Yep, I had a bit of a chuckle on the infrastructure too. Roads and sidewalks are in horrific condition compared to what we are used to. The education system is solid in that there is a high attendance rate, high graduation rate, and a high literacy rate. However, it is a pretty one-size fits all system from our experience so far.
Our house is in a quiet little neighborhood on the edge of Turrialba. No oceans in that part of Costa Rica but fantastic birding, tons of river adventures, few tourists, an active volcano, and lots of other natural and cultural experiences available. From the front yard we have an excellent view of the smok/ash plumes from Volcan Turrialba. The back yard is adjacent to a cow pasture operated by a wonderful Costa Rican named Victor who puts us on his milk route when we are there (mmmm...very delicious raw milk...he is an artist with his milk). The house is a simple one story 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom home. We bought it 2 years ago right after it was built and we have completed a lot of additional work on it (finished the kitchen, added the traditional outdoor laundry space, turned the original laundry space into a wonderful breakfast nook with a long counter). We have kept it very basic and Costa Rican (furnishings are all by local artisans/woodworkers) but it is a nice clean, well lighted home. Next winter we want to start thinking about landscaping and adding some native plants. It is available for rent except for the month of February when we come down. We have a good relationship with a Spanish school nearby (5 minute walk) http://www.adventurespanishschool.co...albacampus.php
and they use it occasionally for students/families that don't want a homestay. And we rent it by the week or month to any other interested parties but haven't started advertising it yet. We have a great network of Costa Rican friends in the town who help watch over everything when we aren't there. Oh man, now I want to get on a plane and fly down there immediately...
Once DS starts school this fall I need to get working on a website with pics of the place.
Lifeguard I love your blog. You capture Costa Rica beautifully. My DH and I often sigh and say that the people who built our house had no business building a house and fortunately we are steadily improving things. The first time we were down there after purchasing it we only had 2 weeks available. My DH decided to improve the security of the back door by straightening the door jamb and then adding a heavier duty deadbolt. He starts to pull off the wooden trim and the entire concrete door frame crumbles to the floor. We were due to fly home the next afternoon! Apparently the guys who built the house let that concrtete get too hot in the sun instead of keeping it damp and cool. As a result it didn't cure properly. Fortunately one of our good friends came to our rescue and happens to be a concrete expert. He and DH worked half the night and all the next morning to get it so that we could lock the house when we left.
And what is it with plumbing in CR! It all leaks. This February my DH spent the entire month working on the plumbing to get it to not leak. He was almost 100% successful but the kitchen drain still drips a tiny bit. And we finally got our shower drains to work as designed. Turns out the guy who built the house washed huge amounts of concrete down them, which then solidified and blocked 90% of the water flow.
Then there was the lack of all electrical grounding for the house. There was a grounding wire in the attic space but they had neglected to connect it to anything. They also hooked the wires up the opposite of normal ...DH was nearly electrocuted over that error (fortunately he had a special tool that day that warns of live wires)...yikes! But we love it all anyway and can't wait to get back.