San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

There’s Something Fishy Happening on La Calzada

Dear Nica Times:

The last three blocks of the main street in Granada, where it meets LakeCocibolca is known as the “Los Mangos” district. “La Calzada” translates as “the road,” but, more so, it means THE ROAD which has been THE means of egress from LakeCocibolca to “El Centro” for several hundreds of years.

There are many tales to be told of the events that have passed on that street, including hundreds of hípicas, parades, fiestas and the infamous retreat of William Walker’s “filibusters” in 1858. The following tale is not worthy of the history of this street.

A few months ago, one of the residents of La Calzada started selling fish in front of their house, without refrigeration and simply throwing the tails and other waste in the cauce, the drainage ditch that runs between the street and the homes of the residents.

The smell of rotting fish is now accompanied by multitudinous flies and other unwelcome, unsanitary consequences.

The Ministry of Health (MINSA) has been contacted on several occasions. They are polite and seem concerned, and actually visited the site and issued a warning on one occasion. Now, however, there is no knowledge or record of such a visit or citation and their efforts to control the situation, if any were taken, have been totally ineffective.

One area resident, a Nica neighbor of tercera edad (over 60, which in olden times carried a given respect) tried to use the city arbitration services to resolve the situation, but, reportedly, the vendors showed up with a lawyer and refused to discuss the issue.

Upon investigation at the alcaldía it seems that the fish vendors actually got a permit from the city to sell the fish. They did so, however, without the approval of MINSA or the police department – both of which must approve a permit.

After the permit was questioned by a city attorney, it was supposed to be revoked, and the appropriate city agency was supposed to investigate the situation. Yet three months later, no action has been taken to stop the sale of fish.

The mayor’s office seems completely unconcerned with this fishy business in a residential neighborhood in the middle of the prime tourist route, and even less concerned with the mysterious permit that no one can seem to explain.

Now the vendors have started parking a large truck in front of their house on Tuesday nights, blocking the sidewalk and stinking up the neighborhood of dead fish.

It is hard to say which smells worse, the dead fish tails or the “fishy business” that allows this to continue.

Meanwhile, the stench goes on.

Tom Phillips



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