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Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Chalet de Hazel

Thursday, February 25, 2010

It’s quite cool today and has been raining off and on all day.The English-language paper, A.M. Costa Rica, said that a “cold front” was coming in today and I guess it’s here. But this is unlike the cold fronts that we faced in Northern California. Just for my own amusement, I keep the Pilot Hill weather on my Google home page. Today it was in the low 40’s there with rain forecast for the next two days. B-r-r-r-r. It makes me appreciate this tropical chill of perhaps 68 degrees. In fact, I’ve spent much of the day on the front patio working one of my rompecabezas. Perhaps I should have gotten 1000-piecers as I’ve almost finished the first one, a 500-piece close-up of a hummingbird hovering over a pink flower.
Yesterday found us back on the bus, this time for a lengthy trip all the way to Atenas to look at a few housing possibilities. We are paid up here at the Villas until March 10th and are certain we don’t want to stay beyond that, not only because of the the cool temperatures but also for the high cost of these luxury digs. Atenas, on the other hand, is known as having "the best climate in the world," according to National Geographic. With daily temperatures around 80 F. and nights down in the 60's, the slogan "El Clima Mejor del Mundo" emblazoned on all Atenas buses is well-deserved.
Our appointment was at 10 a.m. with Dennis, a transplanted Florida realtor  and his Tico partner Geraldo of Pure Life Development real estate ( Looking through ads on, I had clicked on a link to their webpage and found a number of very affordable and attractive houses for rent. A few emails had led to this meeting date. 
We’ve become quite adept at taking the bus into San Jose, of course, but making the connection for a bus out to Atenas, and arriving there by 10 o'clock, presented another challenge. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, Costa Rica has very few street addresses posted or even street names. Instead, most directions are given by landmarks. The major bus stop in San Jose is known as “Coca Cola.” You might think it was named for a soda bottling plant there but you’d be wrong. Apparently, there used to be one but no more, so unless you know the area, you could easily get lost. Our map of bus lines ( indicated the Coca-Cola stop was at Calle 16/Avenida 3. But again, without the streets being labeled, that was little to go on. And of course, my espanol is still so limited, there was no chance of getting directions from the driver.
But hope springs, as they say! So we exited near what we thought might be Calle 16, planning to walk the two blocks to Avenida 3. After a few minutes of confusion and with our time rather short, we opted for a taxi and $1 later, we pulled up to a maze of buses.
Finding the Atenas bus was easy enough with big signs overhead but as we boarded and were given what looked like a transfer ticket, I tried to ask the driver if we would need to change buses somewhere. As so often happens here, a young Tico overheard my effort and quickly intervened, assuring us in perfect English that this bus would go straight to our destination. He sat down just in front of us and we conversed easily for awhile, learning that his brother works for Procter & Gamble in the Information Technology department and that he, too, hoped to get a job there after college. At last, he smiled and said he would now take a nap until our arrival in Atenas.
Upon arriving some forty-five minutes later, Dennis and Geraldo picked us up and started our tour, stopping first at a modest duplex within walking distance of downtown. But like the Grecia house we rejected, the ventilation here did not seem adequate, the bedrooms were small with only a twin bed in one, plus the neighbor dog was extremely aggressive, although our hosts assured us that he was ultimately friendly. Yeah, right. So Layne and I were in agreement that this was not our place.

We headed out of town, driving 10 minutes or so steeply uphill, well into the mountains above Atenas. Obviously, the next house would not be within walking distance of shops or the farmers’ market, so secretly, I was beginning to have my doubts. But as we rounded the last curve and looked up at a charming chalet above the roadbed, our hopes bloomed.
What a doll house! It turned out to be another duplex, our rental unit a mirror image of the one we could see from the road, the two units well separated by a broad tiled patio. The chalet, with huge windows all around, looks out over a deep canyon to a lush green mountain and beyond that to the Pacific Ocean on a clear day. The new highway nearby has cut the bus trip to the beach down to only 35-40 minutes. And the breezes blowing up the canyon promised the tropical ventilation of our dreams.
The house itself features beautiful polished wood and ceramic tile floors; there’s a nicely appointed kitchen - including a double sink, something we don’t have here at the Villas. The two bedrooms each have a double bed (the upstairs one seems to be a Temperpedic mattress - wow!) and the bath has both shower and tub. The furnishings are stylish and high quality.
There’s even a working fireplace, although I doubt we will need it. A large walk-through closet offers good storage space and an additional storage building is set away from the house. The enclosed porch holds a washer and a dryer - again, a feature missing at the higher-priced Villas. And of great pleasure to me, there are orchids growing in the big yard. The back patio has a bench overlooking the magnificent view. We loved it at first sight!

The owner, Hazel, was there to greet us and she was utterly delightful, a beautiful young woman with long brown hair wearing shorts and a halter top, which suggested the kind of weather we can look forward to. It didn’t take us long to decide this was the place for us. Buses stop at the corner and a taxi ride into town costs only a couple of dollars. And the price? Well, let’s just say it’s less than half what we are paying now! And did I mention? That includes phone, utilities and Internet. Yowsa!
When our good friends, Penny & Joel, arrive at the end of March for a visit, we’ll be able to entertain them in style. La Pura Vida!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, sounds like a great place! Glad you had a fun Birthday. It's raining again and very windy. The horses are covered in mud. Wish we were there in the sun and warmth. Luv ya - Jeanne