One Man And His Doghouse


Some tourists come to Costa Rica for the thrills of white water rafting, zip lining through the tree tops, or even surfing…but locals have their own quiet way of having a thrill.

We had ours yesterday. We crossed the bridge connecting us with the direct road into town for the first time for months.

Readers of the previous post might wonder whether the council had had a change of heart and decided to make the repairs.

Fat chance.

What had happened was that one of those disgruntled by the meeting had taken it upon himself to hire a bulldozer last Sunday and blocked the stream with the remnants of the bridge and all the rocks it could scoop up – a four inch pipe embedded in the rubble to carry the water through.
A few passes on either side to lay earth on the top and lo and behold – a bridge!

Note the natty yellow tape to prevent you from falling off it into the stream:

What, you might ask?
No obligatory preliminary study of soil stability?
No obligatory anti seismic construction plans passed by the College of Engineers?

The Isambard Kingdom Brunel of the three valleys is unrepentant.

The hell with the lot of them.

Danilo brought us the news on Monday and we were keen to set out for the bridge but he shook his head.

Let it settle a bit first…see if anything happens.

Apart from Don Antonio, having drink taken, falling into the stream despite the existance of the yellow tape nothing of consequence had happened so Danilo allowed us to use it today.

He stopped on the other side to point out that it would never last….this is the dry season and very dry it is too. Not much water in the stream.

Ah, just wait until we get the rains! One cloudburst and the whole thing will be blown apart by the pressure of water!

Having seen two bridges lower down the valley disappear in this fashion his pessimism is probably justified so we’ll make the most of it while it lasts as this way into town is a lot easier on the car than the precipitous back road we have been taking recently.

There had been changes in our absence.

Where Dona Martha’s stable had stood there was now a tatty tin structure and a compound containing motorbikes and quad bikes in all states of disrepair.
Apparently one of her husband’s sons by a previous marriage had returned to live in the town and persuaded his father to let him use the land for his repair business.

I preferred the stable and I suspect Dona Martha did too as she had a certain tight lipped look about her…

A house on stilts had been built on the top of the hill at the junction with the main road. As the hill is over 800 metres above sea level I can only assume that the owner of the house has been listening to too many of Danilo’s jeremiads on the subject of the rainy season…or that he knows something we don’t.

Business done – buying paint in quantity before the half price offer ended – we returned by the same route but two thirds of the way down to the bridge our eyes were caught by something new to the scene.

If you roll up to the photograph at the head of the page you might well spot it too…

Can you see it?

A red band in the middle of the photograph.

We hadn’t realised that it could be seen from there….it was part of the frontage of our new house.


It has been a long time a-building as Danilo is doing it himself – while running the finca and driving us about. He has taken on his son recently – good with welding and electronics – and is accompanied by his many dogs.
Under normal circumstances the floors would have gone down before any painting took place…but the offer was too good to resist and, once bought, The Men wanted to try it out.

The back of the house is not so vivid…
And it has not yet been settled – three falls, three submissions or one knock out to decide the winner – whether the grassy area under the roof will be a conventional tiled terrace or a covered garden….

But the views are stunning:


Even the one from the kitchen window:IMG_2714

So roll on the day when we move up the hill.

Still, we’re not there yet, so we drove on down to where we live now….the one time holiday house which is now bursting at the seams….where I was delighted to see this:
Flowers on the trunk of the guanabana tree by the back door, which, if the rains keep off, may produce these:
Massive green fruits with a white flesh…wonderful for drinks and ice cream – and held to be effective against cancer.

Not, as far as I know, effective against anything but good to eat with mayonnaise are these peach palm fruits which we bought ready cooked from a stall in town to form part of supper.

Oh and why the vivid frontage of the new house?
Because it is directly in the line of sight of the house of the unpleasant North American who has done his best to prevent us from building, from threatening to cut off the water to denouncing us to the council – not applying for planning permission – and the social security authorities – not paying our workers’ national insurance.
Thwarted on all fronts he can now have the pleasure of sitting on his front porch and getting an eyeful of the Red Infuriator.

That’ll learn him.


77 thoughts on “One Man And His Doghouse”

  1. My Man came home yesterday from a week in rainy Brisbane.No, he didn’t bring any home with him. The clouds tease, but that’s about all…
    Is guanabana a soursop? (I suppose I could Google it…yes, it is)

      1. You’re quite right. They don’t have the eyes to see things that would be usefull for the house nor the empathy. But I think – having 3 sons – that is essentially the older generation who suffer from this disease

  2. My, my, the level of gentrification around and about the finca is mind boggling. Reminds me of Hong Kong, only with fewer lights in the evening. I do like the notion of revenge paint. I think you should also add some twinkling Christmas lights that you leave on throughout the entire year. A couple of outdoor loudspeakers blasting Feliz Navidad in July seems just comeuppance for the evil Neighbour, too. You and Leo can simply purchase some earplugs as you sit back, quaff a cocktail and enjoy that lovely view.

  3. Ah, you have broken the security system and discovered the plan for a lake with illuminated sampans…

    We have been wondering about further irritation measures…a neighbour in France used to have Christmas lights in the form of icicles in psychedelic colours…I could send for some of those…..and Leo remembers the discotheque in our area of France which had a laser display which lit up the sky…we could aim it horizontally and put shutters at our windows…

    And even better (worse?) than Feliz Navidad is The Laughing Policeman –
    After a while it becomes sinister……
    We could vary it with The Galloping Major –
    as the accent will drive him mad…and a bit of Wagner for luck.

    And, talking to Danilo’s son we discovered that within hours of the paint job the house had acquired a local nickname.
    Being red on top it is called The Pizza.
    I shall be ordering a nameplate for the gates…

      1. Ah yes, the Little Sparrow at top volume…that should shake the birds from the trees…
        Wonder if he’d get the message…he’s from Arizona…his language skills might be limited to judge by his Spanish…..

  4. Well there’s one in the eye for him!!
    Max beat me to it with the ‘twinkling lights’ idea – have the big coloured ones on a timing system so he never knows what sequence is coming next.

  5. The views are indeed stunning Helen. The house looks very good – what is the expected completion date? Or is that a dirty pair of words in Costa Rica? Revenge paint, how delicious! How about one of those hideous 30 meter NASA type sat dishes on the roof, illuminated at night? Not that you’d use it of course, just for his viewing pleasure…

  6. The Pizza…Love it and all the ideas too best of all, those views. Stay well. as to your comment at mine, all I can say is that the US health system is not that forward thinking…Your Mum is lucky to be where she is, problems and all.

    1. People complain about the NHS but it has done a super job for my mother…hip replacement at 95, knee replacement at 96…it has kept her independent and free of pain.

      I’ve found that Costa Ricans have nicknames for any and everything…..and given that they also give directions from local landmarks I can see people being directed to the lower valley by being told
      ‘pass the Pizza’….

  7. . . it’s a wonderful tale with many parallels. Here in Turkey, when we were battling with the villagers to stop a quarry and cement works in a beautiful, pristine and biodiverse valley nearby we got picked on too. The ‘outsiders’ decided that we were the cause of all their troubles and so they bribed some bureaucrats and got a closure and demolition order on our house (for every rule that says ‘you can’, there are 10 that say ‘you can’t’ – and vice-versa). Anyway, they failed and ended up being chastised by a judge and told to leave us be. By way of a ‘one-fingure salute’, we painted the garage/workshop wall to look like a small house and named it ‘Kaçak Evi’ – illegal house! Still feels good every time we or anyone else driving/walking by takes a moment to look at it.
    As we ‘half-Turks’ say, in regard to just about anything that is seen as beneficial, ‘Afıyet Olsen!’ ‘May it be good for you!’

    1. As you say, many parallels. When we moved here permanently we walked into a water dispute where a would be developer was depriving people of water in order to have enough to pass the water sufficiency inspection for his project.
      We too were seen as an easy link to break….threats, a case brought against us for causing damage which alleged that my husband – a pensioner rated at 80% handicapped – climbed up the mountain behind us with an axe and caused $40,000 dollars worth of damage – attempts to seize our finca and house in San Jose…but we’re still here and the attempts to turn the community against us have backfired.

      So, yes, I understand why you painted the mural!.
      And many thanks for the good wishes!

  8. It is fair to say none of your readers are jealous of your views, your abundance of healthy fruits, nor the ability to build a bridge (temporary or not) just because you need to.
    We are happy with our boring lives, mince and cabbage, rain clouds and general dreichness, honest.

  9. A brilliant read … the bridge – yup definitely make hay whilst the sun shines on that one! But the laught of the lot having been transported through the joy of it all was your resounding statement at the end … it will learn the old cumudgeon. Keep being you! 😀

    1. The solution to the bridge delighted me.
      The person responsible, on being asked what would happen if there was an inspection, said that as no one had come to look at it since it collapsed he reckoned it unlikely that anyone would come out to check…and if they did, what could they do about it?

      Given the character of the man, it will be a pleasure to annoy him…..

  10. Ha ha! A red rag to a bull. How about a Union Flag, and some smiley faces too?

    The new house is really coming along, going to be FABULOUS! As tynecastle says, there is no way we envy your lifestyle, as we far prefer the bleak greyness of our lives in Europe’s perpetual winter.

    1. I had thought of some Heath Robinson device to play Colonel Bogey as his car passes the gates….

      Leo designed the house (though it had to be signed off by an architect) and as Danilo is building it they have made changes as things have gone along. He’s aiming for good air circulation and easy mobility for when we get more doddery…

      You could always have the rain in Spain….

  11. The house looks to be beautiful, I am curious to see how you are going to fill it in. And I can imagine you sitting on the patio sipping G&T (my favorite) or some other local goodie. I like the big windows. Perhaps you can have both tiled terrace combined with plant area.

    1. Leo planned it with wide doors and open access for when we get doddery…big windows for light and the views….but he now thinks we will need an annexe for all the books and is thinking about a sort of tower alongside…in the fullness of time!

      Yes, I expect we’ll arrive at a compromise about the terrace…

      1. as for books I see you have the same problem as I do. I read today an article nicely illustrated of libraries outside the house, with walls of books, a table to write on or comfortable chairs, an open fire to be led when the evenings are cold, a bar with drinks, basket for the dog, nice carpets, candles …… what else does a man/woman need to be happy !-))

  12. How peaceful it will be when you are on the other side of The Pizza. Except for the occasional bridge outage, of course.

    1. If it isn’t the bridge it will be something else. I’m girding the loins for the mortal combat with the electricity company to move our landline and internet up the hill….

    1. I’m sure you’ll find guanabana or soursop on the markets in London…though I’m not sure about the peach palm…which has nothing in common with a peach being rather mealy…but it’s good with mayonnaise.

      I wonder if he will move…..?

  13. Yes! Red to enrage! Lovely! Whilst one day you WILL sit smugly on your verandah whilst he fumes…. Those fruits look interesting. Fingers crossed for continued good progress on your house! Those views are to die for…one hopes not literally, of course!!

  14. Thank you for dropping by at my blog. I like what I see here and will visit often and comment when there is something intelligent that I can add!

    I like the Red Infuriator idea. Shall implement to settle some scores with a neighbour!

    1. I’ve enjoyed ‘meeting’ your blog…the item on the all purpose male garment made me think of the kilt…

      The origin of the Red Infuriator is the rough red wine from Algeria which more upmarket ( and strictly controlled) French wine makers would use to add body to their fairly thin produce in bad years… was supposed to have an effect on the temper of the drinkers…so I hope that my unpleasant neighbour will drink deep.

      I should add that north Africa is capable of making superb wine…some of which I had the pleasure of drinking at London’s Africa Centre in the dear old days when such an institution could afford premises round Covent Garden.

      I always think that the best part of this blog consists of the comments volunteered by those who read it…

  15. Your silent revenge is perfect,Helen. Talk about the biter bit! With luck it will annoy him so much he’ll decide to up sticks and leave you in peace. You have to admire the gumption of the unofficial bridge-builder and I hope his construction survives the rainy season.
    Good luck with the completion of the house. I bet you can’t wait to move in and revel in those glorious views.

    1. I am looking forward to moving up there…it will be easier for Leo, being on the flat, apart from anything else as down here he has to go up or downhill whenever he leaves the house and on bad days for his balance that can be tricky.

      Yes, let no one say that public meetings serve no purpose! A bridge was built!

      Our unpleasant North American is spitting tacks already…I’m glad to say.

  16. All very enterprising, building a temporary bridge out of soil and rubble. A pity it’ll just get washed away again.

    I like your cunning bit of bright-red revenge for all the aggravation your neighbours have caused you. Perhaps you could add some equally infuriating symbol – a hammer and sickle maybe or a picture of Fidel Castro? Floodlit all night naturally.

    1. I suspect our bridge builder will take tomorrow’s problems when they come…

      When in France our house sported a huge red star on the gable…when annoyed with the maire I used to threaten to add a red sickle and hammer underneath…

  17. I’d never heard of a guanabana – it looks very interesting.
    I like the bridge – I hope it lasts a while.I’m sure the yellow tape will prevent anyone falling in when it’s dark!

    1. It’s also called a soursop…I like it very much, but prefer it as a drink.
      Yes…the tape wasn’t very effective when it came to Don Antonio, but, given the state he was in I doubt anything could have prevented him from falling.

    1. Absolutely ideal! Given the nature of the North American beast the mere name ‘Queen’ would be enough to have him foaming at the mouth, let alone the lyrics.
      Should I put up a big screen, do you think?

      1. Played endlessly, at an irritatingly low volume that can only just be heard. Not loud enough to complain about, but loud enough to drive the victim insane after a couple of months.

        1. I’ll have to send Don Antonio up the road with a speaker and cable to get closer to him….and ensure success of project by giving him a bottle of guaro on his return, not one to take with him…

  18. I always read your posts on email so sorry that I do not comment so often. The bridge repair sounds just like Africa!! I hope you get rain soon, nothing worse than when the bush lights up and the wind carries the fire far afield. Cape Town has just had a massive fire, so may homes lost and a number of lives as well. The other worry of course is that much of the wild life was also burnt alive. Very sad. Take care, Happy Easter Diane

    1. Yes a friend living in Cape Town told us about the fire and the resulting damage….and in all these fires the animals die.

      A chap down in the valley started burning rubbish last week and the neighbours were down there like a dose of salts to stamp out the fire. We have a lot of dry garden trimmings to dispose of, but they’ll be heaped up ready for the rainy season to start decomposing them.

      Happy Easter to you both.

  19. I like the bridge. That’s the sort of thing that would happen in my pueblo. One of the things I love about countries where people find practical solutions to just get on with life.

    For some reason the new house reminded me of a post office, although clearly not Correos or it would have bern yellow.

    As for music, I suggest Relax, (FGTH). That should fit the bill nicely.

  20. There is a wonderful lot of diverse characters in every one of your posts. I do love people who do not follow the common herd.

    I’m late because I have been off line for several weeks. Glad to be back blogging again.

    1. And now I am away from the internet for a while…..
      One of the things I like about Costa Rica is the refusal to accept the norm…
      Oh, and I’ve just heard that the bridge has collapsed.

    1. Thank you…mother had some worries – not health related – which meant an unexpected trip to sort things out, thus away from the internet for some weeks.
      Very touched by your concern.

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