We're livin' the life of Riley down here in lazy Costa Rica. Even without a plugged nickel to our names. How we manage this, I'll never know. But I'm not going to ask too many questions and I'm not going to look at the balance sheet. Faggeddaboudit. Specially now that we are farmers, growing our own food. Who needs money? I hope one can live on peppers, tomatoes and gladiolas…
Hal and I spent last weekend in Guanacaste. On someone else's nickel, thank you very much. And without the boys. Two whole nights, three whole days. It's nice going somewhere without them, but you know, the whole time, I'm thinking, "The boys would love this, they would enjoy that." Next time, they are coming with. They'll be moved out in a couple of years, getting jobs, sending money home… I intend to enjoy them while we still have them!
Lisa and Tom (two LTG pros) and Hal and I took Love Letters to the beach communities of Playa Hermosa and Playa Flamingo. As nice as living at the beach is (if you like sweating), there's not a lot to do there, cull-chah-wise… unless drinking and fishing are considered cull-chah? So us big-city types took cull-chah to them. Boy, were they grateful! I was director, Hal was the MacGyver/techie, Tom and Lisa played the parts. We were a hit.
Guanacaste is so beautiful, it takes your breath away. Even while you are stopped in traffic 30 minutes at a time on a congested two lane "highway" during the 5-6 hour drive to the coast, the greenery, foliage, birds, the two volcanoes you can see with the naked eye, the mountain ranges in the distance… it all takes your breath away.
Then you get to the ocean. Wow. Key West has a gorgeous landscape: all ocean, flat, forever, everywhere you look. This coast is different: waves crashing on the beach, big volcanic rock formations jutting up from the floor of the ocean. Surrounded by big volcanic rock formations jutting up from the earth. If I snorkeled, I'd be stunned I'm sure. The water is so clear, I imagine it must be ripe with life.
It's no wonder the coast in Costa Rica drew such attention during the real estate boom. It is breathtaking, exotic, peaceful, and – at least at one time – affordable. Each time I've visited a coast here, I've been overwhelmed by billboards advertising new developments. This area in particular drew developers like lawyers to a car wreck. Like Congressmen to a Las Vegas junket. Like fleas to dogs.
Which brings me to The Beast portion of our talk today. Evidence of broken dreams abounds in Guanacaste, as I've heard it does all down the Pacific coastline. In our short visit, without looking hard, we saw a dozen abandoned condo projects. Not including completed ones standing empty. The boom is over and none too soon: the landscape is littered with towers. Still far, far from being a Miami, but I'm glad it's stopped. Sorry for everyone who lost money, but get over it. I lost plenty myself, I have more friends than I can count who are now broke. Sad, but, hey, learn to farm.
I remember our visit to Nosara a couple of years ago: you woke up to howlers and birds at 5am. It was lovely all the way up to 7am when the hammers, saws, diggers and cement trucks got going for the day. Noisy and busy! Clearly that market was doomed. There was nobody around when we were there, real estate salespeople were already looking a little lost. Who was going to buy all these condos they were building at such a furious pace? Nobody as it turns out.
I'm a free market capitalist. If people want to build on land they bought, let them have at it. If they are smart about it, they will be successful and sell to people who want what they have to sell. If not, if they didn't plan, didn't stay alert, they lose their shirts. Builders who don't respect the land and the market will live to see it turn on them. The jungle will take back some of these empty towers, there is simply no other fate available.
The silver lining is that there are good deals to be had, whether buying or renting. Guanacaste is still gorgeous, the ocean is still there, still clean, the air is still good… and all just a beautiful five (or six) hour drive from the central valley.