Category Archives: event

Protected: Not what you see in the news (Part 5)

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What country did we visit in 2015?

Protected: Not what you see in the news (Part 4)

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Protected: Not what you see in the news (Part 3)

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Protected: Not what you see in the news (Part 2)

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Protected: Not what you see in the news (Part 1)

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Lesnia’s scars

I remember very powerfully the tender feelings I had while I gently wiped bits of blood and gravel from the gashes on Lesnia’s leg.

When I had a car, I used to bring Lesnia and several other members of her family over to our church on Sundays. Afterward we had all sorts of fun adventures. We’d get pizza or KFC, visit a park, or fly kites.

Lesnia had fallen and slid while scrambling up the steep hill at Peace Park, scraping open a few large gashes on her leg. As far as my medical knowledge goes, I knew the scrape should be cleaned of dirt and washed so it didn’t get infected. I used rubbing alcohol and daubed it with a cotton ball. I watched as she cringed, squeezing back tears as the alcohol sent the stinging pain searing through her body. Continue reading

The Orosi Valley

A few weeks ago, I took a Saturday morning to bike the Orosi Valley loop, a beautiful scenic road to the east of the greater metropolitan area (the San Jose capital and its outlying cities). It winds through lush green coffee fields, old colonial churches, follows the Reventazón river and crosses the dam, and passes through some beautiful small towns and some breathtaking overlooks.

Check out a mix of photos from different trips around the loop: the Ujarrás Ruins (1693), the Orosí colonial church (1743), photos from along the route itself, and some pictures with awesome people I made the trips with. Continue reading

Cerro Chirripó – Highest point in Costa Rica

As I write this I am still wincing painfully from sore leg muscles when I climb stairs and stand up from sitting as a result of my most recent adventure – climbing Mount Chirripó, Costa Rica’s highest mountain. Climbing this 12,533-foot mountain up into high-altitude tropical climate was one of my two most recent adventures involving physically taxing undertakings in order to experience the raw natural beauty of Costa Rica that has gripped me and held me captive since I first arrived here. A few weeks ago, I took a Saturday to bike the Orosi Valley loop, a beautiful scenic road to the east of the greater metropolitan area (the San Jose capital and its outlying cities). It winds through lush green coffee fields, old colonial churches, follows the Reventazón river and crosses the dam, through some beautiful small towns and some breathtaking overlooks. Both experiences were physically pretty exhausting, but incredibly beautiful. And climbing Chirripó was the more difficult and culturally significant of the two. Continue reading

Visitors from Colombia

Earlier this month four youth from a church in Armenia, Colombia, completed their visit to Costa Rica as missionaries-in-training. During their time here they served in various ministries through the church I’m a part of (Amistad Internacional in San Francisco de Dos Ríos). They plugged right into the church and helped out tirelessly for about two weeks at our church VBS activities and different ministries members of our church are involved in (Funda Vida, YWAM, Latin Link in Los Guidos, Edutecnología, and a young church in Paraíso, Cartago). Each visiting missionary was placed with a family from the church while they were here. Continue reading

Strike 3

Last week I joined some La Carpio neighbors in a protest against a water treatment plant that’s being installed right at the entrance to their community, less than a kilometer away from their homes.

  • Watch a video with images and sounds from the protest

Two computer technicians were scheduled to come into the office to help last Thursday, but they called the day before saying it would be difficult to get in because of a strike the next morning that would block the only entrance (for vehicles) in and out of La Carpio. I called my host family to see what they knew about the strike, and they gave me a few more details they’d gotten from a community meeting organizing the strike. Because I sympathize with La Carpio’s struggle against the high level of environmental contaminants that are dumped into their community, and because I was glad to participate in a protest against something that seems such a clear disregard for people’s health and dignity, I joined them Thursday morning to support the community in their protest.

The “waste treatment plant”, more accurately described by residents as a “craphole” and other similar terms, is only one of the many forms of environmental violence implemented against the La Carpio community. The most infamous is the garbage dump that was built in 2000 by EBI, a Canadian-owned company, which boasts the sanitary treatment of 1200 tons of garbage per day. The “sanitary treatment” of the material waste is disputed not just by La Carpio residents less than a kilometer from its dumping grounds, but by neighboring elite in expensive homes on properties across the valley. Strike one is the garbage dump, causing high incidences of hepatitis and diarrhea. Strike two are the quarries in the valleys on either side of the community, which pump dust into the air causing any number of respiratory problems. Strike three would be the waste plant, but not if La Carpio can strike first.

The people who spend the most amount of time in La Carpio, that being the women and kids who often spend the entire day there, are the ones who suffer the most. The family I lived with suffered from all the above problems, as I described in this blog post and others.

It recently came to light (through government correspondence made public through Wikileaks) that in contrast to Costa Rica’s “green” image it promotes, less than 5% of its blackwater is treated before reaching the ocean. The river that dumps the contaminated water from the central valley (Río Tárcoles) is the most polluted in Central America. The beaches in this area are favorites for foreign tourists because they are the closest en route from the capital city. There is a HUGE need, then, for water treatment of the polluted rivers (both for environmental protection and for tourist money). It is interesting to me, then, that the waste treatment plant is being placed where it is, on a river branch before the union of three different rivers. A water treatment plant is essential; it’s a just a clear case of environmental injustice to place it in an impoverished community that has already unwillingly received the full brunt of metropolitan contamination – it’s garbage, its symbolic rejection, and now its wastewater. To quote Costa Rican sociologist Carlos Sandoval Garcia:  “both in the material domain – garbage and residual water – as well as in the human domain – Nicaraguans and poverty – La Carpio is a site and signifier of abjection” (Narrating Lived Experience in a Binational Community in Costa Rica, 2009:156).

The above video shows some photographs and audio clips from the protest. If you don’t follow the Spanish, most of what is said, or written on the signs, is mentioned above. The main demands are: no water treatment plant [so close to where we live], and instead, build a high school for the community.

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