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Blessed Youth

By Irina Guzmán

Many people see teenagers as undisciplined, socially inept and view them primarily as consumers. Parents think of them as “a lost cause” and that “they don’t pay attention, don’t know what they’re doing and don’t act like grownups.” These are some of the many expressions I heard during the five days I spent living with two adolescents and their friends in the community of Nosara. 

On behalf of the parents and adults, we should admit that living with a typical teenager can be rather frustrating and exhausting. Youths between the ages of 13 and 21 are characterized by having an over-emotional, rebellious and incomprehensible attitude.
At the same time, the life of adolescents in a small town like Nosara can be very different from the lives of those who live in cities like Nicoya or San Jose. The capitals offer more options for sports, creative workshops and places to socialize than do rural communities. Then, when thinking about young people in Nosara, we ask:  What do these youths have on their minds? How do they make use of their time and what are their dreams? 

Classic characteristics of adolescents
Let’s start with understanding what it means to be an adolescent. We all pass through this stage; it’s a natural period in the biological, psychological, sexual and social development of a human being. We’re talking about a long journey during which the body, mind and very life experience myriad changes that will leave a mark on the rest of the young person’s life. 
“The word adolescent means a suffering or a lacking. The majority of youths lack experience in life, don’t know how to face challenges that they frequently experience very quickly, and this causes them to make mistakes. 

Another characteristic they lack is knowing how to listen. They think they have answers for every situation,” explained psychologist Carmen Alfaro, Master in Educational Psychology and professor in mid-level teaching in the Ministry of Public Education (MEP) of San Jose. 

She adds that some of the characteristics present in this stage are an excessive interest in living each minute intensely, without measuring the consequences of their actions and without caring about what others think or say. 

Adolescents manifest not only an interest in being in contact with their group of friends, but they also spend hours connected to the Internet, reading a book or wrapped up in their music. All of these activities are typical of the deep and unconscious journey crossing over to become their own person. 

From the city to the beach
The psychologist Alfaro said of adolescents “In rural zones the environment in which they develop their group of friends, the places they frequent, are more controlled, whereas in urban areas their friends can be from very different places. They may not know their friends’ families; they go to many places out of their parents’ control.”

Nelson Lopez is a 19-year-old teenager dedicated to his job. He’s laid-back and solitary, with few friends because that’s how he wants it. When Nelson’s parents decided to move to the coast, they looked for fresh air to breath, a tranquil place where they could live in peace without the stress and the insecurity that the concrete jungle generates.


Nelson wasn’t sure if coming to a beach area was what he wanted; he didn’t want to leave behind his friendships and didn’t feel very certain about abandoning his home and starting a new life far away from what he was used to seeing. He comes from San Jose but has lived in Nosara for seven years. 

At 13, Nelson started at the Nosara high school. He didn’t feel like he belonged, was discontent with the place and with the people that surrounded him. He was uncomfortable and untrusting. He attended the high school when he wanted to and had to repeat the seventh year, but despite that, he carried on with his studies. Today he’s still struggling with Spanish, the only subject he’s lacking to finish his fifth year and take the exams for his diploma.  

Nelson started working a year ago, he feels good about what he’s doing, counting on people that care about him and support him, and his work environment is almost intimate. Everyone there seems like a small family. He’s the one who makes sure the workplace is lively with spontaneous jokes and pranks he pulls on his workmates. 

Along with his mother, Nelson made the decision to take money from his salary to help with some of the household expenses. On Sundays and some free afternoons after work, he skateboards or surfs.
Now Nelson is grateful to his parents for the home and the peace they have in Nosara. “There aren’t robberies, there aren’t fights all the time, there aren’t bullets, there aren’t strikes,” he said. He feels free and agrees that it was the best decision they could have made. “It’s lucky that I came; I was starting to be bad,” he admitted. 

Virtual Socializing
The changes that teenagers can suffer aren’t just location. Many of these changes aren’t tangible, they don’t depend on the “scene” where they grow up, but rather they are invisible, subtle and also more profound. There’s no doubt that Internet access is positive. It provides access to useful and important information and allows for interaction with different people from around the world. But in the 21st century, it’s easier to communicate through social networks (Facebook, Twitter or chat) than to face diverse daily social situations. Virtual communication is taking priority over personal, direct communication, and with high-tech cell phones with 24-hour Internet access, as well as chat, iPads, iPods, Bluetooth, notebooks, etc., teenagers can’t escape from this new means of connecting with others.  

Lindsey Díaz Lindsey is 14. She is “tica” but her father is from the United States, so her Spanish and English are perfect. Lindsey is one of the many teenagers that, at her young age, already knows two or more languages. In the afternoons, after finishing her schoolwork, she spends the rest of the day connected to Facebook or chatting with her friends, but some afternoons she likes to go the Guiones shopping area with her friends to watch the guys skateboard.   

This young girl has seen various changes. Born in the United States, she came to Costa Rica when she was one year old. She started school in Heredia, but by sixth grade she transferred to another school in Coronado, where she only attended for half a year because she liked her former school better. 

As she changed schools, she also had changes in living arrangements. For half a year, while she finished sixth grade, she lived with her paternal grandmother, but upon returning to the school in Heredia she went to live with her other maternal grandmother. She didn’t much like living with her grandmothers— she says they are “very formal and not very permissive”— so she decided to come to Guiones to live with her mom. 

In her first year of high school, she traveled to Nicoya, getting up every day at four in the morning.  Until for her eighth year of school, in 2010, the private bilingual institution, Home School Beach Academy Nosara (HSBAN) opened. Now she is taking her ninth year and has very good grades; she said she likes the schedule and that all of her instructors are agreeable. She prefers Spanish, social studies and sciences, her favorite subject.  

The future is in their hands

Nelson, after experiencing a huge life change, has goals for the future and dreams of becoming an architect. He knows there are always new opportunities and he’s determined to be able to adapt as life happens. Lindsey find it is still hard to decide what she wants to be in her adult life; one day she wants to study criminology and the next she decides that she’s going to be a doctor. What’s certain is that at her young age, she has learned to be independent and determined with what she wants since she likes to make her own decisions; and she has clearly decided that her university studies will take place outside of Costa Rica. 


More Community News

Local Girl with Rare Bone Disorder Will Be Able to Go to School

Laura Rodriguez Lopez, aged 11, from the town of Esperanza, was born with a rare bone growth disorder called Knits Dysplasia. The disorder affects her sight, hearing, speech and skeletal growth as a result for much of her life, walking or standing has been hard if not impossible.

Vacation with “Escuelita” summer school

Since January 9th and until Friday, the 27th, girls and boys with ages between 5 and 15 can take advantage of and enjoy their vacations attending the classrooms of the Serapio Lopez school, which opened its doors for volunteers from Texas, Holand, Nosara and San Jose to teach and spend a great time with the little ones that arrive at the little summer school.

Samara has 15 New Wood Artisans

So many beautiful objects crafted from scraps of leftover wood were displayed on tables at Intercultura on Thursday, December 15th during a graduation ceremony—figurines, jewelry boxes and coffee strainers with carved wooden bases in shapes of local flora and fauna such as palm trees and fish.

Retired Man “graduates” from school in Samara

At 67 years of age, Edgar Lobo Camacho, known as Cusuco, received a certificate from the school in Samara during the school’s graduation ceremony on December 16th. When he was a kid, he made it as far as fourth grade but that was it, until recently. 

Photography Contest Shows Samara

The Samara Chamber of Tourism (CASATUR) launched their Web site, and to get the ball rolling organized an amateur photography contest called "Show us Your Samara." The objective was to show the warmth, natural beauty and originality of Samara Beach.

Playa Garza Starts Off 2012 with a Big Fishing Tournament

For the fourth year in a row, the town of Garza will hold a fishing tournament which will start Friday, January 13th, at noon and will extend throughout Saturday, January 14th and Sunday 15th, when it will start at 5 a.m. On Friday and Saturday the tournament will end at 10 p.m., while Sunday's event will end at 6 p.m. in order to name the winners afterwards. As usual, the money raised will be donated to Garza's elementary school.

New Recycling Center Designs will be Presented to the Nosara Community

The town of Nosara has an opportunity to have an exemplary recycling center thanks to a group of young architecture students, who will be presenting their designs and ideas to the community on Friday, January 13 in Rancho Tico.



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