A Glass Half Empty Day

building works 003I’m a sort of optimistic pessimist…if the glass is half empty then there’s room for a top up….but there are days which leave me in no mood even to pick up the glass in the first place.

Yesterday was one of those…..on the face of it a fine day for being up on the building site, deciding where to build the corral and chicken housing and planting more trees and shrubs.
The work had, despite the early start to the rainy season, been going very well so what was there to spoil the mood?

A prat, that’s what.

There is a big reorganisation of water rights and usage going on in this area after the mess made by The Neighbour when the developer was trying to get permission for housing further down the valley.
It has taken ages…meetings, checking title deeds, visits to government offices, more meetings, gentle persuasion exerted on the man who thought his neighbours should pay him for permitting the new main pipe to run through his finca, appointments with a taxation tribunal to arrange who should in fact pay what to whom, and finally, more checking of title deeds, but we seem to be in sight of the objective…water for everyone (except The Neighbour) at an agreed usage.

Being a glass half empty person, it occurred to me that long before this process ended we would need to begin building and as part of The Neighbour’s reorganisation had seen the water removed from our cafetal where we wanted to build we had to get a secure supply there to enable work to start, rather than waiting until the big reorganisation was completed.

There is a convenient spring on the finca next up the mountain…and until the Neighbour started messing about the pipes had run over that finca and through our own so we thought we would ask the owner, a North American, if we could come to some arrangement by which we could use that water and reinstate the pipes.
We had only met him once before….when he stopped us on the road to tell us that unless we paid him for the telegraph posts which carried the ‘phone line over his land he would sell them to someone else and leave us without a ‘phone.
ICE – the electricity board – did not take his attempt at blackmail kindly; especially as the posts were theirs…

So it was no surprise that he refused downright to help us out in the matter of water – even though there was a partial right of way and customary use over the whole line had been established for more than forty years.
So we told him that we would seek a concession to take water from the spring from the Environment Ministry and re establish the right of way for the pipes.

His response came a few days later when his North American neighbour came by for a coffee and got straight down to business.

We did not want to apply for a concession.

Yes, we did.

No, we certainly did not. X (the owner) doesn’t want anyone on his property.

He won’t have anyone on his property. Once the line is laid there’s no need for anyone to go there. No one did before when the pipes were there.

You don’t understand. X doesn’t want anyone on his property. You don’t want to go ahead with this.

But we do.

No you don’t. Y won’t like it. You don’t want to upset Y.

Who the blazes is Y?

You don’t know Y?.

We had never heard of Y, but enquiry showed him to be another North American, living a high life and popularly supposed to be involved in the drugs trade. He did not come to call and was found hanged in his garage some months later….

So we went ahead and – after much dirty work at the crossroads – obtained our concession. The re establishment of the right of way is taking longer, but the Environment Ministry inspector said that if we took the water pipe from the source down the bed of the stream that runs from it then we were on state property – the state owns all watercourses – and so not trespassing on the North American’s finca.
It meant going about three times as far with the pipes…but if it got the work started…fine.

And so the foundations went down and the walls went up.

Then we had a call from the owner of the finca. He wanted to see us to talk about the water. He would come to the building site.

He duly arrived. He was chatty, admired the site and the house and then said

I’m cutting off your water.

We have a concession.

No you don’t. My lawyer has seen the Ministry lawyers…there were irregularities in your application. Its not worth the paper it’s written on. I’m getting a concession…that will be the only one…and I’m cutting off your water. This week.

It was suggested that he leave before Danilo’s dog Rowley took a dislike to him and after saying how disappointed he was in our lack of willingness to discuss the matter he left.

So what now?

We know we have a legal right to the water…..but what do we do if his workmen rip out our pipes?
Replace them of course and sue him for the damage but it all takes up time better spent on building.

Do we believe the ‘irregularities’?
No, but as he has a lawyer whose list of contacts compensates for his ignorance of the law it is well to check with the Ministry.
More time wasted…but I believe in belt and braces.

Nothing we can’t cope with.

But what I find so depressing is that someone could set up a meeting at the building site….appear to enter into our enthusiasm for the project and then pull the ‘cutting off your water’ stunt, designed to ruin everything we were working to achieve.
He has to have a strange sort of mentality to find that satisfying.

Don Freddy dropped by at the house later on and we were discussing it with him.
He repeated what we had already heard about X’s none too savoury way of life…..taxi drivers talk….and provided a possible key to explain the behaviour.

You building up there, on the road to his house, must bother him….you’ll be able to see who comes and goes.

But we’re not interested!

That’s not a risk he wants to take.

Don Freddy might have a point.


50 thoughts on “A Glass Half Empty Day”

  1. Not one to fritter away my housekeeping $$ on idle bets…I’d say Don Freddy has a vary valid point!
    I’ve had to deal with pig-headed neighbours and it’s most unpleasant, isn’t it.And so stupid.May the man’s glass remain empty.Sláinte!

    1. Don Freddy’s a shrewd customer……

      Yes idiots like this are a pain in the proverbial…but I was just thinking…had it not been us, but a young couple building their dream house, they would have been devastated.
      Not just an idiot…but mean minded.

  2. Bloody hell, Helen. This sounds very unsavoury indeed. Our recent discussions with neighbours about access to water appears to be a polite and gentle difference of opinion compared to this – only in time, I know ours will be resolved without too many problems. I do hope you get your access sorted soon without finding horses heads or other unpleasant things in your pipes.

    1. Luckily this business does not affect the water supply to the existing house.
      As far as I am concerned, the access is sorted. We have jumped through all the right hoops and have all the right paperwork.
      Doesn’t pay to get too worried about it. He will either go away or he will not.

  3. This sounds even more annoying than flinging yourself into a pond so that the resultant tsunami washes away helpless ducklings.

    I don’t know how the society works in your neck of the woods but isn’t there a village or neighborhood godfather who can be entreated to point out all the mutual benefits of compromise?

  4. He really is a bastard isn’t he? I think I would also take Don Freddy’s advice…at least for the time being until you can attempt to sort out the legalities. What a mess, and so frustrating.

  5. Good grief. Will X be satisfied if you have no windows on the road facing side of the house or if you build a 20ft wall cutting off the view? Or maybe you ought to just poke out your eyes? I’m sure there’s a reasonable solution in there somewhere! Or perhaps not. All reason collapses in the face of unreason.

    1. He’s one of these chaps who is as thick as two short planks and feels that what he paid for his finca entitles him to lay down the law in a radius of several miles as, after all, he is of a superior species…quite apart from his other propensities…

  6. Hello Helen,

    Gosh, this does all sound rather intimidating. People of lesser backbone than you would, we suspect, have turned on their heels and gone long ago. Alas, people with money believe that they can buy their way into and out of anything and, in general, they can. We should be following your way forward which is to be sure that every avenue is covered with the correct paperwork. We trust that this will suffice.

    1. Yes indeed. Always as well to watch one’s back with the paperwork….

      The community combining to stop the proposed development has been useful as I now know my way round – at least – the Environment Ministry system so I know whom to approach about these threats.

      This chap thinks he can bully his way through the world and, as you note, this sort generally can by a combination of notes in back pockets and the general apathy and hopelessness of the bullied.

      We shall see if, in the words of my grandmother’s neighbour, he is more than ‘all mouth and trousers’.

  7. Uh-oh. Someone’s not very clever – nobody’s told him that it’s a bad idea to mess with Helen. I’d put him in a room with Danilo’s dog and that sexually confused goat of yours. If human beings can’t make him hear reason, maybe they could…

  8. Blimey, you do seem to get into trouble with neighbours and natives wherever you land. Have you a particular knack for doing so or is it just bad luck?

    Helen, I am not made of such stuff as you. Anything for a quiet life, that’s me.

    Good luck with the pipes. What goes in C.R. in the matter of corruption and backhanders?

    1. We generally had good neighbours in France…just at the last house we had the duckstealer and, of course, the chasse who were not best pleased to be turfed off our property – legally turfed off, of course.

      Here, when moving definitely, we found ourselves in the midst of a community action against a proposed development in which the chief pest was The Neighbour – a nuisance to all, not just to us – and now we have this idiot so I don’t feel inclined to accept the modern mantra that if you have troubles with people encroaching on your rights that it is somehow down to your own attitude.

      I do suspect that because Leo is ill people so inclined do think that they can take advantage…and that they are incensed when they find that they cannot.

      Corruption and backhanders? Much as in France.

  9. Holy moly. Your perseverance is beyond belief. You might tell him he can install a privacy fence the length of the road.

  10. Good lord, Helen, is it worth it? Not only the hoops and bells and whistles, but the ongoing enterprise of the neighbors? I’m afraid I’d have kicked the dust from my boots by now. What a country!

        1. The clue to living quietly in France is not to annoy anyone with more power than you.
          Do tell Dennis that I’d be happy to talk to him about the less well appreciated aspects of French culture.

  11. How petty can you get. Good luck with your fight but I don’t think I’d like to be moving next to such a character. What happened to common decency?

  12. How foolhardy of him to tangle with you. He’ll tie himself in knots – hopefully one under his ear. I am so sorry you have to contend with aggravation from this tdc, and will keep my fingers that you’ll emerge victorious. What do these people get out of causing unnecessary problems for others? There should be a country set aside for bad neighbours where they can all go and make each other’s lives hell. What a good book that could make. 😉

    1. One with plenty of characters…would the plot devolve to the last one left standing, I wonder?
      Can’t you just imagine the combinations, double crossings, etc…!

      His is a primitive mind in which money is God.
      As you know, we moved into what started out as our holiday home, a small house…so he sees us as poor – an impression borne out by our gardening clothes, it has to be said.
      Someone poor, to him, is someone he can bully and threaten.
      So he does.

      I must try to find my manual of seafarer’s knots…

  13. It seems that everyone has said just what I would have said, but I hope that you get it sorted very soon as it really is holding everything up for you. I wonder exactly what does go past your new place that he is so determined to stop you seeing, the mind boggles! Keep well, bonne chance. Diane

    1. No hold ups so far…we shall see what happens.
      I just wonder what the late Y was supposed to do to dissuade us…….and what concern of his it was what went on on X’s finca…

  14. Incredible. I see an earlier comment suggested a privacy fence, so they got there before I did… Press on, mighty warriors, I say… the more you talk abut it with others in the community the more he’ll realize he can’t mess with you. The threats simply mystify me. What a complete dorkbrain, not to mention disappointed he’s a norte americano? Jeesh galore to the max.

    1. Don’t worry about the reputation of North Americans…you should see some of the British in France!
      He just likes throwing his weight about…or trying to.
      But what a miserable human specimen….

  15. And I thought that we had problems with our neighbour. No water involved but their barking dog has been making life hell recently. We have given him enough rope to hang himself, but unlike Y he has not taken the hint. What do these people gain from being so awkward and unpleasant?

    1. I’m sorry that the barking dog problem is still going on after all this time….if he lived in a council flat no doubt the RSPCA would be round in a flash…

      I’ve been wondering that too…I can only suppose they feel important…powerful…happy to be able to mess up someone else’s life…and while we might regard them as pathetic individuals the fact remains that they are blasted nuisances.

  16. Gosh, you do have some unneighbourly neighbours, don’t you, Helen? The man is a bully and a cad and would be well served if you spied on every one of his visitors and told the world about them. Good luck with your defence of your concession. I have a feeling your nasty neighbour doesn’t know what he’s taken on by trying to bully you.

    1. Well The Neighbour is special, and is well disliked by most of the people we know here…and as a side effect of their defence of their valley against development they have brought him down…no longer the semi witchdoctor and violent bully of the area he now risks a stretch in prison.
      Things have changed and offer proof that you don’t have to take things lying down.

      This chap is another kettle of fish…though equally repulsive. He feels that the price he paid for his finca gives him almost feudal rights…..and that, as a North American, he is superior to his Costa Rican neighbours – and to us.

      While rumour offers some pretty clear hints as to his activities, interestingly enough The Neighbour in his cups at a fiesta was boasting how he would soon make people sorry that they had attacked him in court….thanks to his association with this chap.

      Vultures of a feather..but how interesting that they seem to be flying together.

  17. Goodness, some people are so pointlessly bloody-minded. Good for you resisting them and not just caving in. I’m glad water access here is so simple and doesn’t involve an ongoing battle with the neighbours.

    1. It would have been simple here if the developer hadn’t tried to lead a lot of it off to his proposed site in order to get the certificate of adequate water supply he needed to get planning permission…and trying to sort it has been interesting in the extreme; combinations of legal rights, customary rights, access to springs and pipes…it has been an education!

      What annoys me with this specimen is his deliberate attempt to set up a scenario….come to the site, get you to enthuse over the project and then kick the feet from under it.
      He must watch too much television…

  18. This sounds scary to me Helen.Maybe I’ve watched too many TV too….. you seem to be adopting the best approach to it all though.I hope it isn’t causing you too many sleepless nights…this is the sort of thing that really keeps me awake…..you jump through all the hoops you thought you had to…and still things dont go smoothly.

    1. No, no sleepless nights….you must remember I’ve had the chasse in my garden, armed to the teeth and threatening to ‘have an accident’…

      There are always people with no respect for any law except that of the jungle…in which they imagine themselves to be at the top of the food chain.

      All you can do is to bring the force of law to bear on them….usually a response so futile and late as to have no effect….and, much more effectively, go for their assets…which is in hand.

  19. You certainly have more patience and prudence than I would with this character. I’d have likely catapulted the modern equivalent of a smallpox-ridden corpse into his backyard by now – not the subtlest means of getting a point across, but entirely justifiable under the circumstance, I would think.

    1. Yes, I have to say that turning the other cheek did not even enter my mind….and had I a smallpox ridden corpse it would be currently adorning his porch.
      However…there are other, perfectly legal, ways of skinning a cat, so, over the years as his income dries up and his property becomes valueless I rather think he would come to have preferred the smallpox ridden corpse.

  20. Been away awhile – see you’re as dogged as ever – good on you.

    Heading to France soon – might even look at properties – aghhhh!!! No seriously, I might – strictly for holidays only though.

    1. It’s dogged as does it….that or a machine gun…

      It was good to see you back in the blogging world again….and now you’re looking at French property…somewhere near terrifying cols, I imagine…

      Should you find you ideal holiday residence do feel free to ask me for any info you might need – I might not be there, but French friends are and provide a super source of knowledge on the wonders of septic tank regulations, rights of way for maintenance of your property and which forms you can safely ignore…

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