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Let me tell you about my first living experiences in Costa Rica, right after I purchased my coffee farm in 1993.
The day after closing, I went down to set “things” up. I inherited a peon that I let stay on the job till I decided what I was going to do. And he had a brother who needed a place to stay.
He suggested I let him live in the cabin I had on the farm, for security purposes. Better to have someone on the property all the time. There are too many stories related to this good deed that I will pass on for now. As with anyone staying on your property, I started hearing complaints. FREE, by the way.
First thing is, his wife flushed down the john the unmentionable.
Of course, it stopped it up. I got my peon and his brother to dig up the septic line to find the stoppage. We found the item immediately and I naturally made them fix it all. No cost involved, but I wanted to press my point, especially after I had told them about flushing just anything.
The electrical system
The next thing I know, the brother had decided to trim the large trees around the house. I told him to just leave all this alone.
This was the next of my living experiences in Costa Rica, and before I knew I had electricity problems. No lights and nothing seemed to work. Last time I installed my first dishwasher myself so I decided to hire an electrician to come in and fix whatever. He did find a terrible electrical system, which I was aware of, but everything did work. It was on my list of things to do. The main thing the electrician found was the brother had stripped all the electrical wire and lined the attic with a close line for his wife to hang the washing!!!
Shortly after that, he wanted me to pay him to stay in the house. I immediately told him to move out. I could live with having an empty house before all this. We are only talking about 2-3 months’ time for all these stories!!!!
I came down another time to work on the farm and do things on my list. One of the first was to rewire the house and line up all the places for outlets. I planned where a kitchen would be and purchased all the wires and outlets. Then I decided to use the Costa Rican system but ground it. I have a picture of the incoming box and it would cause an immediate heart attack for any knowledgeable electrician.
Coffee and beauty
I started my project and the first thing I found was the old wood was so hard that it broke my drill bits. This was a very unusual home for CR. It was all wood with a upstairs “bedroom” with two dormers and a balcony. Loved to sit out there with my coffee and inhale the beauty and serenity. It was located on a mountain about 5400 feet altitude. San Marcos de Tarrazu, near Santa Maria de Dota, was down the mountain from me and I had marvelous views. I also had several springs that produced pure water. The municipality had hooked up to one for local use and naturally let me on the line for an annual fee of about $10.
Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer
I digress from the interesting part of the story. It was a little dark in the house to do the work. I took what I could outside and sat on the porch. Stripping and cutting wire and etc. As Ivo told in another story, there were a lot of bugs, but I honestly never saw them. Friends in the States would always ask about the bugs in a tropical country. I always said that I was sure we had at least one of everything, but I never saw them. They left me alone and I left them alone. I did have some scorpions in Escazu when we eventually moved there. I found out that a little Adolph’s meat Tenderizer applied to the bite, solved the problem seconds later!!!
Anyway, as I was sitting on the porch doing my thing, I noticed a line of leaf ants. At least that is what I called them. They were marching towards the house. My first inclination was to go stomp on them. I immediately realized that was futile and not what I wanted to do. I respect life and do not want to kill anything. They came under the porch and I saw all kinds of bugs coming out.
I realized the inevitable, so picked up my gear and headed for town for lunch. When I got back, I noticed the ants were all gone and my home had been freshly exterminated by nature. The ants had gone through the entire house, over and under and gotten rid of all bug life.
That has to be one of the most fascinating experiences I have ever witnessed. I never saw any bugs there after that. That must have been done more often than I would ever imagine. A wonderful lesson of living in nature and not messing with the natural course of action.
The author of this blog and a former expat, FloridaTico, lived in Costa Rica during the ’90s. He and his wife moved to Florida and look back often on the great time they had in Costa Rica. This is one of his stories.
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