He has been such an integral part of Samara for so many decades, ensuring that clean drinking water continues flowing into Samara's homes and businesses, that it's hard to imagine the day when Eduardo Arnáez Montes, who is now 79, will retire from his position as Administrator of ASADA (Water Administration Association). Although he doesn't plan on retiring for another year or two, ASADA is looking for someone to start training to fill his shoes, but that is no easy task.
Eduardo did have someone shadow him for three times, but the fellow decided the job was not for him—too difficult, too much stress dealing with what people say when they're angry about an issue with their water. But Eduardo has a knack for calming people down. "They need to unload things," he acknowledged. So he listens to them, recognizes their problem and then explains the issue to convince them of the best form of avoiding bigger problems later on.
"I identify so much with the community that this obligates me to have knowledge," Eduardo commented. He wants to be able to provide correct information whenever someone consults him about something.
The formation of a community leader
Eduardo naturally slid into the role of a leader in Samara because of two characteristics: knowledge and friendliness. His first career was as an educator. When he was studying to be a teacher, Eduardo explained that his professors insisted that the teacher should be a leader in the community and that they should visit the people in the area.
His first seven years as a school teacher were spent in La Virginia, deep inside Nicoya's plains, where initially the school facility could hardly be called a building and he had to sleep on a bench for the first couple of months. However, Eduardo knew how to face reality and fight to overcome obstacles, and he soon gathered community support to improve the school facilities.
In 1972, he transferred to Samara and faced a different challenge. Although the school building was in good shape, the students were not. With the beach environment he found a lot of laziness, as students preferred to go fishing rather than go to school. Eduardo began visiting the homes of his students, seeing how they lived, making friends and influencing parents to begin obligating their children to go to school and to take their education more seriously. Eduardo also took on the role of community director.
After 25 years as a teacher, Eduardo retired, but his former students still call him "teacher" when they see him. Eduardo says he feels the happiness of a father when they do, as if his children were greeting him. Their demonstrations of appreciation let him know that his labor as a teacher was good.
The evolution of Samara's water system
When Eduardo came to Samara, there was no community aqueduct system. There wasn't much pollution then, and homes generally had their own wells. Five years later, Eduardo, working with a committee, took steps to bring aqueducts to Samara.
Water in Samara is superficial, Eduardo explained, and he experienced in the flesh the problems caused by contaminated water, like diarrhea.
From 1978 to 1996, Eduardo was an integral part of Samara's water committee. So when AyA (Costa Rican Institute of Aqueducts and Sewage Systems) promoted the formation of ASADAs to legitimize community water committees, and the board had to name an administrator, Eduardo was the obvious choice. "I was the one who knew everything," he noted.
Through the years, his aim has been to provide potable water to the community with quality, quantity and continuity. To that end, around 1987 the town's rusty metal water storage tank was replaced with a concrete tank. In recent years, with the growth of Samara's population, the distribution network has been changed from 2-inch to 3-inch tubing in order to provide more water to the community. And last year, Eduardo had a major headache trying to determine how to repair fissures in the storage tank. Finally he found the solution: a geo-membrane, a special material that lines the tank inside so the water doesn't have contact with the tank. The membrane was installed in September but wasn't fused properly (another headache for Eduardo), and it was repaired at the beginning of November.
Another improvement to the water system was the installation last year of an emergency system, which makes it possible to route water directly from the pumps to the town, bypassing the water tank. Eduardo explained that the emergency system was installed thinking of the famous earthquake predicted for the peninsula, which could cause the tank to burst.
Life is full of changes. Eduardo has watched Samara transform from a fishing and agricultural community to a tourist area, with the accompanying economic advantages but also the disadvantages—now people don't know their neighbors as well, many youths have started using drugs, and the increase in drug use has been accompanied by an increase in robbery to buy drugs. Eduardo closes his eyes for a moment and his semblance saddens as he reflects on these changes. But one thing hasn't yet changed: Eduardo continues to work as a leader in the community.
More Community News
Young Journalists in Nosara
Students of the HomeSchool Beach Academy in Nosara studied the value of the human spirit and the importance of developing it across mankind. Their task was to find an example of a person in their community with such values, interview them and write an article.
In the following weeks, The voice of Nosara will share with their readers the articles of these young journalists which detail one spirit we all posses, helping others. Read Surfing the Pura Vida LifeWritten By Kevin Montiel Lopez, Grade 9.
Escuelita de Nosara 2012
A reminder to all Escuelita de Nosara will be running again this coming January 2012. This year the program will only take place for three weeks beginning January 9th and ending the 27th. The program will take place at Escuela de Santa Marta from Monday-Friday, 1pm–4pm, ages 5-15, transportation will be provided please look for the bus schedule to be posted at public locations including Super Nosara.
Samara Preps for Fiestas at the end of the year
Famous bull "Chirriche" will be at the rodeo on Saturday, the 30th
Samara's Progressive Association is gearing up for this year's town fiestas, to be held from Wednesday, December 28th through Sunday, January 1st. The lineup and venue for this year's fiestas is similar to last year's, according to Freddy Mendoza Elizondo, President of the commission for the fiestas, with inexpensive admissions so the public can have fun participating in the activities.
Authentic Tico Culture to Enjoy in Nosara
Few people know that the Fiestas Patronales Inmaculada Concepcion de Maria includes an annual parade in Nosara every December. It features teams of oxen pulling Costa Rica's famously colorful oxcarts. The oxcart drivers need donations to assist with the cost, about $100 dollars per driver, to transport their oxen and oxcarts from Hojancha and the Nicoya region to Nosara.
Nosara Sostenible, Making the Difference as a Tourist Destination
The Estancia Hotel reopened its doors to the Nosara community this Saturday, December 3rd, for the “Sustainable Nosara Expo” Fair. Beginning at noon, about 250 people enjoyed the different activities that the expo offered.