San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Community rallies to help family

NOSARA, Guanacaste – It was just before 1 a.m. when the first part of the roof came off, Dicter Mendoza remembers. The ice cream vendor and his family had been asleep in their small house in Esperanza, when they were awakened by massive wind gusts ripping through their home.

“The first [part of the house] fell, then the others came soon after,” Mendoza said. “When we got up there was nothing; no walls, no kitchen, everything was scattered.”

The family of four had moved into the house several months ago after Mendoza made an initial payment on the lot. He had built the tiny house for the family to live in while he made payments on the property. On March 2, strong winds caused that house to collapse, destroying almost everything the family owned. Mendoza, his wife, Isabel, and their two daughters, María Milagro, 11, and Cristel María, 3, moved in with a neighbor.

“Right now we have nothing,” Mendoza said. “We even lost our clothes to the storm.”

The Mendoza’s home in Esperanza, near Nosara, wasn’t the only structure hit. A sudden increase in air pressure from the Caribbean last week blasted the country with strong winds, but Guanacaste saw the brunt of the storm, with gusts up to 70 kilometers per hour, the National Meteorological Institute reported.

The storm affected the entire Nosara area, bringing down the fiesta cívica, a local festival, in nearby Garza, and chilling the waters of popular surf beach Playa Guiones. 

“When I heard about the family, I knew I needed to do something,” said Lucy Ramírez, a neighbor and local Nosara bartender. “A lot of people know me around here, they like my cocktails. I thought I had an opportunity to do something.”

Ramírez went to a local surf school, Agua Tibia, with a bottle of liquor and a proposition: They should host a fundraiser to help the family.

“We’re always open to this kind of thing,” said Agua Tibia co-owner Andrew Delgado. “We like the idea of everyone having a little bit and giving a little bit.”

Each little bit turned out to be enough for a party with a full bar, a cooler of ceviche and a grill packed with meat. Agua Tibia Surf School donated the venue, and one of the co-owners served as DJ. 

The fundraiser, held on March 11, raised ₡230,000 ($460) from food and drink sales and an additional ₡220,000 ($440) from donations. All the money will go directly to the family. 

The event’s organizers also have secured the use of recycled building materials from a nearby construction zone and are enlisting local volunteers to help rebuild the house free of charge. While the money is a good start, Ramírez hopes to raise more by hosting another fundraiser. 

“The important thing is that we help and see this all the way through,” she said. “That’s life sometimes, but everyone can do their part and we can make a difference.”

To help the family, email Lucy Ramírez at

Contact Lindsay Fendt at

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