152. Putting On Some Miles In-Between More Projects

After reading the last blog post you may have thought that we were so productive that we might be coming to an end of our to-do list, but that just doesn’t seem to be the case. There are always things to be done, and the list seems to never end. We do take some time to do some fun things in-between, though, too, so it’s not all so bad.

Sunday 5/12- Since we didn’t get to spend much time with Mike and Janet during their vacation here, we asked them if they would like to go for a Dusti ride over the mountain before they headed back to the US. They were all-in, because unless you join an ATV tour in town, some of the places we go to on the ATV are places that you wouldn’t otherwise get to see. We took the ride through the bamboo forest,

across the river, and up into the mountains like we often do. 

This is a rainbow eucalyptus. As it grows it's bark splits and shows these amazing colors.
Top of the world! Well maybe not, but around 4000' 
We made our way to the San Luis waterfall and stopped to take a look. There were a lot of families visiting today, enjoying playing in the small pool by the road. We opted not to climb up to the base of the waterfall this time. Mike and Janet had come on an ATV ride with some of the people from their mountain earlier in their vacation and at that time the waterfall was almost completely dried up. After our recent heavy rains, the waterfall was flowing nicely, so this gave them the opportunity to see it both at a very dry point and when it was flowing like it should be. 


After we spent a little bit of time at the waterfall we made a stop at the Don Emilio coffee plantation so Mike and Janet could buy some more coffee to bring home with them, and while we were there we got another Spanish lesson from Emilio & Rita. 

This helps with learning Spanish

It’s always fun to spend time with them doing these lessons. Since Rita speaks almost no English, and Emilio speaks about as much English as we do Spanish, we find ways that we can communicate ideas and teach each other words. It’s a great supplement to the DuoLingo app that we’ve been using for more than 3 years now. Emilio is also learning English on DuoLingo, so he’s learning English slowly just like we’re learning Spanish slowly. Total immersion with someone who speaks the language and is as patient as Rita and Emilio are is just so much better and more satisfying.

Monday 5/13- Every once in a while, we like to shake things up on CostaBreeze.com, so today while I was working, Ramie worked all day on his computer making updates to the formatting and look of the blog. The goal was to give it an exciting, fun, new look as well as to make it more user friendly to get back to and look at older blog posts for our readers (cough cough Ramie's mom) who like to binge read several months at a time. (Although, I do not recommend this binge-reading method, it’s more fun for you and for us if you read us in real time as we’re posting). 😊You've been reading on the new version of the blog for at least a few weeks now; we want to hear what you think of the new look.

Tuesday 5/14- Ever since Geoff & Tracy moved to Costa Rica, they have had 1 truck that they shared, just like Ramie & I do. The difference with them is that they both drive and they both have separate things they like to do at different times. A decision was made that they were going to trade in the truck and get 2 less expensive vehicles so each of them has their own wheels to get around to the places they want or need to go. Since Ramie is known to be a “car guy”, Geoff & Tracy asked him to go with them to San Jose to go car shopping. Geoff made a recon run up there last week to get an idea if it would be worth it, and I’m sure they could have handled this on their own, but Ramie just has a knack for knowing what to look at to make sure the vehicle is “good”, notices things that look wrong or bad, and can easily tell when something appears to be too-good-to-be-true (like rolled back odometers). Geoff and Tracy picked Ramie up bright and early at about 5:30 this morning for their car-shopping adventure.

Hola Amigos y Amigas es Ramie. The drive up to the city went quickly, and even though it was early, we were all caffeinated and had lots of conversation. 

I don't think Tracy needs anymore coffee!
We were heading to Grecia, which is known to be a good car shopping area with lots of small used-car lots, all along one main road. Since Geoff went up last week, he knew of a few places that he for sure wanted to stop at again. Tracy was unsure of what she wanted for a vehicle but knew that her requirements were 4x4, diesel and an automatic. Geoff’s were pretty much the same but he wanted a truck if possible. Once we were in the area, we pretty much started at the first car lot we came to and decided to just go down the road one by one. Geoff and Tracy would walk around separately, each looking for cars that would catch their attention. Some of the sales people spoke a little English and others none. My job was to basically talk to them (my Spanish was better than either Geoff or Tracy’s) to let them know the requirements and the price range, then they would point out a vehicle if they had anything that fit into those parameters, and those two would go check it out to see if it was something that would fit their preference.

This continued car lot after car lot, until about noon-ish when Tracy mentioned she was getting hungry. Well, come to think of it, so were Geoff and I. We found a cute little place next door to one of the car lots and ordered our lunch.

Tracy and Geoff sitting at the only table
The lunch counter
We had to ask why there was a prescription eye drop bottle on our table. It turns out that it actually had a sugar substitute in it. If you have a little bottle, you might as well repurpose it.  😮
Once we were full and a little bit rested from the busy morning, we jumped back in the truck and continued down the road to the next one and then the next and then the next.. 
There were so many vehicles to look at, but unfortunately the few that really interested them were just out of their price range. The other difficult thing that we were running into was that they needed to trade in their truck and get a certain amount for this whole vehicle change to even be doable. Their truck is for sure worth what they are asking for it, but the dealers here can be just like the ones you deal with in the US… and you know how dealers are. They will stick it to you however they can!

We eventually found a car that Tracy was interested in. I looked it over and everything looked good to me, it had low miles and was in very good condition so Tracy decided that she wanted to take it for a drive. 

This particular dealer had all the cars inside a covered but open-air warehouse. I told the salesman, and he went to get the keys to move all the other cars out of the way. This place really had these cars packed in like sardines. Somehow, he only had to move a couple of cars to get to the one Tracy was interested in. Forward/backward and repeat about another 12 times, but he eventually he had it wiggled out of the spot that it was in. (I don’t know how he’ll get it back in there if we don’t end up picking this one today!) The car drove nicely and checked all the boxes. Now it was negotiating time! I left that part up to Geoff, I would only interrupt if I had to. Because we still had to find a vehicle for Geoff, we were only part way there, plus they still had to find a dealer to agree to pay what Geoff was asking for the truck, so this wouldn’t be as easy as a cash-deal right now. 

After waiting around for about an hour, unfortunately, this dealer didn't want to give them what they were asking for their truck nor were they willing to go down on the price of the vehicle that Tracy wanted to be able make the deal. Geoff and Tracy made the decision that we would continue on to try to find a truck that was in the range of “what was left” from the sale of the truck minus buying the car that Tracy wanted, and if they found a vehicle in that range, we would come back to this dealer and accept the offer.

There was one particular truck that Geoff had his eye on one from his recon mission last week, but first, before we headed there, we stopped at a couple more dealers that we passed by on the way to see what they had to choose from. Strike out after strike out. Finally, it was time to check out the dealer with the truck that he really wanted to check out. By this point it was about 3 in the afternoon and we were all exhausted and getting very tired of car shopping. The truck looked decent to me, but it was parked all the way at the back behind a bunch of other vehicles, and it was already late in the day, so we opted to see if Geoff could make a deal before asking to take it for a test drive. 

The truck Geoff is interested in is that yellow one you can see in the back. They have to pull out almost all the cars to get it out. 
It turns out that the salesman agreed to the price that Geoff offered. GREAT! But now we had to go back to the dealer with the car for Tracy and make that whole sell/purchase thing happen.

When we got back to that dealership and they had a chance to think about all of this a little bit more, there was some conversation about it being in the day late and maybe it was best that they go home and think about this, and didn't just make a rash decision right now. First, though, Tracy wanted to see if they would hold the car for her for a few days while they made a final decision. After a little bit of back-and-forth, the dealership agreed to hold the car for two days. Tracy was satisfied with that, and it was time to start our long drive back home. We made a stop at a gas station for some snacks and an afternoon coffee to tide us over until it was time to stop for dinner. On the road again! Of course, we hit a heavy rain storm leaving San Jose which slowed our drive a little bit, but eventually it stopped and we weren’t stuck driving in the storm all the way home. We stopped in Jaco for dinner along the beach, and we finally got home to Uvita around 8pm. It was a very long day, and although we didn't come home with two cars, at least they had some options and some things to think about. 

Wednesday 5/15- It didn't take Tracy long to decide that she really wanted that car and that they would go back up to the city on Thursday to make the deal – trade in 1 truck for two vehicles. At least they had a day of rest in between driving all that way and spending so much time in a car again!  While it's always fun to hang out with Geoff & Tracy, I'm glad they didn't ask me to go with them again for this part of the process.

I, on the other hand, got asked to go on a road trip with Randall today to make a delivery. That means more window time for me! We’d be delivering to Chirripo, which is about an hour and 45 minutes away, and is located on the other side of San Isidro. Fun fact: Chirripo is the highest mountain in Costa Rica, and even though we don’t live that far away, we’ve never been there! I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to check out the area, even if it was only a drive through, at least I’d know where to go if we ever decided to spend a day or a few days checking it out sometime. Besides, I’m always the driver so I never really get to look around while we’re in the car, so this could be a fun change for me.

It was a winding, mountainous road, but at least it was paved. Once we got into the area, I could immediately tell that it was much cooler and had a very different vibe than where we live. We found the house, unloaded the items and made our way back very uneventfully. On the way we had to stop for lunch at a local restaurant where we both had a typical casado meal, which consists of rice, beans, meat, salad and fried plantain. Delicious, cheap, and a very local typical lunch! Randall dropped me off at home around 2 pm and the rest of the day was a blur.

Thursday 5/16- Today Geoff and Tracy would go make the deals on the vehicles, but I didn't go with them since the hard parts were done. All they really had to do was go in and handle the paperwork. They had to start with Tracy’s car first so they could get the “excess” money to pay for Geoff’s truck. Unfortunately this process took far too long to do. Once this first step was done, they and the lawyer who did the purchase/transfer paperwork had to go together to the bank to cash the check for that excess. That took another couple of hours. Eventually they finally had cash in hand and vehicle #1 officially in Tracy’s name, then they got to start on the work for the truck for Geoff. He called ahead and asked them to have it taken out of it’s parking spot at the back of the dealership so he could take it for a test drive. Once he started driving what he thought was “the” truck, he quickly discovered that it wasn't good. It shook and rattled, and wasn’t something that he wanted to take on. It looked really good sitting there, but it had some issues. Geoff was now on his own to find a truck. After spending the day with me on Tuesday, he now knew what to look for when buying a used car and would be able to handle this on his own. He eventually found an SUV that fit his needs, was in pretty decent condition. and importantly, was in his price range. He decided that this would be the one because they certainly didn't want to have to drive to San Jose a 4th time to look again if it wasn’t going to be this vehicle. In the end it ended up being another really long day for them, once again not getting home until after dark, but they accomplished the mission of getting two vehicles for the price of one.

Friday 5/17- Remember a couple of weeks ago when we discovered the new roof leak in the bathroom? Since we couldn’t find an obvious place where the leak was coming in, we opted to have at least that section of roof replaced. When Ivan was here giving us the quote, Ramie also talked to him about replacing the entire roof. You may remember back at the beginning of the dry season we had Ivan replace a section of our roof that had a leak problem since the day that we moved in. At that time, we discovered that the metal roofing material that was installed on our house was not what we had originally asked for. There are different thicknesses of the roof material, and obviously the thicker, the less likely to leak and the longer it would last. Thicker would also hold up better if people ever had to work up on the roof. Well, since we had the thinner stuff, we’re guessing that when Ramie and I were crawling all over the lower section of roof to remove, insulate, and re-hang the PVC ceiling material on the upper section of the roof, we may have “popped” something loose that ended up making the lower section of the roof above the bathroom leak. Ramie has also had to go up on the roof multiple times to install the Starlink internet and work on the water heater, so the opposite side of the roof where those things are installed may end up with similar leaks for the same reason. After receiving the quote from Ivan for just the 1 section that is currently leaking, as well as the replacement of the whole roof, we ultimately decided to just have him do the whole thing now. Since he’d have a crew here and working, it was just easier to have them do it all at once.

When he was giving us the quote, Ramie also talked to him about installing another section of culverts along the front of our property by the road. We have a steep hill that’s about 8 feet high that goes from the fence at the edge of our yard down to the road. There was a ditch at the bottom of this hill that helped direct the rain and runoff off of the road and down to the creek. Over the past couple of years since this was dug, it was slowly filling in with dirt washing down off of the hill. Not only was our hill washing away, the drainage wasn’t working as well as it should anymore. We already had sections of culverts under our driveway and nearer to the creek, but there was about a 15 foot gap between the 2 sections of culvert. It would make so much more sense to just have these 2 culverts connected and then landscape over them. Since Ivan would have to have all of the roofing material delivered and have a crew here to do the work, let’s throw that project on there as well. Ivan agreed to set the culverts, but he opted out of doing the landscaping, we’d be on our own for that. I guess that’s fine, we could handle landscaping, we would have a hard time doing the big 18 inch concrete culverts on our own, though.

Ivan’s crew would be doing all of this work this weekend, so today they dropped off all of the supplies they would need to do the projects: 59 sheets of roofing metal and 5 3-foot sections of concrete culverts.

They would be back bright and early at 6:30 tomorrow (Saturday) to do the work.

Since Ivan was available and had some time to spare, Ramie asked him to come up to Karen’s land too, to quote moving some large boulders that were in the way of building her new house.

Speaking of Karen’s new house build… you may recall a few blog posts ago that Karen and Dennis were trying to decide if they were going to build over the top of the current casita or start from scratch on the lower plantel. Well, after lots of discussion between the two of them, they decided that they would move forward with the brand new build on the lower plantel. One of the main reasons for this decision is that they already have a casita built, why knock that down and start over? They would be able live in it during their house construction and save money by not having to rent during that time, and once their house is done, they plan to rent out the casita for some extra income.

Anyways- back to the boulders. There is a massive pile of them that just got pushed down the hill when the casita built and are, of course, sitting on the lower lot right where they want to put the new house and yard. Obviously, these would have to be moved, and it would be easier to move them now than once the house and yard were already started. Once Ivan and I got there, Ivan right away said there is no way that he would be able to move them with his backhoe.

Honestly, I figured that was the case, but wanted him to see it regardless. Since Ivan can’t do it, I’ll have to see if I can find someone who operates an excavator. Karen's contractor was also getting quotes from people that had excavators, but my guess is that his quotes will come in much higher than what I can find for her. As I was heading home, at the end of the road that Karen’s property is on, I noticed there was an excavator parked. This also happens to be directly across the street from Randall. He was in the yard working so I swung in to ask if he knew the person that owns the excavator. He did and also had his phone number! Randall even called him for me and he said he would help coordinate a time to go up and look because, of course, the excavator guy doesn’t speak English.  Thankfully we have some well-connected friends when it comes to things like this, it really does help make life a little bit easier in a country where we don't speak the language well.

Pura Vida!