The school year is wrapping up here. We have just one more week of regular classes and then students and staff start preparing for their final exams. The last few weeks have flown by! It feels like just yesterday I was writing about my Semana Santa trip, but maybe that is because yesterday I was at the beach again!
I joined up with a student trip to Tárcoles, which is a small village on the Pacific Coast in Puntarenas. In the 1960s there were about 1,000 people living in the village, now there are around 5,000. As the village began to grow they noticed a need to protect the traditional fishing methods (and fish) of the area. Lots of conversations and decisions were made and in the end the villagers of Tárcoles decided to form a sustainable fishing cooperative. If you’d like to know more, there is a little information on their website CoopeTárcoles.
In the morning we learned about the history of the cooperative and the struggles they have faced throughout the 20+ years of trying to keep traditional (they call it “artesenal”–or handmade) fishing a way of life and to keep the shoreline free of shrimp trawlers. They showed us some of the most common fish caught for local consumption and export, using either long line fishing (more later), hand fishing (no rod) or net fishing. Net fishing and long line fishing are the most common, hand fishing is probably just for the tourists. Some of the common caught fish (I can’t remember the names):
After the fish demonstration we were greeted by this lovely man, who is one of the original founders of the cooperative. He took us down to the beach area to show us some of the “everyday” activities of the fishing community.
Then we got to try our luck with a little hand fishing. Basically you have a line, a weight and a hook baited with shrimp and you just toss the line overboard and hope for the best.
After our 20 minutes of unsuccessful fishing (except for the boat captain, who caught two pufferfish–or maybe the same one twice!) we headed to a nice beach for some swimming, homemade ceviche (my favorite!) and a little relaxation. Afterward we enjoyed a nice lunch and then headed back to Santa Ana. It was a good day out and fun to hang out with the students in a different environment.