It has been a couple of weeks since my last blog, but it has not been an uneventful time. For the past week and a half, I have been living the bachelor life while Jackie is back in the States for her visa run, family visit, and shopping for boutique stock. I guess that our friends, Bob and Sheila thought I would not eat well as a bachelor and invited me for a wonderful dinner on their patio, and a pleasant evening of conversation. Our 6:00 Board of Directors (AKA the Motley Crew) is dwindling as more of our group are heading back north for the spring and summer. Don and Diana left this past week, and Bob and Sheila are leaving next Tuesday. Barry and Jill are still in California trying to find a diagnosis and treatment for Barry’s illness, so that leaves our crew down to 6.
We have been experiencing some extreme temperatures lately, with the afternoon temps hitting 102 with only slight breezes. The pool has proven to be some relief, but the intense sun leave the water feeling much like a warm bath. We had one day where the electricity was out for over 3 hours, so there was no A/C or even fans in the condo and I ended up spending the time on the balcony with the dogs capturing what breezes there were. Such is life in Costa Rica…you just get used to it.
Yesterday proved to be an eventful day. To begin, it was a national holiday called Juan Santamaria Day, celebrating the national hero from the 1800′s who was instrumental in defeating northern forces trying to take over Costa Rica as a slave nation. Virtually everything was closed for the day except markets and tourist attractions. Bob and I had made arrangements for a round of golf at Hacienda Panilla early in the morning, so we took off at 7:00 for the course. Despite to low winds of the past week, Mother Nature decided to make our round of golf an adventure by whipping up some strong ocean winds. Since it was my first round of golf in almost a year, my goal was simply to not embarrass myself, which I accomplished, hitting some good shots and bad. But as they say, my worst day on the golf course is better than my best day at work. After a post-round beer, we headed back to the condo with plans to have a “Board Meeting” at 6:00.
In addition to yesterday being Juan Santamaria Day, tomorrow begins Samana Santa (Holy Week) which is a major holiday time here. So the rental people started arriving at about noon filling up the parking lot and the lobbies with their bikes and kids’ toys. It was a flurry of activity, and then at 2:30, the real fun began. Sitting on the couch watching the Masters Tournament on TV, I felt the earth moving under my feet, accompanied by some booming sounds. The glasses and plates in the cabinet started shaking, and something fell on the kitchen counter knocking a bowl and tumbler onto the floor. Yes, folks, we were having an earthquake. I see everyone in our building rushing down the stairs to the pool area, which seemed like a sane thing to do. It seems that there was a 6.6 magnitude earthquake centered in Granada, Nicaragua, which is about 75 miles north of us and that is what rattled us.
The interesting observation about this earthquake was that I always thought that animals were hypersensitive to oncoming tremors. Obviously our dogs lack this trait as they slept through the entire thing:
The cats, on the other hand, scattered in every direction to find shelter under the beds. So much for our guard dogs.
I have a visa run planned for next Thursday – Saturday to Granada, but I will have to wait and see what damage was done by the earthquake to possibly make a detour. I also have a golfing rematch with Bob tomorrow morning before he leaves for Canada. Jackie returns on Tuesday, so things will probably get back to normal after next week.
Most unique lunch ever today. There is a little place on the road to Tamarindo that is a converted lunch truck, and we were told there are great burgers there. When we arrived, a guy came from behind the truck and said he was taking a nap…this is the owner, Paul. We ordered our burgers and the entire time we were there, Paul was just chatting on and on and he was a really entertaining guy. A group of 8 arrived while we were eating and ordered a bunch of tacos. Paul asked them who drove, and when the driver came forward, Paul gave him some money and asked him to go to the supermarket to get some lettuce for the tacos, which he did. After we finished eating his awesome burgers, I went up to the window to pay, and he handed Jackie a wet rag and asked her to do a quick wipe of our table for him. How can anyone refuse Paul? Oh, and he told us that he needed a wake-up so he poured himself a healthy glass of rum and drank it down before starting the tacos. We heard him say as we were leaving, “I hope I have enough gas to finish these tacos.”
We will be back to see Paul again, and wake him up if necessary.
I have said many times that one of the factors the brings me back to Costa Rica is the kindness and simplicity of the people here, both native and ex-pat. We have only been here less than 2 months, and aside from the friendships we have mad in our past travels, we have made friends with so many more in this short time. The thing that amazes me is the genuine nature of the people here, there are no pretenses. Our neighbors, Oskar and Berna, native Ticas, will just knock on the door and invite us to dinner at the pavilion on the spur of the moment, and before you know it, you have spent an entire evening with a dozen people chatting the night away. Pool time in the afternoon involves hanging on the side of the pool cooling off and chatting with the likes of Jim and Lisa, Carlotta and Bill, Sheila and Bob, Fabiana, Tony, and most of all, Jill and Barry, along with their visiting daughter, Amy and their darling granddaughter, Charley.
We have really enjoyed our time with Jill and Barry who are from Los Angeles, but originally from Michigan. They are such a pleasant couple and the addition of their family here have made for such good times by the pool. Jill thought nothing of calling Jackie and me when she inadvertently locked her keys in the car, and we did not give it a second thought to come to her aid. Unfortunately, during a day trip to Nicaragua with Amy, Barry lost his balance and fell, bruising his hip and back, and when he returned to the condo he was having difficulty maintaining his balance. Long story short: Jill thought it best to return to L.A. to visit their doctor for a diagnosis. During the couple of days while planning their trip, Jackie and I helped them as best we could to make their planning less stressful, and Jill thought nothing of giving us her condo and car keys to make sure that everything was okay during their leave.
Now here are people who have known us for only weeks, but they entrust us during their time of need, and we have no qualms ensuring that everything is taken care of for them during their hiatus. This is the core of the true human spirit and it is so refreshing to see it return to my life. We only wish the best for Barry and want to see Jill and him return as soon as possible.
That was the line of the night from my wife, Jackie. We ended our busy week with beach-side cocktails in Tamarindo…but I get ahead of myself.
The climate this week began to get very warm during the days with the temperatures reaching 36 degrees Celsius (97 Fahrenheit) and since I was doing more deck repairs at the Eco-Lodge, I tried to get my days started early hoping to end by early afternoon. Thankfully, Kurt and Harold made sure the cooler was well stocked with bottled water. I have never worked with teak wood before and was unaware of the density of the boards, so the cutting and fastening of the deck wood took longer than I expected but the aroma of the forest wood was amazing. Tuesday through Friday was spent at the Lodge in preparation for the yoga group coming in for 4 weeks, and hopefully I prepared a level and safe deck floor for their exercises.
Also on Tuesday, I drove Anubhav and his wife Sherya to the airport for their return to New York. As usual, this is a sad trip since they have to return to the rat race after a week of serenity but their visit left an impression on them and they are already making plans to return. They were a very sweet couple and it was my pleasure to meet them over their stay. The weekend looks active with most of the women arriving on Sunday for their yoga training.
Afternoons during the week were spent with cooling time in the pool. Our friends Barry and Jill had their daughter and 4-year-old granddaughter so pool time was a lot of splish splash and frenetic energy. Barry and his daughter took a 2 day trip to Nicaragua and Jill and her granddaughter stayed here, but on the first day by themselves, the keys got locked in their car at the Mercado. Fortunately, Jill had just gotten our cell phone numbers the day before and was able to contact us to assist her. For Charley, the 4-year-old, this was an amazing adventure…for Jill it was an ordeal, but I am glad I was able to help. This is truly the Pura Vida lifestyle…everyone helping others.
The village of Villareal was having their annual fiesta this past week and on my trips to the lodge through the week, I was watching the progress of the rodeo ring being built, the amusement rides being set up, and the concession stands coming in. Jackie and I made plans to go on Saturday night for some Costa Rica “Carny” food and to watch the bull riding. The food part went well, me purchasing carne assada and Jackie a noodle bowl, being washed down with a cold beer. However, there were problems with the electricity in the village square, and they could not light the bull ring and half of the concession stands. After walking around for a half hour, we decided we were not going to be seeing any bull riding and made plans to go to Tamarindo for a cocktail and dessert. We found ourselves settling into the Copacabana Beach restaurant, in comfy chairs on the beach. The lounge on the other side of the estuary had a show of flame dancers and we were able to share the show from our seats. Our waiter, Everisto, took our order of Long Island Iced Tea for Jackie and a Ginger Vodka Cooler for me. The drinks were cool and delicious, albeit heavy on the alcohol which is common down here.
Watching the show, listening to the music and the waves crashing, smelling the salt air we enjoyed our cocktails in this peaceful setting. Jackie looked at her cell phone and said, “It’s 8:39 and I’m already buzzed” (which I think is a great title for a Country song). But the buzz was not completely from the alcohol. We spoke about our good fortune to have taken the bold step to move to this idyllic place, embrace the culture, and meet new and diverse friends. That, truly is a buzz.
So with a package of our dessert of pineapple and coconut pie in hand, we head back to our condo, our pets, our new life to enjoy the evening breezes come through our home and lull us to sleep.
Irish has nothing to do with my luck being in Paradise on a beautiful day like today. Dip and I woke up at our usual 6:15 – 6:30 to the sun and the monkeys and went on our morning walk while Jackie and Gadget slept in. This is such a nice time of the day as the temperatures are still impacted by the nightly winds and the sun has not had a chance to heat up the air. Our morning routine is to take a leisurely walk around the complex, Dip sniffing out the new scents created overnight while I await the coffee to be brewed back in the condo. The workers are just getting ready for their duties and we meet the occasional jogger or yoga person enjoying the morning freshness, also.
This past week we celebrated Oskar’s birthday with a party in the pool pavilion, but due to my still-limited Spanish, I thought we were just meeting for cake and wine, but Berna was actually trying to tell me that she was preparing a full meal of typical Tica food. She served shredded meat (pork and beef) in a salsa, along with vegetables and rice to be eaten in flour tortillas. She also had nacho chips and a green salsa with a little bit of a kick to it. Unfortunately, due to my misinterpretation, Jackie and I had already eaten our dinner before arriving, so we were not able to fully enjoy her feast. There were 10 of us conversing in what I can best describe as Spanglish, drinking wine, and enjoying the company. It looks like at least once a week we ill be having a gathering of some sort by the pool.
We also treated ourselves to the new Carlos y Carlos restaurant in Tamarindo. The experience was as good, if not better than our original visit to their place in Flamingo, which they closed for the move to Tamarindo. Our waiter was excellent, food was fresh and tasty, supported by a wonderful Malbec wine, and the dessert, coffee and Sambucca finished off the evening perfectly. We will definitely make this our local Italian dinner spot.
Jackie has been working on assembling her merchandise and creating a website for the sale of her “Gold Coast Beachwear”. The first offerings were taken to a shop in Playa Coco run by a friend of ours down here. Her bathing suits and beach bags are displayed nicely and have great eye appeal for the shoppers. We have even had a couple of residents in our complex come up to look at her merchandise.
I also started some work down here. I have started transporting clients to and from the airport, and helping out at the Eco Lodge dong some deck repair. My tools are finally coming in handy, but working in the mid-90 temps can take its toll on you. But at least I am not shoveling snow. The deck work is stalled now, waiting for the delivery of new teak to replace some wood that is beyond repair. Perhaps tomorrow, but hopefully soon since there is a full house at the Eco Lodge starting on Sunday with a yoga group making their annual trip to El Sabanero.
Today was a most fun day for all of us. There is a pet boarding house called Isabel’s Friends just down the road from us and we have seen her Facebook posts many times. Jackie made arrangements to meet her and see her property and we took Dip and Gadget along for the ride. They really like travelling in our Nissan as they have the large cargo area in the back where they can either lay down or look out the window during the ride. The drive to Isabel’s was short, but we discovered a quaint town off the main road with very nice villa type homes. Arriving at Isabel’s, we were greeted by her and she is the sweetest little French lady with an obvious love for animals. She gushed over our pets and told us to just let them off their leashes and let them roam her property…the dogs loved it. We went back to the kennel area where the dogs have their private cages but a bigger area inside the fence for them to roam about. Obviously, upon seeing new humans and dogs, there were a few that had to make their presence known, two of the more memorable ones being Shredder the Rottweiler and Jack the Weimaraner. Gadget and Dip were curious about them and a major sniff fest went on through the fence until it was time for them to start running around the grounds again. I don’t think there was a tree or bush that was not marked by our dogs on the entire property. Isabel loved it. When it was time to leave, we had two exhausted dogs who were ready to jump into the back of the Nissan for some rest. The water bowl in the condo was the first thing they went to.
So today looks like an R&R day with some pool time and maybe a trip to a beach with the dogs. It does not have to be St. Patrick’s Day to feel lucky down here.
This post is more about food and drink…my favorite topic, obviously.
On Friday evening, we joined the “happy hour group” by the pool, enjoying wine, conversation and friendship. An acquaintance from Alberta, Canada, Ken was leaving on Saturday morning so this was his last hurrah until his return in the Fall. Ken owns a few condos in the community and we exchanged cards for possible future rentals for visiting Americans. Aside from Ken, we had extended conversations with Don, Nancy, Tony and yet another Nancy. Short though the gathering was, it was one more example of community at The Oaks.
Most of our food purchases have been from the supermarkets, so far, but aside from the slightly higher prices than the mercados, the food had been fresh and flavorful. This week, we made a concerted effort to go to the farmers’ market and local supers to get some supplies, and what a difference it makes. We went to the Mercado in Tamarindo on Saturday morning, and the pescador had fresh tuna, mahi-mahi, shrimp and red snapper. I chose a 2 kilo piece of ahi tuna for my purchase to be cut down into dinner portions (5 meals).
Jackie was also able to purchase farm-fresh cheese and goat yogurt (which she said will take some getting used to and I will take her word on it). The prices are about 25% of what we would expect to pay in the U.S and the fresh grade of the product is indescribable. We the went to the village section of Huacas to visit the carniceria to see what meats they offered. After a purchase of extremely meaty pork ribs ( 2 kilos = 5 servings) we went to the panderia for purchases of the local version cheese and fruit Danish.
Our neighbors, Oskar and Berna invited us to a pot-luck evening by the pool for Saturday night, to bid farewell to our lower neighbors, Steve and Cherisse from Canada (by way of Hungary) as they were leaving for home on Sunday. Not sure how many people would be sharing our fare and wanting to make something uniquely American, Jackie suggested a pot of gumbo. Having purchased all of the ingredients (except okra, which is impossible to find here), I crafted an “olla” of gumbo with our fresh shrimp, chicken, chorizzo, and crab and used the local rice we stocked up on. With a loaf of fresh french bread and a bottle of wine, we grouped with our neighbors in the pool pavilion. The food assortments were fantastic: Homemade pizza, local vegetables with a garlic dip, Tocinetta (bacon) wrapped ugli fruit, dried chorrizzo with a jalapeno sauce, fresh guacamole, chips, salsa…and vino…lots of vino.
Oskar set up a sound system, playing dinner music while we sampled the fare, probably eating to excess, if that is possible. While Jackie thought my version of gumbo was a tad spicy, the locals loved it and went for seconds. Berna asked me if I was from New Orleans (through Oskar who was our translator). The wine flowed and the music changed to more of a Latin fare and the dancing commenced (perhaps induced by the vino?).
After a champagne farewell toast to Steve and Cherisse, we all retired to our individual homes, well fed and and our thirst was not wanting.
One thing I should mention is that these gatherings have given me the opportunity to dip into my humidor to sample a cigar, locally rolled from Cuban leaf. For a smoker and cigar aficionado, it does not get better than that.
After having a breakfast of melon, a lunch of leftover gumbo and watching the NASCAR race on Satellite Direct, I marinaded two of our tuna steaks in a mixture of soy sauce, fresh ginger and garlic, and white wine. Three hours later, I start the grill (with Mesquite charcoal we found) and grilled the steaks to a medium rare.
Mixed on the plate with Jackie’s potato salad, it was a feast for kings.
Perhaps tomorrow some ribs. We will see as our freezer is filling with selections galore,
The sights, sounds and smells of our new country are continuing to be a new and different experience every day. One morning recently, we heard a commotion outside of our bedroom balcony, and it appeared that there was a turf war beginning in the trees opposite our parking area. Male monkeys are very protective of their territory and when another male infiltrates the area, there is noise to be heard as captured by Jackie:
Our neighbor is a Tican and she must be a wonderful cook since the smells from her kitchen window are intoxicating. Unfortunately she speaks no English so it is difficult to ask her what she is preparing. The produce in the markets is very fresh, particularly the peppers, melons and bananas…there is no need to market them as “organic” since everything grown down here is just that. Prepared foods are not common here and when you can find them, they are very expensive. Imported cheeses, such as the cheddars, swiss, jack, etc. are likewise expensive, but local goat cheeses are plentiful and inexpensive, so that is what we have been using when a recipe calls for cheese. For example, Jackie prepared a macaroni and chess dish with bacon and apples the other night and she used the local goat cheese, which turned out great and it was a different spin on the taste of the dish.
We also found out that there is a fish vendor that comes into the condo community twice a week from Portrero with the days catch. We were lucky enough to get a kilogram of fresh shrimp, large enough to gag a horse. We will easily be able to get 5 meals out of that purchase, but the difficulty will be finding horseradish to make a cocktail sauce for a shrimp cocktail…it is not a staple down here. It might be time to get inventive. The pescador told us that when he gets some mahi-mahi or tuna, he will save us some steaks to grill. There is nothing like fresh seafood.
Last weekend, we traveled to Playa Coco for a benefit dinner held by an animal rescue group in the area. I would estimate that there were about 200 people at the affair, and we were fortunate enough to sit at a small table with a couple from Toronto, Mark and Jennifer. It was an evening filled with cocktails, pleasant conversation, awesome food, and the occasional rescue pet that was brought to the table…including a couple of 3-week-old kittens that Jackie fell in love with.
Speaking of cats, there is a calico cat that roams our community, and while she looks well fed and healthy, we are fairly confident that she does not belong to one particular family here. She just roams from building to building, and in between she lays under the palm trees resting comfortably. Jackie has now joined the group of feeding humans and will put a plate of cat food outside of our door for the cat to eat. While Ms. Calico will not be in our condo, I think it might become part of Jackie’s extended family.
There are some challenges we are encountering with our move, though. The simple act of hanging a picture has proven to be a difficult task. You don’t just get some picture hangers, nail them in the wall, and level your artwork. The walls here are solid concrete on top of rebar enforced cinder block. Since I had none in my arsenal of tools, I had to buy a masonry bit for my drill and bore into the walls to insert a sleeve and then a screw into the sleeve. Fortunately, we do not have many pictures to hang.
As I mentioned in a previous post, our vehicle was inspected by the Nissan dealer and some minor servicing was necessary. I had an appointment for last Thursday to have the service done, which was to take 2 days. But I guess that was 2 days in Tica time. I am now told that the vehicle will be ready for pickup by mid-day today. Pura Vida.
While we have befriended many expats from Canada and the U.S., the language barrier once we hot the streets presents a real challenge. I am able to pick up a word here and there, but the local conversation here is spoken at a break neck speed. So Jackie found a school in Coco that teaches a Spanish course twice a week for 6 weeks and we started in the Beginners course last evening. There is only one other person in our group so it is like having a private tutoring from our teacher, Rosa. On Mondays after class, there is a group that gets together at a local grille for what they call Spanglish hour. There is a group of about 20 people, expats and Ticas that assemble during Happy Hour ($1.30 beer and wine) and the first half-hour is strictly Spanish conversation, and the second half-hour is in English for the Ticans’ benefit to learn the language. The director of the bi-lingual school, Bethany organizes this get-together and was gracious enough to assist us with our Spanish conversations last night. This should be an interesting journey of learning.
So as we continue to settle into our new life here in Costa Rica, there have been few roadblocks we did not anticipate. The weather is marvelous, and it is difficult to look at the weather forecasts from Indiana without gloating over our good fortune to be here. Hopefully I will arrange some photographs for a pictorial post soon.
Today is the day I officially start to get back. After 45 years of government blood-letting, I can now start to get a slow transfusion of the money that was extracted.
Jackie and I have been here for 2 weeks, and with the time spent setting up our home, buying a vehicle and getting our own infrastructure in order, we have yet to hit a beach…but we have a lifetime to do that. Jackie is the organizer in this couple and she has turned a condo full of bins and boxes into what would appear to be a living space with new and colorful furniture, well placed plants, and proper places for our pets to lounge throughout the day. I, on the other hand, have taken care of the electronic matters: Setting up our computers, networks, scanner, printer, speakers and phone system. There are just a few more odds and ends to declutter, pictures to be hung, bins to be stored and shelves to be built, but all-in-all, it has been a very productive couple of weeks.
The weather here has been ideal, not only from an aesthetic nature, but from a therapeutic aspect, also. The arthritic pain I was experiencing for the past couple of months has all but disappeared, and my Advil intake is minimal. In the States, I would wake up groggy, clogged throat, and nasally congested. Most of our nights here have been spent with the balcony doors open allowing the trade winds to sweep through the house and lull us off to a sound sleep every night. The mornings come with the sun over the mountains at precisely 6:15, and I awake well-rested, no sinus activity, and ready for a walk with the dogs while the coffee is brewing.
Speaking of coffee…I had forgotten how much I love the Costa Rican coffee. There is nothing to describe how different it is compared to the Maxwell House or Folgers of the U.S., but suffice it to say that the morning brew is a rich eye-opener every morning. We have also acquired a taste (albeit from a mistake at the supermarket reading Spanish labels) for a morning drink of orange and carrot juices. A great mixture of flavors.
We have also gotten into new eating habits, hopefully which will contribute to a more healthy lifestyle and slimmer waistline. The fruit here is amazing and we enjoy bowls of watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew, papaya, pineapple and mango as a morning meal or an afternoon snack. For supper we have been eating at home, going out only once to a restaurant, and the meats and vegetables taste more natural and less processed. I hope to venture to Portraro this week to get some Red Snapper, Tuna, or Mahi Mahi off the fishing boats as the come in. I miss my fish!
It appears I have acquired employment in my short time here. Jackie saw a post on Facebook from a video production company looking for an English-speaking male to do voice-overs for their projects. I had responded to the person and after a few pieces of background information shared, he asked me to record myself reading a real estate listing from the web. Apparently it was good enough and I will be receiving my first script copy tomorrow. At $50 per page narrated, I say bring on War and Peace.
So today is my day to ruminate, watch Nascar, have a nice dinner with my wife, and reflect on how lucky life has been to me and thankful for my peaceful life.
Since my last blog, it has been a blur of activity. The living room furniture that came with our condo was not to our liking and not the most comfortable to sit on (albeit, the dogs did not have any problems). Jackie saw a local ad from someone in Playa Coco who was selling a set of sofa and two easy chairs, refurbished with a tropical print fabric, which she loved. We had other business in Coco, about an hour away, on Monday so we met Carlos, the seller to inspect the furniture. Carlos is one of those pleasant people you get to know and you know there is a connection from the first meeting. He lives in a family compound with his father, brother, sister, cousin, and nieces and nephews, all in separate abodes within a fenced area. The furniture turned out to be everything Jackie wanted and, sitting in it, I found it comfortable and well-built. So we made the deal and put a deposit on it to be delivered later in the week.
While having lunch in Coco, we got word that our household goods from the U.S. were going to be delivered on Tuesday afternoon. Shipping from Indiana, to Florida, on a ship to the Caribbean seaports to our North Pacific hideaway took less than 3 weeks, but it would be a welcome delivery to make our condo truly feel like home.
Tuesday started with the beautiful sunrise over the mountains at 6:15, and, coffee started, dogs for their morning walk, the day begins beautifully. Jackie and I prepared for the arrival of our cargo by taking the futons to our landing for the complex personnel to take to storage. With the living room cleared, we had an open space for stacking our goods. When our driver arrived with his hired lumper, a gardener from the complex, the process started, bringing up 32 bins, 2,000 lbs. ofur home. Water and cervesa for the boys was supplied and 1 1/2 hours later, our living room was full of plastic containers…our life. Breaking them down and finding a home for the goods was a slow and difficult process. 10 bins down by the end of the afternoon left us hungry with a yen for Pizza, so it was off to La Baula’s in Tamarindo for a wonderful dinner with leftovers for lunch the next day.
Wednesday…the living room in disarray, and new furniture set to arrive at 9:00 AM. Jackie and I tackle things bin by bin, when the furniture arrives, only to be delivered to the landing for future placement in the living room. Now, it must be said here that 4 of the bins were my tools, each of which weighed almost 75 lbs., with no plan to get them to a permanent home, yet. Jackie came up with the plan to put the bins in the spare shower temporarily until they can be sorted and moved to their home. It was like Christmas opening each bin and discovering a new items that will be well-used in our new home, but the question still remained: where do we put all this stuff in our 2 bedroom condo? (For the record, I think we can become distributors for Glad Storage Bags in Costa Rica.) But we trudge on, rearranging closets and drawers to the point that we can walk around our living room and finally bring the new furniture in.
One of the bins held our computer supplies, including our Vonage phone hook-up. I hooked the wires up to our router and phone console, contacted Vonage to reactivate our service, and viola! We now have an Internet based home phone in Costa Rica with our Indiana phone number. After a couple of phone calls in and out, with virtually no interference on the calls, we realize that technology is really bringing the world closer for everyone.
I had an appointment on Thursday to take our SUV to the Nissan dealership in Liberia for a total inspection and estimate for repairs to bring it up to new condition. The early morning drive across was pleasant with the sun low and the temps moderate. One thing that needed to be repaired was the sunroof, which would not open, and that would have made the drive a dream had it been working. I arrived at the dealership ahead of schedule and the service writer, Rebecca greeted me warmly like I was a long lost friend. She assured me that her mechanic would go through everything to make sure we had a safe and well-running vehicle. The entire dealership, showroom, parts store, garage, are all open air, and they have one employee whose only job is to continually sweep and mop the tiled floors…you could eat off of those floors. I occasionally walked around to the garage area and saw the mechanic have our engine hooked to the computer, checking our brakes, suspension, electronics…everything.
3 1/2 hours later, Rebecca says she has some news for me, and takes me around to “talk” with the mechanic (albeit she was interpreting). He took his time and showed me all of the good and bad things: Engine was like new, transmission in excellent shape, but it needed some suspension bushings, a caliper pin, a muffler hanger, and some electronic modules and a motor for the sunroof and cool box in the console. He also showed me the construction of the underbody of the Patrol, where everything is made solidly with steel supports for rugged driving conditions. I was impressed, to say the least. So Rebecca puts together the estimate, which, for all that needed done, was much less than I would have thought from a dealership, and everything would be warrantied. She told me it would take about a week to get the parts in, so I ask her for the bill for the inspection. She looked at me puzzled, saying that it was no charge. I am floored. 3 1/2 hours of a mechanic’s time at a dealership at no charge? She tells me that this is customary for Nissan owners and that she wants to make sure I come back to get the repairs done.
So back at the condo, Jackie has been spending her day organizing the place, and it is now starting to look like home with all of our familiar appliances, decor, and essentials. Truly a busy week, but one which cements our life in Paradise.