118. House Repairs, Time with Friends & Time to Pack

Wednesday 5/10- Those that have followed our blog since the beginning may remember our house build and how they do things differently here. Our ceiling, both inside and outside, is made of PVC tongue and groove panels. It’s about the thickness of a thick cardboard corrugated box and is constructed similarly (the honeycomb type construction). Ramie has noticed that 2 different sections of our soffit are warping and about ready to fall down. He has taken a quick look from the ladder and saw that the screws holding it up have “popped” which is causing the falling down problem, but what caused the screws to pop? Ramie has a theory that it is because that section of the roof was not insulated and the current heat we’ve been having is causing a major problem. He has determined that he needs to take the PVC ceiling down to investigate more, but the tricky part is that these sections are 15-20’ long and can kink or break very easily if not handled properly. 

Ramie decided that today was a good day to take the upper section down. I'm not sure why, but it seems like we always decide to do hard projects like this when it's stupid hot out. (I feel like we often subconsciously wait for the hottest weeks to do the most physical work, we even did this back in MN. I guess we have bad timing? Who knows!). Ramie did manage to get all of the pieces from the upper section off by himself. Fortunately on the upper section of our roof the overlapped part is very close to the lower roof line and he could just let one end of the PVC rest on the lower roof as he removed the screws farther down the panel. After Ramie had the entire upper section off he confirmed what he thought and saw that there was no insulation in this part of the roof and found that it was incredibly hot between the roof panels and the soffit PVC. He determined that he would need to get some Styrofoam to fill this void to help resolve the problem. Yes, that’s right, Styrofoam. They don't typically use fiberglass insulation like you’re used to here, but instead they use 2-4" Styrofoam. Insulating in general is fairly new to most builders here, and let me tell you they don't understand how to do it or the purpose of it! 

Ramie’s next task was to find some Styrofoam. In general conversation with Loren, Ramie mentioned this project and the need to get the foam. Loren passed that message along to Randall, and Randall called Ramie to tell him he actually had sheets of it from the shipping containers that people send here. (Reminder, Randall works at the shipping company in town that we used to send our pallets of stuff from MN to Costa Rica over a year ago). Randall even offered to deliver it! Oh, and the best part is that it was all nearly free! The only thing that Randall asked for in return was a package of those “good zip-ties with the metal tabs” that he can’t find here in Costa Rica. Randall would have just broken up and thrown away the Styrofoam sheets if we didn't need them. Ramie asked Randall to bring over whatever sheets were in good shape and that he was ready to part with. Once they were delivered Ramie got to work, in the still extra hot weather, up on the hot roof. He managed to get all the Styrofoam installed in the upper section of the roof and even without having the PVC ceiling material put back on, he could already tell it made a difference. The re-installation of the PVC panels was going to have to wait though. The next part of this project would be to tackle the lower soffit portion. For this he decided to reach out to Geoff since all this work would have to be done from ladders. Geoff was on board to help so they set a day and time to do it. 

Here you can see the insulation that Ramie installed on the upper section

Friday 5/12- Geoff showed up to the house at about 9am and brought some extra ladders which would come in handy to help support the long sections of PVC that they were dealing with. They talked over the game plan, Ramie explained how it all comes apart, and then they tore into it. It didn't take long to get the sections of PVC down, remove all the screws, and cut and install the Styrofoam. Then it was time to put the PVC back up. This is where they ran into a problem, though, because there is only a very small area to screw into and most of those areas were broken out when the ceiling “popped” due to the heat. Now they had to get creative and figure out new ways to secure the PVC to the roof. What ended up having to happen is a whole lot of moving around of the brackets & braces that hold these panels up. By the sounds of the words coming out of Ramie & Geoff’s mouths, this was not easy and it wasn’t going very smoothly.

I was inside working this whole time and glad that I was not involved in this project! After what seemed like a very long time it was quiet outside so I suspected they were finished (or just said screw this all and quit), so I poked my head outside to see. Fortunately, I found that they had in fact finished and our ceiling was no longer falling down! That was great news, and we all kept our fingers crossed that this would solve the problem once and for all. I could tell that they were both exhausted, which is completely understandable after working in the heat of the day, plus the extra heat coming down from the roof, climbing up and down the ladders, and the frustration they were experiencing because things just hadn’t gone together well. Since they had finished their project, Ramie helped Geoff pack up his things to go back home. They were both relieved that neither of them had any plans for the rest of the day, they both planned to take it easy after all of the work they just did. The re-installation of the PVC on the upper soffit will wait for another day!

Saturday 5/13- Today I would help Ramie re-install the PVC on the upper portion of the roof. Since he already knew how they did it on the lower portion, I hoped that this would go slightly smoother than his & Geoff’s experience yesterday. Since it’s been so hot out we wanted to get an early start, before the sun came over the trees and really heated up the roof. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but I absolutely hate climbing ladders & being on roofs. I think the last time I voluntarily climbed a ladder onto a roof was when I was 3 or 4 years old and climbed up on the roof when my dad was building the garage. This would be a project that I would not enjoy, but knowing that Ramie needs me to help, I was willing to push myself beyond my comfort zone. I mean, this can’t be worse than that jungle hike we did at Nick’s property a couple months ago, right!?

Due to the way roofs are made here, it was very important to only step on the places that the beams run and not just anywhere in the middle of the roof panel. Ramie gave me instructions on where to step and where not to, and made sure to remind me that if I stepped in the middle of these roof panels, there is a very good possibility that I would damage the panel and we would probably have to replace it.  He didn't say it out loud, but I'm pretty sure if I step in the wrong place, I might completely fall through the roof. The first step was to climb up the ladder and get onto the roof. Ladders are fine until I’m at the point where the top of the ladder is at my chest height. After that I get shaky because I feel like I don’t have anything to hold on to. I made my way up to the very top of the ladder and then carefully crawled onto the roof, found a “safe” place on the beams, and just sat there until Ramie climbed up with the tools. Now, I had to stand up and take a few steps, each on a beam, to get to the section of the roof we’d be working on. The pitch of the roof is not very steep, so this should be like walking on a slight hill, no problem, right? WRONG!!! Since I was up on a roof I got super shaky. If you were to put the same spots that I had to step on the ground I could do it so easily, but being up on the roof makes me feel like I’ve never stood on my feet before (I really feel like Bambi at the beginning of the movie!)

With Ramie literally holding my hand as I made the big steps between the roof beams, we made it to the place where we’d be working. Fortunately other than getting to & from the ladder to the place we’d be working, I’d be doing the rest of the work from a sitting position which made me much more comfortable with the project. We worked on the first section of roof for about an hour & a half, I could scoot on my butt & do the “crab walk” or crawl to the places I had to move to. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go far and Ramie did much of the back and forth needed to attach each piece of PVC. When we were finished with this first section we decided to take a short 10 minute break to go to the bathroom & get some water. Unfortunately this meant that I would have to climb down from the roof, which also means that I have to go back up and will have to do the Bambi dance all over again a couple more times. 

First section done (left side) Now we just have to adjust the foam and install the right side

Even though we were hot and sweaty, we didn’t take a long break because we knew it was only going to get hotter and we wanted to get done with this project sooner rather than later. Ramie decided to change his shirt because the first one was so saturated that it looked like jumped in the pool with it on. When telling this story to other people they often ask why he bothered putting a shirt on anyway. Well, the truth is, because it soaks up the sweat so he isn’t dripping all over. Yes, it was that hot! 

Once we were back on the roof it was easy to tell that it wouldn’t be long before the intense heat and sun would make us feel like we were being cooked. Fortunately, there is a slight overhang that we’d be working under to keep the sun off us for a little while longer, but it wouldn’t last long as the sun continued to rise and eliminate that little bit of shade. We managed to do the second section in about an hour, apparently what I learned by doing the first section helped our ability to get the second section done a little quicker. By the time we finished and were climbing back down, the roof was so hot that you burned your skin if you touched it too long. Unfortunately, when we came back up on the roof the 2nd time I forgot my gloves on the ground which made it tough to crawl, but fortunately I found some leaves that had fallen onto the roof and used those to protect my hands from the heat. Even though it was so hot, we were smart enough to wear long pants, so I didn’t have to worry about burning my knees while I was crawling. We were completely done with this project & showered before 10:00. Now we would get to enjoy the rest of the day- probably just relaxing (and continuing to work on the blog, which, by the way, I was working on before we started the project this morning too!)

Sunday 5/14- The Beehive is a restaurant that is walking distance from our house, and on most Sundays (especially during high season) you can easily hear their live music playing from our house. Today they were having live music from 12-5pm and advertised that they would have food and drink specials. We reached out to Geoff and Tracy as well as Ray and Wesley earlier this week to see if the 4 of them wanted to join us to hang out, listen to some music, and have some food & beverages. It would give Ray and Wesley (who have only lived in Costa Rica for about 5 months) a chance to meet a new couple and I figured we all would get along great anyways so why not introduce them. They had 2 different gigs scheduled for the afternoon. We really only wanted to see the 2nd one, but when I texted the restaurant about reservations they said that it was likely to fill up fast and it was better to be their early, so we got there at noon when this whole thing started. It turns out that the first performer was a very eccentric guy that sang and played bongos to a very odd techno/rave type vibe. 

This was not really our cup of tea, but it gave us a chance to get some drinks, order some food, and socialize before the 2nd group came on. All the girls sat at one end of the table and the guys at the other, but of course we were all at one big table & were still close enough that we could all talk and laugh together. We talked, laughed a lot, ate some good BBQ & Jerk food, and drank. Ramie is pretty sure that Geoff may have peed a little from laughing so hard at the Bongo guy’s singing and dancing.


Dana, Tracy & Wesley - looks like they're having a good time

The real reason we were here today was because Mojo Daddy would be playing some good ol’ rock and roll. If you remember a few blog posts ago we tried to go see this same band at the local brewery and were turned away because we didn’t have reservations. This time I made sure to have reservations and that we would be able to see the band that we enjoy so much.

We had a great time, but to be honest, the service was terrible. Once we ordered and had our food, the waiter would take our drink orders but never bring us drinks. We would see him serving different tables or in a different section of the restaurant helping other people, but must have forgotten about us. The guys finally had enough and just went up to the bar to order drinks. It got the job done, but at the end of the evening when it was time to pay our bills, it appeared that they charged us for several of those drinks that were ordered with the waiter but never delivered. This probably won’t be a regular hang-out of ours, unless, of course, Mojo Daddy plays here again 😉

Monday 5/15- Katie and Adam (without the girls) just arrived back in Costa Rica for the week to do some work on their house. Fortunately Ramie is right next door and was available to help them with some of their projects. One of the projects they previously asked Ramie to coordinate is the painting of a mural on a large white wall behind their pool. Ramie found a guy who does great work and set it up with him to work on this mural while Katie & Adam were here. Today he would start on the project. Today Ramie’s day started out doing his Alturas gig in the morning and then spent the majority of the rest of the day over there helping with the various projects including working together to relocate some plants, install some electrical things, and take care of some other odds and ends that were on the to-do list.

Tuesday 5/16- Today is day number two of Ramie helping Katie and Adam with more house projects. They spent the morning checking off many of the remaining things on the list, while Freddie the mural painter was working on the wall. It was decided that it would be fun to go for a ride in the ATV (still no name) up to our favorite coffee plantation. They wanted to purchase small bags of coffee as gifts for the future guests that rent their house, plus they just really wanted the opportunity to go for a ride. We had a fun drive up to the plantation and once there Rita, Emilo and Deiner were excited to see us and say hello. It only took about 2 minutes and the famous question was asked… Do you want some moonshine and Baileys? None of us could pass that up and then, as a second thought, they offered a freshly brewed cup of coffee to enjoy while we waited for Deiner to package up the small bags of coffee for Katie and Adam. 

Emilo, just got the beans out of the roaster and is stirring them to cool them off. The packages of coffee are this fresh!
Today's visit was pretty quick since we had to get back home & let Freddie out of the gate. When we left him at the house to work on his mural and closed the gate he was truly locked in.  We also had to get home and clean up, as Katie & Adam offered to bring us out to dinner for all of Ramie’s help. Katie & Adam really like the Aracari Restaurant that is just South of Uvita and we have never been there but have heard about their beautiful view of the ocean, so this is where we decided to go. Sadly, by the time we got there it was dark and we didn't get to see that ocean view, but we did enjoy our meal and had a great time laughing and hanging out with Katie and Adam. Thanks for dinner guys! 

Wednesday 5/17- Freddie is back at Katie and Adam's house to finalize the mural painting, but it's also packing day! What? You may be wondering why we are packing! Tomorrow we head home to Minnesota to visit our family and hopefully see some of our friends we haven’t seen in a long time. It's been a year and a half since we have stepped foot in the USA and we are both pretty excited! As you can imagine, we don't have a lot to pack, mostly gifts for the family (things like coffee and local foods) and things that we originally thought we wanted here when we moved but quickly realized we didn’t want here at all. Ramie decided to bring back almost all of his cotton T-shirts except for the few he uses for work shirts. Cotton holds up better than the quick dry shirts but cotton shirts are just too hot to wear on a regular basis. Also, since they don't get worn a lot, most of them just end up smelling musty or getting moldy even when they are kept in the dry room. We took the time today to wash all of the clothes we were bringing back so we don't have to do it when we are there. I had to gather up all of my work related items including my computer and everything else that I need to keep going because I do still have to work while we're travelling. I don’t plan to work my full schedule because I want to spend time with our loved ones, but I also don’t think they would just let me take 3 weeks completely off. We also spent the day making sure the house was all tidy before we leave so we don’t have to come back to a messy house. I mean who wants to clean as soon as they get home, we might as well tidy up what we can today. We will be going to bed early tonight because tomorrow morning we have to get up at 3 am to catch a ride. Minnesota- Here We Come! 

Before we go we wanted to show you Freddie's finished mural.  (We're brainstorming ideas of what we want him to paint at our house too.  Maybe soon we'll hire Freddie to do something similar for us!)

Pura Vida!