...twas the week before Christmas...!

ISSUE #842: Dec. 13-19, 2020


Brian Timmons, Newsletter Author
Brian Timmons

Dear friends,

When I started Residencias Los Jardines, I started writing a weekly newsletter -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 re-sales and rental availability. Some readers may be interested in this information.

Brian Timmons
Developer / Property manager
Residencias Los Jardines

Web: https://residenciaslosjardines.com
Emails: info@residenciaslosjardines.com

Market activity
sales & rentals

Sales: Los Jardines: Units #116 and #124

Rentals: Los Jardines: Nothing available
Paradisus: Nothing available

Residencias Los Jardines
property management, rentals & re-sales

Unit #116: $ 195,000 $ 189,995 / See Unit
Unit #124: $ 125,000 $ 115,000 / See Unit

Unit #124: $800 mo. / Available immediately / See Unit

For sale

UNIT #116
$ 195,000 $ 189,995

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1290
Total area (Sq M): 120
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Floor(s): 1
Type: Semi-Attached
Furnished: Yes

This 1,290 sf single floor home includes a 300 sf front terrace plus parking for one car and a separate, secure storage locker. It is and end unit and therefore attached on only one side by a 6 inch cement demising (common) wall, which prevents sound transfer.

UNIT #124
$125,000 $ 115,000

Total Area (Sq Ft): 662
Total area (Sq M): 61
Bedrooms: 1
Bathrooms: 1
Floor(s): 2nd Floor
Type: Semi-Detached
Furnished: Yes

This 662 sf, + covered parking for one car, is a one bedroom home on the 2nd floor overlooking the large pool. It is ideal for a single person or couple.

For rent

UNIT #124
$800 mo. NEW
Available immediately

Total Area (Sq Ft): 662
Total area (Sq M): 61
Bedrooms: 1
Bathrooms: 1
Floor(s): 2st Floor
Type: Semi-Detached
Furnished: Yes

This 662 sf, + covered parking for one car, is a one bedroom home on the 2nd floor overlooking the large pool. It is ideal for a single person or couple.

Our Lives

What Happened This Week

Weather: The weather has now definitely turned to the dry / windy season -summer- we have started our irrigation systems.


1. "...twas the week before Christmas....": Traffic is crazy, government will begin shutting down (although it will be difficult to see the difference except for the longer line of cars going to the beach), line-ups everywhere, people cant spend their alginaldo fast enough... unfortunately I had to replace a 7 yr old washer/dryer and sofa/love seat/chair... looks good, but really garbage parts... I could not get a transmission for the washing machine until maybe January (which means possibly April or never) and the sofa I bought still had good frame and foam but the covering had deteriorated... so I had decided to replace it with two pieces I had in storage... whoops... same story there, recovering was C600,000, buying new was C440,000. After looking numerous places, I found a quite acceptable one at the local store I have sourced many things from... I have nothing on my agenda this week, and between Christmas / New Years it will be quite, so I am looking forward to hammock time... and we have opted out of social activities... I can use the peace and do not need to expose myself to crowds...

2. Newsletter: For reasons not yet known, I have not been receiving my own newsletter. If any responses were "reply" they probably went to the same place -where ever that is in cyber space... this problem has not yet been solved.

3. Cashing a check: After 18 mo. of pushing, I got paid out of a mortgage. The bank would only write the check to the company which held that mortgage (I am the sole owner). It has no bank account. To cash it, I have to establish a bank account... after two weeks and counting, -and I seriously doubt that it will be done before Christmas which means realistically January 7 if I am lucky, I may have an account and a cashable check. Anything to make life difficult.

4. Sad news: (1) Several weeks ago, our office manager and resident owner, proudly shared with us a picture of her son's graduation from medical school. This week he drowned while swimming in the ocean. This, of course, hit's close to home with Lita and I because of the recent loss of our granddaughter. (2) The long time curtain supplier and all purpose cleaning person, had a serious accident... he is o.k., car is totaled, and he has a few bumps and bruises. (3) One of the top 10 academic students in my high school graduating class, he went to Stanford, graduated in civil engineering, went on to design bridges and roadways, committed suicide in June. He could not cope with the grief of loosing his wife. We had diffed apart but I knew he was having problems and this is how he solved them. (4) My brother-in-law has bone cancer, degenerative discs and various other things... of course he is in lots of pain, now on a walker and strong pain pills, with a not very great future... (5) and of course my Canadian naval friend who continues to have multiple side effects from years of medication related to an injury sustained from a mistake by a US naval vessel. // I lost one friend this year and three more are hanging on... none of these are COVID related. Lita and I are very thankful -we each have our maladies but are able to fight each other daily so life must be o.k. for us.

News Items of the Week


1. CR Financial Woes: A good article summarizing the current situation. Personally, I think this year will be the year the government will not be able to kick this problem down the road any longer... they have to deal with it... but after Christmas at the beach... I believe there was a big colon devaluation in 1988... a significant event and it was an overnight implementation... I remember reading reference to this a week or so ago... might it happen again? fortunately, I do not hold much in colones but it will make US dollar denominated debt really difficult to repay.

2. COVID Vaccine priorities: There you have it.

3. Public Schools: CR is proud of its educational system... and without any real proof to back up the pride. I am not a fan and do not buy into the government BS. In my assessment, the public school system and many (perhaps not all) of the teachers are woefully derelict, students are short changed for today's work. Only the private school system, which is expensive -$600+ mo per child provides a decent education... those going through the public system are barely able to read, write, and do basic math, virtually no world history, geography, computer skills, thinking ability... I am really disgusted when I read / hear / see / experience the reality.

1. Costa Rica’s dire financial situation

Two years after passing a controversial fiscal-reform project, Costa Rica remains on tenuous financial grounds.

At an individual level, the pandemic and related measures have exacerbated unemployment. Nearly half of Costa Rican workers are unemployed or underemployed, representing tens of thousands more people in that situation compared to 2019.

At a national level, Costa Rica has the third-highest public debt in Latin America, according to a new report from the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL).

Public debt — the amount of money a government owes to outside debtors — reached 66.2% of Costa Rica’s GDP, trailing only Argentina and Brazil in the region.

Consequently, the government is spending more on interest payments. According to CEPAL, the amount Costa Rica allocates for interest grew more than for any other Latin American country over the last year.

As a result, Costa Rica has turned to outside financial institutions for loans, which the government says would allow it to renegotiate debts, spend less on interest payments and invest in social programs.

The International Development Bank (IDB) has approved a $250 million loan, but the decision by legislators not to approve the financing before their end-of-year vacation means the country will almost certainly lose access to this money.

Another source of financing is from the International Monetary Fund. In January, Costa Rica will begin negotiations for a $1.75 billion loan over three years from the IMF.

This, too, faces significant internal opposition; earlier this year, Costa Ricans across the country protested the potential IMF deal, because the government had planned to raise some taxes to pay back the loan.

Costa Rica’s new IMF proposal includes fiscal consolidation worth 3.0% of GDP, of which 0.8% would come from new taxes.

The Costa Rican Presidency argues that even if the country can reduce spending, outside financing is necessary.

“In the 1980s, we already experienced a crisis born from debt problems,” a video produced by the government said. It referenced the skyrocketing inflation, devaluation of the colón and poverty that characterized that period in Costa Rica.

But even if Costa Rica does obtain IMF financing, experts say the country will face ongoing debt challenges.

According to U.S.-based Fitch Ratings, the IMF loan “could serve as a policy anchor to support fiscal consolidation and free some additional multilateral funding at lower borrowing costs.” However, without additional measures, it “might prove insufficient to stabilize central government debt.”

“We forecast interest payments will reach 38% of central government revenues in 2020, or 21.4% of general government revenues,” Fitch Ratings says.

As the Legislative Assembly adjourns — delaying most new legislation until the new year — Costa Rica will end 2020 with critical financial decisions unresolved.

2. Who gets the coronavirus vaccine first?

Costa Rican health authorities on Wednesday provided a roadmap detailing which populations will receive the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

The National Commission of Vaccination and Epidemiology, part of the Health Ministry, indicated the priority will be as follows:

  • Staff and residents at retirement or nursing homes.
  • First responders, including health personnel.
  • Costa Rica’s older population, defined here as those ages 58 and up.
  • People with risk factors, including hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory illness, kidney disease and obesity, among others.
  • Teachers and other staff within the Education Ministry (MEP).
  • Imprisoned people and judicial staff.
  • Workers for the 911 service.
  • Health science students and related technicians in clinical fields.
  • People ages 40-57 without any of the aforementioned risk factors but whose work puts them in contact with others. This includes laborers in agriculture, constructionservice industries, etc.

The Health Ministry on Tuesday authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in Costa Rica. However, there is still no date for the arrival in Costa Rica of the first doses of the drug.

“Tentatively, the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 in our country would be carried out in the first quarter of 2021,” the Health Ministry said.

Costa Rica and Pfizer-BioNTech have an agreement for 3 million doses of the vaccine, enough for 1.5 million people. The Central American country also has a deal with AstraZeneca and is a member of the COVAX facility.

3. Costa Rica will resume in-person learning in 2021

The Public Education Ministry (MEP) announced this week that Costa Rica will resume in-person learning in 2021 using a blended model. Public schools will return to classes on February 8, and private learning centers may begin in January.

While MEP is promoting a blended learning model — where students attend in-person on certain days — each institution can create its own plan, as long as it follows the national guidelines.

Masks will be mandatory for teaching and administrative staff, as well as for students. Schools must limit daily in-person attendance to ensure appropriate physical distancing between students.

In most cases, students will alternate days attending class in-person and learning online. However, each school will determine its own policy and communicate it to parents. Students without reliable internet access should be prioritized for in-person learning.

Finally, schools must differentiate arrival, exit and recess times for different grades to help prevent large crowds.

MEP says it will continue distributing food packages to students who rely on schools for their dietary needs.

In-person learning has been suspended since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. In August, authorities announced that Costa Rica wouldn’t resume in-person learning in 2020.

Struggles to adopt distance learning

The Education Ministry has detailed difficulties in the country’s transition to distance learning in 2020.

In March, more than 1 million Costa Rican students were provided with an institutional email account in order to facilitate distance learning. As of late August, just 590,136 had completed account activation in order to use the online platform.

Additionally, data provided by school directors indicate 35% of students’ homes don’t have an internet connection.

Costa Rica is advancing with plans to install broadband internet in every public school by the end of 2021. The first-of-its-kind strategy would especially benefit rural communities that otherwise don’t have reliable connectivity.

In addition to online resources, MEP broadcast educational materials via public television and radio.

UNESCO and ECLAC have warned that the coronavirus pandemic would exacerbate gaps in terms of educational access, equity and quality across the region.

Previous reports