Guess what? There is NO DSL at the new house. Notice I’m not calling it "our" new house anymore, am I? In my conversation with I.C.E. (Eee-say, the government monopoly that controls ALL the phone lines and ALL related services), when the Customer Service rep told me installation would be "in 45 days", what she meant to say was "not in your lifetime". It turns out there is no DSL service in that area. Anywhere. No clue as to when it will get there either. We are talking Big Time mañana land here. Sigh. I knew this going in. Don’t say I didn’t warn myself!
We can’t live in a house without DSL. Even if we weren’t hooked on the internet and blogging and email, we can NOT live without Skype. Skype is my lifeline to the states. I talk to my mom, my sister-in-law, Gil, Mary. I’d talk to Penny if she would answer the phone. I talk to everyone via Skype. That leaves the new house out. It was a sad day when we realized this. Not that we don’t love the finca, but our house here is tiny. It’s like we’re all sleeping in the same room. Me, my husband and two Clydesdales.
So back to househunting? No. Househunting was unbelieveably depressing. I wish I had pictures of some of the places we saw, but I was too depressed to take out the camera. Why would I want a picture? Turns out, I am definitely a spoiled first-world dweller. Who knew? (Ok, ok… everybody knows.)
We have a great real estate agent, Luis Urrutia, who is a tico and spent years in the states, so not only is he bi-lingual, but he "speaks our language". He knew what we were looking for and went out of his way to find it. And Luis is actually a REALTOR®, licensed in the states and everything. In Costa Rica, there is no MLS. No Association of REALTOR®s. No Association. No REALTOR®s. In fact, no pesky licensing laws at all. If you want to be a "realtor", you simply say you are one. Voila! Not that licensing in any profession will protect you from a scheister. Look at Bush. But at least if there is an association, you have associates to call to see who has listings.
So to househunt, Luis and his partner, Elvie, drove the streets and called on signs, called all the people they knew who might have a lead and did whatever else they could think of. They did great: we saw about 20 houses over the course of 3 weeks. Tragically, they all had fatal flaws: big enough, but dark with no yard. Or brand new with a 15′ high cement block wall all around the property with razor wire at the top. Like a prison yard on TV. Petty theft is rampant here so all the houses have bars on the windows and all the fences have barbed/razor wire around the perimeter. It ain’t pretty but you get used to seeing it. Living in it is a different story.
Then there’s the house we saw that a young man had built in his backyard: a beautifully finished huge home with lots of bathrooms, huge master suite, large kitchen, washer/dryer, and a big picture window in the dining/living room area. A picture window that looked across a desolate alley into a junkyard. A junkyard where his friends worked. I guess they were his friends, because as we were staring out the window in dismay, they all stared back. One of them finally waved. I think it was a wave. The kicker was that the master bedroom had a huge wall that faced a gorgeous view over the valley. A huge wall that had NO window.
Not only that, but the builder told us he ran out of money and would finish the kitchen as soon as we paid the first month’s rent. See? Depressing on many levels.
And we are sick of looking. As long as you are looking for a house, you aren’t really living where you are. Blooming where you are planted, so to speak. You are in limbo: you’ll buy those dishes when you move, a nice plant for the front porch, new sheets, put up the wall hanging… all that sort of thing. We are sick of living in limbo!
Guess What Else? Our landlord realizes how small this house is. She’s never had a family stay here before, she’s always had couples. She is so happy we are staying that she is enclosing the porch so we have a real dining room and living room. AND she is enclosing part of the carport so we have a guest bedroom. This will make a huge difference to us. So we get to stay with the 10 great dogs on the finca, we get to keep this magnificent view, no barbed wire in sight (hey, with 10 dogs, you don’t even need a real fence). We are comfortable here, and soon to be waaaay more comfortable. Plus, it’s familiar now. Familiar is very very good.
Guess What Else? No building permit. You just think to yourself, "Hey, I think I’ll enclose my porch on my property that I own." And then you do it. I absolutely love this about Costa Rica! No pesky Code Enforcement guys driving past your house day and night, making notes, requesting entry, looking for a Ben Franklin to overlook an outlet not up to code… Not that I’ve ever experienced any of that, but just making an observation. I guess I watch too much TV.
One last note about DSL in Costa Rica: all those properties we looked at did not have internet yet and all those landlords were certain they could get it. I’m sure they believe they can, but it just ain’t necessarily so. Our landlord has 4 houses on her property. Our house has DSL, but she’s been waiting 3 months for the little house not 50 feet away to have it installed… We’re just lucky, I guess.
We are off to Granada tomorrow 6am. Granada, it turns out, is in Nicaragua. I spent an hour on the phone yesterday trying to find information on how to get to Granada Guatamala. My internal compass is busted, ok? I’m trying to get that fixed. In the meantime, look forward to blogs and photos from Granada. It sounds pretty fabulous! I’ll keep you posted. xoxo Saratica