, a pizza place! A true example of traditional village life, with grandparents, parents and children all living together in the same small unpretentious homes.

In the last decade, tourism has grown so that almost everyone here is connected to the industry in some way. Our laudable Betshy, was the one who opened the village’s first guesthouse in 2005, and invited other villagers to work with her. Her efforts soon became visible and she instantly became an “incubator” for the industry – almost everyone working in tourism has at some point passed through her home. Betshy, who is a great community leader, was selected by Costa Rica´s National Bank, as the representative of their marketing campaign. Through the local bank, people will receive loans to emerging entrepreneurs and specially for women on business. Therefore, our dear Betshy was printed in every bus stop banner, around Puntarenas province, where she was raised and soon listened and followed by the community, as a great example of women empowerment and welfare.

Her real name is Betty, but since she started hosting volunteers for more than two decades, she was called that way by more than 100 volunteers from all over, and now her new friends around the world call her Betshy. Her house was recently remodel with a large kitchen, and awaiting for travelers to experience traditional cooking. It is now a spacious and open area, that made her family so proud. Sadly,  economical problems started, as they couldn´t afford paying the loan she ironically had asked for, so many years after her becoming the face of the banks marketing project.

Fortunately, Betshy, manages various projects at a time, including an educational farm she loves and devotes almost all of her extra time. If you don’t find Betshy at home, she is in her farm, looking for cows, and pigs, talking to her plants and flowers, fishing at her tilapia lagoon, or just sitting in her roofed sofa having a rest while admiring the beauty of the farm. She, as all people in this mini town, have something to do and share, and when you talk about Betshy, everybody knows how important and valuable she is for the entire community.

With the recent impact on health, Zapotal used to receive at least 6 groups of travelers per year, and now, it has fewer than a dozen. Betshy is eager to use her brand-new kitchen with travelers, but she hasn’t had the chance to share her ability to cook and make people laugh with her radiant energy. It seems that all of that momentum has been lost in the wake of the pandemic. Betshy and her family have felt the economic pain, and even though some national tourist visit during the weekend, they all wonder when their friends will come back again. Everyone in Zapotal looks forward to sharing their energy and spirit with visitors again, and Betshy can’t wait for the next travelers to visit her farm, host them with the warmth of her heart and share the beauty of cooking in her new kitchen.


Topics: Costarica, CBT, workshops, Centralamerica, support