(Playa El Matal/Jama/Manabi/Ecuador)
“It’s like a war zone,” I said more to myself than to my friend Barbara as we approached where the entrance to Coco Beach Village once stood.
The cluster of palm trees that anchored and framed the classic postcard view was no longer there. A lone sentinal remained, and its leafless trunk stretched skyward like a tattered symbol of a battle-weary war zone. Its neighbor across the concrete wall leaned dramatically toward the ground as if to echo the posture of discouraged homeowners.
The last time I walked this section of beach was in late June (photo above), and seeing the accelerated damage twisted an invisible knife in my stomach. The changes in June were alarming, and I stared in numbed silence as Barbara and I walked the same route two months later.
Flash back to February 2014, two months after the residents living on the beach first sounded the alarm. (See: It’s Devastating) There’s a vast difference between the people who observe the daily changes and those who second guess that feedback – yet don’t step onto the battlefield and witness those destructive waves from the front line.
One of those front-line people is a Pat Godkin, who allowed me to use her photo from when she first purchased her lot and slowly watched as her dream slowly evolved into a nightmare.
The sand bags have done exactly what Engineer Santana said they’d do; they bought 18 months of time, and unlike the rocks, they have held up against the force of the waves. Those 18 months were to ‘buy time’ until a more permament soution could be implemented, and those who were in a position to help have dropped the ball countless times.
Barbara reminisced about her first visit to this area in 2007, then again in 2012 and said, “What I’m seeing makes me feel sad.”
It’s not pretty, and with predictions of an extremely ill-tempered El Nino on his way, few residents on the front line are smiling.
While having lunch and reminiscing about the changes in this unique fishing village, Barbara stated, “This a beautiful beach, and no one seems to care about these people who live here. I remember being impressed with the fishermen mending their nets. I loved seeing their boats and their gear and how happy they were. I remember their smiles. I’m not seeing their happiness now. No one is smiling anymore.”
Please help share this story. Those of us with breaking hearts are thanking you in advance. Z