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

47. Making New Friends & Making Decisions

 


We aren’t the type of people to go hang out at a bar to make friends. Nor are we the type of people that will stop someone at the store or somewhere that we go and start a conversation. Honestly, other than your neighbors, I don’t have a clue how you make friends as an adult in a new place. Especially a place where you don’t speak the same language as the locals and there are a lot of temporary tourists almost everywhere you go. I suppose we could post a comment on our Costa Rica Facebook groups saying that we want to meet people and make friends, but we just haven’t done anything like that yet. So far almost all of the people we have met here have been through Loren & Nancy. We originally met Loren when we rented an AirBnb a couple of years ago while we were on vacation. At that time we also met Mike, the owner of the house we rented, who just happened to be here at the same time (He lives in the US full time). Over the years we have stayed in contact with Mike and his wife Eva as well.

Recently, a couple from MN bought a house on the same hill between Mike & Lorens houses and sent out an invite to all of the neighbors in that area that they were going to be in Costa Rica for a few weeks (they still live in MN full time) and were going to throw a get together to meet their neighbors. Mike forwarded this email to us right away (since we don't live on the mountain they live on) to let us know that a new couple from MN would be in the area and we should reach out to them.

Ramie sent Marc and Jill an email introducing us, telling them about us and explaining how we came about the email. So, when Loren received that same email, he thought it might be fun to try to get us involved too! He messaged them first to ask if it would be ok to invite us up to their get-together even though we don’t live on their hill, and they said that it was fine. About that same time Ramie also received an email back from them saying that we should crash their party but they would like to try to get together before their party so we have time to chat. We also exchanged Whatsapp numbers, (the main way to call and communicate here in Costa Rica)


Sunday 10/17- After a day or 2 of texting with Marc & Jill from MN, we decided we wanted to get together before their party, so they asked us if we wanted to meet at the wine bar in town this evening to meet up and chat. Sure, I like wine! A couple of hours before we were scheduled to meet up with them we got a text saying that they were having car trouble and didn’t think they would be able to make it. Their rental car wouldn't start and was stalled on the road to their house. Ramie quickly offered to come help them out since we have a tow strap and a 4WD truck. They didn’t think they would need that, they were just going to push the car off to the side of the road and leave it there for the night. It is a rental car and the rental company would come out the following day and either fix the car or give them a new one. Since they were stuck at home, they asked if we wanted to come hang out at their house instead. Ok, that works for us too! We weren’t exactly sure what house was theirs and it was already dark out and raining, but we are familiar enough with the area that we were confident we would be able to find their house with the directions they gave us.

We got into the car and headed down our hill, across town, and up their hill much later than we had ever left our house before (yeah, we’re lame and rarely leave the house after like 3pm unless we’re already out and about) and had no trouble finding their house. They were waiting for us, each with their own drink in hand and ready to pour one for us. We ended up hanging out with them for several hours, getting a tour of their new to them house, learning a little bit about each other and sharing lots of stories about Costa Rica. It was getting late and with these driving restrictions you can’t be out driving past 10pm, so we had to get going to make sure we were off the highway before 10. It was 9:45 and it takes at least 5-8 minutes to make it to the main road. Sadly we gotta go now! We enjoyed hanging out with some new friends and hoped that we would get to hang out with them more in the future when they come back to visit or if they decide to move down here full time. Salud to our new friends!


Monday 10/18- This evening Marc & Jill held their get-together with the people that live near them on the mountain and they were so kind to invite us to come hang out with them all as well. This would be their first time (as well as ours) meeting most of these people. It could be a good opportunity to expand our social network here in Uvita. There were about 15 other couples there that we got to meet, and had a great night getting to know some people who have at least a few years of experience living here in Uvita. While Ramie and I aren’t super social people, we enjoyed the evening and the company, and were glad that we went to the get-together! 

Over the last month or so while I’ve spent hours and hours applying for remote jobs and doing some online work for the attorneys back in MN that I’ve been working with.  Ramie has been doing a lot of online shopping… but really, it’s not what you’d think! We’ve looked around at the hardware and building supply type stores in Uvita and San Isidro looking for all of the things that go into building a house, things like ceiling fans, lights and electrical things, plumbing fixtures, door knobs and hinges, and all of those other miscellaneous items that most people don’t think about if they aren’t building or remodeling a house. We’ve also been to Walmart, Ferreteria’s (home improvement stores), and a multitude of other household goods stores looking for kitchen items, bedding, rugs, and all of those types of things that you just take for granted being able to find on a quick shopping trip to Target, Menards, Ikea, and places like that. What we’ve learned is that for many of these things we might be better off buying them in the US and shipping them down.

We can actually buy a lot of the items here, but at what point does quality and cost come into play? This is exactly what Ramie has been looking into! For instance, think about a bathroom shower valve and head. He has found them here but they are close to $800 (for a quality brand), vs. $250 in the US, for the exact same item. There are cheaper models here in Costa Rica, but how long will it last for the price you paid for it? Will it leak inside your wall and cause water damage for months and months before you even realize its leaking? Or do you feel more comfortable paying for a name brand you know for less money plus the little bit of money to ship it and import tax? It's a give and take situation. We are on a budget so that is our #1 thing to consider and actually it's a lot to think about.

Since we know we will be back in MN in November (SURPRISE! and sorry to those we weren't able to see when we were there) getting a container, or at least some pallets ready to ship down, the timing could end up just about right. This will be a dual-purpose trip and will also work to get a border run out of the way since we would be due for one at the end of Nov. 

That brings up another thing Ramie has been researching- shipping companies!

via GIPHY

There are a few in the area that will ship everything from full containers and vehicles down to single pallets or even single items for you. The services and rates vary greatly, and we’re still so uncertain about how much space all of our items will take up! Unfortunately it feels like we really won’t know what we need until we are actually up there packing it all up! (By the way, Thank you Taryn & Steven!) Taryn is Ramie’s sister and Steven is her husband. They have been kind enough to allow us to fill up their basement with all of the things we’ve stored at their house since selling our house, plus letting us have all of our new purchases shipped there. I think Taryn even said the Amazon guy thought someone new moved in. I know 10 ceiling fans and 3 beds-in-a-box, not to mention all of the other smaller stuff we’ve ordered and the stuff we originally had in storage takes up a ton of room!

Despite all of the online shopping there are for sure some items that we know we wouldn’t even consider trying to ship down. One of those things is tile. Could you even imagine trying to ship tile down here?! In Costa Rica tile is the flooring of choice and many houses are completely floored in tile. Even many balconies, decks, and the deck around the pool are tile. We are going 100% tile for all of these areas and will need somewhere around 1500 square feet of it- so we will definitely be buying it in Costa Rica! Honestly, I don't think they even sell carpet here. Carpet would not be a good choice for this climate. I can not imagine all of the creepy crawlies and mold that would grow in the carpet, let alone all of the mud and sand that Breeze would track in!  Wood isn't typically a good choice either because of issues with humidity, warping, and termites.  Also, with all of the sand everywhere, it would just get all scratched up too.

Geiner asked us to make our tile decisions before we leave for the US so that if they have to order it for us, there would be plenty of time to get it to Uvita before they are ready to start installing it. There are very few stores here in Uvita that sell tile, so in order to get some selection we’d have to go to San Isidro or San Jose. You’ll probably also find better prices in San Isidro, and even better in San Jose. Well, there just didn’t appear to be a trip to San Jose in our cards, so San Isidro it is. We started looking at a few tile places a couple of weeks ago when we were there for our feria trip, but other than getting a few ideas and snapping a few pictures to remind us later, we didn’t make any decision. This trip would be dedicated to tile and a few other items like sinks, and toilets (but those weren’t so pressing since they don’t have to be picked quite yet.) We had a few recommendations from Geiner on where to look and Ramie found a few more online, so we had a pretty full day ahead of us.

Thursday 10/21-
Our goal was to find a tile that when wet, would not be slippery. For instance getting out of the pool and making a beer run to the fridge. You don't want to step on the tile only to end up on your back!

That is very important, and our top priority when picking our tile. We have rented houses here where the tile is VERY slippery (and dangerous to wet feet) and we certainly don't want to have to worry about that for either ourselves or our guests.

We got an early start since it is about an hour drive to get there and since we’re early-birds anyway. We had a route planned around town that brought us to all of these stores and seemed to make the most sense which we tried to follow.  Little did we know that with the divided highway and weird intersections down here, trying to get to these stores was a challenge.  For some of them, we had to pass them, pull a U-turn and head back. It turns out, we picked the wrong end to start from! Oh well!

We checked each store, some of them were good. Some of them were a waste of time. Well, let me tell you, this day turned out to be exhausting! We probably went to about 10 different stores, looked at hundreds of tiles and even found a few that we liked. We snapped some pictures of them (along with the name, price, and store) and a few stores gave us quotes so we had all of the pertinent information. But now what? We weren’t really sure. I guess now we just report back to Geiner with what we found, what we liked, and find out if he would call in an order for us since he speaks Spanish and could explain exactly what needed to happen, or what we had to do to make this happen. 

Was this progress?  Maybe, but not really.  We still haven't really PICKED anything, but picking is hard.  Especially when you're exhausted from all of the looking.  I do feel like we accomplished something today, though, even though we really don't have a plan yet! 

Pura Vida! 

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