Poco y Poco; Employee Orientation

ISSUE #189: May 19-24, 2008



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.


Webdesign: Work is still on-going. We now have a new search feature. Anyone wanting information on specific topics can enter key words and our search engine will identify web pages with the content sought for.

Sales: We made one additional sale this week to a Nicaraguan couple intending on moving their place of business to Costa Rica. We have asked the architect to make several design modifications to buildings 14 and 18 and to two units in the Maya Tower. We are awaiting his results before the conversations on those units can advance. We have three other conversations on-going which might also result in sales.

Fill: We continue to add fill primarily to the social area in Phase 2 and to where buildings 13 and 14. The plan is to level these off at the highest level. We expect to build a retaining wall to demark this level from that of a parking level.  The net effect will be that cars will not be visible. Next week, additional fill will be added to roadway which will provide access to the blackwater treament plan and mtnc. area. Fill costs from $10-$14 per load.  


Office Building: We continue to wait for the permit.

El Dordaro Site Plan

Click here to view high resolution site plan:


Fence: The parging of block walls continues. Another week and the west side should be finished.

Use of the Well Water: Getting the D1 didn't happen this week but we are assured it should happen by the middle of next week. We'll see. That puts us a bit behind the time line listed below. I'm not surprised by this and will be satisfied if it happens this week.

As per what I was told the D1 will be ready this coming week. (This would be the week of May 19)

As for the MINAE concession, we are looking at about 4-6 weeks, instead of an average of 6 months.

If this comes to pass, it is the best news I've heard in a long time. However, we must remember that this is CR and construction so while I am cautiously optimistic, I'm not yet dancing in the street.

Employee Orientation:  It occurred to me when interviewing last week's worker, that neither he nor the others had any idea of what the overall plan was....i.e. they didn't know what the vision was, what they were participating in.  For them, moving dirt from here to there, placing another block on a wall was the extent of their understanding of what they were participating in. This week we held a one hour orientation and information session for all employees. We went over the site plan with them, the common / social areas, we walked the land and showed them what building would be in each location. There was opportunity for humor and a few jokes which everyone seemed to enjoy.  Will it make a significant difference in their lives?  Probably not since each block still has to be placed and each bag of concrete mixed but in the overall scheme of things, it was the right thing to do.


Website Upgrade / Marketing: Photos of  Residencias Los Jardines, the Santa Ana area and some of the houses are now available on line at https://picasaweb.google.com/gardenresidencesresort. 

Bulletin Board Postings: The posting on the GalloPinto  bulletin board goes smoothly. The posting on Costa Rica Living will be modified:  the format is not supported so it comes out as a jumbled mess and the owner feels it is now too large and not really consistent with the intent of the exchange. For those people following it, I'll post a  modified note and link people to the full update. 

Sale of Units 124 / 125:  Paperwork is progressing;  a closing date for each has now been set.

Units for Sale/Lease:

Unit 114 - For Sale

Total Area (Sq Ft):1290

Total area (Sq M):120



Floor(s):Single Floor

Type: Attached


This 1,290 sf. (plus covered parking for one car and two lockers 67 sf.) single story, semi detached house, with garden terrace, two bedrooms is a beautiful executive style home. This home consists of two large bedrooms one with six piece en-suite bathroom with additional access to separate full shower. Each bedroom has large closets with extensive built-ins for personal organization. The vaulted living room and bathroom ceilings provide a feeling of grandeur while allowing the warmer air to rise and exit through the ceiling ventilating system. There are four TVs (one in each bedroom, one in the living room and one in breakfast / dinning room.) This is a beautiful well appointed home.

Read More

Unit 124 - For Rent

Total Area (Sq Ft):662

Total area (Sq M):61



Floor(s):2nd Floor



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.

Unit #103 - For Sale/Leased

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1000

Total area (Sq M): 93

Bedrooms: 2

Bathrooms: 2

Floor(s): 1

Type: Detached

Furnished: Yes

This 1,000 sq ft., (plus parking for one car) detached, single story fully furnished home, which features two bedrooms, two bathrooms (one is en-suite), living room, dining and kitchen area and a private backyard terrace. The vaulted, insulated ceilings in the living room and master bedroom offer fresh air and cool temperatures all the time.

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Unit #109 - Leased

Unit #107 - For Sale

Total Area (Sq Ft):1716

Total area (Sq M):158



Floor(s):2 Story



This 1,716 sf. (plus parking for one car) two story, detached house, with three terraces, two bedrooms (one on each floor) and upstairs master suite is a beautiful home. This home consists of two VERY large bedrooms (one on each floor) with en-suite bathrooms and a powder room, each with large closets with extensive built-ins for personal organization. The vaulted living room and ground floor bedroom ceilings as well as the master bedroom on the 2nd floor, provide a feeling of grandeur while allowing the warmer air to rise and exit through the ceiling ventilating system. There are three TVs (one in each bedroom and one in the living room.) This is a beautiful home. There is a rough-in for a dishwasher in the kitchen area.

Read More

Unit #120 - Available for Rent

Total Area (Sq Ft):1312

Total area (Sq M):122



Floor(s):1 Story



This 1,312 sf single floor home includes a 300 sf front terrace plus parking for one car. It is an end unit and therefore attached on only one side providing ample lighting and views. The 6 inch cement demising (common) wall prevents sound transfer. This is a very nicely furnished and accented home.

Read More 

The Guard Dog: We still have Mac. The home we thought we had just acquired a dog. This is not an emergency so we will continue to work on placing him.



Whether you're planning to settle in Santa Ana, Costa Rica for the long term or simply looking for a safe place to exchange a few dollars, an important decision you will need to make is "What Bank Should I Use?" Costa Rica offers a wide range of banking and financial services catering to personal as well as business banking. Recent government reforms and the introduction of private banking have also made Costa Rica an attractive choice for investing.

Costa Rica's banking system consists of the central bank; three state-owned banks, which account for nearly half of total banking assets; a state-owned mortgage bank; 18 commercial banks; four mutual house-building companies; 12 private finance companies; and 27 savings and loans cooperatives. In addition, there are 30 investment and retirement funds or trusts run by both state and private commercial banks and the state insurance company.

The Central Bank of Costa Rica is in charge of establishing banking policy. It is then up to the SUGEF (the General Supervisory Agency of Finance) to enforce compliance with Central Bank policies. All banks (both public and private) are subject to the policies dictated by the Banco Central de Costa Rica.

When choosing a bank, take into consideration both personal convenience and what fees the bank charges. Get information on the types of accounts available and their associated fees from several banks. Internet services offered by both state run and private banks have improved in leaps and bounds over the past couple of years.

Most banks in Costa Rica now offer savings and checking accounts in Dollars and Colones. Banks do differ, however, on the amount of time it takes to cash foreign checks and the availability of ATMS. It is also very important to note that while interest is much higher on colón accounts, there is a monthly devaluation of the colón to the dollar, so you might not be earning as much as you expect. Many also offer Credit or Debit cards, if you meet the requirements (but not all are internationally accepted). All banks will also have different requirements for opening accounts or obtaining credit cards, possibly including banking or personal references, identification, and most likely minimum deposits. Opening hours for most banks are from 9 am to 3 pm.

State run banks are backed by the Costa Rican government and are therefore usually considered safer. They are also located in practically every town in Costa Rica. On the down side, long lines are frequent and bilingual staff is not always available (especially outside the central valley).

Private banks usually offer quicker and more personalized service, shorter lines and English speaking staff. However, they may have fewer branches available outside of the central valley. The great majority of private banks are connected with banks outside the country so that transfers can be done relatively quickly.

Banco Nacional and Banco de Costa Rica have had their branches open in downtown Santa Ana for years if not decades. In the new rapidly growing part of Santa Ana -- also referred to as Lindora -- however, many private banks have established their branches to get closer to some of the most affluent clientele in Costa Rica. The following banks have opened their branches in Lindora in the past three years.


Scotiabank offers a wide range of personal, commercial and retail, corporate, and trade finance services. With 13 branches across the country, and 1 more to be added to the network by the end of 2003, Scotiabank offers an extensive range of retail and commercial banking services.




Lafise´s growth has allowed it to expand its presence to 10 countries including all the countries of the Central American region, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico and the United States. Among the financial services it offers are brokerage services, banking, foreign exchange and corporate finance. In some countries, it also provides insurance and warehousing services.



Banco de Costa Rica

With branches throughout the country, Banco de Costa Rica is considered the most profitable and probably best-run state commercial bank.



Banco Cuscatlan

Corporation UBC International is the holding company that owns the Cuscatlan Groups in the region. This Group has duly regulated operations in El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama and the United States of America, by means of family remittances. Corporate shareholders include partners such as the International Finance Corporation, IFC, in addition to the Central American partners of the most prestigious business groups of the region.



Banco San José

The bank is part of the BAC Credomatic Network, comprised of eight banks in Central America, the Caribbean, and Panama, and Credomatic, the largest credit and debit card issuer and processor in the region. BAC Credomatic Network is the financial branch of Pellas' Group, a corporation with over 125 years of history.






Harley Salazar Vargas

Harley is one of our younger workers age 31, single, uncommitted, and one of the few Costa Ricans on the site. This is his first construction job. He started some three months ago after he had been recommended by his uncle, another employee of ours.

Harley worked various jobs prior to starting with us. Among others, he worked for as a sales person for the department store Ekono in Santa Ana and for a small clothing boutique in San Jose downtown. After adding up his base salary and commissions, he ended up earning approximately the same amount as he now earns with us.

However, some important differences between his previous jobs should be pointed out. His job in San Jose required him to work Monday thru Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and a slightly shorter shift on Sundays. His employer did not pay him the mandatory insurance nor did he take care of social welfare benefits to which Harley was entitled. Only after Harley left the job, the Labor Ministry helped him get compensated through a standard administrative recourse to which Costa Rican citizens can resort in order to get their employers comply with national labor legislation. Considering that Harley lives some 125 meters away from the site of Hacienda El Dorado, he seems to be overall happy with his current job – a stable salary, insurance and benefits assured, close to home. He decided to try it out to get a new experience. He says he likes it except that it is not "as clean a job as is selling women's and men's clothes in a department store," he says.

Harley has three kids – a 6 yr old, a 2 months old and the third one still on the way – with three different girlfriends that he had met through friends and at local parties. Only one of them currently works so his salary needs to also help support them and the children. He likes to keep on meeting and dating other girls too...

The highlight of the year for Harley seems to be the holiday season – Christmas and the New Year's celebrations when the extended family of some thirty relatives tend to reunite around bottles of Costa Rican guaro, beer, roasted meat, vegetable salad, rice and chicken, tamales and a lot of fun!


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

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

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

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

May 23, 2008
Record Birthrate of Leatherback Turtles in Costa Rica: WWF
SAN JOSE (AFP) — Nearly 900 endangered leatherback turtles were born at the Junquillal beach on Costa Rica's Pacific coastline in recent months thanks to community workers that scare off poachers and protect the eggs, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature said Thursday.

May 23, 2008
Costa Rica Cenbank Intervenes as Currency Slides
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, May 23 (Reuters) - The end of the tourism season and a seasonal drop in trade has caused a shortage of dollars in Costa Rican markets and sent the local colon currency plummeting to a new life low this week.

May 22, 2008
Doctors Tell Costa Rican Leader to Rest Voice
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — Doctors have ordered Costa Rican President Oscar Arias not to talk for a month due to a cyst on his vocal cords, his office said Wednesday.

May 19, 2008
Britney Spears Relaxes on the Beach in Costa Rica
(NOW) Britney Spears has been snapped enjoying the sun in Costa Rica.

May 19, 2008
Costa Rica Demands Fairer Trade Deal with EU
(The Tico Times) Costa Rica lobbied European authorities for greater access to the EU market this weekend at a summit in Peru for heads of state from Latin America, Europe and the Caribbean.


Weather: The rainy season has arrived. Usually sunny in the mornings with clouding in the early afternoons followed by several hours of rain. It's a wonderful change and a wonderful time of the year. The plants are happy, no dust, and very little breeze. 

A generally quiet week with normal happenings.   

Note: We still have a couple rentals but may fill those today (Saturday). I did a little historical reconciliation and determined that in the past 2 ½ months, we've placed 9 rentals and two house sales. This is an unusual amount of activity for us; we had several tenants move and we had a number of "snowbirds" return to their principal homes all at the same time. In a time when CRs economy is feeling the N. Am. economic illness, I think we've done quite well.   

The Time Out Tavern in Escazu continues to delight with it's fish and chips. They've cut back on the size of the portions (still adequate)  but not the quality. Still DELISCIOUS and C3,800 still an acceptable price. The other features on Friday nights are also good—salmon with mushrooms and risotto and a spicy Asian shrimp and vegetable dish over rice. 

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