Costa Rica Diaries: Segment 2



shell for money

This is how we pay our ‘basura’ collector….with this shell.
We put 500 to 1,000 colones (about $1 to $2) in the shell and leave it on top of our bag.
If our neighbor gets there before we do, then he uses this shell and we use another one that is broken. This is obviously the preferred shell.

Many tourists who visit Costa Rica think that there is still too much garbage lying around, but the country has made a lot of progress from the first time I visited perhaps ten years ago when too many of the hillsides were cluttered with refuse.  However, I must admit, I am particularly irritated by the 2 liter plastic bottles left behind by the local fishermen and visiting tourist alike.  However, RECYCLING is here in a big way in Montezuma.

HIP TIP: Do the Earth and yourself a great favor.  Buy a stainless steel bottle for your water and refill it, rather than buying plastic bottles.  Not only can you flavor your water with limes, cucumbers and/or ginger, you can refrigerate it to keep your water very cold.  You can even freeze it.

For us, garbage has a whole new meaning here in Costa Rica. It has become a pleasure.

We have a box that looks like a wooden frame where we put all of our vegetable and fruit scraps…to share with whomever wants it in the wild kingdom, be it the gentle agoutis, that look like large guinea pigs;

agouti eating

the cute but ferocious coati mundis;

A Coati Mundi

the to die for darling capuchin monkeys;

white faced monkey baby

the iguanas,


ants and all manner of other guests. Egg shells are composted. Even bread scraps now go into the heap.

The compost box is just outside my kitchen window, so while I do the dishes, I can watch my visitors. Lately, the mama agouti has taken a liking to the wheat bread heels, as well as, of course, any banana scraps.  The coati and the monkeys love the papaya rinds since we leave quite a bit of fruit, though at a great sacrifice.  I solace myself with the knowledge that the next day’s papaya will be just as good.

What is left of our fish or chicken is thrown into our creek for the exotic tiger herons

heron tiger

and the raccoon.

Our bottles, cans, boxes, and plastic are recycled. We don’t have a car as yet (perhaps never), so we have to take the local bus to Montezuma, but it is just part of our weekly shopping day.

Then there is the garbage, garbage.  There is, after all of this separation, there is very little left. We bag it (in a green bag that will decompose, of course) and set it out by the gate for Tino, our collector, with the money for the week in our beautiful shell — so much better than an envelope or wallet, don’t you think?

shell for money

2 thoughts on “Costa Rica Diaries: Segment 2

  1. What a lovely way to think of trash… a waste-less “waste” I think of you with very little footprints and you walking so softly on your corner of paradise.

    • Small footprints even for those with big feet. I have a shaman gardener who is transforming the garden into one that sings to attract the wildlife, to nurture and sustain the creatures. These are all such lovely projects that gladden the heart and spirit.

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