DAY TWO: Community Interviews
After our first visit in El Cocal yesterday, the class was eager to dive into interviewing El Cocal’s community members. Our interest in the stories and perspectives of the community members was immediately heightened after finally seeing El Cocal when we had only heard about or researched it in the upcoming weeks to our arrival in Costa Rica. Immediately after our first arrival in Cocal, it was clear to me that this was a community filled with friendly faces, a breathtaking landscape and a lot to offer from its environment. Despite all of the positive aspects El Cocal has to offer, the problems with rubbish taking over the landscape as a result of the lack of waste management are undeniably affecting all of the community members as talk of solutions loom but nothing seems to change.
Upon seeing waste management problems first hand, GVI was quick to organize interviews between our class and the community members for Day Two – today. Our group spoke to community members of all different perspectives. Age, country of origin, time spent living in El Cocal, profession, and location within El Cocal were some of the major factors that changed the realities of each community member we interviewed. Our first interviewee, Claudia, is a mother of six and has been in Cocal for 3 years. Claudia sells fresh fruits and vegetables purchased from a neighbouring town to community members near her house in the central part of El Cocal. Our second interviewee, Cristobalina, is an older community member from Costa Rica who has been in Cocal for 16 years. Cristobalina works at GVIs community center with the children in the community and lives on the opposite end of Cocal (furthest from the boat service) and often lives alone because her son is out working. Finally, we talked to another woman also named Claudia, a middle-aged mother who owns a convenience store in the central part of the town. She has lived in Cocal just over 10 years and came from Nicaragua.
While perspectives often changed from interview to interview, their hopes for the future of the community were very much the same. Our first interviewee Claudia, for example, felt that Cocal often received a bad reputation as being unsafe and felt more tourists should view Cocal as beautiful. On the other hand, our second interviewee, Cristobalina, felt Cocal was unsafe at night and that the rumours of gang violence were most-definitely true. However, Claudia is living more central, is younger, and has a larger family than Cristobalina. In regards to waste management, Cristobalina and Claudia hire someone in some way to assist them in moving their garbage off Cocal via boats whereas Claudia from our third interview is close enough to the docks that she can move her garbage herself for a cheaper cost. Regardless, all of our interviewees felt the community would benefit from a waste collection service and that everyone in the community would have to be informed. They were all also concerned about the upkeep of these services with the lack of community involvement and how little the government and municipality would be willing to step in to help.
Each family and individual in the community experiences a different reality. Regardless, they all agree that El Cocal needs to implement a waste management system. Managing the waste could boost morale, encourage tourism, and create a safer environment for their children. However, the challenges the community has faced in the past with lack of involvement from community members and government officials is still a major barrier that needs to be addressed. Overall, I am beyond thankful to each of these wonderful, nice women for taking time out of their day to talk to us and discuss their opinions and ideas to improve their community.