Close Encounters of The Neighbour Kind…

You need to have a lawyer in Costa Rica…not just because any and everything needs to be formally entered in the National Register, but because they can arrange other matters too….

Some years ago the local council altered the drainage system on the road at the top of the finca, with the result that water poured onto our land and caused damage, destabilising one section. As the council had cloth ears on the subject of putting things right we went to the Constitutional Court which ordered the council to sort it.

Being our local council…which scored zero in the transparency section of the annual inspection this year – probably an improvement on past performance…it did nothing, pleading breakdown of its bulldozer, the absence of a qualified engineer, probably a rearrangement of the rings of Saturn…..until we rashly let it slip, altering the drainage ourselves to limit the damage.

Unfortunately, last year the affected section of land started to slip in its turn, so we were obliged to put in a retaining wall.

Promptly the council served us with a demolition order as we did not have planning permission for the works.

Which is when the lawyer came into the act.

He went to see the alcalde – the mayor – and had a few words in his shell-like to the effect that if the council did not withdraw the notice then the Constitutional Court would be made aware of the council’s disobedience to its orders which would result in ‘ooh nasties’ all round and the alcalde risking three months in the jug.

An immediate decision was made to withdraw the order and then the two chaps settled down over a cup of coffee to put the rest of the world to rights, as Costa Rican culture is distinctly non confrontational and little unpleasantnesses have to be papered over in a civilised manner.

Our lawyer enquired how the council came to know that we had put in the wall…after all, we are not on a main thoroughfare and the council’s officers rarely venture far from their fortress for fear of encountering outraged citizens.

Ah! We had been denounced!

By whom?

The Neighbour! He of the crisp white hat with the curly brim!

He had been lying low since the failure of his marriage, so what had brought him out of his lair?

He had thought we were going to build a house….a house which would overlook the entrance to the lane leading to his property.

Ah! The Neighbour is understandably sensitive about any potential observation of visitors to his domain…especially the taxis which arrive in the early hours of the morning and depart shortly afterwards….but had the council sent out officers to check?

No….they had not.

So they took The Neighbour’s word for it?

Not exactly….The Neighbour is paying one of the Vice Alcaldes – wearing her hat as a lawyer – to get him a government concession to access water for his property so – wearing her hat as Vice Alcalde – she authorised the issue of the notice…

How much has she made out of him so far?

About two million colones…some two and a half thousand quid. And they haven’t even printed his request in the Gazette yet….

Where’s he getting the money for that, then?

Probably something to do with the taxis…

And so, mutually assured destruction having been avoided, there matters rested.

Until recently.

I called at the lawyer’s office to pick up a document and found him, as usual, drinking coffee while he contemplated the piles of dossiers on his desk. He did not, however, look at ease.

He had been at a fiesta the day before…no, hand lifted in reproof, he had not been on the sauce. He had not wanted to go even, but as it was the birthday of the man who looks after his horses it was a social obligation to show his face – and to take a contribution of beer to aid the festivities.

He had accepted a tumbler of whisky which proved to be of the sort that left you gasping for breath and worrying about the state of the enamel on your teeth, circulated for a while and then ran slap into The Neighbour who, scenting free booze, had invited himself on the strength of a distant family connection with the birthday boy.

So when are your clients going to pay me the twenty million they owe me?

What twenty million?

The twenty million they owe me.

For what?

Allowing them to take over my water concession…and the pipes. Cost me a fortune, those pipes…

You don’t have a water concession and apart from that they have their own concession…why would they buy yours..if you had one, that is?

Because my pipes run directly from the tank by the source and theirs have to go down the streambed…

But you don’t have a concession…what you are doing is illegal…

No, you don’t umderstand…I had a concession and I’ll have it back soon…I’m doing them a favour…but they won’t pay me! I just don’t understand you, helping foreigners against Costa Ricans…you ought to be shot…

Don’t even think about it!

He had left the fiesta before things got out of hand….

But had we ever agreed anything with The Neighbour?

Certainly not…but we had received an offer from him via one of his ‘friends’ to the effect that if we paid him fifteen million he would

A. Give back the pipes he stole from our finca seven years ago

B.Agree not to cut our water pipes

and C. Not poison the source with diesel.

So what had we done?

Suggested to his ‘friend’ that were he to poison the source he would find a number of very unhappy users of said source on his doorstep with machetes and as for the rest, he could go whistle.

Clearly, we have not yet fully adapted to Costa Rican culture as we did not offer the ‘friend’ a seat on the balcony nor yet a cup of coffee over which to mull the problems of the world. I showed him Einstein instead and he left abruptly.


30 thoughts on “Close Encounters of The Neighbour Kind…”

  1. It is not possible for such folks to give up.
    20 million! Was he ever a Tory councillor at any time? He seems to understand their ways.
    I love the machete approach, with dog, and I suspect his white hat would not be seen for a while.
    You could of course bring back one or two of his old women to trouble,him…

    1. I suspect that his attitudes closely resemble those of a Tory councillor………gimmee, gimmee, gimmee…
      He persists in believing that all foreigners are prey and will be frightened by his threat to poison the source…He knlows and we know he knows that any hint of it and he would be in the proverbial. Water is a sore subject round here and machetes are in wide distribution.
      I think he may need money to escape from h is entanglements with females, at least one of whom has her eye on his property….

    1. He is a real piece of work, bullying, lying, drunken, violent and involved in something unsavoury.
      If you want the full history, look at the pages marked The Neighbour the history at the top of the page on the right. He is distinctly less bumptious these days than when we first came across him…

  2. I have a lawsuit going. A guy was supposed to renovate ironwork and instead sold it. Now he wants full payment for the work he did not do. At least he doesn’t live next door.

    1. Oh, deep joy…a French lawsuit! Avocats a gogo, experts – soi disants – and Oncle Tom Cobley and all.

      Why they think they can get away with it because the client is a foreigner beats me…probably because they usually do if the client lacks both French and balls.

      Picked the wrong one with you, though…

      1. Do their drinking buddies put them up to it? Does your neighbor even have drinking buddies? In my case, it’s all I can figure. When my lawyer shows the Before photo of nice original ironwork and the After of nothing, nothing at all, followed by a counterclaim for the replacement cost, well, I don’t know. Maybe the drinking buddies will chip in to cover his bill.

        1. Are you in court in Paris or in Western France? If the latter watch out for skulduggery.
          As for our chap, I think he is deranged…he buys good opinions of himself by entering bars and ordering food and drink for all within…but as he has been barred from every bar in the area that local popularity is waning.
          However, he is very well protected…one has a good idea why.

    1. This is a man who, when needing money, thinks someone else should provide it….and any pretext will do.
      As my lawyer says, while he’s breathing, he’s lying.

  3. I think my hosting skills would mirror yours, culture notwithstanding. The nerve of some people! As much as I hate to say it, perhaps keep the ‘thugs’ a tad on the hungry side till the neighbor gains some perspective if he doesn’t acquire some sense.

  4. The Neighbour does not come round himself…as befits his image of himself he sends round what he thinks of as an enforcer…in fact a loud mouthed boor. He must watch too much television!
    He used to wield a lot of power, but his bluff has been called too many times during the water dispute and that, together with his marital disaster, has lowered his status considerably.
    Unfortunately he is all too well protected in local legal and municipal circles, though the former has begun to crumble, much to his surprise….
    His henchman did not take to Einstein at all….the feeling was mutual.
    Perhaps I should have let Monty loose on him….the ram whose motto is butt first, trample next and don’t bother with the questions……

  5. There is a small segment of the population who subsist by parasitically filing suits, throwing around threats and generally making life miserable for each and every person from whom they believe they can squeeze money. They are largely without shame or scruples, and see no issue with their actions. In the old days they would have been run out of town, or worse, but in today’s “enlightened” world we have to put up with this foolishness. We, as a group, are the poorer, figuratively and literally, for it.

  6. Moving around a bit I find that you will always find someone who thinks that a foreigner is easy meat…and who becomes incandescent with rage when said foreigner refuses to be exploited, robbed, etc…..
    There would be a majority for running him out of town among our neighbours but, as you say, in these enlightened times he is untouchable.

  7. Who needs friends when they can have a neighbour like yours. At least he keeps you – and us – entertained.
    Einstein and a machete seem to be the best way to deal with him.

    1. Luckily he is not on my doorstep…I would not like to be disturbed by the mysterious nocturnal taxis…..and he certainly won’t come to the house in person having a well founded fear that he might be treated as an intruder by the dogs….or worse, Monty the ram.
      I have to admit to a wish to raise a bunion on his Spanish onion should I catch him bending…..

  8. I hope it gets sorted to your satisfaction. I think you’ve made the mistake that my bipeds often make – expecting logic from someone that is totally incapable of it! It’s also hard to deal with that level of corruption.

    1. He’s been rumbling on for years….every so often he gets a rush of blood – or booze – to the head and starts playing up again.
      As to the level of corruption…became used to that living in rural France!

  9. I was writing a comment and suddenly the entire comment section was replaced by a couple of adverts! What happened there?

    I said something to the effect that we don’t have any such tangled neighbour disputes here. Everything is very amicable and the nearest we get to a neighbour dispute is whose turn it is to trim the hedge between our two houses. And certainly no demands for £2,000 to restore our water supply!

    1. As to the adverts I expect WP has been ‘upgrading’ things again…I wish they would leave well alone…
      Two grand? It was twenty grand he was after…
      He would be so lucky…we have our own water concession and see no need to contribute to his booze fund.
      He has been a neighbourhood pest since his youth, apparently, getting away with things because his father was a major landowner. Son, of course, has frittered it all away apart from his five hectares and a tiny house.

  10. The return of the Neighbour, eh? It was so quiet I had hoped he had rotted away from a dose of the pox, any pox will do. I think your strategy of deploying Einstein is excellent and perhaps you know of, oh let’s say seven other pups, that could be marshaled into the effort? Okay, maybe we let the small ones take a pass.

    1. It seems he has made the offer which cannot be refused to others using the source, an offer which has been refused with contumely…and counterthreats to introduce him to transgender life without paying a fortune…
      As to our lot, Einstein and Bunter can do the knock them down and the smaller ones can do the drag them out…

  11. Not a very neighbourly chap, is he? I don’t think I’d even like to try and borrow a cup of sugar in case it was poisoned!
    I have to say I like the idea of non confrontational culture very much. It’s getting very wearing here in Brexit Britain.

    1. I like it too…it can descend into the passive aggressive on occasions, but generally the idea is to talk things over calmly.
      Not that that would work with The Neighbour….apparently he used to be much worse when younger….

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