Always Hiccups

ISSUE #816: June 14-20, 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


rentals & sales

Paradisus Condos / Rohrmoser
Visit our website

Paradisus Condos - click to visit

Each of the units consists of two bedrooms / two bathrooms, and a large living/dining/kitchen area. The floor plan of each of these units has eliminated the optional "den / office" divider. The result is a larger area offering more flexible furniture arrangements while still maintaining the option of including an office area. At 105m2 plus two parking spots each and storage locker, they offer a great opportunity for someone seeking views, security, central location, and first class, all round living...

Semi furnished unit: For sale: $235,000
Fully furnished unit: For sale: $245,000
Floor 12 -west view

12-2 at Paradisus $1,400 mo.
this one has white living room furniture

Market activity
sales & rentals

Sales: Los Jardines: Units #114, #116 and #124


Paradisus: 12-2 at Paradisus $1,400 mo. (white living room furniture)

Los Jardines: Available immediately: #160C $900 mo. / #125 $825 mo.

Residencias Los Jardines
property management, rentals & re-sales

Unit #114: $ 199,000 / See Unit
Unit #116: $ 195,000 $ 189,995 / See Unit
Unit #124: $ 125,000 $ 115,000 / See Unit

Unit #106C: $900 mo. / Available immediately / See Unit
Unit #125: $875 $825 mo. / Available immediately / See Unit

For sale

UNIT #114
$ 199,000

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

This 2 bedroom/2bathroom,1,290 sf single floor end unit home includes a 150 sf front terrace plus parking for one car. This house is fully air conditioned and has recently been professionally decorated by international decorator Alcides Graffe and has undergone a complete renovation—new modern furniture, finishings, window coverings, and art work by Carlos Gambino. It is arguably the nicest furnished unit at Residencias Los Jardines and only steps from the pool

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 #106C
$900 mo.
Available immediately

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1250
Total area (Sq M): 120
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Floor(s): 1 Floor
Type: 4-plex
Furnished: Yes

This is a fully furnished 2-bedroom unit situated in a 2-story building, which has two units on the ground floor and two units on the 2nd. floor. Each unit is the same size (1,250sf) divided into 800 sf of interior space and 450 sf of covered front and back terraces. Units 106A and B are on the ground floor; Units 106 C and D are on the 2nd. Floor. The solid masonry demising wall (common wall) as well as the 5” concrete slab prevent sound transference.

UNIT #125
$ 875 $825 mo.
Available immediately

Total Area (Sq Ft): 662
Total area (Sq M): 60
Bedrooms: 1
Bathrooms: 1
Floor(s): 2nd Floor
Type: Semi-Detached
Furnished: Yes

This 662 sf, (62M2)+ parking for one car and 33sf locker is a one bedroom home on the 2nd floor overlooking the large pool. It is ideal for a single person or couple—or investment property.

Our Lives

What Happened This Week

Weather: Enough rain to keep all happy... garden is looking great. Over the past several weeks, we have experienced a series of low pressures resulting in lots of rain... more in parts of the country other than the Central Valley but even here we have seen lots of overcast days.


A Little More Progress:

1. Rentals: One viewer but he decided to stay in Escazu... too bad...

2. Repossession: It happened; we are cleaning it up and getting ready to market it...

3. Pool Work: Faux rock painting is done... it was what we wanted... Tiling progresses... another week at least... then some mtnc on the pool itself before it is returned to use.

4. Slippery walkway tile: We have a verbal quote and it looks to be 1/2 the price of replacing the tiles... so we will go with that... hope it works out. Don't have a schedule yet.

5. BS!!!! #1: My friend got clearance on virtually everything... but with a lot of hassle, a month's anguish, and a couple thousand dollars in lost materials... all charges were dropped. All BS!!! He is now going on the offensive... probalby less than I would position is that when you have all your documents lined up, the best defense is a good offense so the next guy knows not to screw around with you!!!!!!!

6. Foreclosure (last week): We complained about th wait, were told it was normal and would be dealt with first week in June. It was not. When we inquired we were told the court was 8 months behind. And this week we received notie that it would be dealth with last week... they really don't have their act together... we have not seen any results ...will follow up again next week... total BS as well...

7. Website: It went off line this week because I did not re-new my domain name... well, I had, but for some reason it did not get transferred to the new manager... why? I may have screwed up... the current mgr may be making the transfer difficult? I do not know for sure at this point in time... at the time of writing, it is still down but I anticipate it will be brought back... spent all yesterday working with Maria in Argentina to help sort this out... completely wasted day... for both of us...

8. Back to Lock Downs: As the news stories below indicate, cases of Covid have increased and the country is reversing course and/or deferring further relaxations... no one is happy, borders will continue to be closed it is expected beyond their now scheduled opening... there is no foreign tourism, local tourism is limited, more reason for the government offices to work slower than normal... the colon is still being supported -the exchange rate is being maintained; government gets deeper and deeper into debt with no revenue coming in; some fear bank failures or closurs or outright confiscation of funds so trust is eroding; offical unemployment is around 16% and unofficially much higher I suspect / northern border area with Nicaragua and two low income barrios in San Jose have seen increases in Covid cases -tighter restrictions were imposed... (Orange alert)... Sunday morning on the way to the open air market (feria), few cars, no police evident, and fewer than normal people in the well organized market... many wearing masks, 30%-40% without... getting things done is still possible, just slower and fewer things can get done in a day... some rules make sense/some do not but exist and must be complied with... soon masks will be required in some indoor institutions... eg. Banco National and others I suspect...

9. INS Lawsuit: Yes, that has ground to a virtual halt, except for the legal bills.

News Items of the Week


1. Title says it all

2. Tourism and the effects of the Covid shutdown

3. Unemployment: Highest ever

4. Tourism: As the article indicates, this sector, which is a major sector or employment directly and indirectly for mainly small businesses and service workers, is really hurting... and the let up, is not soon coming it appears...

1. Costa Rica suspends economic reopening plans as new cases spike

Costa Rica confirmed 119 new cases of the coronavirus over the past day, totaling 2,058 cumulative known cases, the Health Ministry announced Friday afternoon.

The 119 new cases are the largest day-over-day increase tracked by Costa Rica during the coronavirus crisis. It also marks Costa Rica’s first day over 1,000 known active cases.

Forty-five more people have been classified as recovered under Costa Rica’s new definitions that qualify certain patients based on time rather than a negative test.

Costa Rica has 1,064 active cases and 982 recoveries.

Twelve people have died in Costa Rica after contracting the coronavirus. Twenty-nine people are hospitalized with COVID-19, four more than Thursday. Five people are intensive care, two more than Thursday.

“Not only did we have an increase in cases, but also in hospitalizations,” said Health Minister Daniel Salas.

Economic reopening suspended

The Health Ministry has suspended the third phase of its economic reopening that was planned for Saturday.

Stores, theaters, cinemas, and museums must remain closed this weekend. The second-round soccer final between Saprissa and Alajuela, scheduled for this weekend, is suspended.

A nationwide daytime vehicular restriction will be imposed Saturday and Sunday as follows:

  • Saturday (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.): Even license plates cannot drive. Odd license plates can only drive to health centers, pharmacies and supermarkets.
  • Sunday (5 a.m. – 5 p.m.): Odd license plates cannot drive. Even license plates can only drive to health centers, pharmacies and supermarkets.

The vehicular restriction begins at 10 a.m. Saturday and ends 5 a.m. Monday. The general nighttime vehicular restriction also remains active.

Most commercial businesses must also remain closed this weekend, with exceptions for supermarkets, pharmacies and health centers.

Beaches will remain open from 5-8 a.m. on weekdays only, and religious services cannot occur this weekend.

“This suspension will be subject to the epidemiological curve,” Salas said.

“Our expectation is that the measures we are taking are going to help avoid an exponential increase in infections, which would put us on the road to a collapse in intensive care services.”

Active coronavirus cases in Costa Rica

The cantons of Alajuelita and Desamparados have been placed under an orange alert due to an increase in cases. They are the first cantons in the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) to be placed under an orange alert due to the coronavirus.

2. Tourism sector ‘can no longer endure’ economic crisis, asks for borders to reopen

Three influential figures in Costa Rica’s tourism sector asked the government to set a firm date for reopening the nation’s borders to international tourism.

In a letter published this week by the Costa Rican Hotel Chamber (CCH), its president, Javier Pacheco, said the hotel sector “can no longer endure” the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

A CCH survey found more than half of Costa Rica’s restaurants have already laid off workers during the crisis.

“The announcements of support for tourism are half-hearted, and what the Government has been announcing has not been met or is progressing at a rate that disadvantages us,” Pacheco said. “If things continue like this, next month there will be total closures of the companies and massive layoffs.”

Among CCH’s asks is that Costa Rica begin welcoming international visitors on July 1.

That argument was echoed by the Guanacaste Tourism Chamber, which said that “every day, the difficult economic situation is aggravated, and thus a balance between health and economic reactivation is essential.”

The Guanacaste Tourism Chamber’s first request is that Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia begin accepting international flights.

“The demand of domestic tourism is not enough to reach an equilibrium for the sustainability of businesses,” it said in a letter. “For the reopening of borders, we need a concrete date.”

In an statement to the daily La Nación, Ruben Acón, president of the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR), explained that the uncertainty about when Costa Rica will reopen its borders creates logistical difficulties for local businesses and makes the country less competitive compared to other international destinations.

Costa Rica closed its borders to arriving tourists on March 19. Since that date, only Costa Rican citizens have been allowed to freely enter and exit the country. Residents who last departed the country before March 25 can return to Costa Rica, as can some others.

The current border restrictions are valid through June 30, though Health Minister Daniel Salas’s recent comments suggest they will almost certainly be extended in some capacity.

“We couldn’t, or wouldn’t, allow tourists from countries that have high transmission at that moment,” Salas said earlier this week.

The Health Minister said this week that he “won’t presume an exact date” for when Costa Rica will allow for international tourism.

In April, Costa Rica’s unemployment rate reached a record 15.7%. It could rise further when May and June are included in future calculations, President Carlos Alvarado acknowledged.

Through Thursday, Costa Rica has registered 1,939 total cases of the coronavirus and 12 deaths.

3. Unemployment in Costa Rica reaches 15.7%, the highest in its history

Unemployment in Costa Rica reached 15.7% from February to April 2020, marking the highest-recorded level of that economic indicator, the official statistical agency announced Thursday.

The figure amounts to an increase of 4.4 percentage points in relation to the same period last year, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC).

Unemployment could rise further when the month of May is included in future reports, President Carlos Alvarado said, recognizing the ongoing and widespread repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.

“In May, we will still see an impact, and it could even rise,” President Alvarado said.

He noted that the June numbers should incorporate the effects of Costa Rica’s gradual opening, in addition to the restart of economic activity at the international level, which could slow the growth of unemployment in the Central American country.

The level of unemployment among women is 20.8%, compared to 12.2% among men, the INEC said.

President Alvarado reminded that the government has allowed companies to postpone social-security payments and certain loans, and authorized reduced working hours in order to minimize layoffs.

According to the executive, some 200,000 people have been able to keep their jobs thanks to such measures.

“It is not a blow as deep as the one that could have resulted,” Alvarado said of the 15.7% unemployment rate.

Costa Rica has a population of about 5 million.

The coronavirus led Costa Rica to close a large part of its economic activity — especially tourism, one of the main engines of its growth.

Measures have been eased gradually since May. Starting Saturday, stores will be allowed to open on weekends, and beaches will have slightly extended hours. National parks are open, while hotels and restaurants can operate seven days a week in most areas.

Still, Costa Rica is restricting the entry of tourists for safety reasons, despite pushback from some sectors.

The Costa Rican Hotel Chamber said Thursday that it “can no longer endure” the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

Through Thursday, Costa Rica has registered 1,939 cases of the coronavirus and 12 deaths.

4. Costa Rica’s Tourism Industry is Surviving on Fumes With no end in Sight


On June 12th, the Costa Rican tourism industry wrote an open letter to President Carlos Alvarado urging him to set a date to reopen airports in Costa Rica. It was signed by 900 movers and shakers of the tourism sector. It also asked for financial support for the tourist industry and better communication between Alvarado’s administration and regional tourism chambers. Twelve days later, airports and borders remain closed, along with hundreds of tourist businesses both big and small. The tourist industry is surviving on fumes.

Costa Rica has coped magnificently with the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping both hospitalization and death rates low, drawing praise from the New York Times, World Health Organization, and the international press. Now things have gotten serious. Travel agencies, tour operators, transportation services, car rental agencies, domestic airlines, rental home owners, restaurants and bars, have begun to go under, unable to sustain themselves without foreign visitors. Thousands are out of work, many more will join their ranks if the situation continues without improvement.

“Guanacaste is the main thermometer with which the impact of the pandemic on Costa Rican tourism is measured, as it the place that concentrates the largest number of hotel chains,” reports the Tourism Board, and the situation there is being described as “horrendous”. “Tourism is a strategic axis of the country’s macroeconomic policy. On it rests not only the Costa Rican brand, but also links a whole chain of resources and services ranging from local to national. Although the long-term effects are not yet easily seen we can consider the effects and measures taken since the pandemic broke out in March.”

The initial estimate of a 15-month recovery in the tourist industry: 3 months of zero income, followed by 12 months of a slow recovery, has been gradually modified, as it seems more likely that the pandemic will last much longer, with no treatment and no vaccine in sight. Costa Rica is very reluctant to open itself to an influx of foreign tourists and foreign money, inevitably accompanied by imported cases of the virus. They are wisely putting public safety first — the magnificence of Costa Rica as a tourist destination will still be present once the virus is better managed, understood or eradicated.

How serious is the damage to the tourist industry and the myriad people who rely upon it to live? Unemployment was already up to 12.5% in the first quarter of 2020 before COVID-19, up from 11.3% for the same time period from 2019. The first COVID case was confirmed on March 6th, and by March 16th, Costa Rica declared a state of emergency and literally shut down over night. The Central Bank predicted that the economy would shrink due to the virus, but in truth, the virus clobbered the country at the height of the tourist season. Businesses were closed, vehicular restrictions imposed, borders closed, international air travel ceased, and people were told to stay home. The current statistics for Costa Rican unemployment due to COVID-19 are between 129,000 – 500,000 workers unemployed, depending on the study. Underemployment went up 3.8%, that’s for people who work less than 40 hours a week, but want to work more. Informal and undocumented laborers are not included in those statistics, though they play a vital role in the tourist industry. We have seen a collapse in family businesses, closures of bars, hotels, shops and sodas, with some restaurants barely hanging on. 40% of restaurants have closed in Costa Rica, and 121,000 restaurant workers have been laid off.

The Restaurant Association of Costa Rica (CACORE) petitioned the government to be allowed to stay open Mon-Sun. They point out that of the 19,000 restaurants in Costa Rica, only 10,450 remain open, most citing COVID-19 as the reason for their closures. Semenario Universidad commented, “The closure of borders to foreign tourism in a country profoundly dependent on this economic activity has resulted in thousands of dismissals, cancelation of contracts, reduction of work hours, and above all, anguish for families of limited resources.” The coastal areas have been hardest hit. Beaches remain open only limited hours, and yet are the number one reason many people visit Costa Rica.

The government has received 598,554 requests for Bono Proteger (unemployment benefits), and has thus far awarded 188,000 bonos. The bonos break down as follows: 36% independent workers, 21.6% informal workers, 12% reduced hours, and 8% suspended contracts. As mentioned, this is really the tip of the iceberg as so many Ticos work off the books and do not qualify for aid.

The employment situation continues to worsen in Costa Rica, while they await news of a reopening of airports and borders. Business bankruptcies are increasing dramatically. Families have had to rely on relatives and neighbors to keep food on their tables. Hope rests with a unified public relations movement to promote Costa Rica as the “First Place to Visit” once the pandemic is over. The beaches, sun, surf, ziplines, whitewater rafting, and charming citizens will still be there – if only the tourist industry is able to hang on.

Let’s hope the wait will not be much longer.

About the Author:
Carol Blair Vaughn has written for Inside Costa Rica and The Costa Rica Star, as well as El Residente magazine.


Brian C. Timmons
Property Manager RLJ and Newsletter Author

Costa Rica:
Cell: (+506) 8-455-59-35
Land line: (+506) 2282-4142 Ext. 101

VOIP: (+416) 461-2203


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