Welcome to San Jose,
La Carpio, in San Jose, is the home of the largest immigrant community in Central America. There are 55,000 people crowded into a very small, poverty-stricken area. The streets are narrow, winding, and hilly, with structures/homes created mostly of discarded metal roofs and lumber. There are ditches on both sides for rainy season. The streets are filled with people, kids, very skinny dogs and cats. It is noisy and busy.
Sifais was created in the midst of it all. It was founded by Maris Stella Fernandez, at the urging of Alicia Aviles Aviles, a community organizer in La Carpio. Alicia was determined to find solutions for some of the problems in her community. She found Maris Stella.
Sifais is an organization that promotes social integrations through art. Within the safety of its physical building, Sifais offers lessons in many arts: music, ballet, crafts, boxing, as well as educational and marketing opportunities. It is a safe and welcoming place in La Carpio.
I was there for five days, teaching 14 neighborhood women to both coil and crochet using recycled fabrics and plastic bags. I learned as much from them as they did from me. With the help of varied and wonderful translators, we cut, stitched, and crocheted. We laughed a lot, often at my disjointed sentences in Spanish.
Cimarrones is a small, rural village in Limon Province, in the southeast of Costa Rica. It is one of the communities that is visited by the hikers traveling with Mar a Mar, a non-profit association for rural development in Costa Rica. The goal is for these women to make objects that can be sold to the hikers.
My second workshop was in Cimarrones, where I was the guest of Miguel and Mireya Arana. Mireya's English is better than my Spanish (which isn't saying much at all). She is the president of the town, and seems to be the organizer of all that happens there. This included my workshop. She is very rich in family and friends, and in the respect she has in her community.
Our workshop was full, with many creative and excited women. Their children generally joined us in the early afternoon, after school let out. The women worked with recycled fabric, plastic bags, and local abaca fiber. They created baskets and bags / canastas y bolsas.
I had a translator, and finally learned enough Spanish so that I could make a few jokes. We talked about pricing. They felt a fair price would be 2000 colones per hour, equivalent to about $4.00.
Costa Rica vacation,
here we come!
Corcavado Adventures Tent Camp, Osa Peninsula
Corcavado National Park
We walked, and walked, and walked....
Hiking to Drake Bay, more walking....
Monteverde - a canopy walk through the rain forest
So many thanks to Sylvia Saborio, who made this trip possible.
Here she is with her good friend, Jose Sancho, Costa Rican sculptor. We had a special visit to his home/studio/gardens.