Why Is There So Much Poverty In The Nosara District - Part 1



Ask someone from abroad what the words "Costa Rica" bring to mind and you will get answers like ecotourism, adventure, no army, wildlife, jungles, surfing, yoga, beaches, sunshine, and coffee. Even those who have spent some time here in Nosara might give you those answers. And it's no wonder, because in the midst of our rather hedonistic ex-pat lifestyle, with our focus on surfing, yoga, good health, and low-stress, it is easy to feel disconnected from the poverty which surrounds us. Forgive yourself if you didn’t notice our extreme poverty at first – I too was so blinded by the beautiful beach and small town loveliness of Nosara that I didn’t really “see” the poverty here on my first several visits.  

In all honesty, I was in denial about mold, gecko poop, and tarantulas too.  But as I settled into my community, poverty began to touch my life more and more frequently. I felt sort of crazy worrying because nobody was talking about it.  Nosara had animal rescue, beach improvement, and security groups, but no poverty alleviation programs.  Was I just being a bleeding–heart liberal, imposing my values upon another culture?  

Well, actually I wasn't.  The Nosara District may be our little “paradise” but it is also one of the very poorest parts of Costa Rica.  Compared to national averages Nosara's local population is much worse off. Overcrowded housing in deplorable conditions, lack of access to computers and the internet, and under educated and uninsured families are just some of the categories in which Nosara is suffering. 


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Overall Costa Rica might be the success story of Central America, but the higher standard of living, good health care and educational systems are largely limited to the Central Valley.  The Guanacaste Province, not so much.  In addition, Costa Rica as a whole is experiencing the same increasing gap between rich and poor as the rest of the world.  Despite its basically socialist government, the number of luxury car dealerships and retail stores in Escazu indicates a very wealthy “Super-Class” of Ticos.  It isn’t the tourists and retirees buying those designer gowns and Mercedes.

Moreover, the poverty you see is only the half of it.  Tucked back in the bucolic mountain villages and in local neighborhoods where you just wouldn’t have any reason to go – the housing is even worse.  I deliver food to these places every month and it is my least favorite part of running the Nosara Food Bank.

So, the question on the tip of your tongue may now be “Okay, how come?”  See Blog #2 – “Why Is there So Much Poverty In Nosara”.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Nosara Food Bank.

Linda Tarlow