Renal Alvarado and Sonia Ramirez
Renal and his wife Sonia have loyally and diligently cared for Refugio de Los Angeles for all the years Cis Wilson has owned the property. They have been an invaluable resource in converting this place from a coffee and cattle grazing operation into a nature preserve. This project required reforestation, profuse plantings to attract wildlife, and the creation/maintenance of an extensive trail system. All structures and medicinal plant gardens on the property are in their care. Renal and Sonia were born and raised in Quebrada Grande. They possess a wealth of practical information: they know all the people in this area and their customs and traditions; they know whom to call on to get anything done or made and to negotiate best prices; they know how to work the land and what grows here. Cis brought the vision of what Refugio de Los Angeles could be, and Renal and Sonia have been instrumental in making her vision a reality.
“I’ve worked on the land in this region since I was 6 years old. My father owned small fincas in Quebrada Grande and in the neighboring village. The native trees, the birds, the animals that once lived in these hills, nourished families for generations. Cis’ finca was land I farmed growing up. Under Cis’ supervision, we planted native trees that had previously been cut for pasture land and to grow coffee. One section of this property is on the Pacific slope and is dedicated entirely to wildlife. Only a trail passes through it and in time, animals and birds I hadn’t seen since childhood returned to the property.”
“My family owned large tracts of land in Quebrada Grande. My father continues to grow much of his own food, and raises cash crops of coffee and oranges. There has always been a rich exchange of information with Cis. Renal and I taught her the things we learned working on the land here since we were young. And Cis taught us the value of permaculture practices, bio-diversity, how to plant to prevent erosion, and how to build trails. She also taught us about property management, how to make budgets and how to keep records. There is no other farm as beautiful as Cis’ anywhere in this area.”
Medicinal Plant Advisor, Cook, and Masseuse
Betty Mora is many things to Refugio de Los Angeles. She is truly the master of multi-tasking. Betty is an excellent cook who is comfortable preparing meals in a variety of cuisines. On any given day, Betty cooks meals for Cis and her guests, creates snacks for the staff, prepares medicinal teas and health tonics, cleans, cares for the orchids that grow in profusion on the property, gardens, and gives massages to eager recipients. There’s nothing Betty can’t do, and she always does it with great care and enthusiasm.
“My family owned a large farm in Jabillo, the village just down the hill from Quebrada Grande. I learned from an early age to be resourceful and self-reliant. My mother was the only midwife in the region and I learned from her about the many uses of medicinal plants. My years at Refugio de Los Angeles have increased my knowledge of these healing plants from herbalists, biologists, and botanists who came here to study these plants and share their information with us. I have also learned so much from Cis and her guests about preparing meals from many cultures and for those who have special dietary needs. Our village had no massage therapist and Cis supported me in learning the practice and art of therapeutic massage. This place has been my university!”