Life on the Streets

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Waking up in bed, showering, eating breakfast, going to work, having a hot meal for dinner, going to sleep and waking up again. This is a reality that we consider normal, but if you pay attention, in the streets of cities like Nicoya, Santa Cruz or Liberia, there are other realities. There, on the sidewalks in front of churches, on park benches or in vacant lots, are the homeless.

What is daily life like for these people? Who are they? Do they have families? For several days, photojournalist Ariana Crespo interviewed and photographed five people who live on the streets of Nicoya to learn up close about how they meet their basic needs and what their stories are.

It was not easy. Some of them go weeks without bathing. Others can suddenly fly into a rage. Interviewing them is complicated and requires a lot of patience because the stories can change from one day to the next. To establish contact, Crespo gave them food and sodas although they did not always accept the food.

But we found that they aren’t completely excluded from society since they receive aid from institutions like the Oasis of Hope Church, the Salvation Army and even from people who know them.

Sleeping on park benches, sidewalks in front of business or house patios is part of the difficulties of living in the open. To get money, sometimes they look after cars, collect cans or weed gardens, although it is common to see them in certain spots waiting for the day to pass or asking for money. To bathe, they frequent water streams around downtown and wash their clothes right there.

To confirm the stories told by the people interviewed, we talked to those who help them, like the Red Cross, the Public Force and members of the Salvation Army of Nicoya. Sometimes they see cases of professionals who fall into destitution even though they have a home, family and children. They say that family conflicts, illnesses, alcoholism and drug dependence gradually take over these people, who end up wandering aimlessly through the streets of Nicoya.