Like many rural communities in Costa Rica, Canalete is made up of modest homes with many generations living under one roof. Family members often come together to pool resources to help care for aging adults or young children.
Canalete is a tight knit village tucked away from the bustle of the main drag. Schools are within walking distance to many of the homes. They have small mom and pop markets, clothing stores; some members even make their own clothing or toys with sewing machines also donated through BfW.
|BfW visit to Canalete 2014|
We saw kids riding our bikes in the streets. We met a man who uses a robust tricycle to transport fish and fruit to market to sell. We saw families coming together to help one another using our bikes for work and fun. We met families who struggle to make ends meet and paid great fares to use public transportation. Once they could afford a bicycle they started pocketing that bus fare and using it for food or school books or medications for an elderly parent.
Our bikes not only help residents get around and carry more sellable items to market, but they also help the groups raise capital to support many of those other activities and businesses.
|Volunteers from Reed Tech load container for Costa Rica|
In October, working with Reed Tech, BfW loaded and sent a container of bikes heading to this same community group we visited in Upala in 2014. Those bikes arrived early last week, then Hurricane Otto came to town. The port was shut down, with our bikes still unloaded, residents asked to evacuate, and Upala hunkered down for the storm. Upala was one of the hardest hit communities in Otto's path.
|Upala November 2016|
After the storm, there were many trees down, electricity out, but most of the damage was from all the rain that fell. Nearly as much rain fell in two hours as the region receives in a month and half. Rivers overflowed and mud swelled into homes destroying much of what was in its way.
In the morning she went back to find almost everything was a complete loss. The house was filled with water and mud and she even had to contend with three snakes slithering in her kitchen. She saw her bikes sitting in the muck and tried to pull them out along with a few wet clothing items. She said she knew the bikes would be okay because they were good quality bikes. After the tearful interview Mari and her son got on their bikes and rode away.
|Canalete last weekend|
The downtown area looked much the same, where many more businesses are located. There are rivers and streams surrounding the area and when the rains came everything flooded.
FINCA will now place the bikes with a community group in San Carlos instead. They hope to be able to send another shipment of bikes to Upala in 2017 once the town regains solid footing.