New town, new opportunities. We entered Costa Rica on a hot and sunny day and got in touch with the Selina Hostel in Puerto Viejo right away to see if we could give our presentation. A young and passionate girl who organised regular cleanups for the hostel fell in love with our proposal and said: " I sometimes get the feeling all this cleaning is useless. We keep on doing it and the next day there is trash again. What a great idea to not just clean, but also gather the data and let Companies know about it." She promised us to make sure many students from the nearby university would attend and before we knew, more than 30 people signed up to come clean with us!
One tiny little problem though... It had to be in Spanish! The next day we worked on the presentation really hard to make it as visual as possible but at the day of the cleanup I improvised between English and Spanish and asking people to translate for me. Nevertheless most students were really patient and interested in the presentation. This is what I love about our way of travelling. When opportunities arise, you have to go for it and mostly there is not any time to be scared or insecure, because the moment just asks to improvise and go.
There is a different awareness about plastic and environment in Costa Rica compared to Panama. For instance, they recycle plastics! One of the students even refused to put all the plastics in a separate bag, because most of it could not be recycled. His knowledge about the exact kinds of plastics was even new to us. An other student was sad when she discovered a tree with a nail in it and told us, hurting trees was prohibited by law. A couple of other girls had started their own cleanup group and attended a cleanup with over 2500 people(!) in Limón city last month. That is a lot of trash being gathered! On the other hand they also told us about the necessity of cleanups, because Limón and other Costa Rican places have a big trash problem. According to them, especially the elder generation was not as aware as younger people and kept throwing garbage on the streets. I loved the students for their awareness about the importance of gathering data and eagerness to become part of the trashless tribe as they understood it had them plug in to a bigger network and would enhance their opportunities to organise themselves.
We divided the group into 6 groups of 6 people and cleaned a beautiful beach with some, but not too much, trash and even saw some monkeys! Many students downloaded the Litterati App that day and all understood how cleaning alone was not going to solve the problem. We do not know if and how fast it is going to spread, but hopefully the university will pick it up, as well as the Selina hostel and Costa Rica will stand stronger with prove about the trash-pollution in their environment when time passes by.