Where is San Rafael de Vara Blanca?
San Rafael de Vara Blanca is a rural community approximately 30 kilometers north of San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. The community is located between three volcanoes: Poas, Barba, and Congo, at an elevation of approximately 6000ft. Temperatures generally range from 40-60ºF and do not change significantly throughout the year.
The local economy is largely comprised of agriculture, although due to its proximity to San Jose, the cool climate, and the area’s rich ecological resources, tourism contributes a small portion to the economies of San Rafael and its neighbors.
The village of San Rafael de Vara Blanca was decimated by the Cinchona Earthquake, a 6.4 (Richter scale) earthquake on January 8th, 2009. All basic infrastructure was destroyed, including the public elementary school, the medical clinic, the community meeting hall, the church, and about 15 homes. Due to limited available government funding, there are no current plans to rebuild any of these structures nor does the community have enough funds to begin redevelopment efforts on its own. Most notably, the livelihoods of those who have chosen to remain have been deeply affected by the destruction, causing severe economic and personal hardships.