When facing adversity, it helps not to go it alone. In Ojochal, the past eight days have been a testament to the power of community and mutual support.
On the night of Wednesday, October 11, a torrential downpour drenched Ojochal, with some areas reportedly receiving a staggering 22 inches of rain in less than 7 hours. The result was devastating, as landslides, flash floods, and falling trees wreaked havoc on the town’s infrastructure. Roads were washed away, bridge structures compromised, and power and fiber optic lines were knocked out. Our springwater aquifer infrastructure suffered extensive damage, leading water shortages, and parts of the town suffered blackouts and internet disruptions. Some developments became temporarily inaccessible.
In the face of this crisis, Ojochal’s residents did not panic or succumb to despair. Instead, neighbors reached out to one another, reinforcing the sense of community that defines our town. The morning after the storm, my household received a flood of messages from neighbors assessing the situation and organizing assistance. When a small landslide blocked the road, our neighbors were quick to take action, ready to bring out a small excavator owned by a hobbyist neighbor.
On a nearby road, essential for local water service repairs, about 30 fallen trees obstructed access. By 8 am, five neighbors armed with chainsaws and two with machetes were already on the scene, with others lending a hand.
By 10 am, the municipality and town council arrived to assess the damage to a small wooden bridge on my road. This bridge had been battered by boulders carried down by the fast-moving water, and the concrete slab used for heavy machinery crossings had been swept 100 meters down the river. Consequently, we were left without power or water for over three days.
In this time of crisis, we shared water tanks and generators among neighbors. Those with backups graciously invited others to partake in their resources, allowing for charging devices, doing laundry, and having showers.
Business owners took to the streets to coordinate efforts that benefited the community. Despite being briefly isolated, with no way in or out, we recognized that none of us who live here are isolated islands. We understood that our collective success enriches the entire community. By helping others access resources, we all had more to share, reinforcing the understanding that our neighbors’ well-being is closely tied to our own.
One of my neighbors, who has yet to move to Costa Rica but closely follows our development’s group chat, expressed his admiration for Ojochal’s response: “Just an outsider looking in! I have to say that I look forward to being part of a community that handles adversity the way you have. If I ever had to cross the desert, I would certainly want you with me.”
We all moved here seeking a different way of life, one that involves actively participating in the formation of a society around us and contributing to its growth in a positive light. This entails embracing the social contract of giving of ourselves, first.
Quotes from the Osa Tropical Properties team:
Brianne Sturk, OTP’s administrator: “On Wednesday night, during one of the worst storms I’ve ever experienced, I moved from Cortes to my new house in Ojochal. In the morning, I woke to countless messages from neighbors, family, and friends, warning me of all the damage Ojochal had suffered from the storm. The two roads entering Ojochal had substantial landslides, and at the entrance, our bridge collapsed. The people of Ojochal were quick to get started on the large task of clearing roads, restoring water, and installing a culvert bridge at the entrance of Ojochal, all within a couple of days. During this time, neighbors kept each other updated on which roads were safe to use and were quick to offer the use of their houses with electricity or water to those who were still without. All in all, I am very proud of the resilience of this town and happy to call it my home now.”
Kevin Champagne, OTP broker: “It feels strange to say, but I almost love those days after, believe it or not, because you get to help people, and other people get to help you. There’s a lot of love between all of the bad things that we can experience day to day. The second year after I moved to Costa Rica, a big tree fell next to our house. And in 2017, much of low-lying Cortes flooded around where my mother-in-law lives. Every time, people came together to help each other out. Even people living in remote areas don’t need to feel alone here. All it takes is reaching out, and someone is likely to hear your call and want to help out.”