Saturday, August 23, 2014

Want to Buy a Lovely Costa Rica Finca? or Selling, but Not Selling Out

panoramic sunset from our costa rica balcony
View from the balcony of our house. Cerro de La Muerte just beyond the clouds
Our rationale is simple: a little less field work and a little more money in the bank acount. That's essentially why we've decided to offer up a couple of lots out of our nearly 3 hectare finca here in southern Costa Rica. If you will not be satisfied unless you can have it all, we'll consider that too.

Prices start at $39,000 up to $299,000.

Here's a rough summary (more details can be found at the "Our Finca Sale" page, which you can access just under the blog header photo above):

  • Located at 4,000 ft. elevation just north of San Isidro de El General. The air is always fresh and cool and the views are outstanding
  • Walking distance to Matasanos village and the larger towns of San Ramón Sur and San Ramón Norte.
  • Fresh, cold, clean water comes from a spring flowing right out of the Las Piedras granite batholith, part of which crosses the property

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Suicidal Costa Rica Pickup's Despair Evaporates

You may have forgotten about my trashed Mitsubishi pick-up. Sometimes, even I forget about it now and then. After all, it's been over five months since we discovered it had rolled down a 200 ft. ravine into the creek, whether by accident or through malice we'll never know.

motor mounted in bare truck chassi
Motor re-mounted in the old, but re-painted bare chassis

After I determined that, despite outward appearances, it was still drivable (sorry, no video of me tooling around the neighborhood in my "new" convertible), I called my body shop man, Deiner, up to the house to take a look. He was quite confident that it was salvageable and the hunt began for a new cab from the north of Costa Rica into Panama. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Yet Another Side Project on Our Busy Costa Rica Finca

Another of my part-time side projects this year has been the construction of a small rancho down by our quebrada (creek) in the midst of our modest banana crop at the edge of our equally modest coffee "plantation." The platform is just to one side of where my small truck landed when it rolled down the ravine, the precise cause of which is still shrouded in mystery.

overhead shot of rancho floor frame
Rancho platform's steel frame
As I prefer to do, I make the floor foundation and frame from concrete and steel, which I presume will weather the humidity and bugs if no other part of the building will. The remainder will be built from wood, the same way I constructed my sister's house, but in a different style, since this is a rancho.

long shot of platform from other end of garden
Platform from other end of garden

The main difficulty with the frame was that I didn't want to go to the expense of running a 220V line to this location and my generator is not big enough to serve up my welder with enough juice to weld on location.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Spring Boxing Camp for Tropical Birds Wanting to Sharpen Their Bills

It all started thanks to one bird, a persistent, some might say obsessive, harmless looking gray tanager with a bone to pick with an apparent rival. Daily, without fail, he challenged the gray-blue intruder of the same species with sharp-billed pecks and flamboyant, rising displays of fluttering wings and stinging, knife-edged cries that let his foe know he was anything but welcome. Meanwhile, his mate, perched on a nearby bamboo orchid gazed in admiration at his fearlessness.

Our fearless hero and founder of our local avian training camp
This was no ordinary foe he faced, however. To his frustrated surprise, this other bird seemed to know all his tricks, all his moves. Every peck was matched precisely, every display duplicated as if to mock our gray-blue hero. Still, he would not abate, he would not back down in the face of his opponent's impudence and bad manners.

Of course, little did his feeble bird-brain realize that he would not, could not, overcome his challenger for it was none other than himself. Or, rather, his refection in our mirrored window!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Drier Than Usual Rainy Season in Costa Rica

This year's rainy season is trending mild, probably in large part due to the effects of El Niño. Certainly, it's not on track to be the soggy 2010 winter when we received a total of 200 inches of rain over 8 months and it seemed the whole country was slipping away into the Pacific.

rain gauge with a low readingWe didn't have a drop of precipitation from New Year's until the middle of April. April offered a meager total of 5 inches, followed by 17, 18, and 10.5 inches in the following three months. August seems  wetter, about 8 inches has fallen so far and the storms have been lively.

This rate of rain feels about right. There are consistenly sunny mornings, rain mid-afternoon give or take and often it lets up in the evening.

The reduction in rainfall, however, is not good news all over Costa Rica. For instance, they are still suffering drought conditions up in Guanacaste since 2011. A lot of ranchers are going broke as they have no feed and water for their cattle. Many planned residential subdivisions have been halted in their tracks due to insufficient water supplies.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Please Help Costa Rica PC Rescue Ship 20 Desktop PCs

This is the last PC rescue post on A Dull Roar as I have started a separate blog dedicated to this project to get used PCs into the homes of needy Costa Rican families who can't afford one on their own.

That new blog is Costa Rica PC Rescue. It's pretty skimpy so far, just a single post, but it explains the mission and how it all works today.

I realize we barely finished the first official contribution campaign for PC spare parts and already here is another request for help. This second campaign is in response to opportunity knocking, however. A contributor to the first fundraiser let me know that he has 20 later model Dell desktop machines that were originally destined for Guatemala except that the red tape was too big a hurdle. He has offered those PCs to us if we pay the shipping costs.

The shipper I always use,, has offered to ship these at their cheapest (highest volume) rate and waive the agency fee. That's a $175 in-kind donation right there. The remainder is $300 and is the goal of this fundraiser.

Think of it this way, it is only $15 per PC shipped to us, all duties, taxes, customs fees already paid. All that remains for me to do is to load them with an OS and applications and make sure they are in good order before donating them.

We can make a lot of poor families, schools and libraries happy with this shipment. Can you help us reach our modest goal? The smallest of donations is hugely appreciated, you can count on that.

Here is the link for making donations: Kapipal Help Ship 20 PCs to Costa Rica

Thanks for spreading the word!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rescuing Old PCs to Donate to Struggling Costa Rican Families

Update Aug 3rd: You people rock! As of yesterday, we hit the $250 mark. This money is going to help immensely in getting more PCs put together for these Tico families. Local expats have material donations and others are offering to carry in parts on their next visit to Costa Rica. Awesome!

Even though we hit the goal, the campaign is still open through August, so if you could spare even a dollar, it would be greatly appreciated and put to good work. My heartfelt thank to everyone who supports this project!!

Kapipal badge for PCs for Costa Ricans project
Just a $1 minimum donation limit
I had a twenty year career in the software industry. My last 10 years were working for Intel in Oregon where I picked up enough hardware knowledge also to maintain and repair the average desktop or laptop personal computer. 

When we moved down here to Costa Rica in 2008, I brought along several PCs and a lot of parts. It's a fun hobby creating a new working computer from spare parts and I use these skills not only to maintain our own flock of PCs, but to restore old Pentium or AMD machines, which I donate to local Tico families who could otherwise not afford them.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Costa Rica Cedula Renewal the Second Time Around - A Pleasant Surprise

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Sometime around the end of 2013, I started to faintly hear a giant sucking sound, which I soon identified as an impending residency cedula renewal event fast approaching. 

Costa Rican Residency ID card
That giant sucking sound of cedula renewal
If you've followed this blog for long, you may recall that we had completed our first renewal the middle of last summer, which makes it appear that Dec. should have been way too early to fret about renewal again. For all the bloody details, read about that first renewal, but the takeaway was that it consumed far more time than it should have, turned out all-right in the end, but left us a short window to the next renewal.

The Very First Time Through the Maze

In hindsight, our first renewal difficulty was rooted in our out-of-the-mainstream initial residency application and the procedural swamp that characterized Costa Rica's immigration process back in 2008.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What Is Our Carbon Footprint in Costa Rica? Wish I Knew

Our Electric Bill - Should I be sad or glad?

As usually happens when I receive our monthly electricity bill, I feel a combination of consternation and satisfaction. Consternation because the bill is high, but satisfaction that our total kilowatt-hours for the month are a fraction of what we consumed in the States. The reason the bill is so high is simply because electricity is expensive in Costa Rica despite most of it coming from hydro or other renewable sources. On average, we pay about 26 US cents per KwH, compared to about 9 cents when we were in Oregon.

Calculating our Household Carbon Footprint

Anyway, the cost of electricity is beside the point. What I really wanted to know was if our apparent lower energy usage meant our carbon footprint was low enough that we might even be approaching carbon neutrality. In my dreams, right?

I chose three carbon footprint calculators off the first page of a Google search and ran each one. Not surprisingly I guess, there is almost no correlation by results between the three. Here's the final tally from the first one, hosted by The Nature Conservancy:

Final carbon footprint tally from Nature Conservancy
Nature Conservancy Calculator - Result for our 4-person household

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