The Telire River divides the lush, beautiful jungles of Talamanca from the rest of Costa Rica. There is no McDonalds or 7-11. No fire department, library, or hospital. They just recently built a formal high school. There's not much in the way of jobs there either. While the area is a prime farming spot, selling the crops can be a time consuming challenge.
Many residents have to cross the Telire just to make a living. Students hoping to further their education need to find a home away from home to attend college. They have to travel on foot to the river, by boat downstream 40 minutes, then back on foot to get anywhere. In a sense, The Telire is a barrier to transportation, education, employment, medical access...civilization.
Juan Miguel Diaz received a bike through Bikes for the World back in 2012. He was there when the bikes arrived by truck to the edge of the Telire. He and a team of guys loaded the 450 bicycles donated from Arlington and Rockville onto little boats known as pangas. The bikes were brought in by a program called MiBici, a part of FINCA Costa Rica, aimed to bring transportation and possibilities to all corners of the country. Coroma may be the toughest corner to reach.
Juan welcomed the delivery of bikes and had his bike picked out before he even started loading them into the pangas. The red trek had made its journey from Arlington's annual recycling event at TJ Middle School, to the Bikes for the World warehouse, onto a shipping container, up to the port of Baltimore, through the Atlantic Ocean, it then dropped down into the Caribbean Sea, to the port of Limon. From there the container went over land to this edge of the Telire where all the bikes were offloaded and reloaded onto the small boats that would ferry them to Coroma..
Juan planned to use his bike to get to work on the other side of the river. He has to take a boat to get to work, but sometimes he would get off so late he was unable to catch the last boat home and had to sleep at work. Now that he has a bike he can make it to the river crossing in plenty of time. Something he and his three year old daughter counted on for quality family time after work
Lisandro Diaz is Juan's father and he was also on hand during that initial delivery of bikes to Coroma. He made a living transporting folks across the Telire, and was happy to lend a hand (and boat) to help bring bikes to his community. Like his son, Lisandro eyed his bike right away. He planned on using it to get to his boat for work and also to travel the great distances between banana farms.
After acquiring his bike, Lisandro was able to land an even better job working for a banana trading company. Sadly after his bicycle was stolen while he was a work he had to go back to his boat transport business which was closer to home. He now makes extra money making and repairing boats.