Some memories are key in life. For me, one of those was when I first took a plane from San José to Nosara and I saw from the sky how Nosara had cancer that if not treated in time, was going to be lethal.

That cancer was the garbage dump, the place where all of us who live in this paradise send our waste. If you have lived in Nosara between 1996 and February 2019, like me, you have also been part of this problem.

Since then I knew that this dump was not the solution for our garbage, at the same time that I got involved with the community and with many other people who also felt the same way as me, and who have worked for years to find a solution.

My name is Ethel Araya; Most of you know me as Kuki, I am the president of the Nosara Civic Association (NCA) and I am writing to you because I want to tell you about an achievement of the NCA, for which we have worked for years: the closure of the garbage dump.

Last Saturday, July 11, 2020, the NCA signed a legal agreement with Don Arnulfo Espinoza, the man who for 23 years collected and deposited garbage from the entire community in the famous dump.

Thanks to the agreement and monetary compensation, no one will be able to throw garbage in that place, nor live in conditions of risk and poverty there.

How did we get here?

In 2010 I moved to Nosara and at that time the Recycling Association was starting, so I decided to volunteer with them in my spare time.

I learned that 50% of what was coming to that dump was compostable, 30% was recyclable and only 20% belonged to that dump. If we could get people to recycle and compost, the problem could be reduced by 80%.

But what did we do with that 20% that remains? We knew that the Municipality of Nicoya had to take care of its responsibility: to collect the Nosara garbage. It was there that we began a long lobbying process to make that happen.

The land where the garbage dump and the recycling center is located is the property of the Nosara Civic Association, the organization that I have chaired since January 2017. It is located between Pelada and Arenales, and has a size of 1.5 hectares.

The land was donated to the NCA in 2004, from the Friends of Nosara organization, now dissolved. When the NCA received that property, it was already a dump.

I wasn’t here back then, but I like to think that the board and past members knew that if there was anyone who could clean up that mess, it was the NCA.

But after back and forth, government processes, and legal nightmares, we were finally able to solve this problem.

Even though this property belongs to the association legally, we had to pay and fight a lot to close it, since a landfill was a threat to the environment, to the community and will be very expensive to heal.

I like to think that the money Don Arnulfo received is on behalf of the entire Nosara community, who used and paid for his services. I know that he worked hard to provide a service for 23 years, not knowing that doing so was also creating a threat to the community. He doesn’t know yet, that’s why he kept fighting for possession of the land for so long.

During my time on the NCA board, I have experienced the end of decades-long processes: the Phipps dispute, the closure of the Cigarrón landfill next to the NCA / ASADA building, if everything goes according to plan, the management plan for the Ostional Wildlife Refuge and, of course, the final closure of the landfill. All these processes have involved hundreds of people, who have given their time, energy, and love to this cause. To all of them: thank you for being leaders, for caring, for getting up and getting involved. You are the people who make the world a better place. Let’s continue working together.

What will happen now

Fortunately, in 2019 the Municipality of Nicoya began garbage collection in the Nosara district, taking our waste to the Santa Cruz landfill.

With this I do not mean that we can relax; the garbage that we produced for 23 years is still there, with the potential to contaminate the Nosara aquifers.

In the next few days, we will close the property with a gate so that no one else deposits the garbage there, and we will begin the process of sanitation and regeneration with the best experts in the field in Costa Rica. We need to raise funds to be able to accomplish this project.

But the idea is that this property does not become a place behind bars, on the contrary, we want that property to be the heart of Nosara. We dream of this space being a community park where locals, residents, and tourists converge to build a more united Nosara. More out of hand.

For this reason, today more than ever I believe in and defend the work of the Nosara Civic Association because with my eyes I can see the changes.

I wish others would join me in being able to do more, becoming a member of the NCA. Together everything is always easier.