Sunday, June 17, 2018

Hey Buddy, Keep Your Cotton PIckin' Judgemental Hands Off Communion

I have a confession to make. In February of this year I started attending a local non denominational church with Jim. While I no longer drink the koolaide and have no belief is much of what's in most American churches I discovered that Jim is right about attending church for awhile after you move. You meet people. It's been great for that, and getting hooked up again with interesting volunteer opportunities.

For years I was involved with with the food bank, soup kitchen and nutrition projects in our old town. I hooked up with those organizations back during my time at my first Quiverfull church, yet I kept up with volunteering through the time there, ending up at the mainstream church and later with no church. I've always found that helping others feels good and it feels like you're making some small difference in a world gone toxic.

It's been mostly good, but that might be because I'm very minimally involved here. I like the pastor, I like his wife. I avoid Bible study, women's groups and all the other things I've seen go toxic weird even in mainstream denominations. I go, I still enjoy worship, I usually write a rebuttal to much of the sermon in my notebook where I used to write out sermon notes. I've made friends and important contacts. But I'm wide awake and slapping the koolaide cup firmly away.

I've also witnessed some of the troubling archetypes you find at all churches, the bossy lady that controls all aspects of administration, the guy who thinks it's not conservative enough, there's the screwball lady that seems like she must have done so many hits of acid in the 70s that she has very few brain cells rubbing around in there, sweet but clueless. There's the one that sends notes to the pastor telling him everything he's doing wrong. Then there's the chorus that tries to bend the pastor's ear to preach on their pet peeve, abortions, no cakes for homos, no peeing in public restrooms of the other biological sex. Actually, I exaggerate on that last category, there are the fewest number of those than any other church I've seen.

All of that is not a problem. I just don't interact with those types and their agendas. Controlling people suck the life out of any situation. 

But the problem is that the pastor is away on a three week vacation to the States, and his replacement was particularly loathsome this morning. I was so heavily triggered I'm not going back until the pastor returns.

Until recently I was unaware that the church was loosely affliated with some more liberal branch of the Baptist church. Was not happy to hear that piece of information, but that's only because as a Catholic girl being raised in South Louisiana I still remember some of the more hateful Baptist kids that would try to chase us home and flung rocks because we weren't Baptists in our Catholic schoolgirl plaid uniforms, penny loafers and white knee socks. Thru the years I've not developed any love for the Baptist church, between encounters in my childhood, having to put up with the bullhorned tract-spewing missionaries outside every concert and event at my college, and observing various hypocracies. I didn't know much about them, and quite frankly I wanted nothing to do with them.

My high school boyfried Mark was a Southern Baptist, and I attended services once in a blue moon with him, and went to the banquents and events. But it was merely tolerable, I never felt comfortable in their midst. I did it for much the same reason I attend church since leaving the old toxic church, because Jim likes me to attend with him, even as he knows my beliefs are very different now.

My old Quiverfull church was non-denom and filled with lapsed Catholics like me. No Baptists there.

The service was okay, not great, at the start. At least the worship team was singing on key today for a change (more on that at a later date. Let's just say I'm 'helping' out with a number of area teams now) and the replacement pastor went into hyper frenzied explanation about the Independent international Baptist missionary church planting organization he started years ago. I was bored silly because it was filled with self-congradulatory yammering complete with statistics and pie charts. I started drawing up my weekly shopping list during the first part of the sermon.

By the time replacement pastor moved into the second half I had started sketching out a new quilt design, thinking about what to cook for our visiting friends that afternoon. But I stopped and started staring at this dude, muttering 'What the fuck!' and 'Such utter bullshit' and other expressions of horror as replacement pastor went straight into one of the most obnoxious 'Come to Baptist Jesus' I've heard in ages.

Buddy, peddle that junk somewhere else, will ya?

There's a time and a place for everything and this was not the time, not the people and not the place. This was one of those sermons of fire and brimstone that you might hear shouted out a bullhorn in a crowd, or in a tent revival. Not in the laid back atmophere of a beachside church where I would say most everyone in the joint has some level of belief, or at least toleration of those that believe. It was about as appropriate as a loud wet fart at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

He uttered a giant pile of offensive inanities that sealed his fate in my eyes as a hateful idiot more in love with the idea of forcing his message and ideas on others than any amount of love for Jesus. He said that any bad mood, attitude, or thought not entirely focused on God was sin. No assclown, moods, attitudes and thoughts aren't huge sins. He stated that if you lived without involving God in every aspect of your live you were living in sin, riding that slippery slope to hell.There were other things but those two stick out as awful. But not as bad as what he closed with. He made me in turns furious and feeling bad for others.

We got to communion and I'm praying that this will end mercifully and I can go home and get in the pool awhile to forget this nonsense. The communion prayers start. Pastor Obnoxious Hoof In Mouth starts to explain communion and uses the opportunity to take a few swipes at Catholics before moving onto instructions for communion......

.....where he ordered anyone not a professing Christian to NOT TAKE COMMUNION BUT SIT DOWN!!! He said afterward he would 'pray with them' if they wanted to accept God. He made a very big deal about this, saying who could and could not take communion. My mouth popped open like a shocked toad and I know I must have turned red and was shaking in outrage.

I never take communion there, and I'm not planning on starting no matter what I believe. I happen to have severe food allergies. I react to the sulfites used to process red wine and grape juice, and I sometimes react badly to commercially made bread if it contains a certain dough conditioner. At the mainstream church I was one of ten or so that had severe issues, and they provided us with a separate communion with gluten free bread and organic wine missing the sulfites. The laid back pastor knows I do not take communion because of this issue, and is cool with it. We've talked about the possible need of the church to provide an alternative if others turn up with the same issues. I told him not to bother just for me. I don't want them to go out of their way, or incurr more expenses because of my food allergies. Carry on.

So, like always, I sat in my chair during communion and didn't go up. The only one that did not. Of course this signaled to two of the busy bodies that they should be concerned with my soul. Not only did I have to put up with the ugly words, assumptions and bullshit of visiting pastor. Now I have church archetypes who decided this must mean I need saving.

I wonder sometimes why I think that there are okay churches out there, that I can sit peacefully in my little world and make Jim happy by attending. Judgmentalism, legalism, butting into the business of others seems to abound at all these places.

Later I realized that not once did this guy refer to love, mercy, forgiveness, grace or kindness at all.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Sexual Territory and Jesus

Sometimes I get oh so tired of putting up posts for No Longer Quivering. I'm in one of those times now. Right now it seems the worst of the worst Quiverfull Evangelical bloggers are posting scads of posts justifying abusing women or, worst of all there are women (I'm looking at you, Lori Alexander!) ordering you to put up with any sort of domestic violence in the name of Jesus, saying you cannot ever divorce.

I was thinking about this a great deal this afternoon in the pool, particularly after the last few weeks of watching the dragonfly that thinks our pool is his own personal babe magnet cum love shack.

Oh yes, lately I've been treated to the violent spectacle that is dragonfly sex. A little reading told me that dragonfly males will find a body of water, or a special tree or other natural feature and 'claim' it with their constant presence. Our guy has certainly done that. He is constantly either sitting on the edge of the pool or buzzing around right above it.

When a female dragonfly appears things get crazy, with both of them flying in a tight circular motion. If I am in the pool when this happens it's around my head. Which is how I discovered what dragonflies merrily screwing look like. This guy does it mid-air.

Now after reading about it, with the researcher saying it involves the violence of the male biting the female a few times, seeing the acrobatic hijinks and reading that sperm gets everywhere I'm no longer so thrilled to see Mr. Dragonfly lounging around waiting for a booty call. He treats the pool area like so many of those guys from LSU treated the place I waited tables in college.

Which lead me to start thinking. I wonder how many women have been pulled into horrible cult churches from sheer lust, or a crush? Maybe not actually bitten on the head or neck, but starting out with a crush on someone, finding themselves trapped in very bad abusive marriages merely because they followed the attraction into a Christian male's sexual territory.

Makes me remember my first hardcore crush, and how stupid I acted, all the relentless attention seeking behavior I kept flinging at my crush. Back when I was 13 or so I ended up one weekend at the LSU assembly center with my best friend Frances. I thought we were going to a rock concert, but it turned out to be some early version of Christian outreach, like what Teen Mania used to do. Music, speakers in hip clothing and buzzwords before a gigantic altar call. Somehow I ended up raising my hand to the alter call because all my friends were doing it. Being raised Catholic I'd not encountered this type of Jesus freakery before.

Once we were in the backstage area I found myself being led through that Sinners Prayer, giving a One Way Bible and meeting the young man who led the studies in my very own neighborhood. Instant crush!

His name was Doug, he was Bobby Sherman handsome and lived two blocks over from my house. I engaged in a nearly two year struggle to gain Doug's attention and heart to no avail. Every meeting, every church service, ever outreach I was there, but Telfon-coated in my mind. While I attended every study and parrotted every word I didn't really  about it very seriously. It was all about my pursuit of Doug. When someone else was droning on, reading the Bible aloud or praying, I would be in my own secret sexual territory wondering what it would be like to kiss Doug.

My parents didn't much like me attending Bible study and the like with non-Catholics, but they were both so busy with attempting to keep a dead marriage together that neither tried to stop me. Now I wish that they had. Or at least helped me critically process what was going on so that I didn't fall for the love bombing and end up drinking the koolaid of my old church years later.

Even if I was insincere and had lustul motives to attend those One Way meeting I still took in and believed a lot of what they peddled. My sexual territory eventually turned into my first illogical leap headfirst into some rather toxic beliefs that I carried around until about fives years.

I never did get Doug's personal attention or affections and I was kicked out when my parents caused a neighborhood scandal by divorcing. Yeah, kicked out because my parents marriage was dead. Real nice, huh?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Expats Versus Tourists

This week was a good illustration in the differences between American tourists and American expats in Costa Rica. This happened at the fancy American-oriented grocery story near our.


Tourist: "They ONLY have GARLIC bagels!?!" * slams down sleeve of bagels back into the store freezer*

Me: *picking up same sleeve of bagels and starts  singing* "BAGELS! BAGELS! BAGELS!! I GOT BAGELS"

Tourist: *rolls eyes before muttering to me* 'But they are GARLIC!! Where are the cinnamon raisin ones?" He says this in a voice that seems to indicate that garlic bagels are as evil as Hitler, Nsync and those idiots that thought up 'fun size' candy bars.

Me: " I got some BAGELS!!!" *now starting to do a bagel dance with my happy bagel song.


First time I'd seen a sleeve of bagels in a grocery store here and boy was I ever happy. I happen to like garlic bagels best. The only other place I've seen bagels in Costa Rica is a coffee shop that sells them toasted for five bucks each. Coming to a foreign country and getting bent out of shape that you cannot find some American item is just silly.

Thankfully we're in that wonderful lull time when the high tourist season has ended and the town and beaches are virtually deserted, and the moment when Americans arrive for summer vacation with their hordes of out of school kids. You can find parking. You can walk around stores without tripping over everyone. It is pleasant now.

Our days are pretty similiar now. Get up and swim while having coffee. Read the Washington Post and New York Times online with more coffee. Do a little housework or yard work. Go out to lunch and a walk on the beach. Watch Dr. Phil or Judge Judy before getting into the pool again. Chase iguana out of the papaya tree, telling him to keep his thieving claws off the fruit. Cook dinner, watch Jeopardy before a bedtime dip in the pool and reading before bed. Sometimes I manage to squeeze in a few art protects or quilting, sometimes not.

Yesterday I decided to try my hand at the liquid flow painting I keep seeing videos of with some small canvases, enamel paints, glitter emulsions and assorted bits of different paints. Love the effect, going to do a big canvas tomorrow!

 

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Squozen Chosen

This time it wasn't me. Back when I had MRSA from the end of 2015 and much of 2016 I was the one trudging back and forth to the doctor and hospital getting my infected spots squeezed to get out the pus. Sometimes it was so painful I cried. But my infection was primarily in my hands and face, both areas with lots of sensitive nerve endings.

Jim has been bitten by some big bug on the back of his thigh. A couple of days passed and it got red, swollen and painful. He lapsed into the weird man thing - the one where men start to claim they are having the WORST PAIN EVER and are DYING, while the women of the family look on unsympathetically and think "I squeezed three babies out during natural child birth" or "Fingernail surgically removed without pain meds and I didn't whine like that"

Not trying to be unsympathetic. I knew it hurt him and could see the growing circle of swollen redness. Figured he needed to see a doctor before he developed whole leg cellulis like he did some years ago.  But didn't think it possibly could be that painful because one MRSA spot I got was on my leg and I barely felt it compared to the others.

I knew it was trouble when I got up and Jim yelled at me over some rather unimportant things so off we went to the doctor. Tried to get in to see the doctor here who takes our insurance, but they've closed up shop in the last month. It was back to the super-duper Catholic clinic nearby where every room has tacky looking pictures of Jesus. Christ as the cheezy velvet Elvis painting sorrowing for your every hang nail and cold. That place, in an old building with ancient equipment that does not take our insurance but will write up an insurance submission form.

We get in there, the doctor makes Jim drop trou and lay down face first so Sr. Doctor can squeeze the hell out of Jim's bug bite and pus will ooze out like some strange colored Squeezy-Cheeze coming out of the can. Normal, right?

The doctor kept trying to get me to come over, watch and participate in the squeezing. Aw hell no! This is why I no longer work at a medical clinic. I got to see way too much stomach turning things between my days at the clinic and my own sorry body doing crazy things. I didn't need to see a squeezing!

I still remember the day that one of the doctors grabbed me out of the hallway with a quick 'Come here!' and required my assistance lancing someone's boil down their asscrack. I held one cheek and the nurse held the other. Ugh!

Jim is fine. My nerves not so much. It's a damn good thing I'm not a nurse.

Yes, we have bugs the size of aircraft carriers here. Yes, sometimes they bite.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Feast or Famine Labor Pool

Yesterday the new guy started, the replacement for Helbert, painting the roof. It didn't go great. Jim went to church and left me here to oversee this guy.

I'm working on taxes because for expats they aren't due until June 15th. So, it's always in my nature to delay as much as possible because I just do, don't know why I hate doing taxes but I'm more detail oriented than Jim.

So here I am, surrounded by piles of paper, receipts, etc, tapping away on the keyboard, knocking out all the data entry. I noticed even before Jim left that Juan the painter was buzzing around, dragging his feet and acting like the last thing he wanted to do is to paint the roof.

Yeah, I get it. I didn't want to do taxes either, plus no one is paying me to do it. But it has to be done, just like the roof needs to be painted.

He even asked Jim to buy him breakfast. This must be a cultural thing because Helbert demanded lunch on those days he worked for us. But none of the other workers wanted to be fed, just these two. I'm not used to having to provide meals for the workers.

Once Jim left Juan was Juan less energetic. He kept coming into the house over and over again with a litany of complaints and excuses. It's too hot, the roof is hot, he needed more water, what's the wifi password, you get the point....

I felt guilty running Juan outside to finish the painting, but he was seriously cutting into my tax time. By the time Jim returned at noon Juan had completed about half the job, wanted half the pay and a ride home, claiming he would finish next Sunday.

I swear, man, Ticos are either the best go get'em workers or they are a bunch of lazy sad sacks. I miss the Mexicans now.

Discovered this morning that the Tico electrician we used did a lot of things wrong. Ran the wrong amperage electrical line in to my dryer and now Whirlpool has decided that voids the warrantee. Gotta try to get a refund from the first guy and find someone with more on the ball. Just a never ending confloption. I hate it when workers do the least possible and do it wrong. I don't mind paying for a job done correctly, but I hate people that take shortcuts.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

You Can't Always Get What You Want, You Get What You Need

If there was a big take away from my life this week it would have been 'always listen to your inner voice'.

Real Estate Highjinks

We put our house on the market two or three weeks ago at the price the realtor suggested, a good 70 thousand more than he stated it was worth a year ago. I completely ignored my inner sense that we should list it for a little lower and we ended up with 25 potential buyers with all of them saying to a tea that the house was 'too old fashioned' What the literal hell? It's a Cape Cod cottage style home that has been updated and completely remodeled last summer. It's never going to look right with all stainless steel appliances and modern style fixtures.

We lowered the price to about ten thousand bucks more than we wanted or anticipated, and it sold in three days with multiple offers coming in. A bidding war happened and we ended up very close to that first price, within a few thousand. So my sense is that it was the right thing to do to start at a lower price. The neighborhood is one of the safest and most desirable in our small town, abuting a membership only club, workout facilities and pool.

This is the last vestage or anything we own Stateside. Hope that the home inspection turns up nothing and that the winning bidder's financing goes through.

You Stupid Gringo!

The horrid confloption that is Jim and the local man he hired to do some work on our property here continued, with the man sending Jim a spate of complaining text messages before ending up calling Jim a stupid gringo. Yes, Jim is a stupid gringo, but only for hiring this guy who's name is Helbert. Helbert has tried to shake Jim down so many times, and gotten away with it so many times that Jim just finally got sick of financing Helbert and told him to hit the road.

The final straw was two Sundays ago when it was raining and Helbert was supposed to paint the roof of our house for three hundred dollars. He'd only charged us two hundred to paint the nine foot high concrete security wall around the property with the roughly thousand dollars of concreto paint we'd bought. I'm still not sure why Jim didn't paint the wall himself as it's an easy two day task.

Jim tells Helbert that a) it's raining and painting a roof in the rain is a no go, and b) we are delaying the painting another week to go get roof paint. Helbert started trying to argue that the leftover concrete paint would do for the roof (it won't as the roof is metal and concrete paint would just wash off with the first rain), that he would need at least 80 bucks more and we had to pay him right then upfront. He got demanding and pushy with Jim so Jim fired him. Hel came back begging to do the job anyway for the original 300 and Jim had to tell him we hired someone else for a 100. That's when he started hurling the stupid gringo sobriquet about.

The guy from the paint store is up on our roof today painting the roof with roof paint. It's supposed to be done every two years, and it was done about 18 months ago so we're not technically due right now anyway. And this guy is charging a hundred dollars instead of close to four hundred.

I'm so glad Jim fired Helbert because I've been fed up with his scamming ways when Jim hired him to teach our visiting kids for a grand total of 300 dollars. The local surf shops charge around twenty to thirty bucks an hour. Plus we had to rent surfboards and Helbert bought about two hundred dollars of groceries, getting Jim to pay for them for a meal on the beach.

The scamming just never stopped. I called a plumber three weeks ago because the wax gasket under the toilet was starting to go, and Hel suggested he just run a bead of silicon around the base of the toilet. No replacing the seal, take the easy way out. He did some other very simple work for us, one of which was not fixing something electrical, just simply pushing the parts together. I've caught him again and again in lies.

My inner voice has been telling me for months that to beware of him, but I kept my mouth shut because Jim liked him. I never did. We've hired a fleet of other locals for everything from plumbing, electrical, hooking up appliances, putting in the swimming pool, putting an electric gate opener on our gate and a million other things and ALL of those folks have been good and reasonably priced. My inner voice has said nothing about any of them while my cat has been petrified of a few of them. The cat is an unusually good judge of who is good or bad I've found. Stinky is scared silly of Helbert.

Computer Confloptions

Got my computer back from the shop and I have to say I just love those guys! Price reasonable. There was not a thing wrong with my laptop, but the latest update of Windows erased a lot of files and screwed up the software. Ended up with a wipe and restore. They managed to back my files up before that and reload the info so I didn't love anything I had saved from NLQ and other projects. Whew! You don't expect a Windows update to kill your computer.

Sharing a computer with my husband is brural. 

And that second computer confloption. I have people contacting me about the situation between Patheos and Evangelical blogger Warren Throckmorton. Throckmorton was recently removed from the Patheos platform. Everyone wants me to address this. I cannot because I do not know what happened. Patheos has assured us that this is not the start of a site-wide house cleaning of those of us critical o Evangelicalism and I believe them, however pissed off I am that none of us are supposed to be allowed to curse in our postings. Somehow Bristol Palin is exempt from that rule and can use the word 'Asshole' on her blog at Patheos.

Birthdays

Yesterday was my 58th birthday and boy did everything sort of go sideways, even if it ended up being a pretty good day.  Jim has asked me weeks ago what I wanted to do on that day, and I'd said I wanted to go have breakfast at the Waffle Monkey and then go for our thrice weekly walk on the beach. The WM is one of my favorite breakfast places here with a plethora of crazy and delicious waffles. Jim suggested that I might want to pick out a pair of earrings at the only manufactoring jeweler here, and I knew just which ones I wanted.

As we were preparing to go eat waffles first thing in the morning one of the work crews doing a pile of tasks for us showed up. A full two days early And they stayed until almost one pm. I waited, and waited, and waited, missing the Farmers Market where I'd been planning to get another batch of CBD oil (asthma brutal this week and I needed it), missing breakfat and getting all paranoid about the lack of response by Jim on my day.

Thankfully my asthma related anxiety was not in evidence yesterday and I had no allergic reactions, so no one was subjected to the ugly edge of what happens when the panick attack happens on the other side of the asthma. We finally went for waffles after the repairs finished at 1 pm. I had breakfast early. We walked on the beach and then walked down to the jewelry shop.

I'd had my eyes on a set of two inch long dangly amethyst and silver chain earrings for awhile now. But as we were walking in there was a lady buying that very pair. I was disappointed at first, but I already have a set of amethysts, earrings, bracelet and necklace so I ended up with a pair of dangling pearl, jasper and silver spiral wire earrings. Works better because I have a jasper necklace with no earrings that match.

Later Jim surprised me with chocolate cupcakes and I did very little the rest of the day. It was glorious, and the rest was just what I needed after the week I'd had with the asthma.

Later I'll have to share about the challenges of trying to import your goods from the States. The other thing I did this week was deal with a fleet of different people I had to use to get quotes for getting out soon to arrive container with the last of our things from the States through customs. It was a trip, and a very good illustration of why you have to listen to your inner voice and be careful not to be taken advantage of by the unethical people scattered about in a mostly wonderful local population.




Saturday, May 26, 2018

Anxieties, Gringo Human ATM and Frogs, Frogs, Frogs!

Our adult children visited for an all together too short 10 days. Beaches hit, drinks drunk and booty shaken. One of the funniest moments occurred at the local brew pub on the beach when I slipped away to the restroom after a couple of delicious Mojitos and I came back to a sight that made me laugh for days. Our 26 year old daughter was dancing wildly with tipsy abandon to the band playing "Play That Funky Music, White Boy" But that wasn't the part that made me laugh. It was the fact that my husband was dancing with her, shooting 'Help Me!!!' glances my way and gesturing to me to join them. No way! I'm a singer, not a dancer.

We had friends visiting immediately after our children left so we stayed very busy. Towards the end of our Peacecorp buddy visiting we had an unexpected visitor - a bullfrog in the toilet of the master bath. He appeared late one night while I yelled for Jim to come see. He kept appearing, disappearing, reappearing and almost literally scaring the crap out of us. A little Googling and hearing him on the roof helped me discover he was sunning on our roof before jumping six inches to end up wriggling down the vent pipe for our plumbing system.

Sunday morn two weeks ago I was talking to my mother on the phone when I hear an excited and frightened shout! The frog was no longer confined to the toilet, he's joined Jim in the shower. I discovered 35 years after starting to date my husband that he is very afraid of frogs. So now whenever I clean the pool and pull out any frogs I chase him about with the frog. Such a big man afraid of a tiny beast.

Duct tape and some netting sealed the frog portal finally.

Asthma  has been bad since rainy season kicked into full gear. I'm having the thing I hate the most when I'm having back to back asthma is the anxiety I get. I get that it's chemical, caused by the asthma, but it just sucks big time. I dream the weirdest things and rush around worrying that the sky is falling, even as I can see it's not. I'm starting to realize that I also carry a great deal of anxiety that I believe is genetic, that I rarely noticed when we lived in the States. Here when it rears its ugly head after a day at the pool or beach it's all too obvious. I'm going to have to come up with a way to deal with and evict this. Sort of staying unnaturally calm on Ativan.

My expensive laptop died this week, felled by the newest update of Windows. It's now a big useless paperweight. It tells me all my files are gone. It will not finish booting up. Right now I'm sharing with Jim, preparing to get mine into the shop and I've ordered another one.

Jim finally got a clue about one local man who has been doing some work for us painting the security wall and other repairs. He started treating Jim as if Jim was his personal ATM.  Jim finally had enough and cut off contact with him. You really have to watch who you hire here in Costa Rica. I'd known for awhile this guy had those 'gimme money NOW!' tendencies, but I knew that eventually Jim would get sick of his constant demanding of money and drama. It happened and I'm glad.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bitches

My grown kids are here and we spent the day on Playa Avellanas. They tried surfing for the first time in many years and decided it was too much like work. It is.

I have a saying about the ocean in general, and surfing especially - 'Sometimes the ocean is your bitch and sometimes you are the ocean's bitch' Today I was the ocean's bitch. I'd not been to swim at Avellanas before, I'd just driven past Lulu's bar and the beaches. Was completely unaware that about half the beach had  slippery rocks beneath the surface. I ran out onto the sand, stepped upon the rocks under the water and realized I had to be careful. I gingerly edged over the rocks, stepping right into a big rock hole twisting my ankle and sitting down abruptly. The tide flipped me over and I emerged five minutes later oozing blood from a multitude of tiny cuts and with a badly scraped elbow.

The elbow is pretty agonizing, but not swollen up, scraped up bloody. I can bend and flex it, but the alignment of the bones feels off. Possible fracture.

A few muscle relaxers tonight and if it's still tender in the morning I'm going to the doctor for a quick xray.

Only causality at the beach, everyone else is merely sunburned. Good times.

Friday, April 27, 2018

More Firsts

I'm trying to knock out the last few things before my adult children arrive in the morning. In the last month I repainted the interior of the guesthouse on our finca a light turquoise with darker turquoise cabinets and shelves. The guesthouse has all new appliances. I've decorated with a beach theme and some furniture. Still not completely done, and will not be until the remainder of everything we own gets shipped here. But it will do for ten days. Stocked the fridge tonight with sodas, wine, beer and juices along with putting a variety of snacks, fruits and cereal in the cabinets. I don't want them to have to trudge that long path to the main house.

The shipping has turned into a freaking nightmare. I've spent a lot of time in group IMs and phone calls trying to coordinate the packing and pickup of about 2/3s of our furniture and possessions, all the things we stored in the box room above our garage. We are selling our American house and settling here as residents. Not going back, at least not as long as Trump is in control.

We had an unpleasant first this week. We paid our first bribe after being pulled over and threatened with a steep fine for Jim leaving his drivers license back at the house. He took it out of his wallet for some reason, set it down with his passport and other papers and sure enough got pulled over. This is how getting out of a ticket used to work in Louisiana, and I see it's the same thing here. Gave the police a hundred bucks and went on our way. Lucky they didn't seize Jim since he didn't have proof he was here within his 90 day visa.

First time in a long time yesterday evening we went out for cocktails and sat at the bar for ages talking to everyone around us. I had great fun conversing with a pretty lit up on alcohol family court judge from the U.S. Kept teasing him that he should replace Judge Judy. She got her start in family court too. Compared notes on worst child abuse cases seen between his bench and my time as a social worker.

The pool is finally fully tiled and has to be allowed to dry over the next three days before the water goes in. Pretty big pool. Tonight our cat Stinky and I slid around on the tiled bottom with the monkeys watching us scamper and play.

I'm anticipating the next few weeks are going to be intensely busy. Ten days with our kids followed by some of our Peace Corp buddies coming down for a week. Good thing the house is so big because we're going to fill every room.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Dear Larry Solomon....

One of the things that has made me laugh the hardest in the time without regular internet is the reaction of one Larry Solomon (not his name, but I do have his real name and location from the time he showed up and went nuts at NLQ) from Biblical Gender Roles to NLQ quoting his semi-treasonous rantings on his website.

Larry's not on the Southern Poverty Law Center's hate list.... yet... but there is still plenty of time for that! I suggested that perhaps the FBI ought to add him to their watchlist, which considering some of his political pieces would not be a bad idea.

Just like Vaughn Ohlman, a fundamentalist nutbar, bad author, girl-selling into common law marriage and theonomist,  Larry believes that our government needs to be overthrown so that his flavor of rare fundy-town, very fragile masculinity can take over the government and turn it Christian. Since this is in direct opposition to the U.S. Constitution. I would consider that at the least borderline treasonous.

While Larry never called directly for an armed overthrow by him and his pals he's clearly heading that way in his mixture of theology and politics. It's the logical conclusion of that type of theonomy. He does not understand that I've been watching his type, first as a member of a church like his for nigh on twenty years and the eleven years I've been out. When men in this subculture start talking of taking over the government it's by either vote or force. Since Larry is not running for higher office, or talking of voting strategies it's pretty clear which way he leans. He'd have a snowballs chance of being elected in that district anyway. I may be rather stupid in some things, but this I know.

So how did Larry react to once again being quoted by NLQ? By writing about me. I'm so flattered
. I'm not going to respond on NLQ to his rantings. We've been quoting Larry for a long time and the greatest hits list of his quotes involve his approval of slavery, approval of raping a wife that says no, positing that women aren't made in the image of God and lots of really very bad and illegal in some states ideas on dealing with women.
He called me a feminist, which is only partially right. I am a humanist. I would like to see no one, neither sex, ever harmed, threatened, demonized and reduced to less than nothing based on some ridiculous notions of misinterpretation of the Bible. EVERYONE DESERVES RIGHTS. Even fuckheads like Larry.

The other name he tried to pin on me as an insult that I take as a compliment is egalitarian. That's right, I want everyone to be equal in the eyes of society, from the guy who pumped the septic tank to a millionaire female stock broker on Wall St. Treating others decently and with equality lines up with the words of Christ, however much of what Larry promotes sounds like something straight out of the Pharisees.

Larry and pals are calling for me to be placed on some FBI watch list, which really make me laugh (hello Security Clearance!), plus I do not promote hatred of others. Even as I quote him and a host of rather hateful others my greatest hope for them all is to wake up and smell the coffee and to stop advocating things that harm others in the name of their religion. If your faith has a body count it really sucks and should die immediately.

All of this make me happy to be a legal resident of a Central American country now, far from guys like him and his followers. There are almost no under educated over religioned fools here. It's frowned upon as somehow rude. I am far removed from the fundamentalist madness now, which makes the occasional death threat I receive for merely pointing out that much of what Evangelicals say has little to do with the words of Christ completely pointless gesturing, like a baboon pounding on his chest and hooting.

Too bad he's not smart enough to realize that there have been an entire fleet of people trolling him that he takes seriously. Clue - not all the letters asking for advice are real.

Also, Larry criticized the length of my articles at Patheos. Hey genius, the lengths are suggested and set by Patheos and the hit numbers different lengths generate in revenue. It has NOTHING to do with the ability or the intellect of the editor or writer. If you had at some point in your life actually taken a class on writing for the media you would understand that you must tailor your length, voice and types of words you use. The newspaper I used to write for required a different format - A one paragraph summation sentence to start and perhaps 4 more paragraphs. Some clients I do website content production for require more. It depends on the platform.

Larry is verbose, repetitive and takes far too many writing rabbit holes. He reads like someone too in love with the words and ideas he's spewing out like so much mental vomit. He does not understand most online have a limited amount of attention they will pay to an article. Better to be brief and hold the reader than to racket out whole cyber reams and be thought to be ridiculous.

The other issue with Larry is that I will never in a million years link from No Longer Quivering to Larry's blog because Larry loves to brag about hit numbers and I have no wish to pad out his Google numbers. I suspect he's tried in some way to monetize his blog, and it hasn't been the cash cow he'd hoped.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Tico Time Ends

Hooray! I finally have internet and cable - obscene number of channels - installed this very afternoon!

We had to do the most White Upper Middle Class action ever. Storm into ICE (Eee-say) and ask for (gasp!) a supervisor. As of this morning it's been 41 days since we gave them our CR LLC papers, signed the contract and ordered the service. We were told it would be one to two weeks. Tico time.

One of the nicer un-Tico time things happening is that the work crew is almost two weeks ahead on the construction of our monstrous huge pool.j Tiling starts tomorrow, and next week the pumps and water go in and a week from tomorrow we swim! I'm excited.

Unhappily we had to go back to the U.S.A. to go to court to evict our renter, and pack up our remaining possessions to move everything here, right down to Jim's motorcycle. The renter tried to appeal the eviction order, but was shut down by the judge. She would have had to have coughed up all three months rent she's not paid in order to even start the appeal. As my realtor said she had all those thousands like he had three heads.

It didn't help that for the first appeal hearing I had photos I'd taken in the house when we entered to go into the storage room. She had a number of animals in there without paying the pet deposit of $500 per animal and there was clearly a man living with her, a man not on the lease. Apparently she broke the lease immediately.

Anyway the house is listed, she's demanding to stay until the 30th but the deputies are paid and scheduled to do an eviction as ordered by the courts on Monday. So Monday it is. She's been dragging this out and is now basically squatting in our house.

The moving company is scheduled to pack up the last of our belongings and put them on a ship bound for the Porto Limon here.

We came back on a flying three day trip to the U.S. because of the rental nonsense, and spent very little time with our kids. One day was organizing our belongings and much of the other eaten up by the dealing with the house.

I am still a little sad about selling my cute little cottage home in Virginia, but it's really for the best. This rental experiment is too nerve-wracking and it's been one thing or another with our tenant since September. The realtor expects a quick sale at a price that is a significant profit.

One of the things I do each time I come back to America is load an extra suitcase with those things I cannot buy here.

I'm not sorry to be out of the United States at all, even while I am proudly an American. I just cannot feel safe in what our nation has morphed into in recent years. Until recently I was a property owner of significant acreage and investments in my home country. We've since liquidated everything and invested in safer, better-paying investments here in our adopted country.

One thing happened in the last month that confirmed the rightness of our decision to move here and set down roots, buy a house and invest, invest, invest. One of Jim's former coworkers in D.C. at the Dept. of Labor killed himself on the sidewalk at the security entrance to their building. The armed security guards did not allow him into the building, thwarting what was likely a mass causality workplace shooting into a tragic suicide.

There was very little about this in the media. I suspect the Labor Department is downplaying what happened. This is a guy that both Jim and I knew quite well. He did have a temper, but I would have never thought he'd be the type to storm his work and take out others.

Here there's just not much violence, and to own a gun you must jump through some significant hoops. We had to do that to have a shotgun. It's costly as hell, beyond the budget of the average Tico here.

Not that we've had to worry about crime here. A nine foot tall concrete security wall topped with broken glass, a security system and alarm system pretty much renders our new place as save as one can get here. No, we didn't pay for or install these, the previous owners did, but based upon the ridiculous emails/messages I've gotten lately through No Longer Quivering from some of the crazier people I quote I am quite happy I have a continent, a shot gun, a high wall, a dog, a security system triggering a police visit and an alarm system between them and myself. 

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

One Toke Over The Line, Sweet Jose

I have been completely without the internet since we closed on the house, only able to access NLQ and email on the few days a week I've visited the restaurant at Witch's Rock. I have eaten my fill of Casadas and Nachos As Big As Your Ass as I've tried futilely to stay abreast of NLQ unsuccessfully.

The closing went off without a hitch, even as Jim and I both were busy seriously mistrusting and disliking our realtor. I managed to keep from telling him off by the skin of my teeth.

The day after the closing we moved into our new house, and I set forth on the Sisyphian task of cleaning our rental to exacting German standards. I scrubbed for five full days, we're talking taking apart every appliance that could be taken apart and hand scrubbing every surface. The realtor selling our German landlord's hotel/property/houses had already warned me that the Germans never gave back anyone's deposit, and I'd likely get nothing back. Taking the security deposit is common here in Costa Rica.

I was kind of aghast at that idea because everywhere I've rented I've either gotten the entire deposit  back or almost all. We were once gigged by an apartment complex because I'd forgotten that the ice cube trays belonged with the fridge to them. I had something like eight sets, and it was an oversight that cost me 25 dollars. I always leave my rentals completely clean, even our German house.

The day we moved out we had an inspection with our landlord and she said everything looked good, but to stop by in a month to settle up. She would not release our money until we showed her a receipt for paying February's electric bill. Yesterday we paid that bill, showed up with the receipt and asked for our deposit. It didn't go well. Our landlord reinspected two weeks later, and, of course, there was dust, iguana turds falling out of that leaking ac unit with water and other things dirty from that draining water. There was only one thing of her long list I'd actually not cleaning, the drain in the master bath. Pure oversight. I got so mad I pretty much exploded.

I know, having a temper is not a good trait, but once someone tries to rip me off and pushes me beyond  a certain point I explode. It happened, and we ended up getting half our deposit back. Our old landlords ended up renting the place out for a 50% increase over the price we paid. High tourist season in Costa Rica is here clearly when someone paid that much for that place where almost every appliance and the electrical on property was super screwed up.

Settling into the new house has been wonderful, even more so that the electricity for the place is not messed up and everything WORKS! I no longer fear a landlord opening the door and tromping in unexpectedly like our landlord liked to do. No one barging in to exclaim that I'm running the ac at too high a temp when I'm the one paying the damn electric bill. The dining room table is on the big tile patio under a ceiling fan and teak ceilings. The marble kitchen countertops have encouraged me to do a little baking again.

We have more mangoes than we could ever eat, mixed with all sorts of fruits. Daily we see several large tribes of howler monkeys, a big iguana and many different types of exotic birds. I have parrots that visit daily to raid the Star Fruit tree.

The only drag is that we are off the beaten path, meaning that we're still waiting for the internet provider in the area to come hook us up. Three weeks and still no internet! I've only been able to occasionally access Facebook if I use my phone, stand on a kitchen stool waving my cellphone vaguely in the direction of the lone cell phone tower. I'm reminded of the scene in season one 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmit' when the Mole women have to stand on each other's shoulders to access cell phone coverage in the bunker. The ISP says they will be at our house tomorrow afternoon. I hope so. I made and quilted three quilts in the last month out of boredom.

The funniest thing is when we have to give out directions to delivery guys and contractors. The only directions that everyone seems to understand is to tell them to turn right at the first strip club sign, turn right again at the second strip club sign, go past the strip club and turn left and you are there. Yes there is the only strip club/brothel in the area near us. Sometimes I can see the traffic going in and out late at night if I'm in the very back of our yard and I peak over the fence.  But overall there is no noise, crime or unsavory things happening that originate at the strip club. Girls gotta make a living somehow. I just worry sometimes that the girls working there may have been sex trafficked in from Nicaragua.

But buying the house was just the start of this very busy time. We priced pools, getting seven different quotes before settling on a local company. Right now the backyard is dug up, filled with toiling Ticos putting in a pool of about 40 feet by 90 feet. Jim is busy pressure washing the ten foot tall concrete walls around the property and preparing to paint them. We're still getting quotes on having the gate replaced with a motorized one so we don't have to struggle with opening and shutting the ten foot tall metal security gate when we come and go.

I just started on my project, redoing the guesthouse in the front of the property. Jim is not understanding what I'm up to. Right now he keeps telling me he thinks the experimental spot of paint I put on one wall looks wrong. He always does this when I remodel and usually has to eat his critical words when I'm done. I'm painting the guesthouse the palest of turquoises on the walls and the cabinets a darker shade.

While we were in South Louisiana I'd purchased an entire stock of a Waverly decorating fabric, 15 yards, and I'm making curtains and the shower curtain out of this. It's white with turquoise shades of butterflies and flowers. Since we officially named the guesthouse the Butterfly Cottage and CR has a certain turquoise butterfly called the Blue Morpho I thought it would be a good theme. We have so many butterflies that visit the extensive flowering garden.

I hope to have the cottage finished by the time our kids arrive for a visit. Right now the Ticos putting in the pool are using the cottage fridge to store their meals and the bathroom for themselves. The first evening I went into there to paint I was in for a big shock. I opened the bathroom door and was almost knocked over by the cloud of pot fumes rolling out. Yes, the pool guys are smoking up the wacky weed right on the job! I'm not going to say anything about it because the contractor is doing a good job and he's working on rewiring the cottage as part of the contract. I was surprised to say the least, but if I had to run the machine that pounds the gravel into a solid layer before pouring the cement and having to lay iron bars under the cement I'd probably find it more interesting after having smoked a doobie.

The thing I thought might be an issue turned out to not be. We have ended up not putting a hot water tank in. By the time we knock off all the working on the house and shower we are THANKFUL for ice cold water in the shower. It's too warm here to ever take a hot shower.


The only fly in the ointment of our move is that our tenant in our Virginia house has defaulted on paying the rent by several months. We filed to have her evicted and she's countersuing us, claiming that she would have had plenty of money to pay the rent if we've had fixed the broken water main between the street and the house before renting the house to her. We did fix it as soon as we knew about it. About a three thousand dollar repair. The problem is that we knew nothing about it, it was fine when I moved out, and she didn't realize anything was wrong until she'd paid five water bills of about $200 each.

You would think when she received the first super high bill she would have reached out to our rental agent, or the water company. I know the few times I had a plumbing problem that resulted in a high bill I immediately got the water company out there to examine the system and had it fixed asap. I didn't sit there for five months and pay a crazy high bill with my thumb up my ass.

So she's refusing to leave, she's claiming we rented her a defective house. The problem with this is when we first started the eviction process back in February we bought airline tickets to come home in a few weeks from now, and tentatively lined up the shipping company to take everything we owned left in the storage room over our 2 car garage, pack it into a 20 shipping container and ship it to our new home in Tamarindo area. Plus put the house up for sale. Being the owner of a rental has not worked out as well as we hoped. The market is higher there now than it was a year ago. We'll get 50K more now so the time is right to sell and invest here in a place in the mountains and go between our two houses whenever the mood strikes us.

So I'm not even sure that she'll be out of the house, or if we'll be able to access our remaining things when we will be those very few days in Virginia.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Closing Thoughts

We close on the house tomorrow, just after lunch, and start schelpping our nine suitcases, 35 shipping boxes and piles of random stuff to the new place. It sounds like more than it is.

On Sunday we got wind of a development we had not looked at in our price range and a huge farm in the hills around Lake Arenal, and took off for some sightseeing before deciding both places were simply too remote.

Monday seemed like it was our new daily weekday routine, get up, get dressed, go to the bank, hurry up and wait, talk to the bank officer about more picky details and then head home. We both got home shortly after lunchtime, ate and took naps, getting up just in time to meet the realtors, both the liar and the less of a liar and someone that the Lying Liar was pushing as THE pool guy in Guanacaste.

Liked the pool guy, and he had some great things to say about the property and installing a pool.

What we were not prepared for was his estimate of around 40 thousand to install the pool. Jiminy crickets, was I shocked!! Lying Realtor had been insisting that putting in a pool would run between 15K and 25K, which is where we budgeted. We got told that this was just the price of the Gold Standard Guy, who has installed all the pools of the resorts and local millionaires.

I was pretty sick of the Lying Realtors shit by that moment, calculating that to install a pool at that price would take us just to the line of our budget for the house, installing hot water, getting a plumber and electrician in to put in necessary water/electrical to install a full sized American washer and dryer we are planning to buy.

Yes, I know we could tap our savings again, but I'm done with that. Friday we locked down a big chunk in a 2 year CD at the local bank. We'd get penalized like crazy if we did that. There are funds in the states that we could use, but quite frankly I'm over this whole damn thing. Bringing that money over would be another gigantic hassle. The realtor has turned the purchase into the Costa Rican version of the Bataan Death March with more crazy things we have to do, and trying to parse  which are lies and what's true. If we weren't right at the threshhold of wrapping the house buying up I'd walk away right now.

Buying our house in the states was nowhere near this much hassle, but we did get a 2 month turn around time from signing to closing and weren't dealing with the rules of a foreign government.

After the pool guy left it was Jim and I hissing like annoyed geese at our realtor. I had to point out that I was very displeased by the fact I had to now buy furniture because he'd not told me that the house was staged, the furniture rented, so that the furniture that came with the house was older and not so nice. Jim was hissing about the lie about the cost of the pool and how tight that would bring our budget.

The realtor said no problem, he knew of a pool building firm just down the road trained by the pool guy just as good and much cheaper. He would take us and introduce us. We get to this janky old building with a tiny pool sales office and none of the guys are in, just the receptionist. She gets one of the guys on the phone and he ballparks the size of the pool we want as around 37K. This is all after listening to Lying Realtor rolling down the road telling us that these guys would be significantly cheaper. They weren't. Another lie.

Here's the thing in business. "I don't know but let me do a little research and I'll find out" is a perfectly acceptable answer. I've uttered it myself in various jobs, gone and done a little research for the customer, getting back to them with the correct answer. This guy does none of that, and now he's acting all Simon-pure even after uttering a big pile of falsehoods.

At one point we were discussing the pole that needs replacing on the guesthouse porch and he stepped back, refusing to chime into the conversation the seller's realtor, Jim and I were having about the easy and cheapest way to shore up the pole. It has no base or foundation, so it's the easiest thing in the world to mix up a little concrete, put a concrete mold around the base of the pole and pour. Easy as pie. I've done concrete repair and stepping stone, bench and other projects at our old house. Liar refuses to say anything, telling us it's not his job to advise us on how to deal with some of the few pesky must dos on the home inspection.

He is rude, condescending, at times patronizing. He just gets under my skin. Jim and I both agree about him. He has something about him, some air or attitude that just makes thinking about punching him in the face something you might want to do even if it's immoral and illegal.

I mentally stick pins in a voodoo doll constructed to look like him every single day.

Tomorrow I have to write that sucker a check for helping us buy the house. I'm choking on that.

Today was the last full day here in the German house. The dishwasher and dryer are still out. The electricity is still out in the second bath and guest bedroom and the electric still flickering like a strobe light, plus for the last four days there is water pouring out of the bedroom ac into our closet.  The landlords have known about these repairs for quite some time but make no effort to fix them so I'm looking forward to moving, even if its going to be cold showers until the hot water heater is installed.

Most of the day was eaten up with our cat Stinky. He's had health issues since we adopted him nearly four months ago so we put off his neuter until now. Dropped him off early, picked him up and noon and had him struggling to overcome the effects of the anesthesia. He is still not as strong as he should be. We spent a lot time petting him today. Finally about an hour ago he showed signs of hunger and was able to walk without wobbling all over like a drunk guy.

The move will be good for him because the privacy fence around the entire yard is over 9 feet tall. I think it might actually be tall enough to let him outside. He likes going out on the deck here, but he can get out over the five foot fence.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Hot Water Cold Feet

Saturday morning took a weird turn. Jim poked me awake early even if I was staggering around under the effects of my asthma and allergy meds before coffee. He wanted me to immediately print out a copy of the engineering report and the architectural report from the home inspection team to hand over to lying realtor. Printed the reports out, threw on a beach dress while downing a cup of coffee and tried to make sure my feet were in the right sided flip flops.

We went to see our lying realtor (my new name for him). I thought we were just dropping the copies off and then meeting with the sellers realtor who lies somewhat less at 4 pm. But no, no, no, we were having a full bore on meeting to discuss the reports. I'd only had a tiny bit of coffee, I'm fighting my stupid body's tendency to try and stop me from breathing, and I'm still dealing with a body hangover for having eaten the most delicious, but stomach affecting cheeseburger.

Three days before I'd had a grilled cheese cheeseburger at a local burger joint and it was orgasmic. The problem being I rarely eat meat, I almost never eat junk foods like burgers and my body decided the best response was to say 'What the hell is that pound of cheese and meat doing in here' and just shut everything down. I'd been billious for days, trying to tell myself that hell no I did not regret eating that enormous burger even if I currently could only crawl around eating invalid foods like toast and tea. Took me the better part of a week to start eating again normally, and to feel hungry. Craziest reaction to junk food of all time.

I should have figured that my morning was going to be totally gutted by Lying Realtor because the day before when I'd gotten my hot little hands on the report I'd freaked out at first reading when the English as a second language home inspector carried on and on and on in the report about the water tank on the roof and I made the unpleasant discovery that the house had no hot water heater anywhere on premises. Plus a couple of other things I would have expected the Lying Realtor to know about. In fact, I did ask him about the hot water heater and the tank on the roof. He lied.

So after reading through the report I was ready to call off the sale because there was no way in hell I was moving into a place whose only water source was a roof top tank. It's expensive to truck the water in and we'd already informed Lying Realtor we would not buy a place not on municipal water for expense of trucked water and the possibility of dirty water. I fired off a less than nice email to the realtor, who immediately called and told Jim he never told me there was a hot water heater in the house and that yes, the house is on municipal water unlike what the report stated. We immediately requested a walkthrough for Saturday afternoon with settlement on Wednesday.

So Saturday morning was Jim and I, me sitting there beef-stunned, asthma-med-addled and coffee-deprived while the Lying Realtor went banging on and on and on explaining in great detail how septic systems work, how municipal water functions, and why Costa Ricans rarely have hot water in their homes.

Okay, I'll admit the Copey de Dota experience had worn off a bit and I'd forgotten completely about how hot water is never a thing in Costa Rican homes. Clothes, dishes, bodies all get washed in cold water. But I also made it clear that we would immediately need to install hot water tank for this house because I am not risking the Costa Rican electrified death shower again, a shower head that heats the water to intermittent lukewarm water while sometimes giving you an unpleasant electric surprise while adjusting the metal shower knob. It happened to us.

Lying Realtor talks to Jim and I like we're both utter dumbasses, explaining these things in idiot minute detail until I have to stop him because my sleepy head is aching and tell him I already know a lot about septic tanks and sewage from a environment ecology class I took in college. I understand how sewage is dealt with on a large and small scale. Tell you something scary I learned in that class at LSU. In the Baton Rouge of the late 70s and early 80s sewage was dealt with by skimming off the solids, putting chemicals to disinfect the water and then the entire mess was released into the Mississippi River to go downriver to New Orleans, who pulls their drinking water at that time from the river. Flush twice because it's a long long way to New Orleans!

These were all things we'd discussed in detail over the phone and email the night before but Professor Lying Realtor is clearly nervous we might not complete the sale. If we weren't already so so close I might have cancelled it over this sudden surprise over the hot water and being lied to about a few things. But we're almost done and not soon enough. I never have to sit through another idiotic lecture by this guy again once we close. 

We finally escaped around noon, got a few groceries and came home for lunch and a nap. Four o'clock we roll up at the new place just in time to see a troop of howler monkeys and scarlet macaws and other small parrots raiding the ripe star fruit off the tree in the back. The owners were there cleaning out the place, and we and their realtor went over all the small details and we got answers to the questions we'd been asking no one could answer, like the last time the roof had been served, when had the septic tank been pumped, where exactly is the leech field.

We both liked the owners and the other realtor quite a lot. Everything was explained in detail. The only unpleasant surprise was finding out that the majority of the lovely furniture we thought that they were leaving was hired furniture to stage the house!! Apparently Lying Realtor was supposed to have told us that. They are leaving all of the furniture on the list, it's just none of it is quite as nice as the extra pieces they staged with. So guess who has to buy all new furnishings for the lanai, the guesthouse and the master suite? Us. After all the crazy slings and arrows and hoops we'd been dealing with this surprise was actually quite minor. They are leaving things I did not expect, like a large chest freezer and two dining room sets along with six televisions and every single thing in the kitchen. They are leaving all of the potted plants of which there are quite a few ones in half whiskey barrel sized planters.

We just want to get this deal done and move in. I cannot believe I'm going to get to see such exotic birds right in our backyard because we sure do not see them here a few miles down the same road.

It wasn't long after we returned from our walk through that one of the lesser fun things that happens routinely happened. The electricity went out for a large swath of the area. It went out for five hours and at one point I found myself crouching in the running car trying to charge my sacred cell.

I also discovered I am too stupid and clumsy to be trusted with candles. I went into the kitchen to try to figure out if I could bypass the electronic pilot light on the stovetop to cook dinner and I left a candle in glass burning on the coffee table. Came back five minutes later and the coffee table and tv remote were merrily burning. Ugh.

Friday, February 23, 2018

When the Going Gets Tough I Get Weird

This week has been taken up yet again with the roiling cluster fuck of our house purchase. The bank here in Costa Rica has refused for almost three weeks now to release our funds to us. I'm scampered around like a crazed chipmunk hording for winter, but the only things I'm hording is a flood of paperwork proving that the money is honestly ours from honest endeavors.

It's enough of a sum that's it has created massive stress levels in both of us. It's enough to buy enough CDs to support ourselves on the 8% return rate here in Costa Rica combined with enough to buy the house, the property and the guesthouse, buy some furniture, a washer and dryer and install a swimming pool.

Yeah, 8% return, a crazy high return when you cannot even get 1% in America at that bank. The government bank here is backed and insured so the money is safe, well as safe as money can be overseas. Here's the scary bit about about of this and why is was more of a hassle for us than most folks.

The scary. If the government thinks at all, or has the slightest evidence you might not be on the up and up, they can seize all of your assets that they can touch.  That means every penny we're bringing in to invest in real estate and CDs.

That's how husband-murdering millionairess about to be retried yet again Ann Bender lost her millions.  She illegally imported over 7 million bucks in gemstones and neglected to file any import paperwork or pay the impuesto (taxes) so the government seized everything of value in her home right down to the appliances. She's at the very least guilty of tax evasion and smuggling, but I suspect that she'll be convicted again. You cannot claim your husband committed suicide in front of you while the bullet entry wound is in the back of his head, forensics shows that the gun was fired from ten feet away and you are the only one with gun shot residue on your hands and clothing. I feel pretty certain she did it. Forensic tests do not lie.

Bender came up when we started house hunting. The estate lands have been officially divided up and the lots are on the market right now with beautiful views of the waterfall on their lands. I suspect she's trying to raise funds for a defense. The lot prices are lower than I would have thought. While the property is 30 minutes from the beaches and only a short hop over the mountain road to Copey de Dota it gives me the creeps to think about living in the shadow of someone elses dream turned gruesome cautionary tale.

Also complicating the matter is the fact that Jim told the seller's broker and our agent that he was refusing to pay the $850 escrow charge, that we would present a cashier's check to the seller the day of closing. Jim is thrifty, he always has been. But it's sort of gummed up the works a bit. Bringing in that money into an escrow account is apparently much easier than dealing with the banking regulators and the government for the import directly.

There has been praying, crying, screaming and ranting over that money for nearly three weeks now.

Our original closing date was supposed to be tomorrow, but the seller refused to schedule the closing until we showed him proof that the money had been released into our Costa Rican bank account. He hasn't even started to clear his personal possessions out of the house yet!

Finally this morning the money was released by the international banking division and the government and is sitting in our account right now. We fired out a letter from the bank stating that we have a sufficient balance to pay cash at closing. So now the closing is rescheduled until Wednesday and the family will be removing their odds and ends from the house. I will be posting photos as soon as we move in next week.

In the meantime I've had to deal with one very patronizing 'oh you little woman' type realtor. I've already told Jim I've had to restrain myself multiple times from going gangsta hardcore and telling him to shut the fuck up. I will be telling him after the sale how insulting his behavior is and how we're never using him again.

Yesterday he called me about a dozen times, nagging me to try and get me to nag Jim into taking care of the tiny details. I was gritting my teeth hard, I slept poorly and ground my teeth all night, getting up exhausted and super fucking cranky.

When he tried to start that shit up again with me this morning I started cursing up a blue streak and practically punching the walls. Plus I was getting it from other ends, from one of the attorneys involved with the sale. There was last minute legal paperwork to be filed, and in the middle of this my scanner died. Both the realtor and the lawyer refusing to accept faxes, insisting on scanned in copies. I tried downloading and trying out three different scanner apps for my phone and Ipad but nothing worked like it was supposed to so in the late afternoon I had some choice (obscene) words for the realtor related through my dear husband.

I'm standing in the office off the kitchen shouting out to Jim 'You tell that lousy sack of shit motherfucker that if he wants a scanned document he's going to have to fucking do it himself, that COCKSUCKER!!!' and Jim was translating it to him like 'Suzanne is having issues with the scanner and says you will have to take the documents back to your office and scan them in...'

Yeah, it was that kind of a few days, with me going nuclear obscene pissed off crazy woman only today. Usually when I get that super irrationally angry it means a very bad asthma attack is coming. I hope that's not it. I'm pushing meds, extra meds right now to nip it if it is.

I was busy crying on the shoulder of my friend who just visited here and tried to give me a come to Jesus around noon today. I confessed to her that I didn't want to use this realtor in the first place because he goes to church with Jim and has a Jesus Fish on his car.

We both started giggling and laughing over the fact that people in the business world that brag how Christian they are, or just have the fish on their cars, are usually the most incompetent and likely to scam you the hardest. They will know we are Christians by the Jesus Fish on our car.  She's a Joel Osteen-loving, Evangelical that thinks Donald Trump is the bees knees of a president and that she should be able to carry her cute pink pistol into anywhere unimpeded. But she thinks exactly the same way I do about Christians marketing their business as Christian. But she gloats over the fact that Jesus will judge them for it one day. I'm not that confident that is the scenario that will go down at the end of the world. I'm mostly agnostic now.

As I started writing this I began to hear a wetish drip drip drip and discovered that the air conditioner here in the master bedroom has begun to leak into our closet. So guess what my Friday looks like tomorrow??? Massive amounts of laundry with some light yelling at the landlord. Yes, the ac has leaked all over all the clothes we own. The dryer is still dead so the back lanai will be festooned with an assortment of stuff.

A few more days, I keep telling myself just a few more days.

On a good note the new place got a full home inspection and passed with flying colors. That is unheard of in Costa Rica because usually there's earthquake damage or jerryrigged plumbing or electric. I guess it pays to buy the weekend beach pad of a rich lawyer in San Jose.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Dave's Not Here, Man

I have glossed over the raw nerves and sheer anxiety dealing with getting a very large sum of cash wired from our broker to our Costa Rican bank account to go to closing on our new house next week. This week has been me on the edge of frayed nerves, trudging back and forth between banker, real estate agent, house inspector, lawyer, baker, candlestick maker.

There's been some nerve related petty squabbling between Jim and I, at least that one evening when the agent told me (rather untruthful) that Jim had ignored getting things done, throwing me into a panic of trying to accomplish this pile of tasks. Jim showed me the email trail and Jim was right, the agent is a lying asshole whom I almost believed.

Like I said, nerves on edge, providing more and more documents to the bank to justify bringing Scrooge McDuck's bounty into the country for a house and assorted investments. Just when you think things are resolved there is another document requested. I think we've finished now and we're just waiting for the money being released into our bank account for closing.

I keep going out to the pool to swim but the landlord's wife keeps coming out to try and question me on our plans. I keep asking her when she's going to have the electrical problems, dryer and now the dishwasher fixed. Nothing is fixed, yet they are pushing hard to put a new tenant in here. Looks like we're going to have less than a  day to move and clean this place out. Not looking forward to it.

The online argument yesterday was good because it seriously distracted me from the week of stress and flu recovery. I ran into the guy who'd viewed our rental a few days ago that I was somewhat less than welcoming to, explaining to him what the deal was in detail about the electrical problems with the house. He's an engineer that speaks a pile of foreign languages. I ended up dog-sitting for his puppy so he could slip into the bank and Jim's made a friend that he can speak Russian and German with. I felt bad for how bitchy my barfing sick self that been when the landlord and he just unlocked the door and moseyed on in.

Today started off well. I had finally started to feel better, even if I somehow managed to do something to my hip. We got up and went down to the local farmer's market to get locally grown fresh bacon, fruit and vegetables, some CBD oil, bread and bagels. We walked around in the sunshine a long time, deciding to take stroll on the beach.

Before we could do that we ran into Dave. Dave is a guy here that takes surf photos, some for magazines, some for the tourists. Dave's an interesting dude, 70 years old who has lived just about everywhere and done a huge variety of things for a living. The only problem with Dave is if you get sucked into his orbit it takes an hour or better to get away from his conspiracy theories and many loves of Dave. In December he was telling us he wanted to move in with a woman we all knew named Maggy and start a family. Now it's a lady he's known and loved for years from Venezuela. Who knows who it will be next.

It did take us a solid hour or better. I almost had a sunburn, something that so rarely happens to me. But things went a little haywire when we got home. The front door was wide open, and multiple cars were in our front yard. Yes, yet again the house was being shown without telling us anything at all in advance.

I am almost ashamed to admit it, but I went off on the rental agent, letting them  know it was extremely uncool to show the place with zero notice. When I get notice I generally make sure the place is very clean and make myself very scarce while they show the house. Today I'd walked out with breakfast dishes in the sink, an unmade bed, my business AmEx sitting out with my personal credit card on the desk top next to my computer and a diamond and sapphire necklace on the dresser. Things I would never have left sitting out if I had any clue someone was visiting. Too many little thieves in this community.

Ignored the young mom, dad, toddler son and infant and pretty much told off their realtor about showing them a house with screwed up electrical system and all the other things the landlords will not fix. Jim told me later he was very surprised for how I jumped all over the guy. I'm pretty furious that the landlords aren't fixing a thing and showing the place willynilly so the next family will have the same problems. Yeah, I know, it's not my problem since I'm leaving, but it's still pretty scummy. I'm seeing the faked photos with the fancy furniture all over the real estate lists here online like a bad rash, and having to field questions from people looking about why the joint looks nothing like the photos.

If It's Not One Thing It's Your Old Fundy Church!

Spent an amusing afternoon. I felt like I should have made popcorn and brought out the beers as I sat ringside and watched two people I know from my old fundamentalist/evangelical/quiverfull church duke it out with words on Facebook. I watched and tried not to laugh before one of them got uber huffy and erased the entire thread.

Guess what they were fighting over? Which one of them was truly disrepresenting God. Serious. Oh holy shit was it funny.

What did it start over. A t-shirt meme about God being kicked out of schools and now we have all these shootings.

Oh brother! If you're going to fight over a school shooting please fight over what we can do to protect the children of this nation, not which one of you is channeling God or not.

One of the participants was Tom Smith, my personal bete noire doing my years fundying, and the other is someone I was on the prayer team with.

I've heard interesting things about so many at my old church because some many there are gossipy old peahens that contact me whenever they want to scream out tales out of Sunday school. The worst story of the bunch is about our old pastor, he who started doing some funny money shenanigans with the different bank accounts before suddenly hearing God calling him to a richer church. Apparently he nearly got into a fist fight with a former church member and spat out to the guy that he'd never liked him at all ever. Pretty crazy. And all this took place at a funeral, A. Funeral.

Just makes me happier than a bay of clams in a vat of valiums. I always knew deep inside that the people I went to church with were pretty petty, but seeing concrete evidence of the crazy makes me joyous I left before the entire church boiled away into this.

Pretty sure all of this would horrify the Jesus of the New Testament even while it's making me laugh while I'm decorating my handbasket to hell with pretty flowers and candles.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

It Happened on Valentine's Day!

We spent the majority of this day trying to get documents into the hands of our bank so that they will allow our wire transfer of the funds to buy the house through. Every single time I think we've checked all the boxes, dotted the I's and crossed the T's something else comes up.

I'm told it's pretty common. The local bank just wants to make sure Jim and I aren't using some sweet sweet illegally earned drug money to buy our new house. If we had sweet sweet illegally earned drug money we'd be buying a much bigger and fancier house dudes...

Getting worried that the money won't make it in time for the closing so I'm currently filling out paperwork to wire it into a escrow account if the bank rejects our paperwork and sends the entire amount back.

But that was later, it wasn't the incredibly crazy start to the day. So I've had flu for six days now and crawled out this morning with no orifice spewing bio hazards and able to walk upright. While Jim went to the gym I was involved in a free lance paid project, even if I was still working from the bed, off a bed table next to the bed. Thank god I had my clothes on and had recently drug a comb through my hair because I had unexpected visitors that ended up going haywire like a bad sketch comedy skit.

Working hard when I hear a ratta tat tat on the front door and the door pops up. The landlord and a young Tico walks in. The landlord tells me, in German of course since it's the only language he speaks, that this young man is here to look at the house. I complain vociferously that I'm working and he's interrupting that and that due to the illness and puke spewing the house is something less than perfectly clean. The Tico tells me hey that's no big deal.

But he puts me on the spot immediately, asking why I'm moving and I just baldly tell him that we bought a house. Then he wants to know why the furniture and decorative items in the online photos of the house are so different and how dingy the place looks compared to the photo. I tell him its because those are staged real estate photos and I've never seen a stick of that furniture anywhere on the grounds.

While we're talking the lights and electric start with their stupid flickering, going on and off, on and off and he asks if this is normal. I point out to him that the electric here is screwed. He says this isn't the place for him.

We're speaking English, which the landlord does not understand. Entire visit lasts under five minutes. I'm sorry I screwed it up for the landlord, but I'm not going to lie for them. I've been hiding from them today because even if old Fritzie cannot parse English I'm pretty sure he knows I called them on their bullshit attempts to gild a turd.

They are supposed to let me know when someone is coming into the house 24 hours in advance. I wonder what happened to their potential renter that signed a lease? Thought the place was rented.

Today I learned that Gringo pricing is real. I had dropped off my Iphone to get the glass replaced and a general good cleaning of the connectors and ended up being quoted a price that was only 15 bucks more than the price in the States. Know very well the two guys that own and operate this internet cafe/tech repair shop. Sat waiting for my phone and witnessed four different sets of Americans come in and request pricing on the same repair. He quoted them anywhere from twenty to sixty dollars more. When I got ready to leave he giggled and whispered to me that he was giving me the local Tico price since I live here now and I've been frequenting his business.

Late afternoon I discovered quite by accident that Jim had been ignoring the paperwork on buying the house and there was a lot of forms to fill out and documents to cough up like bank statements and tax records. I talked to the realtor about it and he immediately tried to throw Jim under the bus, claiming that he told Jim last week he needed to print off, fill out paperwork and provide documentation. When I asked Jim he said our real estate agency was also a liar, that none of that had been mentioned to him. I don't know who is lying in this situation, but I have to say I was very turned off by the agent immediately blaming Jim I got pretty stressed out having to hurry through all of it.

We ended up going out to dinner for Valentine's Day after all the rushing around trying to do everything for the sale and we went to our favorite restaurant on a nearby beach. We hadn't sat down ten minutes when I was stung by a bee right in the middle of my stomach. After a walk on the dark beach post dinner I finally just gave up and did the thing I should have done quickly to avoid the crazy. I climbed back into bed. I'm going to bed and I may not leave it if tomorrow morning starts like this one did.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

You Might Be A Gringo....

Today I'm going to touch on a few not as nice realities of moving to Costa Rica from the United States. There are oodles of blogs, message boards and books screaming 'Move to Costa Rica, it's fun! It's cheap, it's fabulous!'

There's not a lot that addresses the realities here.

First last me say I love, love, love it here. The way the laws are set up it's very hard to sue someone for any reason. We've already moved all our Costa Rican assets into a corporation instead of personally owning them outright. Makes it almost impossible for the Tim Baylys of this world to try and spank me legally for calling them out on toxic behavior. Yes, Bayly has threatened to sue me, I have the emails to prove it.

Other things to love. If you live simply like a Tico it's much cheaper here. Even with our copious complaints about the costs of electricity that cost is still way less than what we paid in the States.

Local food is cheaper. It's only more expensive if you march into the Auto Mercado and buy U.S. imported foods. Example: Someone on the expat list was bitching a few weeks ago that they paid $17 U.S. dollars for a 5 pound bag of potatoes, posting a photo. They'd bought potatoes imported from the good old US of A instead of going down to the local Frutas stand and buying Costa Rican grown potatoes for roughly 75 cents a pound.

If you attempt to live here like an entitled Gringo with the same standard of living as America or Canada it's going to cost you a lot more money! Why come here and try to live like Little America in your all-American subdivision where the builder has charged you way more than the place is worth and you have some louche Tico with a uniform and a gun pretending to guard you? Running the air conditional willy nilly cuts you off from the hoots of the monkeys and the wonderful spicy smell of the open air fires of local farmers burning brush. No Tico friends, you never learn which are the best restaurants, when the big sales happen or find out about the bullfights and festivals.

But, if you embrace the idea that you don't need a lot of possessions or constant shopping, that you're rather go to the beach or walk to the Frutas stand and have no expectations of this being anything like America plus aren't wedded to the idea of people being punctual or honest this is the place for you.

There will be some frustrations with the glacial pace most government agencies and repairmen work at, and the fact that there are those in this third world country that will shake you down if you let them, like Jim getting scammed by the pot-smoking house-crasher we hosted on Thanksgiving night. Realize it's not America or Canada and relax.

The last couple of weeks have been most revealing and reinforcing what we know about life here. A couple of weeks ago one of our friends came to visit, and the Tico weirdness started early at the Liberia airport when the airport guards started moving those of us waiting farther and farther from the gate so we could not interfere with the 'volunteer' porters pushily grabbing and running off with the luggage of the arrivals so they could score a big fat tip. We've learned that scam, pushing forward to rescue our friend.

We had to rescue her friend that came with her a few times from pushy vendors too. Explaining that you do not flash cash, or indicate in any way you have any money because they will overwhelm you. You have to be pretty firm when you issue a 'NO!'

Right now we're getting the business from the realtors, lawyers, home inspectors, bank agents and assorted government agencies in this house purchase. Everyone has their hand out, and there are government fees galore. Now, we did negotiate out of a lot of the fees. Someone just arriving here might not realize that many times locals will try to charge you the maximum they can until you protest you're being gypped.

You even have to watch people like our landlords. During the ten days my friends were here our electric started going haywire, more haywire than usual because I've been complaining to the landlord for months now that the electrical grid is screwy in the house. Burned out appliances, a middle of the night explosion by the landscaping lights and several burned out sockets. Partial electricity. I told the landlord back six weeks ago that the house was showing signs that the electrical switch between the meter and where the electricity enters the property was damaged. I went through this at our house ten years ago, so I knew what it was I was looking at. She blamed a number of things on our electrical problems, from her thinking we have too much technology plugged in to it being the crappy electricity here in Costa Rica. At one point the socket the refrigerator is plugged into went bad and the fridge kept getting warm then cold. It's still not fixed even if the landlord put an extension cord and plugged the fridge into the socket in the laundry room. No repairs, or slow and poorly done is our experience, and it turns out this is very, very common in rental property here.

The frustrating thing about the landlord is that on last Monday we heard that our contract was officially accepted and as soon as we had signed paperwork all the way around and had started the process to wire in that huge sum we told our landlord on Sunday afternoon that we were be leaving in two weeks to move into our own house. Sunday night at 9 pm our landlord's real estate agent had listed our house for rent. I laughed when I saw the photos because they don't show the decrepit state of the house, they are carefully staged with fancy furniture that is not in the house, and, for shits and giggles, the photos have been carefully photoshopped to gloss over the cracks from the earthquakes, etc. The next morning the landlord shows up to tell me that the house will be shown to a potential renter within the hour. I'm in bed with the flu and had to endure a day of strangers traipsing around while the house needs a good hard scrub. Hellish. Awkward. I was in my nightgown suffering the indignities of a provoked digestive system that thought 'Boot and rally' was a good idea.

There is no feeling more humiliating and icky than standing in the doorway of your bathroom when your stomach has decided to violently exit from below and above as a potential renter walks in for a tour. Yeah, SO much fun.

My understanding of the parade of potential renters is that someone did sign a lease and is moving in the day after we move out. Even if the dryer is dead, the electric fucked and the whole damn place needs a complete upgrade.

Another reality of moving here. Never expect to get your rental deposit back, never, ever. Apparently it's rare here, as most landlords consider it lagnappe, a little somethin'-somethin' extra for them. I doubt we'll get ours back even as we've damaged nothing and kept the place immaculate, except for this week. I cannot cook, do dishes and mop when I'm puking.

It's going to cost you a small fortune to do it right, and to get your residency. There are those that move here on a shoestring, not realizing that many times you'll be charged a 'Gringo tax' in your dealings. Everything you do requires a lawyer, which does not come any cheaper than in the states. Costa Rica wants to make sure you're not a criminal evading the law in another country before they will grant you residency and it can take several years. Another biggy with them is you proving that you have a minimum of $1,500 coming in from a legal source in the U.S. every single month. No poor immigrants need apply. We're going the investment route of residency, where you have to put up a large sum in real estate and bank investments to get that residency.

Ticos are unfailingly polite, and just want to say what you want to hear. We've experienced the problems that can occur when someone you're dealing with in a business capacity does not say 'no' to you, and then strings you along for days instead of just coming out with the answer that it cannot be done. 

But for all the hassles I've outlined above what you get in return is so worth it. No Donald Trump and his stupid, venial cohorts. No military. The beach, the mountains, the wildlife, the fresh air. Peace, quiet and the most laid back atmosphere this side of Max Yasgur's hippy farm. There are hippies here, plenty of old hippies, and most everyone minds their own business here.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

House Hunting in Costa Rica


Recently we started looking for a house to buy after our beautiful rented castle started to turn into a nightmare with suddenly raised rent, dead fridge, washer and dryer and an ongoing confloption involving the electrical system in the house starting to short out and landlords that seem less interested in fixing anything than trying to jerry-rig the joint together until they can sell it. No bueno.

We rented here with the idea that we might buy the entire joint, four cabins, two houses, pool and landscaped acreage. Not happening now. I've seen what a lack of maintenance can do. This would be a money pit. It would take moolah and lots of work. I'm too lazy for that.

I will admit I will miss the backyard howler monkeys and the birds peeking into my bedroom window. I hope there is wildlife where we are going.

Looking for a home rental back in August and September had been a frightening and comical experience that involved things like an apartment manager explaining why he didn't think we needed air conditioning in the bedrooms. This was also when we saw a house that looked like a murder scene save the crime scene tape and the birds flying in and out the broken windows. There were other snafus before we ended up in our rental.

This time was easier in some ways, and way more varied. No, there were no houses with broken windows and birds, even if one realtor tried to insist we view a property way out of our stated budget that will be filmed tomorrow for the television show 'House Hunters International'. Looking for a house to buy involved some less janky properties than the crazy mixed bag of rentals. I have them listed by the nicknames I've given.

Tamarindian Xanadu

Our realtor spoiled us by showing us the very best property first. Seeing this nine foot walled paradise of a beautifully tricked out home surrounded by mature fruit trees did us no favors. Every other property measured up poorly in light of this house. The house is fully furnished with a lanai that wraps around three sides of the house, like something out of a home decorating magazine. There's a large suite that houses the master bedroom and bath. The kitchen is big enough to cook and host a crowd and the picture window over the sink holds an incredible view. I can just see my lazy rear end flopping on the sofa in the picture window in the master suite to read every afternoon, or on one of the many pieces of wicker furniture on the lanai. Casa Del Lazy Ass.

At the front gate there is a good sized guest home, the only place on the property that needs any work at all. I would need to rearrange and decorate it before listing it on AirBnB in time for Semana Santa. It would allow us to host a lot of people with the bedrooms in the house and it's all very private. Unfortunately there's already another contract on this home.

We would need to install a pool to make it perfect, but the footers for a pool, electrical and plumbing are all in place. They must have been planning to install a pool at one time.

Copey 2.O – Fish Guts and White Walls

Immediately after our realtor tried to show us a slightly smaller new house and we just were not interested. Right on the main road we already live on that is too noisy. The house might have been just a few months, but there was already wear and tear from the renters, cracked concrete and ceramic tiling. The kitchen was a concrete counter with a sink in it and the yard was a patch of stirred up dirt without room to install that most essential of items living here, a pool. Nope, nope, nope, plain white everything with zero charm and the ceilings were all those cheap plastic panels that do not hold up that comprised our room in Copey de Dota.

Hearing that the property developer lived right up the hill and liked to use the large laundry room/extra bathroom to clean his fish from his every few days deep sea fishing was pretty much a deal breaker. Scrubba dub dub builder in the tub scaling his fish and me cleaning up after is not happening.

Casa De No Shoes, No Shirts, No Service

We went out on another day to see more homes. The first one was nearly as gorgeous as the Xanadu. There were just a few problems. The current tenants, who refused to allow us in with shoes on, forcing us to stand in the covered garage and remove shoes. The landscaping needs attention and the garage was plain and ugly but one thing made up for the lack of looks on the outside. YOU COULD SEE THE BEACH FROM THE FRONT DOOOOOOOOOR!! I could tolerate a lot for a two minute trek down the street to swim in the Pacific ocean.

I was amused by the insistence on shoe removal because there were no carpets in the house, just the standard caramel brown earthen tiles. The tenants were pretty cranky with us traipsing through the house on a Saturday morning it felt to me. I got the feeling from the attitude of the family that this was just a distinct 'fuck you' to everyone who might kick them out of the house after buying it. Yes, we would have to evict the renters to move in ourselves.

And I get that, particularly right now in our house when we have had to put up with people clomping through this house as a prelude to selling it as an investment property. No one likes strangers booging through their space. It feels awkward on both sides. Semi hippie family of all little girls and momma wearing jeans over bikinis, while the house was living in messy with one of the panes around the front door cracked. The house was beautiful on the inside with a lot of custom iron work, the most appealing carved wooden furniture and howler monkey iron lamps. Two bedrooms and baths downstairs with the master suite taking up the entire second floor. That view to the ocean from the master bedroom was amazing, worth every penny. Unbelievably detailed tilework and wood work throughout the place.

This place is 70K more than Xanadu, but about a year old with the nearness to the ocean I crave. The other two houses are like where we live now, about a full mile from where the sand beach starts near the estuary near Tamarindo. It's about thirty minutes away from Tamarindo and on another beach. Another big disadvantage is that there is no pool, no security system and it's a duplex. But this is our second choice if our offer on Xanadu is rejected. We could be really happy here, but we'd have to put in a pool, tart up the outside and deal with that dreary landscaping. The only thing we would need to do at Xanadu is install a small pool.

Pocket Pool Corner Pocket Casa De Crowded

Not far down the road, but with a much longer walk to the beach was the second house of that day. Until this point we'd been looking at houses in the 2,500 sq foot range. This place with minuscule, I doubt the main house was more than about 900 sq feet, about the same size as the guesthouse in Xanadu. The kitchen was a tiny closet, the living room too small to hold a full sofa. The main bedroom was just big enough to hold a double bed, a television at the foot and a window unit air conditioning. There was a second bedroom running across the back of the house, a clumsily walled in porch with oodles of bunk beds. The entire house was tiny and cramped, with things piled everywhere. Hearing that the sellers were leaving everything but toiletries filled me with panic. I have ADHD and I don't handle clutter well. I would have had to sell off most of the furnishing to make it a modicum of livable for us.

It looked like someone's attempt to tart up their roughing it family cabin/fishing camp and they were asking another 50K more than the previous place with a very small house and less land. They were throwing in a ten year old Ford 150 truck, the place had a swimming pool, too tiny to swim laps in and triangular shaped and there was a 'guesthouse' (crude room over the garage with an outdoor bathroom behind it.) The razor wire on top of the concrete walls was off putting too along with the loads of iron bars on the windows. The landscaping again needed serious work, and I'm just too damn lazy to be tearing up garden plots again.

But it held another dealbreaker for me. I have to have not only ac in the bedrooms, but I require it in the kitchen area too while I'm cooking. The closest thing to ac was the ancient wheezing window unit in the master bedroom. I don't like sweating like a mutant pig on Mars while cooking. I cannot do it. I can sweat while reading or watching television in the living room, or slicing up fruit in the kitchen, out in the garden or sitting poolside but it's too much to ask to have zero air conditioning in the kitchen.

Dracula's Italian Castle

This place was one I'd seen online, towards the bottom of our budget and the realtor had not scheduled to let us see it. I asked while we were in the neighborhood if we could see it because it had a fair amount of land, three big bedrooms, an ocean view and it came with a four wheeler. It was also 3,600 sq feet in the house of living area. Turns out it was at the very back of a finca (plantation farm) and it was a bumpy ride up dirt roads to the top of a mountain where this sat like Count Dracula's summer house. When we got up there you could see the Pacific from the front of the house and from the master bedroom in the back of the house.

There was some funny drama when we rolled up because a fleet of fruit bats had decided that the covered overhang protecting the front door was the perfect place to hang around upside down. Our realtor squealed like a frightened little girl in a horror movie as the bats swirled around the portico. My friend visiting from Virginia and I laughed at him because the bats are harmless and they keep bug populations down. There are worse things.

Going inside was fascinating because of the wonderful European touches the house held. It was constructed by a wealthy man from Italy, and was brave with beautifully hand painted tiling in earth tones with bidets in the bathrooms. Most beautiful country views without a soul for a long way. The master bedroom took up the entire upstairs floor and was just breathtaking. I've never seen such a well built massive place.

It didn't have a pool even if there was plenty of room to install one, and the cleanliness levels and landscaping left a lot to be desired. I liked it a great deal. Jim didn't. He thinks its way too far from civilization. It isn't an easy hike or bus to the beach either. Backroads a couple of miles straight down on that four wheeler. After Jim peed off the side of the mountain we rushed to meet another realtor at two more available houses.

Bongwater Yogis

The next house was next door to a world famous Yoga retreat, and also held a fair amount of land. Sloppy landscaping, no pool and unlike all the other houses it lacked community water. It was on an artesian well.

When you buy a house here you have to be careful to note what type of water you get because in the dry season unless you have a deep injection well you might find yourself having to order up a few costly truckloads of water to keep flushing your toilet.

It was beautiful in the inside, after we got past the chagrined renter and her cloud of pot smoke. All trendy gray walls, tiles and the industrial concrete look. All one level, like our favorite house. It had but two bedrooms but the renter was sure to point out the ladder and pile of mattresses for visiting surfers on the unofficial loft on top of the bath. No closets, oddly laid out with the trendiest of fixtures. For someone, but not for us. Smallish house too. Someone with trendy ideas bought a small Costa Rican Tico house and upgraded it on their ideas. The lack of all storage, or anything beyond a sink set in an industrial concrete bench in the kitchen were turn offs.

Big bongs everywhere.

No air conditioning.
There was no air conditioning up in the Italian vampire's mountain retreat either, but it was high up enough that the air was a good ten degrees cooler so you might not need it. Plus it was plumbed and wired for air conditioning to be added later. This place had open walls at the very top.

Gringo Paradise ala House Hunters International

The last place we viewed was out of our stated price range. I think the only reason the realtor wanted us to see it is that we'd had to give him a letter from the broker confirming how much cash we had readily available. So he wanted to show us something that would eat up half of it instead of a quarter. Yes, double what we told him our top figure was.

The two realtor's talked it up. A bargain! A motivated seller who NEEDED the money ASAP that would take far less than listed price!! A BRILLIANT business opportunity!! Eleventy!!!!!!!!!!

Also as far from the ocean and Tamarindo as the last two. I was thinking 'Aw hell NO!' the second we pulled up and I saw that the house was three separate buildings constructed around a swimming pool. A long building that held a kitchen, dining room and living room. Another building that held the children's play room and homeschooling rooms with two bedrooms up a narrow staircase. The third building was the third side of the pool, holding two large bedrooms with multiple beds. No air conditioning anywhere. The forth side of the pool was walled in with a laundry room cum storage shed with no dryer and a beat up ancient washer.

The property had a guest house, tiny one giant room holding a queen sized bed and a hot plate. Apparently the family, kids and all, move into the guesthouse whenever the house is rented out on AirBnB. They bragged that they cleared 10K last year after expenses by this uprooting and renting out the house. I personally don't think it was worth it.

Definitely not for us. We don't want to work that hard. I have no desire to be an inn keeper more than renting a guesthouse out a couple of times a year when the hotels fill up. That place would require so much work and upkeep even if it was just us living there.

We ended the day up at our house. While I dealt yet again with a dying freezer and refrigerator we ended up putting together a bid on the first place. The realtor is pretty sure that the guy trying to buy it is going to miss his contract deadline of Monday at 5pm to come up with half the money for the house. Now the seller knows we're interested and coming in with a higher bid for the house and cash for the entire house within days. If everything goes well we should be moved into Xanadu in 21 days from Tuesday. If not we're going to be buying the beachfront place. We are ready to be here for some years now.

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I've had a lot of questions about moving down here and I'll address them soon. It's not as easy and carefree and cheap as the multitude of retire to Costa Rica blogs make it seem. There are a lot of hoops to jump through and costly things you must do. Moving here without a pile of money or a good retirement is very difficult.