Fabian Obanda is sixteen years old and has been sober for two months. He was addicted to cocaine. Fabian lives in the little village Playa Brasilito at the pacific coast of Costa Rica, where he didn't do much else then party, use and deal, until now. Since two months he's trying to get back his real life as a teenager by going to school and work at a golf course. At a funding party for the poor kids of Guanacaste, the province where Fabian lives, we make an appointment for our interview: three o'clock, the next day at his house in the slums of Brasilito. He's really enthusiastic at first, but despite that, he doesn't show up. A search of three hours through the village, two messages at the neighbours, a bunch of phonecalls and three days later we are sitting in a little beachbar, watching the sunset together. When we meet, it looks like Fabian is under influence: what he says makes sense, but he's confused and talks unstructured. He's very open and starts his story right away. “Every morning, when the tides are good, I go surfing to have a fresh start at the golf course where I work. I like it there because the people are good to me, they feel safe. There are a lot of crazy people here in Brasilito and I was caught in that scene of drugs and alcohol for a long time. I went out every night, sniffed coke and got wasted, I even started dealing. When I was fifteen I sniffed my first line of coke because I felt lonely. I think different than my friends and nobody understands me. People are hypocrite here and they talk behind your back all the time. That's why I started going to the famous ladies night parties in Tamarindo. It didn't take long before I used one gram of cocaine per day, I got addicted and needed money. Dealers saw this and because my English is good, I got a job as a Mula very fast. Mula's are the youngsters here that sell drugs for the big dealers. I asked 50 dollar for one gram of coke and sold almost 40 grams per night. But in the meantime I weakened every day: I went to sleep at six in the morning and woke up at one p.m. to take my first line of the day. I got thinner and couldn't perform anymore, I even stopped surfing because I had an everlasting hangover. I don't want this anymore now, I want to do sports and build a future, study, travel and discover other cultures. I want to go to Europe and learn to speak really good English. My dream is to become an environmental engineer, but that's so hard when you're born in this country: I don't have any money to study. Now I'm finishing highschool by taking evening courses and I keep myself busy by doing good stuff. I don't hang out on the beaches to steal from tourists anymore.” At the moment Fabian lives with his mother, grandmother and younger brother in a small house in Playa Brasilito. The house is dark, doesn't have a floor or any lightning. There are a lot of plants and the laundry is spread all over the house where there is one plastic table and one chair. Fabian: “Some people get everything from their parents and become lazy, I work for everything I own. My father died when I was four and since then, my mother has been both mother and father for me. When I got a little older I couldn't take that anymore and started to work at a fishermen's boat. That's when I stopped going to school.” The national anthem of Costa Rica says: Viva Siempre el trabajo y la paz, but according to Fabian, these are empty words. There is such corruption in Costa Rica, he says, police officers close their eyes when people provide them with enough money, alcohol, drugs or girls. De government makes decisions that are not always good for the inhabitants of the country, Fabian says. “Normally I had exams right now, but the government decided to postpone them. Apparently there's something going on with the US and we are lost in these decisions of the government. The latino' s represent 62% of the inhabitants of America, but why are we living like this then? In this paradise! Everybody says Costa Rica is a magnificent country, but nobody knows what really happens here. In the Kokomobar, around the corner here, drugs are used and dealed daily, the police goes there every night but they are given free drinks and food, sometimes even money in exchange for their discretion. One time the police caught me with four grams of cocaine, they told me they wanted to do me a favor by not reporting it. I said “Ok, let's throw the stuff into the toilet!”, but the police officer said no and put the cocaine in his own pocket. A friend of mine ended up in jail and in rehab afterwards. But when he came back everything started again from the beginning. The leading people of Costa Rica don't know that you can buy drugs like candy here and what does the government do? Just nothing...” At the moment, Fabian is doing better, he says. He has been sober for two months now, goes to school every day attends extra English- and computerclasses and he sees a therapist. He says: “I'm not going to lie to you, sometimes it's very hard to stay off the drugs. The therapist helps me a lot, but she doesn't understand how it is to be addicted because she has never felt it. Your body and character change, people see something is happening but you don't want to be confronted. I needed help and without help it only gets worse and you take more drugs. You want to forget and being high makes you forget. Sometimes I was high for 38 hours without eating. At night I walked around on the beach with the most terrible thoughts. I couldn't play football anymore, had no friends and no siñoritas. Now that I say all these things to you, I'm still getting the creeps, I had such a horrible time, I never want to have that again, actually I don't even want to be remembered of it.” At that moment Fabian starts shaking, his voice turns high and keeps staring at the ground. I still wonder whether he is under influence, if it are rehab side effects or emotions. He asks me if he could get him another beer and when I come back with another Imperial, the Costa Rican national beer, he looks me straight in the eye and whispers to me. At the other side of the street are two drug dealers, his former employers. I can't look too long or too obvious. He keeps staring into my eyes. He's scared. One of the two dealers comes our way, he shakes Fabians hand and starts talking in Spanish, too fast for me to understand. When he's done talking, the dealer turns to me, brings his face up to three centimeters from mine and makes some obscene comments about me. When he's gone, Fabian continues: “The dealers are not really angry at me because I quit, but they keep asking me to get back to work, they would do everything to get me back. When you're addicted, you do everything for a line of coke, you get depths and dealing is a good way to earn the money, or coke, back. The dealers make our lives miserable by taking advantage of us. Here in Brasilito are seven big dealers that get in the stuff to cut it and divide it for us, the Mula's. Now I'm far ahead and I'm strong, they cannot persuade me anymore. I can surf and play football again. I still have a long way to go, but that life lies behind me because it's not good for me. When I'm thirty I'll have something of my own: a diploma, a house and children.