Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Week's Work

Despite the ceaseless rain (where the heck does it all COME from?!), we’re still managing to drag ourselves out from under the covers and continue our work on Petit Paradis. We’ve slowed down a little bit since it’s too soggy to do much on the property, but there’s still enough to do to keep us occupied. I should preface things by saying that Patrick continues to be the driving force behind the project and is doing most of the hard work. I’m keeping Lucas out of his way as best as I can, and I’m also serving as official sounding board (one that probably talks back way too much!).

Our first order of business continues to be the search for just the right contracting company to construct our buildings. We’ve spoken with nine different companies ~ both from our area and from San Jose ~ who we believe could do the job. We’ve walked most of them through our property with our preliminary site plans, and we’ll be sending the detailed construction plans for them to bid on next week. If the stars are in alignment, at least one of them will come back with a bid that’s within our budget.

Because our budget is probably much tighter than it should be, we’re trying to find as many cost~saving measures as we can. One of those things is finding and purchasing the construction materials ourselves (rather than paying the contractor’s markup!). Patrick has been meeting with the owners of all the hardware stores in the area to see what kind of deals they’re prepared to offer to get our business. In addition, we’ve been sussing out a variety of different wood suppliers. Because the Costa Rican government is (rightfully) protecting more and more of its beautiful hardwoods, it has become difficult to find large quantities of permitted wood. We’ve got a couple of good leads on reasonably~priced teak which would be a nice wood with which to build.

Another project we’ve been working on is our landscaping. Last week, the owner of the largest nursery in the region walked with us through our property to help us decide what we should plant and where. Armed with our books on tropical ornamentals, we’ve developed a preliminary list of bromeliads, heliconias, orchids, lilies, fruit trees and flowering bushes to order. I’ve appointed myself head~gardner, but it’ll be another month yet before I can do anything besides make mud pies.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, Patrick has started talking with the electric company to see if we can convince them to bring power to our property, which is currently off the grid. In response to our initial request, they’ve agreed to do a study, which we’ve decided to interpret as a positive response. Our preference would be to go solar (which we’re also exploring), but we’re afraid it will be out of our price range. With luck (and with a certain environmentally~friendly president in the White House), by the time Lucas inherits this place, maybe the price of solar technology will have come down enough to make it affordable. Go Barak!

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