Coq au Vin and Driving

ISSUE #191: June 2-7, 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: We've gained more direct control over our ability to update items and Jan has added CR content to the links section. We have a ways to go before we are finished with this but we've started.

Sales: We are still working on the same set as the previous two weeks.  Delays are mainly due to getting information.

Trees: The scrub tree cutting and clean-up is mostly completed. MINEA will be called to inspect.

Gaviones: We've started building and installing these along  the back of what will be buildings 14-17.


Office Building: We continue to wait for the permit.

Cost Increases: The price of rebar increased two weeks ago by 15%. This affects our bottom line as we use a lot of it. These are the very real pressures we are under to build sooner rather than later and our motivator to move ahead. As we've seen with the D1 for the well water, movement is sometimes very difficult and problematic.

Fence: We continue to plug away at it--parging the finished structure and adding height to the remaining parts. Once the block fence is finished, the balance of fencing will be cyclone style (ie. chain link) and it will go much faster. We'll landscape it out of sight and to enhance the security--if anyone has tried to crawl through a thicket of bamboo, you know what I mean by "security".  

Screening Out the Squatters
The Perimeter Wall


Use of the Well Water: Another week gone and no D1. We get various stories--that all the staff are in Guancaste reviewing the mess they've allowed happen there, that Thursday was Environment Day so no one worked, who knows why things don't happen in CR--one just has to get plugging away at it.  There is no magic elixir just patience, persistence, and sweet oil.

Note: There isn't much that happens in CR that is not a struggle. Any schedule you set you should probably double it and add 20%.

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.


Sales: Paperwork is progressing on 124 / 125. This has become an exceedlingly tedious and frustrating effort;  one of the owners is very distracted with personal issues. We also have an offer on 103 and on 114. We might be receiving an offer on 107 next week. We'll see what happens.

Title Protection: In CR, there appears to be a major weakness in securing title and makikng sure it stays in the name in which it is registered.  In a country where there are more lawyers than taxi drivers (so I'm told) there a bound to be a few bad, ie. unscrupulous, characters. All that seems necessary is for one of these lawyers, who's a notary ( higher, more trustworthy character, to swear before the officals of the National Registry, that the documents he / she presents represents the will of the registered owner, and almost bingo, the title starts being transferred without the registered owner knowing anything  about it. When the land is then "sold" to an "innocent third party" and the original owner who's been swindled finds out and sues to get it back, , the courts have pretty consistently held that the "innocent third party" is now the rightful owner. While this scenario doesn't happen very often, it has happened and can happen and has been reported several times in literature I read. Admittedly, this is more likely to happen when the property is owned by people not in CR and not actively inhabited, it could happen. A year or so ago, a company was started which monitors titles in the National Registry's data base. When activity is detected, the owner is immediately notified.  We bought this service for Doneste, S. A. and Residencias Los Jardines. It is an inexpensive Excedrin for a potential problem. 

Units for Sale/Lease:

Unit 123 - For Rent
Total Area (Sq Ft):662
Total area (Sq M):61
Floor(s):2nd Floor


This two story, detached 1,423 sf home + parking for one car has two bedrooms, 2 ½ bathrooms and a 2nd floor covered terrace.
The open railed wrought iron cement stair case leads to the 2nd level where the master bedroom with en-suite master bathroom as well as 2nd bedroom and en-suite bathroom are located. Also accessed from the 2nd floor hallway is the covered terrace.

This is a very nicely furnished home with a good floor plan for those wanting two floors.

Read More

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.

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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.

The image

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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.

The image

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.

The image



From the attractions and amenities of the city, to the rugged beauty of the Central American Wilderness, a true experience awaits. Located just 15 minutes from Juan Santamaria International Airport and 12 minutes from San Jose Downtown, built in a 4500 square meters property, and with a unique type of architecture mixing Art Noveau, Deco, Barroque and some oriental influence, CORTEZA AMARILLA ART LODGE & SPA provides you a tropical atmosphere, surrounded by costarican trees, that blooms through the year and all the magic of well lit and exotic gardens.


The Rooms

junior suites  master suites  master suites

junior suites  master suites

The Cuisine

restaurant      restaurant

restaurant      restaurant

restaurant      restaurant

restaurant      restaurant

Phone: 2203-7503 - Fax: 2282-6641




Gabriel is 19 years old, a Costa Rican from Lindora in Santa Ana, comes from a family of five, has a 9 year old brother still in the primary school and a 23 year old sister. As is the tradition in many Costa Rican households, his mother takes care of the home while his dad is a foreman at a construction site in Quepos on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Gabriel and his dad are the two men that provide the financial income to support the family.

Gabriel dropped out of the first grade of high school at the age of 14. Despite that, he managed to complete a general course in computing at the age of 16 and another course on macros and Excel at the age of 17. These two courses gave him a competitive advantage over some of his peers and was able to secure an office job with a construction company in Escazu, where he dealt with suppliers, monitored internal budgets and invoicing. Unfortunately, that construction company went bankrupt last November and everyone working there was fired. He ended up working with us thanks to his uncle Sylias, our foreman. Gabriel is now our warehouse manager and continues to learn to assume more responsibilities in our construction site office in the near future. His objectives for the immediate future are to learn as much as possible every day... In the medium run, he hopes to be able to take up more courses in computing and learn English. In the long run, he looks forward to establishing his own family.

His older sister has a disabled son who suffered from cerebral paralysis at a very early age and she recently gave birth to another baby. Occasionally, she succeeds to secure a night-time job as a waitress in one of the many bars in Santa Ana. She made it through the third grade in high school, does not know much about computers and English is a truly foreign language to her. The employment opportunities for her are minuscule.

His free time, he spends with his friends. Like most Costa Rican guys, he is crazy about football (soccer) and makes sure not to miss an opportunity to play some. 


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


June 06, 2008
First Tropical Storm
(La Nacion) Alma became the first tropical storm of the hurricane season and the first ever to form on the Costa Rican Pacific Ocean.

June 06, 2008
Chinatown in San Jose
(La Nacion) According to a plan promoted by the Municipality of San Jose and the Chinese-Costa Rican Chamber of Industry and Commerce, part of the southern area of the capital city of Costa Rica will be dedicated to Chinese business, food, and culture; in other words, a Chinatown in all senses.

June 06, 2008
Mega-Marina in Limon
(La Nacion) SolerPazos Group, a Costa Rican firm, plans to develop Isla Moin, a project that would harbor 600 condominiums, 100 villas, and over 100 houses, as well as a marina with 100 berths for yachts and mega-yachts and a de-luxe hotel.

June 04, 2008
Relief Reaches 80% of Alma's Worst Victims in Costa Rica
(The Tico Times) Relief workers persevered yesterday, making headway to reach residents of some of Costa Rica's hardest hit communities after Tropical Storm Alma drenched the region last week killing at least four people.

June 04, 2008
Costa Rica Looks to Go Smoke Free
(The Tico Times) The country is one step closer to passing a smoking ban in public places, including bars.

June 04, 2008
Western Union to Double Its Size
(The Tico Times) Western Union deepened its hold in the country yesterday when it announced an expansion of its service sector, effectively doubling the size of its workforce on Costa Rican soil.

June 02, 2008
Living in Costa Rica’s Santa Ana, a San Jose Suburb
(Costa Rica Pages) The best thing that has happened to me in Costa Rica was to start living in Santa Ana. I did not know it so well then, but I had some friends living there and always really liked the place, if only for its warmer and drier climate.


Weather: We had normal weather for this season.

Coq au Vin and Driving: What's the connection? I decided to make coq au vin on Monday--I'd been longing for it for some time. After three stops to purchase the ingredients--nothing extradoairy, I was ready to go. Having to go to numerous places to buy everythiing you want, is not unusual here. I did buy some large, fresh artichokes and did get some nice mushrooms at the right price (for here) from Saretto's in Escazu. Here's the connection: In the process of buying my ingredients, I saw three accidents involving 7 cars--one a three car accordian hit-from-behind, another involving two cars (one a BMW SUV and a small truck) on straight away at the top of a hill, and the third a bus clipped the bumper of an SUV parked right in front of him who probably didn't want to move. The driving capabilities here are continue to astound and confuse me. And I'm not sure why so many drivers feel compelled to honk their horns in an underpass just to hear how macho they are.....The coq au vin was outstanding and fed us and guests for the entire week.....Next time I'll make some changes to Emeril Lagasse's version to better suite my tastes.....

On Friday I wrote the above. Now, Saturday afternoon, I have this post script:

On my way back from grocery shopping with Lita, I got rear ended-----waited 45 min. for the transit autorities to show up and record the accident. I saw it coming in the rearview mirror--traffic was congested due to construction; the idiot behind me was looking to the right and not watching the traffic in front of him (me) and bang ..... I got off with a broken tail light, twisted bumper and pushed in tailgate (I have a Jeep); His piece of junk is now really junk.... Before we left from the Transit cop, I asked how many accidents had he attended today? He said he started at 2 and had attended three--all in 1 hr. 15 min. I asked him how many he usually attends--answer--"during the rain, usually about 10". Before we finished that short conversation, one of the construction works approached him saying there was another accident 100 yards up the road which was a another rear ender. People here just don't know how to drive!

Cycling Accident: While cycling Saturday afternoon, Paul got clipped by a car. I don't know the details other than after a thorough check out at CIMA seems fine other than bumbs, bruises and scrapes. The bike is a total write off but that's o.k. since Paul has vowed not to road cycle again in CR.

Time for Reflection: Earlier this week we were informed by Lita's family that a very good friends of theirs and one we had come to know and like, was, at 52, seriously ill. It seems that he experienced back pain, went to the doctor who diagnosed it as muscle strain. Three days later, our friend was paralyzed from the waist down. An MRI scan showed the problem to be cancer of the spinal cord; he's been given 2-3 weeks to live.

Thursday night we were also shocked to hear that a close family member is again having personal problems. This has shaken us and elevated me to a triple scotch night. The bottom line isn't yet written on this one.

We see, hear and associate with people who are going through struggles in their personal lives and relationships. It's always sad but that's life as we know it. I guess I'm fortunate in that whenever I get out of line, Lita just smacks me a good one and beats me back into line.

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