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The Rich Coast – Costa Rica – 3 Points of View (November 2008)

I finally am living out my dream. Twenty years of hard work and saving pennies, and now here it is in front of my eyes. It’s beautiful, a four story condominium with me in the penthouse suite. Pool, Jacuzzi, and lots of living space inside. Rather than flatten some more forest for custom homes, I think that this gives me more security, and the second floor up gets a world class white water view. My friends in the U.S. could come down with their families and have a perfect place to stay. Then they could rent it out the other weeks of the year, so their income would just keep rolling in. What an investment for their retirement, and for mine. The local community loves me since I’ll hire them for security, lawn maintenance, plumbing, cable installation, and road repair. And the big resort nearby just opened a bilingual school, so when I bring my kids down they can learn to mix in. Then it’s off to the golf course, or maybe I’ll head to the docks for some fishing. Pura vida!
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I am shocked to see the billboards blocking the road scarred landscape – exclaiming “Live the dream!” in English with a retiree reeling in sailfish or nailing a putt. Condos and high-rise hotels are going up before the permits get passed in more than just Jaco and Tamarindo. How can they build it so close to the river, or so close to the beach with only a septic tank? My vacation lineup now is some development’s leech field. Damn ear infections and stomach viruses kept me out of the water for two days on my last surf trip. How can they cut down rainforest and mangroves for an ocean view or their driveway? People need to realize that Costa Rica holds 5% of the WORLD’s BIODIVERSITY in a country the size of West Virginia. The trees and mangroves not only prevent erosion, but filter out pollutants and provide habitat for rare birds and beasts, including lynx and jaguars. If when the runoff goes straight out the estuary, all of the pollutants go with it. And the oceans hold humpback whales, dolphins, turtles, and the fish which feed the nation and its tourists. These greedy gringos wouldn’t do it back in their home country, the government wouldn’t let them. But here there is little to no enforcement, and if you get caught a little ‘multa’ and mitigation gets you off the hook.
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I am on the critically endangered species list, after losing 90% of my population in only the last 20 years. About 33,000 of us are left on the planet. We are gentle creatures, eating just jellyfish and sea grass, and on this diet some of us live past 100 years. The only time we come to land is for our mothers to lay their eggs on a sandy beach or dune.  About two months later we hatch from our fragile shells, and only a few in every thousand survive. But we have survived for over 110 million years, through many ice ages, global warming and cooling, even before the dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Now humans are our biggest threat in our maturity. We suffer when you catch us in drift nets, eat our eggs thinking it is an aphrodisiac, and pollute our waters with poisons and plastic bags. When you build your tall buildings, your lights blaring near the beach discourage our mothers from nesting and disorient our babies as they search nearly blind for the ocean. If nothing is done, my species will soon go extinct.
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Do we continue to believe
that our happiness supersedes
the survival of the leatherback turtle?

 

 

 

 

 

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