03 December 2014

The Name's the Thing

We're from Texas, where homestead laws protect many assets, including one's home, of course. So if (God forbid), I'm in an auto accident and wipe-out a bus-load of talented physicians, my home is protected from any legal judgment not covered by my insurance. But what about Costa Rica? Well, home owners in Costa Rica are protected to some extent, but that doesn't mean that the property (and personal finances) won't be tied-up in years of litigation. As is done in the United States, expatriate home buyers in Costa Rica often purchase their homes in the name of a Costa Rican corporation. So Bill Knight, Costa Rica's best realtor, introduced us to an attorney for the formation of our new corporation. Five hundred dollars and a name for said corporation . . . that's all we needed.

And so one rainy afternoon on Samara Beach, cocktail in hand and 30 minutes before meeting our new attorney, we frantically compiled potential corporate names not heretofore used . . . not already taken by those thousands of foreigners snagging all those gorgeous Costa Rican homes.
  • Lo Que Hay . . . undoubtedly taken.
  • Monkey Around . . . think about its fun duality in the land of the ubiquitous Howler.
  • No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problemo . . . admittedly plagiarized.
  • Lost in Translation . . . do we ever have an original idea?
There were more; all we had to so was confirm their availability through our new attorney.

28 November 2014

Things Fall Apart

As a Peace Corps volunteer (PCV) in Burkina Faso, I read a lot. Yes, I accomplished a great deal, thanks to my wonderful village; but there's lots of downtime as a PCV, so one reads . . . and reads, and reads. And watches movies on a laptop. Why, I have a better movie library on my laptop than in my DVD collection (thanks, Kyle). Anyway, at some point after I'd read all of my Nelson DeMille novels three times, I turned to new literature, including Things Fall Apart: the woeful tale of poor Okonkwo and his life in Nigeria. And to this very day, when I think things are rough in my little world, I think back on Okonkwo. My life is pretty swell . . . though for the past 10 days it seems anything but swell.

16 November 2014

And Speaking of Nuts . . .

We get trees, including nuts. And Costa Rica, whether dry forest or rain forest, has no shortage of trees . . . not to mention the most beautiful tropical plants anywhere, such as this bee hive ginger. It's just there . . . growing wild.Walk down the road or into a field with your little spade and dig-up a specimen. With my PCV background as an agriculture volunteer, and with my obsession over orchids, this country is right up my alley. But back to the nuts . . . the trees, not us buyers. We get eight (8) specialty trees. What?! Like every plant in Costa Rica isn't special?

Montaña Samara Lot 6 - We Need a Name

Casa Colina, Caso Jalepeño, Casa de los Monos. We can't decide on a name. And this is sad because all homes in Costa Rica have names. To paraphrase Nelson DeMille's line in Gold Coast: Stanhope Hall, Grace Lane, Lattingtown, Long Island . . . I get my mail.

But before the naming comes the purchase and closing. And we're still far from closing. Or so it feels.

Here's our little (albeit long-winded) tale of purchasing Lot 6, the home with no name. It began, as does everything in the 21st century, with an extensive Internet search. And hours of watching HGTV's House Hunters International.

13 November 2014

The Ebola Monkey Issue . . . or Non-Issue

Dallas, Texas. The first city in the United States with a confirmed case of Ebola. Tragic. Heartbreaking for the victim's family and friends. Almost equally sad, a classic overblown frenzy created by the media. And the two of us, Rusty & Kathy, holding tickets from Dallas to Liberia. My darling friend, Ebben, remarked, "You're going where?!?" "Liberia, Costa Rica, Ebben. The city, not the country." But for anyone who knows me, it really wouldn't be that surprising to find me flying off to the West African nation of Liberia. After all, I've spent the past two years trying to figure out how to get back to Burkina Faso in West Africa. In any event, as we changed planes in Houston heading for San Jose, we agreed that telling anyone in Costa Rica that we were from Dallas might not be the best idea . . . poor timing to be traveling internationally from Dallas. And so our patent reply to any inquiry would be, "We're from the U.S. . . . the Southern United States."  And we'd leave it at that.

How to Buy a Home in Costa Rica

"I had a farm in Africa. I had a farm in Africa at the foot on the Ngong Hills."

Whoops. Wrong movie. Wrong hills. And not exactly a farm. But we almost did purchase a farm . . . or a finca . . . Finca Los Mangos to be precise.

And how did this Costa Rican house-hunt madness begin? Well, I'm an RPCV . . . Returned Peace Corps Volunteer; and there was a time when we intended to retire in Africa, seriously. My beloved Burkina Faso was simply too hot. But Southern Africa still beckoned with its myriad wildlife and wet-and-dry seasons, Alas, such was not to be, and so we began house-hunting in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. But this notion, like the crime in the State of Guerrero, proved too questionable.

So the words Costa Rica were mentioned. We had vacationed in Costa Rica, northern Guanacaste, to be precise, two or three times. And like so many countries in Southern Africa, Costa Rica offered an enormous variety of wildlife, beaches, and views to make one gasp . . . give me a glimpse of the Southern Cross and I'm on board. Better yet, give me a monkey and count me in! And so on October 10, 2014, we flew via San Jose to Liberia and made the two-hour drive south on the Nicoya Peninsula to a unique little hotel near Samara . . . The Flying Crocodile. From our charming two-story bungalow we based our house-hunting adventures . . . before, after, and during the torrential rains of the Samara rainy season.

Join us on this adventure of selling all worldly possessions (except the Villedieu-les-Poêles cookware that my sweet niece toted around France for two weeks . . . and my 1000 thread-count bed linens), packing-up one 17-pound Lakeland Terrier and a nine-pound cat (age 16), and moving to Costa Rica . . . Montana Samara, to be precise. Are we crazy? Arguably. Will it be an are-we-up-to-it adventure? Probably. But as they say in Samara . . . Lo Que Hay. It is what it is! Let the adventure begin.