Reflections from the Field – Casa Tucan & Safari Surf: Days 6-10

Jess and Tim’s last night in Nosara was Monday. Tyler took us and a few of Safari Surf’s students to Kaya Sol for dinner that evening. Safari Surf takes their students to different restaurants around Nosara throughout the week as a way to support local businesses.

Jess and Tim were originally going to fly to San Jose Tuesday evening because they were flying early Wednesday morning back to San Diego. However, Tyler’s youngest son has been teething all week making Tyler really sleep deprived (can only imagine since so much as a “monkey fart” wakes him up in the middle of the night), so he decided to take Jess and Tim with his family to San Jose to see the doctor. Before they all hopped in the Safari  Surf van for the long drive, Jess, Tim and I all sat down in front of the camera for interviews:

After they left I got started on my to-do list. Basically, my daily schedule consists of an early morning surf and then I’m in the office by 8 or 9am to start work. The office environment is great, everyone has a positive attitude and they are really helpful. Jeffrey (Casa Tucan manager), Linda (accountant), and Peter (CR assistant operations manager) are usually in there along with surf instructors and customers coming and going. Not to mention the Casa Tucan pets that roam around: (Clockwise: Lola, Freddy, Maui, Lucy)

I can’t wait to come back here for vacation so I can just hang out by the pool instead of the office (no offense).

On a side note, the local business community donated a recycling/trash station at the main entrance of Playa Guiones a while back: I came to the beach for sunset after being in the office all day and I heard this ruffling noise in the bushes near the trail…I looked over and saw heaps of these orange and blue crabs hiding in the plants. Supposedly, thousands of these crabs hatch at the beginning of the rainy season (now).

John (restaurant manager) has helped me a lot by finding alternative suppliers for cutlery, plates, coffee cups, straws, and beer mugs (all of which are bamboo!). Just a few other notable findings from my research this week:

  • Jungle Jug 100% biodegradable reusable sports bottles made in Costa Rica. You might see Safari Surf branded bottles in the future–same with…
  • The Green Shop Company’s stainless steel canteens imported from the U.S., but sold in Costa Rica (couldn’t find stainless steel canteens made in Costa Rica, if you know of any please let me know!)
  • Costa Rica’s energy supply is 95% renewables! Therefore, Costa Rica’s amount of CO2 (grams) produced per kwh is extremely low, which is good news for Casa Tucan. For more detailed statistics check here.

On Thursday afternoon, right outside the office, a local grom climbed up the mango tree and started tossing all these mangos to Tyler, which they use in the kitchen 20 feet away!
Jeffrey and I took the ATV on Friday and ran some errands around Nosara for my research:

Visited the ICE Nosara office to get Casa Tucan’s energy bills for the past couple years to track usage and adopt measures for reduction.

Went to the hardware store looking for dual flush toilet conversion kits, low flow shower heads, low flow aerators for faucets, CFL’s & LED’s, low VOC and lead free paints, etc.

The most important place we visited Friday was Nosara’s dump. Casa Tucan and other hotel’s around Nosara sort their trash before it’s taken to the dump, but it is an unmanaged landfill created by the Nosara Civic Association, not the local municipality. There are no managed landfills in Nosara so I needed to see this dump first hand and make sure some of the trash is recycled.
When we pulled up, a family of Howler Monkeys was in the trees just outside the dump’s gates:
All along the road to the dump are old rubber tires that the local school children have painted with unique designs and planted crotons in each one: Jeffrey spoke with some of the local pickers who make a living by sorting through the trash and organizing recyclables to sell back to companies like Coca Cola. We learned that the dump has been here for 15 years, and that it is layer after layer of trash, dirt, trash, dirt, etc.
As I was walking around the dump, I was sinking into the dirt in some parts revealing more trash with each step. There was even a random hole sticking out the side of a dirt mound with smoke coming out of it (didn’t look like a manmade fire…freaky).
The whole vibe was eerie, here was this gorgeous jungle all along the perimeter of this trash pile, with smoke and these creepy black birds that “eat everything besides themselves” –Jeffrey.
After taking all this in, I couldn’t help but feel sad about the situation. It’s great that some of the trash is getting sorted and recycled…but this needs to change. Conveniently enough, Nico (surf instructor) told me about this video people in the community had been talking about:

Architecture students at the New York Institute of Technology will build Nosara an official recycling center if they can raise enough money to fund the project. Please watch the video below about the proposal. After reading about my experience and watching this video, if you believe in the project, then please click the link to make a pledge towards this worthy cause. They have $14,175 now and they need to reach $15,000 by May 21st. Nosara Recycling Center:

Yesterday morning (Saturday), Nosara Sustainable organized a community event to help rebuild a local school, Serapio Lopez School, which is working towards earning a Blue Flag rating from the Costa Rican government. Nico and his friend Larissa, Jeffrey, Alonzo, Peter and his wife and I went to help out. There was a huge turnout so within a couple hours the school looked completely different. First, we helped bring out some desks from a classroom so we could sand them down to a base layer before other volunteers painted or varnished them a fresh coat.

Sanding in that kind of heat is no joke, we were ready to do something else after a half hour. We grabbed some paint and started covering the white walls of the classrooms with this bright blue paint.

Other volunteers were planting new gardens, painting old rubber tires, chipping away old paint on metal posts, and designing new murals. It felt rewarding to help the local community and see everyone come together to make a better place for the students to learn. There was great artwork in the classrooms..this one is my favorite:

Last night we went to Pancho’s in Playa Pelada which is one beach over. The Cinco de Mayo festivities were in full swing with live music and great tacos. When the live band would break for another beer, they would play The Shins so I was stoked. After Pancho’s some people went down to the beach for a bonfire and to watch the “supermoon,” which was awesome (my camera doesn’t have a long enough exposure to shoot night photos so you’ll have to use your imagination).

This coming week is my last full week to get everything done so its going to be busy, but hopefully it all goes smoothly. I met with the Harmony Hotel’s sustainability coordinator, Gerardo, a few days ago to set up a private tour of the Harmony’s operations for the Casa Tucan’s staff, but he is extremely busy (when I met him he had just finished hosting the local dentist for a free check up with local children) so hopefully he can find time to show us around. Wish me luck!

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