Trip Woes..... & Observations

ISSUE #233: March 23-28, 2009


Trip Woes..... & Observations


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.

Brian C. Timmons, Author
Residencias Los Jardines/Hacienda El Dorado - Developer


Purchaser Survey: Of the 40 units responding, one is prepared to proceed as per the original schedule, 31 want to defer, and 8 want to resell. Of the 10 units not responding, we feel about four want to defer, three will want to re-sell and  the others we don't know. Virtually all the purchasers who want to resell, are clients of one RE agent.  It may be that some of those wanting to resell will opt for continuing if their situation is different when construction begins.


Site Plan Drawings: All plans have now been submitted to the Colegio of Architects and Engineers.

Water: We understand that the letter is written and awaiting signature.....  Who knows.....


Accounting & Reporting System: No sooner than we had started to use it, we found gliches.  No surprise.

Rentals: Unit 116 is leased.  In the end, several people wanted it.  The party who put the security deposit down is the party who got it.  In the past, I wanted to believe people when they say, "I want it; I'll deposit the money ????? and it sometimes didn't happen. 

We will have Unit 113 on the market mid month;  the floor plan is similar to 116.  It is being furnished this week.  We have also been asked to take over the management of unit 106D which is a one / 2 bedrm unit with a large front terrace.  This unit needs some work done to it and will be on the market around May 1 at probably around $1,100 mo.

Sales: We continue to have viewers but no offers. The units are leased bringing the owners a nice return so they are  not inclined to become desperate sellers. Reasonable, yes, desperate, no.

Changes:  Three units are turning over -- snowbirds returning, one returns to work, and new people moving in.

Units for Sale/Lease:

Residencia Los Jardines Site Plan

Unit #107 - For Sale/ REDUCED PRICE $239,000 / Leased for $1,650 mo. to Jan. 2010.--OWNER FINANCING AVAILABLE

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1716
Total area (Sq M): 158
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2.5
Floor(s): 2 Story
Type: Detached
Furnished: Yes
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 - For Sale--$185K /Leased  at $1,450mo.

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.

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Unit #108 --For Sale-$245,000; Leased at $1,600 mo. to March '10

Total Area (Sq Ft):1716
Total area (Sq M):158
Floor(s):2 Story

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

This home consists of two VERY large bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms (one on each floor) and a powder room each with 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.

Read More

Unit #109 --For Sale $214,900 -  FURNISHED (Leased until August 1, 2009 - $1,550 pr month)

Total Area (Sq Ft):1506
Total area (Sq M):140
Floor(s):1 Story

This single story home (1506 sf. + parking for one car) is detached, has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, home office, living room wall / entertainment center along with a built in office and a semi-private terrace. In addition, it has a vaulted ceiling in the “great” room and two skylights. The covered entrance way is suitable for two chairs located next to a covered garden area. Once through the impressive front door, you enter the “great room” which houses the kitchen, dining room, office and living room. Upon entering, there is a built in wooden hutch surfaced with granite—it matches all the built-in furniture in the great room. There is a clothes washer and dryer off the 2nd bedroom. It may also be used for storage.

Read More


March 28, 2009
Vice President Joe Biden meets with leaders from South and Central America
(The Miami Herald) SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- In what some analysts see as a nod by the Barack Obama administration to this small nation's tradition of stable democracy and moderate politics, Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with Central American leaders at a two-day gathering here that begins Sunday.

March 28, 2009
UN expert urges Costa Rica to improve water safety
SAN JOSE, March 27 (Xinhua) -- A UN expert on Friday urged the Costa Rica government to take measures to improve water safety, saying the country is facing a great risk by the current management of waste water.

March 28, 2009
Jessica Umaña Crowned Miss Costa Rica 2009
(Inside Costa Rica) Jessica Umaña has been chosen as Miss Costa Rica 2009 and is now Costa Rica's ambassador of beauty. Jessica was crowned amid a spectacular show at the Nacional del Museo de los Niños auditorium in San Jose.

March 28, 2009
Arias Urges Mexican Businessmen To Invest in Costa Rica
(Inside Costa Rica) On his second day of his official visit to Mexico, Costa Rican president, Oscar Arias, made a call to Mexican businessmen to take a look at what Costa Rica has to offer, to consider Costa Rica as part of their investments.

March 28, 2009
$15 Air Tax Replaces 3% Hotel Room Tax
(Inside Costa Rica) Visitors to Costa Rica who have already bought their airfare will have to pay the us$15 tourism tax in addition to the ticket, according to Ley 8694 - Fortalecimiento del Desarrollo de la Industria Turística Nacional, which was published yesterday (Friday) in La Gaceta.

March 28, 2009
Hotmail Blocks Racsa Emails
(Inside Costa Rica) Emails from any Radiográfica Costarricense S. A. (Racsa) account to hotmail did not get through to their destination this week, as blocked all emails from a email.

March 27, 2009
Semana Santa Cool To Tourism
(Inside Costa Rica) Semana Santa is not warning up at all, for hotel and resorts owners, that is. The current economic crisis is being blamed for the low interest of Ticos to head for the beaches and mountains, preferring to stay home for Semana Santa.

March 27, 2009
Santamaria Temporarily Closed For Biden Refueling Stop
(Inside Costa Rica) The Juan Santamaria (San Jose) international airport was temporarily shut down for about 20 minutes yesterday afternoon when Air Force Two touched down for a refueling stop. The airplane is enroute to Chile where US Vice-President, Joe Biden, will be making an official visit in that country.

March 27, 2009
Commando Group Steals 320Kg Of Confiscated Drugs in Golfito
(Inside Costa Rica) It was a the first time in the history of Costa Rica that in a commando style attack, a heavily armed and organized group, overtook two officers of the Fuerza Pública and took the 320 kilos of cocaine stored in the offices of the Fiscalía de Golfito in the Ministerio Public building of the area.

March 26, 2009
Costa Rica to say lights out for Earth Hour
(The Tico Times) On Saturday night, San José will be one of almost 2,500 cities worldwide turning off their lights from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. for Earth Hour. Festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. in Plaza de la Democracia, featuring a concert by candlelight and acoustic performances throughout the night.

March 26, 2009
Biden Travels South
(Federal City Digest/Washington Post) Vice President Biden, taking Air Force Two for another workout, left Washington yesterday with his wife, Jill, for a short trip to Costa Rica and Chile. He will consult with Latin American leaders on the Summit of the Americas, scheduled for mid-April in Trinidad and Tobago.


Weather: Winds and weather have been normal. Beautiful.

Thefts: Jan:  visited a friend in Rivas, Nicaragua. While out for dinner, his computer and camera were stolen. Fortunately, we had a purchaser at El Dorado arriving in a few days. Jan asked him to buy him another computer in Canada (at a fraction cost of what it would cost in Costa Rica). He hadn't backed up his computer for 4 months so now has a lot of work to re-create. On the good side, all documentation for Los Jardines and El Dorado has been recovered from his back-up hard drive...

Los Jardines:  We had a garden hose and a resident's set of golf clubs stolen from the trunk of his car.  This is disconcerting. 

Trip Woes.....cont.  (Note:  it's possible that some people didn't receive last week's newsletter with the story titled: "The Trip From H....."  A long time follower of my newsletter found it in his Gmail spam folder. Since this was the first time it had happened, he speculated that the the 4 letter H word put it there.....He's probably right...)

Background:  At last writing, we were stranded in Uvita, 5 hr. drive  from San Jose.  The mechanic was waiting for the part to arrive from San Jose and expecting to return on Tuesday.  We were staying in an expensive being the only one in the area which had Internet, pool, restaurant, and AC...... 

At 10am on Monday, we get a call from the mechanic--the car is ready.  He picks us up.  I check--no gas leaking.  I ask him about the part, etc......  Sorry, no part in CR---it has to come from the States, 1 month and $350.  He fashioned a part--guaranteed to be good as new.  A $100 later, we're off with apprehension....  Sure enough, 30 mi. down the road, and about 10 kl. on the Cartago side of San Isidro the car falters, I have a nano second to decide and I pulled onto flat ground and off the road.  No phone signal in that area.  I walk up the hill and get a faltering phone signal.  At this point, returning us and the car to Santa Ana was the goal.  I contact Lourdes and the support staff at Los Jardines and explain the problem--none of them knew where San Isidro was but did recognize "Cartago".  They arranged for a tilt truck from Cartago (a 3 hr. drive from where we were stranded);  it arrives at 4pm; loads us on, and we returned to Santa Ana at 8:30 and $350 later after a harrowing ride through a fogged in mountain pass.  

The next day, we order a part from E-bay--$75.  It's shipped the same day to our forwarding service in Florida and should be here next week.

Observations:  I took this route because I hadn't been in this area for 2-5 years and wanted to see what changes had occurred:

Jaco:  The town has changed considerably in the past two years.  From a chaotic beach town to a mature town with substantial buildings and civic works projects.  Lots of new mid rise buildings with the exteriors finished and several stalled projects in their gray work stage.  At night, however, even many of the buildings which look finished from the outside, have no lights on. 

WE stayed at: VISTA PACIFICO....(2-643-32-61 or a small hotel situated on a knoll just outside the downtown core Jaco.  Beautiful view and Greg and Jan are wonderful hosts.  They do a great job--nice people, clean and well thought out rooms, pool, breakfast.......  around $65 for Lita and I.

The road from Quepos to Dominical  has always been a weak link in the coastal highway system.  It still is but it is improving.  The first half of this 25 kl. long road is under active construction. A new road base, raised, and compacted is shaping up.  Some new bridges are finished, some under construction, some drainage culverts substantially finished, some bridges and culverts yet to be started.  The last half is original, really rough with large river stones as a base, narrow, etc.  At the rate construction is moving, it'll be another 18 mo. to 2 years before this section is completed. When completed, this will be the route to take from Panama to San Jose via the new Caldera highway.

Hotels in Dominical / Uvita:  A number in the $80 - $100 a night range but most of them lack one or  more of the following--pool, Internet, TV, restaurant, AC.  Some were attractively done, some adequately maintained, a number up long and very, very rough access roads, some right next to the road.  We ended up at HOTEL CUNA DEL ANGEL at $200 a night (included a great breakfast).  The hotel was nice, small view of the ocean, good food at the restaurant and some of it was reasonably priced.  The hotel was located right next to the highway so the trucks with the jake brakes were a constant background presence.  The bed was good but the pillow was terrible. To get into the bed, you had to climb from the foot to the head because there was only a 6" space on either side.  They had two DVD players and some VERY old DVDs but it didn't make any difference, neither DVD player worked.  The grounds were o.k. but not being maintained very well during the dry season. Sunday night (our arrival night) there was a special dinner ($60 per person);  we could have that or go hungry--we went hungry.....  They had wireless Internet in the rooms and in some of the common areas--it worked most of the time. Phone signal was spotty.  

Caldera Highway: From San Jose to the turn off near Ciudad Colon it is wall to wall men and equipment working 24 / 7.  From Orotina on about 10 kl. towards Jaco it is also wall to wall people and equipment.  What is going on in between, the turnoff and Orotina, I don't know but if it is the same, this is a remarkable, in fact, amazing effort.

Los Jardines:  This trip has again impressed on me that our location continues to be superior to other places I've seen and we have done many things right and thought through a lot of issues that others haven't.  We're not perfect but we're a lot further along the continuum, price not withstanding, than many other places.  We continue to tweek what we have and how we do things but Los Jardines continues to be heads and shoulders above any other place I'm aware of. 

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

Brian C. Timmons, Newsletter Author
Residencias Los Jardines/Hacienda El Dorado - Developer

For inquiries about availability of residences at Hacienda El Dorado or Residencias Los Jardines, contact:

Jan Kozak, Marketing Manager

Hacienda El Dorado
Rio Oro, Santa Ana
Costa Rica

Skype: jan.kozak.jr

Tel (US) (+1) 647-477-5825
Cell: (+506) 8345 8018

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