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Thursday, October 27, 2011

New House -- or Nueva Casa, in Español

At last, it’s official: we are moving! In fact, we took the first couple of loads up Tuesday. After the on-again/off-again housing drama earlier this year, I’ve hesitated to mention finding a house for fear of queering the deal. But we’ve paid our rent and now have my plants and a few suitcases already in the place. The rest of our “stuff” will follow next Monday; on Tuesday we’ll help Cidia, our housekeeper here, finish the last big cleaning jobs and then we’ll be in our new home.

View of the rancho from back patio
Located just up the hill in the Tico community of Santa Eulalia, a barrio of Atenas, the house is the “two bedroom, two bath with a great kitchen” that we had hoped for. At the end of a short street, it sits right next to a huge cornfield and sugarcane field with a lovely view of the hillside beyond. It’s private, safe and very near to several of our friends. It was one of those friends, our sausage-making amigo Marcial, who served as our agent in securing the place. 
Our friend Marcial on the sofa

"Our" cornfield and sugarcane field
Our new landlords seem very accommodating, relocating the washer and dryer (the dryer, a remarkable luxury here) out to the rancho so that the laundry room could be my office, putting up shelves for me and upgrading the Internet service for us as well. In that regard, we have some concerns because even with the upgrade, the Internet speed is not nearly what we are used to. Still, we hope it will be enough for those weekly Skype calls to my mom and Layne’s sister, even if not sufficient for streaming video.
Nice Kitchen!
The kitchen is all I could ask for (except perhaps a gas stove and a double-sink… spoiled Gringo that I am) -- with a big side-by-side refrigerator and even a working icemaker (again, quite a luxury), a modern electric stove and a big expanse of counter space. And although there is no swimming pool with the house, the small resort next door, El Cafetal Inn, is owned by a friend who said we could use their pool anytime. The bus line is only a block away and buses into Atenas run frequently. We learned from an older Tica neighbor, as we were waiting for a bus, that with our cedulas (residency cards) we could ride for free! Such a deal!

With our friend Marcy coming in early November for some dental work and a vacation, the move comes none too soon. Now we can anticipate being the “magnet” for friends that we had hoped to be. Although we don’t have the budget for many tourist activities, we can provide a home base, conveniently located for easy travel to many of those tourist attractions.

Cidia and her family
Cidia, our sweet Tica housekeeper who has really become a friend, had a sad look on her face last week to hear that we were moving. After cleaning this week she insisted on returning later that day as she said her 12-year-old daughter Melanie had a gift for us. We’ve gotten acquainted with Melanie over the months we’ve lived here because occasionally, when school was not in session or whatever, she would come to our apartment with Cidia and with Layne’s help in turning on the television, would watch TV or read while her mom worked. Also, I have given her a few of my jigsaw puzzles, which she and I both enjoy. So we’ve developed a friendly relationship with her.

Melanie's handiwork
As it turned out, Cidia and her husband and Melanie all had going-away presents for us: beaded earrings and necklace for me that Cidia had made, a lovely decorated wine bottle that Melanie had created in school and a colorful picture frame, purchased for Layne. They stayed and visited for over an hour, which definitely gave me some much-needed Spanish practice. Although I didn’t understand everything that was said, it was pretty amazing just how much we were able to communicate. We learned, for instance, that in 1948 during the armed uprising that resulted from a disputed presidential election, Cidia’s father and mother, pregnant with Cidia’s older brother at the time, had to flee the violence up into the mountains. It was after that last civil disturbance that Costa Rica abolished its army and turned its resources to public education, resulting in today’s high literacy rate. We talked about Cidia’s fourteen (!!) brothers and sisters and where they all live, Melanie’s school and dance classes, our new neighborhood in Santa Eulalia, a mutual friend’s new baby and precocious 5-year-old son and many other subjects as we sipped wine and laughed at my language struggles. It was very encouraging to me to actually carry on a conversation to that extent. Perhaps there is hope for my Spanish!

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