60. Bringing in the New Year with a BANG

Monday 12/27- It’s been a little bit over a week since we spoke to Jose, our cabinet maker. He has had a chance to draw up plans and we’ve had a chance to think more in detail about what exactly it is that we want. We met with him at the house today to take some more measurements and finalize the plans. Once it was all discussed and agreed upon, Jose asked when we needed it ready by? We told him that Geiner said the house would be ready for the cabinets at the end of January. This would give him a month to get everything built. He looked kind of nervous, and said he would do everything he can to get it done by then, but with New Years in there and the possibility that he wouldn’t be able to get his supplies as quickly as he sometimes does, he said he might need until the first week in February. We told him that we could work with that. Since he was doing everything from cabinets and closets, to doors, beds, night stands, tables, and chairs, we asked him to focus first on the

6. On to the Southern Zone



Well, before we are able to move down to our rental, I mentioned we had to spend one more day at the hotel.  This was another vacation day of sitting by the pool and not doing a whole lot.  We went for some walks, sat around, and didn’t do much of anything.  Over the last few days, we had befriended the waitress in the bar/restaurant and told her that this would be our last night, and we’d be leaving early the next morning before breakfast.  She liked us so much that she gifted us a piece of Costa Rican art that she was selling in the restaurant.  It is a small version of the traditional masks that Costa Ricans used back in the days of Christopher Columbus to try to scare the white people away when they “discovered” this area.  It is a beautiful piece of hand carved and painted art!  We assured her that if we ever need to spend a night in San Jose again, we would be back to the Adventure Inn.  We definitely had a great hotel experience there.

Wednesday morning (6/2) my alarm went off before 5am to pack the car and get on the road.  We wanted to stop in the larger town of San Isidro on our way down to pick up some dogfood and maybe a few other supplies.  There is an actual Walmart there and their prices are better than in Uvita.  It’s about an hour from where we’ll be, so since it was on the way and we wouldn’t be able to make it back up there for about a week, we decided it would be a good idea.  We were on the road by about 6am and had a nice drive through the mountains.  In all of our trips here, we had never taken this route before and decided that since we weren’t in a hurry, we would take the mountain road instead of the coastal highway.  The waitress at the hotel told us that in Spanish they call this road cerro de la muerte, which in English means hill of death.  She recommended that we leave early and drive it in the morning before the clouds roll in, since once they do you can’t see very far anymore. This road climbs to 7000 ft, so the possibility of clouds makes total sense.  There were some beautiful views, steep drop-offs, and we had an enjoyable ride.  The car was loaded down pretty heavy with all of our luggage, but it seemed to drive very well once we got it out on these curvy roads.  Ramie joked about this being a good test of power up the hills, steering through the curvy roads, brakes down the steep hills, and just overall handling.  It seemed to pass all of these tests well.  It was 92 miles from San Jose to San Isidro and we finally arrived about 3 hours later.  Yes, that is just how windy the roads are and the slow speed you have to go.

 

We normally take the blue route down the coastal highway, this time we took the gray route through the inland mountains

This is a good time to talk about travel time and speed limits.  The average speed limit on most roads is 40Kph, or 24mph. I would say on this road we were lucky to average about 30Kph.  On some of the larger straighter roads and main highway, the limit is 80Kph or 49mph. We live about 131 miles from the airport in San Jose and depending on the day it could take from 3-4 hours maybe more to make this trip one way.

 It is also not recommended to drive at night here, and that is some very sound advice. They have little to no guard rails along the roads even where there are very steep drop-offs (and there are a lot of those in the mountains).  There are very few signs that warn of a sharp curve or reflectors on the side to indicate the edge.  Oh, and the center and fog lines on the roads are almost non-existent. There may be no shoulder and maybe a 2’ deep drainage ditch just inches off the road instead.  There have been plenty of places where there was a large tree that the road was paved around at the very edge, so don’t get too close that you clip it.  Besides, if you drive at night you miss all of the beautiful views!!

Anyways, back to the subject.  We picked up some essentials at Walmart and then headed on toward Uvita.  Google Maps shows an “alternate route” than the one we took last February when we visited here, so we decided to take that new route today as well.  All went well for the first 20 minutes out of town, and then it had us turn down a dirt road.  We thought that it was odd that Google would bring us to a dirt road, but Costa Rica has a lot of those, so we figured it was no big deal.  The road looked well traveled, wide enough, and not a complete washboard.  Well, this road just got narrower and narrower, winding up into the mountains until it told that we missed our turn and to make a U-turn and go back.  We did this, and then at another point not too far back it told us to do the same.  Really Google?  I usually have such faith in you!!  It’s not that easy to turn a vehicle around on a narrow one lane mountain road.  Especially since there is a steep drop off over the mountain on one side and a 2 foot deep ditch for rain run off on the other side.  The last thing we need is to get stuck!  I thought we were paying attention this time, there was no turn in between there!  Let’s try this again.  As we went down this same stretch of dirt road for the 3rd time, we saw a path off the road.  This is where Google wanted us to turn.  Ok, let’s give it a shot.

 via GIPHY

  We started down this “road” which was really more of a path, and it just got worse and worse.  We got to a point where there was no way our vehicle would fit through this narrow path that the map wanted us to take.  No Way!!  Time to turn around and go the regular route.  All the way back to San Isidro.  Now we were really on our way to Uvita.  We added about an hour to our drive time with this little adventure (double the time it should have taken to get back) but still made it to Uvita before 1:00.

 

I’ll take time here for a little bit more background information.  During our 2020 vacation here, we met Loren and Nancy, a retired American couple who has been living in Costa Rica for about 8 years.  Loren manages a whole bunch of Air B&Bs owned by Americans & Canadians including the one we were staying in.  During that vacation we asked him if we could talk for a bit about their move here, how it all works, what he thinks of it, etc.  We ended up talking for a few hours at his house and became friends with him.  Ramie kept in contact with him during the next year and asked a few more questions about living in Costa Rica during that time.  We stayed at that same house during our Feb 2021 vacation and spent more time talking to Loren and Nancy about moving here.  They were very excited when we told them that we were going to be doing this and probably quite soon.  Loren has been a tremendous resource for us during this move, and he has helped us so much.  He is the one that found us this rental house we would be staying in, gave us a recommendation for a builder for our eventual house build, and have helped us on so many other things.  I honestly am not sure how we could have done this all without him. 

 

So, back to today.  We met up with Loren and Nancy at the new mini-golf course that they have built in town (but isn’t quite open yet).  After chatting for a little while, Loren told us to follow him up to the little house we would be staying in for the next few months until we could figure out our long-term real estate purchasing plan.  This was it!  We were officially going to our “home” in this new country. It was a relief and a weight off of our shoulders after all the months of planning and stress we endured while we quit our jobs and sold almost all of our belongings.

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