Danger! Men at Work!

The view from the cafetal
The view from the cafetal

This will be the view from the terrace of our new house up in the cafetal. At the moment only the foundations have been laid and the whole project will take some months to complete as it is an ‘in-house’ job, but it is advancing at a steady forward creep, having overcome the usual administrative hurdles whose purpose might best be expressed as ‘you can’t do that there ‘ere’.

Well, you can, but only after jumping through the usual hoops and parting with extravagant amounts of money in order that your own plans should be signed off by a real architect, who estimates the building costs and takes a fixed percentage fee based on his own estimate….
But exorbitant though that fee might be it’s a damned sight worse if you are rash enough to get him to do the plans as well.
Apart from involving a delay of several months while he takes a holiday on the upfront portion of the fee, then recovers from the holiday, then it’s Christmas and New Year with the family at the beach and only when January ends does he run short enough of money to think of completing the job.
Together with all the others he has been sitting on for months.

You have to be careful, too, that the house does not run the danger of being considered – for tax purposes – as ‘luxurious’ which would bring it into a higher tax bracket.
The money raised from this tax is supposed to be applied to improving the standards of housing of the poor, but as the body supervising this process believes that charity begins at home and is busy rehousing its relatives on the proceeds, both from a fiscal and moral point of view it is better that the house is not classed as luxurious.

We had thought to build a house here before – and then changed our minds. Luckily…. as the Italianate villa with a tower that we had first had in mind would have seen us paying enough annual tax to enable the supervisory body to house the entirety of its sisters and its cousins, whom it reckons up in dozens and its aunts.

We like our original house, tucked in as it is under the hill, but despite adding a balcony and extra bedroom it is bursting at the seams and we need something larger, if only to house the books.

There is, too, the fact that we are not getting any younger and it would make things easier to be on flat ground.
While indoors is fine with the current house, going out involves walking steeply up or downhill to get to garden, stables or pool.
Up on the top, with a bit of leveling, we have a flat area all around the house and on a lower level, another flat area on one side for housing for the sheep, cattle and poultry and on the other side somewhere flat for the veg garden.

Planting on the approaches
Planting on the approaches

A house, however, is nothing without its surroundings, so we spent part of the last rainy season transporting the plants Leo had been growing on in pots up to the house site, to give an avenue of palms interplanted with gingers in the short term…to be ruthlessly hacked out should they start to run amok. Thugs they may be, but they are beautiful when in flower.

gingers in flower
gingers in flower

Not that beauty was lacking to start with….
arriba 018
This tree gives the pink fleshed guavas I use to make jelly and I love its shape.

But the guava now has company.

unluxurious residence for tax purposes...
unluxurious residence for tax purposes…

This bijou residence is where Danilo spends the night – and will continue to spend the night while materials and tools are on the site, as the entrance from the road is now wide open and he worries about theft.

Down towards the road
Down towards the road

He is not alone. He has his two dogs for company, Calamardo and Rowley.
Calamardo is a black and tan specimen, rangy and intelligent.
Rowley is a brown pit bull type, stocky, half blind and single minded.
Both are lovely dogs once you get to know them, but while getting to know Calamardo is easy, approaching Rowley makes the etiquette of ancien regime Versailles look like a picnic.

You have to be accompanied by Danilo as master of ceremonies: you do not arrive on foot – if you wish to retain same.
On arrival, Rowley will hurtle towards you, to be intercepted by Danilo. You may then open the car door – and leave it open for Rowley to sniff you and the car. He circles you widdershins several times and then pees on a tyre.
You are now accepted at court.
The next time you arrive Rowley will hurtle towards you and give you a lick. Half blind he may be but his sense of smell is acute.

I have not discovered what happens if he does not pee on a tyre…but having seen him demolishing the thigh bones of oxen with consummate ease I prefer not to contemplate the prospect.

So far no attempts at theft have been made….but Danilo has had other visitors.

Further along the road is a spot much frequented by those seeking a little privacy for their romantic interludes and not willing or not able to pay for a couple of hours in one of the many ‘pay by the hour’ hotels, the car windows open to the warm night air.
You can estimate the usage by the number of takeaway boxes and cans of soft drink thrown from said windows into the hedge alongside.

Well, the top photograph shows the view in daytime…at night too it is a beautiful spot under the stars and the wide open entrance has, of course, attracted business from the hedgerow.

Danilo reckons it takes just a few moments after the car starts bouncing on its springs before the couple realise that they are not alone….Calamardo at one window, Rowley at another, breathing heavily.
Collapse of stout party guaranteed.

He was telling us about this over coffee this morning when Don Freddy called in.
He looked grave.

You should take a few precautions, you know…

The dogs won’t hurt them….they’re only curious.

No no…you should take a torch and pencil and paper.

Whatever for?

To note down the number plates of course! Don’t you see…you could look them up on the Registro Nacional the next day and threaten to tell their wives!
You could make a fortune!

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39 thoughts on “Danger! Men at Work!”

  1. Indeed! Thing is, would I make sufficient “fortune” to cover the fare to get there?
    Love your gingers.I’m beginning to “hack” some of mine and dig out some while the ground is soft.

    1. I have others, but they need more soggy ground, so I’m trying to sort something out to be able to bring them up to the new site.
      Don Freddy’s other idea was to sell tickets at the entrance, but if they won’t pay for a couple of hours in a hotel I doubt very much they would be willing to pay for entrance to a building site…

  2. I suppose there’s absolutely no point in suggesting that there are plenty of pretty bungalows in places like Brighton, with a view of the seafront and a slightly dilapidated pier. Or how about Oostende? I’ve eaten a splendid choucroute there.

    Do you think the amorous couples will find a new trysting place when your new house is completed? You won’t like picking discarded junk out of the hedgerows.

  3. I’m not ready just yet for ‘Frinton for the incontinent’…..but Belgium would appeal were it not for the winters and the walloons.

    I think Rowley will dissuade use of the premises quite effectively – his heavy breathing has to be heard to be believed – and the hedgerow is well down the road from us.
    Though I could put up a litter bin in the shape of a whatever it is that looks like a netball net but isn’t – as used by the Harlem Globetrotters – to add a bit of sporting challenge to littering.

  4. smiling, smiling, smiling…. of course, I’m smiling….

    Changes, changes, lately…. had a tico man over (not married by the way), we had a rousing romp and I got kicked off the property for entertaining a tico. Especially a tico. Well, time was up, I guess. Moving to a typical tico apartment by and with ticos this Saturday. My time sitting on the fence re: Espanol is at an end and my life as a pseudo dona is just beginning… adventures galore ahead, my friend!

    Find Happy! Niki

    https://nikisims.wordpress.com https://coastersandposters.wordpress.com http://www.facebook.com/NikiSimsOracle https://amysticsdiary.wordpress.com Skype: nikisims.new54 Cell: 506.8417.7271 Post Office Box apdo: 327-3009 Heredia, Ste Barbara 40401 Costa Rica

    1. Hey Niki! They tell you to integrate and when you do they get uptight!
      Do your own thing.. as my father said – if they are not paying your bills they can’t tell you how to live.

  5. Hard to decide between the petty officials or the lying lovers, but I guess I need to have a go at the former, having just left a meeting of those who supervise petty officials.I, of course, being the person of no authority who hits the table and yells “For God’s sake, these men work for you!” They did thoroughly air all the petty lying and thievery between the two under discussion and will have another meeting to decide which to fire in order to make up the deficit in the township’s annual budget. This may be America, but government is government the world around. OK, that’s off my chest.
    And your new house will be wonderful. Another adventure for us to follow.

    1. After France,Costa Rica is honesty itself….and here we have a sort of Ombusdman for every ministry….shit happens but you can turn it into methane…
      It’s been a super learning curve…

  6. It sounds like Costa Rica’s almost as expensive as France for taxes. Are you through all the paperwork already? Or will we be getting some more fun posts?
    Don’t talk to me about dogs – mine is on heat and I have hot blooded Southern males lined up outside the door every day. For her, not for me…

    1. There’s a joke that every time a Costa Rican president goes to Europe they return with a new idea of how to tax people….
      In general, taxation is a lot less burdensome but odd things rise up like a rake handle to strike you amidships, like this tax on ‘luxurious’ houses.
      They also have the idea of allocating the proceeds of various fines for specific ends – like child protection or conservation – which may or may not be of consolation should you be caught speeding…
      As for the hot blooded Southern males….here the poodle is on heat and Monty is extremely interested: somehow I’d never thought of sheep as hot blooded…especially when under one month old…

    1. It’s slap bang in the middle of the water dispute area – that developer has a lot for which to answer – and it complicated the planning permission procedure no end, but it’s on our own land, just up the hill from our existing place.

  7. I would be very happy with a non luxurious house if I had that view, Hope they do not tax on the view as that really is luxurious 🙂 Keep well you two. Diane

  8. Very enterprising of you to build a brand new house. Especially with all the red tape and expense you have to think about. Luckily our house and garden are totally on the level so we don’t need to contemplate a change of residence. And will the new house be a totally up-to-the minute energy-efficient, environment-friendly proposition or a bit more traditional?

    1. It’s not so much the red tape – that was fairly minimal, although complicated by the reorganisation of the water supply – it’s the coughing up of money at the obligatory stages – architect, town hall, building insurance – where they have you over a barrel.
      Traditional build..with solar panels so that we can take advantage of the electricity board’s scheme for feeding on and off the grid….and with a proper arrangement for black water.

  9. Now that really is a stupendous view to wake up to and then spend the day with. Enough to put any house into the luxurious bracket. Mind you, if you play your cards as suggested by Don Freddy, you could make enough to pay the tax in any case. 🙂

    1. It is lovely and will be even better in the rainy season when everything becomes green again.
      If you enlarge the photo twice, you can see the fruit on the tree on the left…tiny green things. They are called jocote: are ripe when they turn red and have a sweet and sour taste.
      Danilo tells me that seven toucans visit the tree in the early mornings so I must get myself up there for a look.

      Don Freddy is full of schemes to turn a penny…..and it wouldn’t occur to him that this one could be called blackmail…

  10. I had to laugh at the dog peeing on the tyre. There are half a dozen at the industrial estate who would eat then pee on our car tyre. As I haven’t been up there this week since we got the motorbike, I wonder if they pee up my husband’s leg instead.

    I do think it’s an excellent idea to build a house somewhere flatter. I wish we could do the same. Hills become more and more difficult as we get older.

    I rather like Don Freddy’s idea!

    1. You’d understand all the technical stuff…like the metal cages built into the foundations and spreading out from the house at the corners to spread weight and resist earthquake damage…I’ll keep you up to date!

  11. Dementia made me forgot to comment here!
    Danilo is doing a great job, but the dogs are doing much more!!
    You are supposed to be getting old yet do more than most folks normally do.

    1. More likely the ironing…..

      Leo always reckons that if he stops he will be finished…there might be something in that…

      We have found a nineteenth century house which is to be demolished and will be going up to take a look to see if we can buy out materials…nice ironwork, windows and doors….

      If we take Danilo’s dogs we might get a discount…

  12. “if only to house the books” … I love it! “approaching Rowley makes the etiquette of ancien regime Versailles look like a picnic” … classic! Great post, and I am very impressed that you are planning to build there. I’m not sure I’d have that sort of courage!

    1. The books are a great problem….I have – or had – a system of shelves and boxes which my cleaning woman has thrown into disarray by removing books from boxes and double stacking the shelves…
      I can find nothing!

      Building is no great problem…it’s a natural flat area so we don’t need to consolidate the ground and only need one major retaining wall on the side where we want to install a pool….but as long as I accept that it will be finished when it is finished and don’t get impatient, all will be well.

      Except that the electricity board say that they have run out of posts….and once I solve that they will, no doubt have run out of wire…and let nobody mention transformers….

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