17. Time to Work--- A Little Bit!

Friday 6/18- Morning came early, just like it always does. But, that’s really alright with me, we are more morning people anyway, and since we have adjusted our schedules to go to bed early as well, it isn’t as if we aren’t getting enough sleep. Normally in the morning we start our day with coffee on the balcony listening to the birds and playing our video game (we’re hooked on Animal Crossing, a special thanks goes out to Taylor for this) - it’s a little bit embarrassing for 2 adults to admit to playing this video game daily, but the game is a lot like life in Costa Rica. (If you’re curious about the game, let me know and I’ll tell you more about it). 

Well, this morning didn’t start that way. Ramie got out of bed, got dressed, and immediately pulled out his tools to start figuring out that water heater. I was pretty surprised, all I said was “no coffee” and he shook his head and started cleaning out the cupboard below the sink where the on-demand water heater is located. If you don’t have any experience with an on-demand water heater, it is just a very small appliance, ours is mounted under the kitchen sink, and somehow it just heats water when you turn on a hot water tap in the house. 



The water in the kitchen gets VERY hot, like scalding hot. The shower has good hot water (when the water heater is working, of course) and to me, it’s pretty shocking that this little thing can keep up with the hot water needs. Granted, it’s a small house and only the 2 of us, but it sure does get the job done and takes up less room than the water heaters we’re used to with the big tanks. 

Anyway-- All this work has the attention of Breeze. She is curious and goes to check out what Ramie is doing. Ever since she was a pup, Breeze always wants to be a helper dog, and although she doesn't really lend any sort of help she feels like she needs to be under the cabinet with Ramie as well to see what is going on. Its really quite humorous.


As Ramie is starting to get ready to pull out the piece of equipment, I recommended checking to see if it has power first. My former Avionics Mechanic troubleshooting brain always goes to power first—because without power your electrical items will not work. He admitted that was a good idea and got right to it. We have already discovered that their electrical wiring is done differently here than it is done in the US, and we couldn’t actually find where the cord for the water heater plugged in to the house power—but fortunately he has a gadget that can tell him if there is power in the wire just by putting the thing close to the wire (he calls it a tic tester). We have power! That’s a good sign, and that also means we don’t really have to find where the thing is plugged in, we’ll just turn off the breaker that powers the water heater. So that's what he does. Safety first you know!! And then starts to work taking this out so he can take the next steps to troubleshoot what the problem is. This is no easy task, because as we discovered with the washing machine a couple of days ago, they seem to build their cabinetry around their appliances. Fortunately, there was just enough room to squeeze this small water heater between the water pipes going up to the sink and the edge of the inside of the cabinet.

Once it was out we looked at it—there isn’t really anything on the outside of it. There is no display, no buttons or anything like that, just a dial which is used to control how hot it heats your water. Ok then, time to open this puppy up. A few screws took the cover plate off, and inside there wasn’t a whole lot there either (really, how does this thing work!? I have no idea, but whatever, as long as it does it’s job, I’m happy). Hiding on top of the coil out of sight and out of reach until you have taken it all apart is a reset button. I guess that is exactly what Ramie was hoping and looking for. He pressed the reset button, put everything back together, hooked it back up, and lo and behold, we once again have hot water!! Now—it’s time to sit down for some coffee!

BUT—no Animal Crossing yet.


We decided that since we started our day with some repairs, and it is a day that we can drive, that we’ll do some more repair work. There are a few lights in the house that don’t work. Little LED puck lights up in the ceiling that just have to be replaced. No problem, right? Well, Karen (the owner of the house) brought these lights down from the US when she was having the house built so there are no direct replacements here, plus they are a few years old so you probably wouldn’t be able to find the same thing anyway. We knew that these would have to be replaced, so Ramie had previously looked at what they are, how big the hole in the ceiling for the light is, etc. so we could start looking for them at the hardware stores. We had also talked to Karen about them and she told us to find some that were the closest match and go ahead and replace them, she would deduct the cost from our rent bill. So, our search for lights is on!

As I mentioned, since we had an idea we’d be doing this, we had looked for them before but didn’t really have much luck finding what we needed. So, as is the style here in Costa Rica, you make due with what you do have available and you make it work. We ended up deciding that the best course of action would be to buy some lights that looked close enough to the same but were slightly larger, then we (and when I say we- I really mean Ramie) would have to cut the hole in the ceiling slightly larger, and voila… lights! Too bad Ramie didn’t pack his hole saws when he was packing his (very small) collection of tools to bring down. (As a side-note, man, if we had been able to bring all of Ramie’s tools down instead of just a small selection of them, things might be slightly easier here! Eventually we hope to get them all down here, but that won’t be until our house is almost built and we ship a crate down. That is also when I will get the rest of my kitchen stuff that I miss. On another side note, they must not use tongs or pot holders down here, I look at EVERY store that we walk in to, and I cannot find a pair of tongs or a potholder anywhere!! I really miss my silicon tipped tongs and silicon pot holders that I have packed back in MN!)

Ok, so, back to replacing lights. We knew we’d have to cut the hole bigger without a hole saw—so lets do what the locals do. Buy a hack saw blade, but no hack saw handle, and just use that. That sounds kind of dangerous! Instead, we found a different little hand saw that had a handle and was small enough to fit in the hole we were cutting. This will work! We bought the lights, bought the saw, picked up some wire nuts and a few other things just in case (once again, all these things we have back at home, now starting over with none) and headed back home to do the job. We replaced 4 lights, and in doing so made a huge mess of the house. The amount of dust (like sheetrock dust but cement board) and Styrofoam (that they use as ceiling insulation) was insane, it was EVERYWHERE! (Ramie really did look sort of like this!)


It looks like it snowed in our house! I tried sweeping up as we went, but it was almost pointless. So, after a few hours of replacing lights, we then got to spend an hour or more cleaning up. I mean, I guess after last weekend’s discovery of fuzzy white mold, regular cleaning really does need to be on the agenda anyway, but I really didn’t feel like doing it NOW after working most of the day on these repairs.

Oh, well, Pura Vida.

And now that our work for the day is done, we get to play our video game!