SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise by Gary Davis

30 Sep

This is the continuation of a series of blogs to promote the e-book SO YOU WANT to LIVE in COSTA RICA – which is a guide to… the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise… This is a guide book that will give you the kind of insider’s knowledge that you might wish you had before you made your decision to move or not move to Costa Rica.

Every blog entry will start with the appendix because that way when you read whatever else I have posted it will 1. make sense (I hope) and 2. give you a point of reference in case you realize you need to read something that is “archived”.  Because if you read every blog I enter you will have eventually read the whole e-book and won’t need to order it for $2.99 from Amazon or B&N.  All you’ll be missing are the photos that show what you might expect if you choose to undertake the Adventures, Trials and Tribulations of Settling in Paradise.

As I said, I will start each blog with the appendix so that the reader can reference important elements of the book to archived blogs.  The page numbers shown are the actual page they appear on in the book. Here is the Appendix – and these are all the nuggets and their corresponding page numbers: Definition of “nugget” – 3, Doors & Windows – 7, Manufacturing – 11, Real Estate – 11, Shipping – 12,Maps, – 15, Corporations – 20, Traffic Cops – 23, Know basic Spanish – 30, Panama – 33, Roof Line – 42, Plumita Pacifica Web Address – 65, Getting the Best a Tico has to Offer – 84, Power Surges – 86, Liberia Airport – 88, Attitude – 104, Cellular Phones – 117, Newspapers – 18, Your Embassy – 137, Buying & Selling Cars – 154, Drive Slowly – 161, Arriving at the Airport – 168, Wages & Prices – 170, Undertows – 226, Life Ring – 230, Avoiding Customs Confiscations – 234, Driving Rules – 236, Walking in the City – 249, Purchasing Anything – 258, Buying Fresh Produce – 263, Bus Tickets – 272, to “Bribe” or not to “Bribe” – 313, Traffic ticket Prices – 315, Exiting the Country – 337

And now I need to include parts of chapter 6 that I recently omitted (accidentally) !!!

According to them water was about an inch deep throughout the entire second floor of the house!  I’m told that usually when it rains here the wind blows from the ocean towards the inland.  So I not only had all the water running off my roof onto my deck but what the wind blew in as well all being pushed into my house by the wind.  Glad I wasn’t here. Glad they couldn’t call me.  I’ve always told my employees that if I’m away and there’s nothing I can do about whatever the emergency is that is occurring, call the professionals who can do something about it.  (If only there were some pros around here to call.)  Deal with it the best you can and don’t bother me!  The good news is that very little was damaged.  A few books that I hadn’t unpacked yet, a T.V. (which I practically never watch) and some other minor mementos got ruined.

Of course, however, I immediately hired someone to extend my roof past my deck.  Funny thing, they just finished the first half, which extends out from my living room, today and are more than half done with the part that extends out from my bedroom.  And we had a brief but fierce little storm.  Good test.  I discovered some other challenges with water incursion I need to deal with but I’m not flooded.

You’ll read about the mistake I made not extending the roof line further than I told my contractor to build it.  But now is a good time to suggest that you actually extend it further than recommended for reason that will become obvious later.

Anyway, back to construction challenges.  My lot, being right at the beach, is a little low and floods or better yet, becomes a swamp during the rainy season.  So for that reason I had about 2 feet of fill dirt put on it one year prior to construction.  It’s obvious that that was a good decision because I’ve seen the shallow lake that forms next to me.  So finally the year had passed, the fill dirt was well compacted, and Mario could start.

He doesn’t speak English but his wife (Alice) is fluent (from Switzerland) and begins to send me pictures of the progress.  I see the dirt.  I see the footings dug.

They’re down about four feet.  I see the steel re-bar in place in the footings.  I get a panicked email from Alice.  The municipality has come and jerked the permits thus stopping the work because the footings are too close to the property line.  How did this happen?

Turns out the architect drew the plans such that the house violated the set back and rather than re-drawing correctly simply labeled the line from the property line to the house with the number legally required.

But Mario went by the scale of the drawing. Apparently whoever reviewed the plans at the municipality missed the error and issued the permits.  And apparently after Mario had the footings dug someone at the municipality caught the error, came to the property, took the measurements and jerked the permits which stopped the whole thing!  I called Alice.  What can be done?  They would send a representative (Mario’s brother) to plead the case that because the set back rule was for fire hazard, and because my house is all concrete block, that there is no need for that much set back.  The municipality bought it and re-issued the permits.  Nice coincidence because this all happened on a Thursday and I was due to arrive at my property on Monday.  I was on a plane to San Jose that Friday night so I wouldn’t know the outcome of the plea until Monday.  I was relieved to see men working when I pulled up.  Alice gave me all the details then.

The next panic was precipitated by the environmental watchdog group here.  I get this email from Alice that there is some developer about a mile down the beach from me trying to violate the mangrove area that adjoins the estuary there, and they’re trying to include my property in the action they are taking against this developer in conjunction with the municipality.  I think “what’s that got to do with me.  I’m a mile away.”  But I send the email on to my attorney in C.R.  She replies back not to worry and just build the place fast.  I forward her reply to Alice.  Alice replies back that it seems the group dropped me out of the action so no problem.  I put it out of my head.

My house is nearly done months later and I’m in the only beach bar in Junquillal having a beer.  There’s no one in the bar except me and some lady with her ten year old son.  I’m about to leave when the lady says to me “are you Gary Davis?”  Somewhat stunned (I was falling asleep at my beer, too) I acknowledge my existence and she says she wants to give me some information about my house.  That got my attention.  Turns out she’s one of the key players in this environmental group (called the “Junquillal Association”) and I find out later also an attorney.  She proceeds to inform me that my house is also adjacent to a mangrove area, which is supposed to be protected, and no building is supposed to occur in a protected area.  Good grief!  This is all news to me.  I’m not even sure I know what a mangrove looks like and I certainly was unaware of the situation she described.  As a matter of fact, if I had known all this when I first looked at the property I wouldn’t have bought it.

But because the municipality was unaware of the mangrove they issued my permits and efforts by the association to stop the construction were fruitless.  She later gave me all the paper work that had been generated by and between the association and the municipality.  I passed it on to my attorney.  I’ve joined the group.  Only time will tell if there’s more to this story.  One of my acquaintances say’s it’s brilliant.  He thinks I lucked into an estate because now that the municipality is aware of the mangrove no one can build around me.

Interesting thought.

As a matter of fact, speaking of my “estate”, the lady that owns the only lot which adjoins my property came by yesterday.  Her lot is exactly the same size and shape as mine and is right behind me.  For now it’s covered with nice tall natural grasses and has a couple nice trees on it.

To tell you the truth, when I heard that it was possible that the municipality would deny permits to build on it because now they know about the ecology of the area, I was pleased even though I felt sorry for whoever had invested their money in it, that there was the possibility that I would have that nice buffer between me and the next house back forever.  Even though for now there are no houses visible from mine, I’m sure the day is just around the corner when I’ll begin to have neighbors.  I had never met her but she showed up with, I think he was a significant other, and a couple of workers to check things out.  I thought it was interesting that she quickly got around to telling me she would “make me a good deal”.  I quickly told her I wasn’t interested.  It was after that that she revealed that she was a Realtor.  Typically slippery and slick as many of them are in C.R.


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