04 June 2012

We have a new address!

Front door - Inside
We have a new address! It's about 40 meters (131 feet) South of where we had been living for almost a year. Yes, it's official, we moved out of the casita, and into the new Casa last week. There are still lots of things that are not done, but we just couldn't live in our 300 square foot (28 square meters) casita any longer. We had the single car garage packed from floor to ceiling. Last August we stuffed as many boxes into the small attic as we could and when we ran out of space there, we crammed everything else into every nook and cranny we could find in the casita. The only space left was a pathway from the front door to the bed, the bathroom and a tiny workspace in the kitchenette. I'm amazed we were able to live like this for the past year.

Our new Dutch door
Even though we are lacking a number of amenities in the Casa, we decided it is workable "as is" and we will live without until the finishing touches are completed. Here is a short list of the things we still need:
  • Kitchen Cabinets
  • Kitchen Counter tops
  • Kitchen Sink
  • Master Bathroom Cabinets
  • Master Bathroom Counter tops
  • Master Bathroom Sink
  • Master Bathroom Towel Bars
  • Guest Bathroom Cabinets
  • Guest Bathroom Counter tops 
  • Guest Bathroom Sink
  • Guest Bathroom Towel Bars
  • Interior Doors (9 of them)
  • Replacement of defective water heater
  • Pantry shelves (almost done)
  • Laundry room shelves
  • Internet service

The Terraza
In the interim, we are using the laundry room sink for everything from preparing meals and washing dishes to brushing teeth. It's a little awkward to use a bathroom toilet and then go to the laundry room to wash hands, but it's workable.

My gas range is installed in the kitchen, along with our new side-by-side refrigerator. Wow, is it nice to have lots of freezer and refrigerator space. When we sold our home in Houston, the new buyer talked us into selling him our "almost new" side-by-side refrigerator. We waited until now to buy a replacement. I've have really missed not having the ice maker and water dispenser in the door for the past year. Our new Samsung refrigerator has all that and I think it even works better than the one we left behind. At least it doesn't shoot ice out all over the place like our old LG. The LG had a hard time dispensing ice into a glass... we considered ourselves lucky if only half of the ice cubes landed on the floor. We've setup a couple of folding tables for workspace and stainless steel wire shelving (on wheels) for temporary cabinet space, so I guess you could say I've got a workable kitchen.

Decorative Wrought Iron Windows
Our king size bed is where it belongs, along with our armoires (wardrobe cabinets). John finished the build out our closet with shelves and clothes rods, so we have plenty of space for hanging clothes and storing shoes.

The living room sofa and our Lazy Boy recliners have been unwrapped and moved into the new living room. John hung the big LCD TV last week and Saturday, CableTica showed up in the rain to hook up cable TV. They said they would be back this week to hook up the modem for internet service. Eliécer, one of our builders, stored our living room coffee and end tables in his workshop last year. He said he would bring them back to us one day this week.

Alexander, the security guy, came and installed a state-of-the-art alarm system for us. This system arms 19 windows, 4 doors and 3 motion sensors. It has a voice dialer feature that is really slick because we can program up to 5 phone numbers that are called in sequence when there is a security breach. We can also call the home phone and arm the system from the road if we forget to set the alarm. The system lets you arm the doors and windows when you are home so the motion sensors don't set it off, and when we go to bed, we set it to "night time" so the motion sensor in our bedroom won't trigger the alarm we get up to go to the bathroom, but it will set off a siren if John raids the refrigerator.

We've programmed our voice dialer to call our cell phones for now, because calling the "policia" here is a joke. We are usually in the neighborhood and could get here pretty quick if there is a security breach. We have friends that live close by and we will use them as a backup whenever we can't get here quick enough.

Gustavo, the gate guy, came and installed an electric motor on our beautiful wrought iron gate. It comes with two remote controls and there is a switch in the Casa that we can also use to open and close the gate. It work really great, as our dog, Gus (pronounced "goose" in Spanish) can attest to.

Today, I was trying to label all the switch plates in the Casa, so I would know what switch powers what light fixture, fan, etc. Xiomara, the woman that helps me with the house work, was helping me and she pressed the switch for the gate. Immediately, it started to open and Gus made a run for freedom on the streets. John yelled, "Close the gate" and she pressed it again, causing it to close and catch Gus on his way out. Gus yelped in pain with his shoulder pinned between the gate and the support post. I pressed the switch again and it opened releasing the poor little guy. Needless to say, we were all worried Gus had sustained significant injuries, so John and I rushed off with him to see the vet. Our vet wasn't open yet, so we found another vet that was. John stayed in the car with Gus, while I went in to see if the doctor could check him out. As soon as John opened the car door, Gus bolted and ran down the streets of Atenas, with the two of us chasing after him. Obviously, the injury wasn't much if Gus could run like that. Finally, instead of running after Gus (he thought we were playing a game) John just sat down in the street near the central market. Immediately, Gus ran to John to see why he wasn't playing anymore. John scooped him up in his arms and we walked back to the vet's office. The doctor said Gus has some swelling on his right front shoulder, but it was mild. He checked Gus out and said to keep an eye on him for the next couple of days, but he thinks our little rescued street dog will be just fine.

Rodolfo, one of our builders, is here today with a helper, re-installing the sprinkler system they had to remove when they started construction on the Casa. Once the sprinkler system is up and running again, we'll have Mario, our gardener, bring in a truck load of top soil and new grass sod. I can't wait until we have grass growing again. You just wouldn't believe how much mud two little dogs can track into the Casa in a day. I'm also looking forward to planting shrubs and flowers in the garden and along the walkway.

We haven't started unpacking yet, because we really don't have anywhere to store the stuff until all the cabinets and shelves are in place. In the meantime, we have stack of boxes in the dining room and spare bedroom. The great thing about being retired is there is NO deadline to meet... there is no reason we can't take our time unpacking. We can unpack at our leisure, if that means we live with stacks of boxes everywhere, so be it. The first priority will be the boxes in the dining room so we can have friends over for dinner. The rest of the stuff can live in the spare bedroom until we are ready to deal with it. Finally, we have all the room we need.

In other great news, John's "Residencia Permanente" was approved last week by the Ministerio de Migración. One of the requirements for residency is participation in CAJA, or Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. This is the national medical care system. We applied for John's CAJA carnet last week and we just picked it up this afternoon. Now all we need to do is schedule the appointment with "Migración" for later this week and they will give him is Cedúla, the national identity card. With his cédula, he will have all the rights of a Costa Rica citizen with with exception of voting. This is the equivalent of a foreigner in the United States that has a Green Card, granting them legal status.

Well folks, that's all the news for now.

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