Jeez, I sounded really bitter in that last post, eh? Not any more. Criticia is back in her coffin, sleeping it off, and Pollyanna is recalled to life, disgustingly cheerful. After two days in Uvita [ooo-VEE-ta, think Evita except with an ooo], I’m mellow and mushy as a sloth. So what if there is a bubble? If you want to buy Costa Rica real estate and own a piece of this incredible paradise, why not? It’s your money. No matter what, it will always be a place to live. And I don’t care what happens, it will always be absolutely unbelievably magnificently gorgeous. If you look up breathtaking in the dictionary, I am positive you will find a picture of the ocean as seen from the mountains just above Uvita.
Why am I wasting my breath trying to warn people away from here? If it weren’t so hot, if it were more affordable, if there were a little theatre group, hi-speed internet, network TV and shopping, I’d buy something here myself. (See? City girl.) Despite its lacks, this place offers the one thing you find in very few places anymore: magic. And already, last night, we ate at the best restaurant we’ve found in Costa Rica: Exotica all the way down here in undeveloped Ojochal, about a mile inland on a goat track of a road. Exotica was enchanting, the food delicious, beautifully presented, excellent service, as good as any restaurant in Key West.
In fact, this whole area, Dominical to Ojochal [oh-ho-CHAHL, rhymes with ALL], encompassing about a 20 mile stretch of highway that’s a testament to modern engineering, is achingly familiar to us. In l-attitude, it is exactly like Cayo Hueso in the late 70s. Sparsely populated, mostly mom ‘n pop operations, lots of bikes, no high-rises, mañana-land, relaxed fishing villages. We feel right at home. Nosara felt like this, except Nosara’s building boom has wrecked the peaceful living there for now. Nosara today is too much like Key West today. Maybe once the hammering stops, Nosara’s wildlife and style will return. One can hope.
Along this stretch of gold coast, 99% of the sales are land sales. The building hasn’t started yet so the only signs of the coming destruction are glimpses of red dirt roads cut into hillsides. Otherwise, you have mountainous jungle on one side, wide dark brown sandy beaches stretching to endless ocean on the other. Macaws, birds, iguanas, mosquitoes, peace and quiet.
“Escape to a slowed-down tropical lifestyle” is the allure, just like it was for us when we dropped out to Key West in ’76, then to here in ’06. The difference between then and now is that now everyone is drawn here by real estate, not just by l-attitude. Just like Key West of recent history, l-attitude is secondary.
We feel conspicuous here: people watch us. They know why we are here: to buy our piece of this life or to develop one for someone else. They know this because that’s why everyone is here. Everyone. Even the ticos who are left are working the boom: engineers, contractors, earth-movers, planners, consultants. Otherwise, they’ve sold out. As an agent told me right away, “All the ticos have sold. Those farms, that cheap land, those sellers are gone.” I don’t know where they’ve gone. That would be an illuminating investigation, I’m sure. But who really cares? Nobody around here does. Why should I? I’m not the world’s keeper, for God’s sake. Those tico sellers are adults.
Still, it feels a little like the pioneers and the Indians. “Here’s some beads for a million acres. And, look, here’s some swamp land (or frozen tundra) we’ve set aside for you to enjoy. You can even have a casino, if you want. You know, for cash-flow.”
I swore I wasn’t going to be this way. Somehow, my mother, the bleeding heart liberal, is speaking thru me instead of my husband, the pragmatic libertarian. I’m terribly confused. But strangely excited.
Excited by the smell of money, the smell of promise. You can absolutely smell it in the air – it’s thick. I AM NOT KIDDING. Come down here and inhale. You will be signing on the dotted line in no time. And why not? Well, I’ll tell you why not in a minute. I mean, there are danger signs for sure. But if you buy informed, with your eyes open, I can’t begrudge anyone this. I moved to Costa Rica for this life. It’s worth every bit of trouble, I’m here to testify.
Every single solitary gringo we’ve met here dabbles – either bigtime or small potatoes – in real estate. EVERYONE. Everyone has at least one lot to sell, usually a few. Or a house, although that’s much less. Or they are working on a big project. And let me say right off the bat, if I can sell this, I will. This place is to die for. Even hot and sweaty, I want to live here. If Hal doesn’t get me away from here soon, I may never leave. It’s got that Key West allure, it feels so familiar, so right to be sweating at 7am…
Right now, 7am Saturday, I’m suffering information overload. Trying to let it settle, mix around, let the good stuff sift to the top, the junk fall out my ears. I’m going to need an extra hard drive – we have three more days of input ahead of us.
I’ve met some incredibly nice people here who have shared a wealth of information with me. A lovely local expat couple was wildly generous with their time and award-winning poppy-seed cake. They live in Ojochal on a breathtaking 14 acre waterfront parcel in an awesome house that Hal dubbed Tropical Shelter. There are few walls, tons ‘o air flow, big bamboo beams, wide boards, sturdy construction, close to nature, views to die for… we are talking truly tropical here. They moved here to escape, to lay low, play music. They have a couple of lots for sale locally and Mr. Xpat is co-owner of a development in Golfito, two hours down the coast. Golfito, one of the top three fishing destinations in the world (who knew?), is soon to have a new multi-million dollar marina.
Mick, the manager of a hotel/bar/restaurant overlooking the ocean, spent 30 impromptu minutes talking about the area, the real estate… he has a couple of lots for sale.
Ginger, who we met through the expat couple, has a great funky house for sale. And a couple of lots.
Jack is a real estate agent here. He was referred to me by an acquaintance here. Turns out he is good friends with my friend Kiki from Key West. We spent several hours with him, driving around, looking at property. He’s lived here nine years, been selling real estate for three. He says he needs three more to retire. I’ll say a little prayer.
There is so much more to say but I need more sifting to happen… it’s a jumble up there in my head. But I wanted to say I take it all back. If you can afford land in Costa Rica, if you like living oceanside in a sleepy community, this is the place. It is paradise. And it’s only money, in exchange for which you get a lifestyle available few other places.