A Journey Down the Highway of Friendship: Outline Draft 1

This discussion topic submitted by James Molholm (molholjm@miamioh.edu) at 5:23 pm on 3/31/99. Additions were last made on Wednesday, May 7, 2014.

I plan to discuss the history of the Pan-American Highway as well as some of the current environmental and cultural issues associated with the road. Then I want to discuss some of the sites that one could see along the road in Costa Rica.

Please comment on the level of attention feel each topic should recieve. I have limited time to devote to the subjects, so is it better to go into more detail on fewer things?

I. The Pan-American Highway
A. In 1923, the 5th conference of the Pan American States passed a resolution calling for the formation of the Pan American Highway Congress.
1. Road was to provide Latin America with a modern transportation system enjoyed in the US.
2. Costa Rican coffee farmers supported the system, eager to profit from the prosperous markets the road would open.
B. The Highway travels 26,000 km between Alaska and the Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.
1. The only gap in the highway is found in Panama.
a. The Darien Gap Rainforest is one of the world's most biologically diverse regions.
b. Much of the land is owned by the Embera, Wounaan, and Kuna peoples.
c. Over 30,000 indigenous people live in the area.
(1) The Kuna depend on the forest for medicine and their livelihood.
d. The area has been declared a biological and cultural World Heritage Site.
(1) There is a correlation between road construction and destruction of forests.
(2) Panama and Colombia have both lost about half of their original forest cover
2. This has been an important economic issue for Latin America.
a. The North American Free Trade Agreement has ignited urgency among business and government leaders.
b. In 1997, leaders from six countries, including Costa Rica, signed a letter of agreement to begin to repair and modernize the highway.
(1) The political changes, liberalization, and economic opportunities were cited as reasons to modernize the highway.
II. Stop 1 About 8 km west of San Antonio along the Pan-American Highway lies an unique farm.
A. Founded during the economic crash of the 80's, the Butterfly Farm raises exactly what its name implies.
1. Butterflies can easily be associated with Costa Rica. The habitat of different species includes the entire nation, and about 5% of the identified species of butterflies can be found in Costa Rica.
2. The work begins by planting the different varieties of nectar and larval plants.
a. As butterflies feed, the lay their eggs on the nearby plants (butterflies lay their eggs in clusters, the entire group in one spot).
b. The area is protected by netting, to keep the birds, lizards, spiders, ants, and wasps that normally devour 90% of the eggs.
3. The eggs are then collected and sorted.
B. After a few days, the caterpillars hatch and placed on their species specific plant.
1. Caterpillars have strong mandibles for chewing their food, a characteristic adult butterflies lack.
2. Caterpillars can also produce silk, which is used for escape, security, and to attatch themselves to leaves during the paupa stage.
3. The abdomen of the larva compose 80% of its body.
4. Larvae will molt as many as 4 times before entering the pupa stage.
5. Caterpillars grow at an enormous rate during this stage of their lives.
C. When the insects enter the pupa stage, they are gathered for shipment.
1. During the pupa stage the insect is most vulnerable.
a. In the wild, it uses camoflauge to blend in with the surrounding environment.
2. The process can last as long as 2 weeks.
D. When the adult butterfly emerges, it will find itself in a butterfly house.
1. The butterfly will spend the rest of its short life sip nectar from tropical plants and dazzling local visitors (2-8 weeks is the expected lifetime of an adult butterfly.)
E. Butterfly populations are in a worldwide decline, EO Wilson attributes this to deforestation, since butterflies have very strong relationships to specific plants.
III. Just 90 minutes from San Jose is the Carara Biological Reserve. This is a transition zone between dry and rain forests. The Tarcoles River passes by the reserve.
A. This National Park contains some unique and rare wildlife, especially reptiles.
1. Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima manni is a species of turtle whose markings mimic a coral snake.
2. Crocodylus acutus, or the Costa Rican Crocidile, can also be found here.
a. Unlike most reptiles, crocodiles can communicate through acoustic signals.
3. Ctenosaura similis, or the spiny-tailed iguana can be found from southern Mexico to Panama.
a. The iguana is edible, preferred in fact over its green cousin.
b. Eating this species is a traditional cure for impotence.
4. Pseustes poecilinotus, the bird snake is also found here.


Brinckerhoff, Joris. "Butterflies" Costa Rica's Travel Net. http://www.centralamerica.com/cr/butterfly/index.htm

Bronaugh, Whit. "Farming the Flying Flowers." Wildlife Conservation. September 1993.

Costa Rica National Chamber of Tourism "Costa Rica Naturally." 2/8/99 http://www.tourism.co.cr/mapindex.htm

Drosdoff, Daniel. "Support For Modernizing the Pan American Highway." Inter-American Development Bank. March 18, 1997. http://www.iadb.org/exr/PRENSA/1997/cp08897e.htm

Korten, Alicia. "Paving the Pan-American Gap." Multinational Monitor. Volume 16, # 11 November 1995.

Panet, J.P. Latin America on Bicycle. 1987 Passport Press. 155 Pages.

Ross, Mel and Ethel Ross. The Long Road South: To the End of the Pan American Highway. 1968, Mitchell Press Limited.

Wilken, Elena. "Pandora's American Highway." World Watch. November, 1994.

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