Glad you dropped by!
I am writing this blog as a way of reflecting, processing, and sharing my experience of living six months in La Carpio, a small area on the outskirts of San Jose, Costa Rica. La Carpio is represented by the media as one of the most dangerous places in the country, plagued by violence, delinquency, poverty, and drugs. Many people adopt this myth and are terrified of anything having to do with La Carpio.
La Carpio is, in fact, an isolated section of the city which has developed rapidly and without much formal direction within the past 18 years. It could be referred to as a “squatter settlement” because none of the residents have been granted legal titles to their land. La Carpio is a binational community, half of its residents being Costa-Rican born and half from Nicaragua. Much of the community works in informal sections of the Costa Rican economy, such as construction, domestic services, coffee-picking, and agriculture.
I was fortunate enough to experience the hospitality of a La Carpio family for six months, which I spent in a household of 19 people (3 nuclear families) in a section of La Carpio called by a few different names: La Pequeña Nueva Ciudad, La Cueva del Sapo, or La Cuarta. I had a number of reasons for choosing to live in La Carpio for six months, many of which are explained in the journal entries.
Basically, however, this blog comes from journal entries and personal reflections on my six months as a guest in the community. I had many roles – I was a student, a missionary, a teacher… but overall I was a guest. These observations and commentary, then, are from my role as a guest from the outside, who is being introduced to life in La Carpio through the families and youth with whom I lived. I am deeply indebted to the people who made my experience there so enjoyable.
Places like La Carpio, people like myself and other immigrants living and sojourning throughout the world for various reasons, are connected through political, economical, and social ties that we might not at first recognize. I hope that readers of this blog find the commentary insightful, interesting, and useful as we identify our own places on the socioeconomic geography and recognize how connected we are in all this.
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For readers who are familiar with La Carpio and the people there, please remember that names and places have been changed, and some characters have been mixed together, conflated, or changed to protect their identity.