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September 17, 2015 Coco Beach Village - El Matal/Jama - Ecuador

September 17, 2015 Coco Beach Village – El Matal/Jama – Ecuador

(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.

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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.

December 24 2014

December 24 2014

September 2014

September 2015

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September 2015

The sand bags held for almost 2 years...

The sand bags held for almost 2 years…

Stephen Hopkins and Pat Godkin inspect the changes in late June 2015.

Stephen Hopkins and Pat Godkin inspect the changes on June 25th 2015.

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.

Pat Godkin with a vast beach between her lot and the ocean.

Pat Godkin with a vast beach between her lot and the ocean in February 2011.  (Stay tuned: Pat’s story will follow in a few days in a guest post.)

The Ocean devoured this post that marked the entrance to Coco Beach Village. (June 2012)

The ocean devoured  the beach, the palms, the boat sheds and even this light post that marked the entrance to Coco Beach Village. (Photo taken: June 2012)

The same post sometimes vanishes beneath the sand, and sometimes it's totally covered. June 2015.

That same post sometimes vanishes beneath the sand, and sometimes it reappears as if to say, ‘Don’t turn your back on the ocean.” (Photo: June 2015.)

The entrance is at the end of this now-vanished road.

This 2012 photo shows the road and entrance to Coco Beach Village.   The ocean later reached the painted post on the right side of this image.  (Photo: June 2012.)

Feb. 10, 2014

Feb. 10, 2014 – Many realized the importance of fortifying the front line, while others reacted with apathy, and a few injected caustic criticism from afar yet didn’t step forward with solutions.

February 2014 -Daniel Santana explains the critical status to Alcade Alex Cevallos and warns that action should be taken NOW!

February 2014 -Coastal Engineer Daniel Santana explained the critical status to Alcade Alex Cevallos and warned that action should be taken “NOW!”

Engineer Santana studied the coastal area and warned, "iMuy grave - this is very serious, and action should be taken immediately.'

Engineer Santana studied the coastal area and warned, “iMuy grave – this is very serious, and action should be taken immediately!’

February 10, 2014

February 10, 2014  The entrance to Coco Beach Village.

April 23, 2015

April 23, 2015  Yet some cynics continued to say there was nothing wrong, that just a few people were alarmists and worried about their pools.

July 09 2014

Coco Beach Entrance  (extreme right) July 09 2014

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.

Esperanza! A change in mayors, and El Matal had hope. Alcade Angel Rojas listens to feedback from the crowd.

Esperanza! A change in mayors, and El Matal had hope. Alcade Angel Rojas listens to feedback from the crowd.

CocoBeachVillage gate/entrance April 2015

CocoBeachVillage gate/entrance April 2015

June 8 2015 Coco Beach Village Entrance

June 8 2015 Coco Beach Village Entrance

June 8, 2015

June 8, 2015

June 8, 2015 Coco Beach village

June 8, 2015 Coco Beach village

Coco Beach Village - June 25 2015

Coco Beach Village – June 25 2015

Coco Beach Entrance - Rocks June 25, 2015

Coco Beach Entrance – Rocks June 25, 2015

July 07 2015

July 07 2015

Coco Beach Gates sept 6

September 06, 2015 (Photo Lesley Flaman)

CocoBeach Village Sept 18 2015 just past entrance

CocoBeach Village Sept 17, 2015 just past entrance

Coco Beach, first home site past entrance

Coco Beach Village, Sept 17, 2015, first homesite past entrance

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.”

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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.

After 18 months of work, the offensive squad is tired, so it's time to call in the defense --- but where is the backup squad?

After 18 months of work, the offensive squad is tired, so it’s time to call in the defense — but where is the backup squad?

June 11, 2015

June 11, 2015

June 8, 2015

June 8, 2015

June 2015

June 2015

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.”

June 25, 2015 Coco Beach Entrance

June 25, 2015 Coco Beach Entrance

Please help share this story.   Those of us with breaking hearts  are thanking you in advance. Z

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