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Residencias Los Jardines - Life & Times

ISSUE #185: Apr. 21-26, 2008

Meet the Dreammakers

» NOTES

When I started Residencias Los Jardines, I started writing a weekly news letter —determined to tell all the good, bad, and the ugly. I knew some readers would be interested in the construction process. I expected others might be interested in the lifestyle of two people who had decided to live outside the box. For others, the adventures of lita, the parrot and the cat took on an entertainment saga all its own. Residencias Los Jardines is finished. We periodically have resales and rental availability. Some readers may be interested in this information. More and more, the content will be dominated by events of our new project, "El Dorado" for short. While the future is always uncertain, I again aim to tell it like it happens —the good, the bad, and the ugly, and that is what follows. In an effort to make the format more interesting and visually appealing and to field inquiries re. El Dorado, the news letter is now being distributed by Jan Kozak, Marketing Manager, Hacienda El Dorado. I will remain the author.

»MARKETING, WEBSITE & SALES

Meet the Dreammakers: For the next little while, we will be writing life stories of the workers, mostly from Nicaragua, who are building Hacienda El Dorado. By reading about these workers, you can get an appreciation of a construction worker's life. Hopefully, purchasers will have a better appreciation of the dream home.

Marketing / Sales: We probably have one additional sale and could have an additional 5 sales but there is a condition on the 5 sales which we are still evaluating. It's not a terrible condition but I'm not sure it's good for everyone in the long run.

Jan wrote a slight variation to one of our ads and has received a lot of response. We're not sure the number of phone calls will translate into sales, however, as most of the calls are from Ticos and we haven't been successful in this market—wrong design, wrong concept, wrong timing. In the past, 4 out of the 5 appointments made are usually cancelled or „no-shows". We'll see.

» CONSTRUCTION LOG

Gaviones: The permit has been issued.

Office Building: We wait.

Use of the Well Water: This is the biggest issue we face. The officials are reeling from water mismanagement and an number of fingers and other extremities are being burnt and chopped. CR has not done a good job in managing it's water resources or in providing a distribution system for it's existing needs let alone future needs. When the country's water distribution company, (AyA) trucks stop on the street leading to El Dorado, they are immediately surrounded by residents complaining about the quality and quantity of water. AyA knows they have a problem and have scheduled a new pipe line for two – three years from now. This schedule doesn't sit well with the residents but being non-militant Ticos, the AyA driver is allowed to pass without being torn apart. We investigated bringing AyA water from it's source to our land. To do so would involve buying a lot near the AyA's trunk line and building a pumping station. (AyA has the water but not the pumping capacity to lift it to our level.) Then we would have to run a 6" pipe 1.6 K to our property line and than a 4" line another 400 meters to the school. We would also have to connect all the existing people to the line. Then after some $300-$400,000 later we give it all to AyA and use whatever water is left. We didn't like the deal knowing that both AyA and the Municipalidad would be involved and we knew our life and whatever budget was established would be blown to ……

Therefore, we are focusing on getting permission to use the well water we have proven to be sufficient. We got the right to drill the well, now we have to apply for the right to use the water. This is a slow and very convoluted process now in CR. CR has seen the unbridled development in many areas much of which was / is unregulated and unpermitted. We have explored the use of various consultants and in interviewing them, we note a lot of inconsistent information and advice. We have our engineer working on it and so far the process is as clear as mud at midnight; we're not convinced that there is anyone who really knows what the process or timing is but many consultants are willing to take a hefty upfront fee with vague commitments. We keep plugging away at it but no light at the end of the tunnel so far.

Quebrada Extension: We added five additional sections and now are adding two more because the neighbor requested us to do so. Who says the neighborhood goes to hell when developers come in? We've eliminated an eyesorer and a health issue and created back yards where none existed before. We continue with the landfill.

» RESIDENCIAS LOS JARDINES

Website Upgrade / Marketing:

The data base of people we have accumulated over the years who have expressed an interest in either Residencias Los Jardines and/or Hacienda El Dorado as well as RE agents with whom we have and continue to work, forms a good network from which to market house rentals or sales. We are now beginning to realize the value and polish our presentation and delivery. Photos of Residencias Los Jardines, the Santa Ana area and some of the houses (now including 109 and 120) are now available on line at http://picasaweb.google.com/gardenresidencesresort

The upgrade work is not yet fully functional but we expect it to be substantially functional next week. We will be upgrading the dated pictures on the website – some of which show houses under construction.

FOR SALE:

One of our investors put his four homes up for sale—two are tenanted, two are vacant. All 4 are fully furnished. Two are one bedroom units and two are two bedroom, detached homes. He is offering financing.

Unit 103: $170,000 / Tenanted ($1,100 mo.)

The 1,000 sf, (plus parking for one car and locker) single story, detached home has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. It has a backyard with banana and papaya trees and lots of tropical vegetation. For more information click here.

Unit 107: $ 275,000 / Vacant (Photos available on line. Click here.)

This 1,716 sf. (plus parking for one car and locker) two storey, detached house, with three terraces, two bedrooms (one on each floor) and upstairs master suite is a beautiful home.

This home consists of two and one half bathrooms, two VERY large bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, each with extensive closets with built-ins for personal organization. For more information, click here.

Unit 124: $127,000 / Vacant OFFER IN PROGRESS (Photos available on line. Click here.)

This 662 sf, plus covered parking for one car and locker, is a one bedroom home on the 2nd. floor overlooking the large pool. It is ideal for a single person or couple. For more information and pictures, click here.

Unit 125: $125,000 / Tenanted ($950 mo.) OFFER IN PROGRESS (see 124 photos)

This 662 sf, plus covered parking for one car and locker, is a one bedroom home on the 2nd. floor overlooking the large pool. It is ideal for a single person or couple. For more information, click here.

Financing: With a minimum of 25% down, the owners will take back a mortgage for the balance. No arranging fees, life insurance, title insurance, nor age restrictions; fixed interest rate for up to 5 year term, fully open with 30 days notice, no bonus or penalty.

Houses 108 and 120: While these units are tied up and have been for some time because of personal legal issues of the beneficial owner, I've had two contacts this week regarding them. We continue to manage them in the believe that the problems will be sorted out,

FOR LEASE:

Unit 109—Furnished: 1,500 sf (140m2), single floor, beautifully furnished with leather furniture and granite tables, wall unit, built in office area, large open concept LR.DR, Off., Ktch, two bedrooms each with queen beds, two bathrooms, terrace storage room, detached--$1,600 mo. April 1 (For more information, click here.) (To view photos, click here.)

Unit 120—Furnished: 1,300 sf (127 m2), single level, 2 bedroom each with Queen beds, 2 bathrooms, beautifully furnished with wall unit, 42" flat screen TV + two standard TVs, DW, clothes washer/dryer, vaulted ceilings, ceiling fans, etc. $1,350 mo. May 1 (For more information, click here.) (To view photos, click here.)

A Sad Story: Epilogue A memorial service was held on Wednesday. Five people from Los Jardines and an additional two of Lita's friends attended. Lita organized refreshments following the service—how she doesn't it I don't know—a continuous wonder. The event was a somber occasion and has muted the mood at Los Jardines. Such events are always time for reflection on one's own life and relationships.

»EXPLORING SANTA ANA

Grappa is an upscale bar located in the new and rapidly growing part of Santa Ana often referred to as Lindora. It caters to both younger and older adults that enjoy quality and distinction in product and service.
Although it is mainly a cocktail, premium drink and wine bar, it also offers a Mediterranean cuisine menu, which among others includes: hummus, sauteed mushrooms, taboule, fried calamari, salads, carpaccios, focaccias, pitas and pasta. Grappa has the highest quality audio and visual technology creating an unforgettable experience for all of its customers. It is one of the few bars offering a wide variety of cultural and musical shows. The different performances make Grappa the perfect destination for people eager to enjoy a unique night in San Jose.

For reservations, call 2203-7544.

» MEET THE DREAMMAKERS - FABIO

For the next little while, we will be writing life stories of the workers, mostly from Nicaragua, who are building Hacienda El Dorado. By reading about these workers, you can get an appreciation of a construction worker's life. Hopefully, purchasers will have a better appreciation of the dream home.

Fabio, 25, married for 6 years, is one of the hundreds of thousands of economic refuges from Nicaragua. As a father of two young children (age 4 and 5) originally from Leon, Nicaragua, he moved to Costa Rica to find work. He has been working for Brian and Paul for over four years. He catches a 5 AM bus from his home Calle Blancos in order to be at work at 7; he returns around 7 PM. The two hour bus ride to earn about $2,40 per hour or $135.00 a week, involves several changes and uncertainties due to traffic. His wife is a secretary. They send their two children to a daycare where they study reading and writing. In what free time he has, he spends with his family. They currently rent a small apartment but one day hope to own their own modest home. With both he and his wife working, this may be possible. Fabio's father died about a year ago. He
continues to support his mother financially. His 28 year old brother works for a transportation company and a 22 year old sister works in a free trade zone; both live in Nicaragua.

Somewhere along the way, Fabio learned to drive. Where a bicycle is the first step up the economic ladder for many construction workers, opportunites to drive are rare. While normally a painter and drywaller by preferred trade, at Hacienda El Dorado, he now operates the bobcat. This involves moving small quantities of dirt, gravel, sand, and concrete as required. When not doing this, he drives the pick up and the stake truck picking up small items from suppliers or taking construction materials from the warehouse to the location where they are needed.

» NEWS FROM COSTA RICA

If your browser does not support the hyperlinks below, you can view the COSTA RICA NEWS section on our website from the following URL:

» http://www.eldoradocostarica.com/English/News/index.php

There are also new articles posted in Spanish on the following URL:

» http://www.eldoradocostarica.com/Spanish/News/index.php


April 28, 2008
U.S. detention of top Costa Rica Prosecutor Ruffles Diplomatic Feathers
(The Tico Times) Costa Rica suspended legal cooperation with the United States and sent a protest note to the U.S. Embassy after Chief Prosecutor Francisco Dall'Anese was held at Miami International Airport on Wednesday in what U.S. authorities called a “routine security check.”
Read

April 28, 2008
Costa Rica Gets Its First Lutheran Bishop
Costa Rica's first Lutheran Bishop, Melvin Jiménez, was consecrated at a ceremony at the Lutheran Church of Costa Rica in San José yesterday morning.
Read

April 28, 2008
Costa Rican Gov't: No Rice Shortage Here
Amid soaring world prices on basic food, Costa Rica's government moved to allay fears that a food crisis could hurt families here, releasing information that suggests grains such as rice are plentiful.
Read

April 28, 2008
Costa Rica Property: The Medical Tourism Factor
Costa Rica has been named as one of the top destinations for health tourism, a growing industry of people travelling abroad to have cosmetic surgery that is too costly back home. Other countries in the top 5 were Malaysia, Panama, India and Brazil.
Read

April 27, 2008
The Wonders of Costa Rica
(Minneapolis Star Tribune) ARENAL NATIONAL PARK, Costa Rica—A crown of streaming clouds flowed off the cone of Costa Rica's Arenal volcano. A sound like thunder shook the air.
Read

April 26, 2008
Falling Dollar Will Likely Stop Its Tumble in Costa Rica
(Costa Rica Pages) It’s good news for some, disappointing news for others: Paula Gutiérrez, President of Costa Rica’s Central Bank, believes that the U.S. dollar will not continue to lose value against the Costa Rican colón.
Read

April 24, 2008
Contentious CAFTA - A Turning Point for Costa Rica?
(Council on Hemispheric Affairs) Five of the six countries, including Costa Rica, which signed the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with the United States, have now ratified it. Oscar Arias, Costa Rica’s Nobel Laureate president, signed the agreement in November 2007, after the pro-CAFTA forces in his country won a hard fought election by a margin of approximately 3 percent.
Read

April 22, 2008
Dole Food Company, Inc. Announces Earth Day Agreement to Offset Carbon Emissions from Transport of Bananas and Pineapples in Costa Rica
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dole Food Company, Inc. announced today that its operating division in Costa Rica, Standard Fruit Company de Costa Rica S.A., will purchase carbon offsets from the Costa Rican Government’s program in amounts equal to the carbon dioxide emissions generated by the inland transport of Dole produced bananas and pineapples.
Read

April 21, 2008
If Only the Dollar Were Stronger
(The New York Times) THE dream of retiring to a Tuscan villa or a beachfront home in Costa Rica almost always hinges on how to pay for it, but rarely do graying expatriates plan well for another pocketbook issue: the value of the American dollar.
Read

» OUR LIVES

Weather: Not much rain and not much wind. Fairly warm. It looks like the predictions of an early rainy season were a bit off.

I've been unusually busy showing the units listed for sale as well as those still available for lease. In addition, getting new lessee's up and running with their computers, VOIP phones, taxi's, etc., etc., etc. takes a lot of time.

I received a kind note from an unknown reader this past week. I usually don't know who reads and what information they are looking for but it's from feedback like I received that I know some people find some of the information useful.

Mail: While CR mail is not perfect, it is sometimes amazing. I've received mail with only my name, Residencias Los Jardines, and Pozos , CR on it. I also sent by regular mail to Ohio a large envelope of marketing info.; it arrived in 8 days. The cost of mailing is substantially less than in either the US or in Canada.

News Articles: Two articles appeared this week which should (in my opinion) be read by those interested in CR and retirement here are:

Contentious CAFTA—A Turning Point for Costa Rica

If Only The Dollar Were Stronger

 

Brian, Lita, Hugo, irreverent Vicka, the pigeon toed parrot, and the newbies —Chico and Chica.

 

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