Mad at Mud!

Published: June 4th 2007
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These are a few pictures I forgot I had!
Yes, I’m mad a mud at the moment. It happens every rainy season. I shouldn’t be mad, however, because I’m the one who lives off of a dirt road. I miss a paved driveway but my driveway is way too long for paving and I honestly don’t think blacktop or even concrete would look so great coming up to my house. I’ve thought about gravel—another option for sure—but I worry about the gravel just being washed away or mixing with the mud. Yes, I’m a bit obsessed with mud as I’m a bit of a “clean freak” but there’s not much you can do about this time of year. While others welcome the rainy season, I pretty much loathe it. I don’t mind a bit of rain, especially now that the B&B has a new roof and we’ve found most of the leaks in this old house, but I’m definitely a “dry season” kind of guy. The only problem with dry season, however, is that with virtually no rain for months, it is hard to bury deal animals especially big animals like horses (I’ll save that story for another time) when one needs to dig a huge hole and the ground and nearly rock hard.

Mud almost messed with me again this week. I was showing a neighbor our new residential development near San Ramon and I was so excited to show him the entire property. However, I didn’t realize how hard it would be getting back to the front of the property after driving through it to the very end. Driving to the back is fairly easy as the dirt road slopes downhill a bit, but coming back, and up the hill, even at only a modest incline, was very difficult. Even in 4-wheel drive mode, my trusty old Trooper just didn’t seem anxious to make it up that hill. What I discovered though is that driving through mud is similar to driving in snow and ice. After several tries I finally found a technique that worked: put the car in reverse, roll back a little bit, put it back very low gear and inch forward slowly a bit, and then rev the engine up and drive out there like a bat out of hell! That worked and the car seemed to survive as well as my passenger!

Getting my laptop fixed….

One day last week I discovered that when I typed something on my laptop computer, nothing was showing up on the screen. After the most basic of attempts to fix the problem (my knowledge of computer hardware is limited and “debugging” a problem is even worse) I decided to call my friend in San Jose (who is originally from San Ramon) and get his son to take a crack at it. They are a “Toshiba authorized” dealer/repair shop which is great considering that I have the same brand of laptop. So, I call up Luis and he is happy to hear from me and asks me to bring the computer in. While driving to San Jose is usually not very fun, I didn’t mind doing it because I do not trust the computer people in San Ramon having had some prior bad experiences and hearing horror stories from friends. Now, getting to San Jose was not an issue, but finding the store again was a problem. The lack of street signs makes it difficult but luckily I remembered it was somewhere behind the children’s hospital. After 30 minutes I found their store but noticed they had taken down the big “Toshiba” sign. I also learned from Luis that his son no longer fixes computers but “Marco” (and still later I find out that it’s “Pablo” not Marco) at some other company across town will do it. I trust Luis as he has been helpful in the past but trying to find this store on the other side of town was going to try my patience. Fortunately, Luis said he would drop it off as he is there all the time and his company is “affiliated” with the computer repair company where Marco (or Pablo) works. What is interesting is that Luis’ company sells agricultural products so I’m not quite sure about the affiliation. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised as Luis’ other “affiliated company” his wife’s dental office next door.

Having Luis drop off my computer was terrific for me as it cut my time in San Jose by half or more, however, following up the next week drove me crazy as I couldn’t get through to the computer repair shop at first and Luis’ cell phone wasn’t working. When I finally did get through to the repair shop, Pablo (there was no Marco there) hadn’t heard of me, my computer, or Luis! During the nearly three days I couldn’t get through to Luis I was convinced my computer was now in the hands of….well, I didn’t know!

I finally sorted things out later in the week and I think happened is that Luis knew Marco but Marco no longer worked there and Pablo didn’t know Luis. I believe it also took Luis a few days to actually get my computer there. At least now I know the computer is there and someone has looked at it. From what I could decipher in my basic Spanish was that, “I’ll send you an email on Monday. It needs a part.” So, the laptop is still there but at least I know where it is—I think. Next time I’m taking the laptop in directly and better yet, I’m buying a new one soon!

Going out in San Ramon….

I get dozens of emails every week from people who follow my blog asking me every nature of question about life in Costa Rica, and often in particular about my terrific little city of San Ramon. One man, I think a retiree looking to move here, wanted to know about the “bar and club scene,” in San Ramon. Now, I’m not much of a “scene” type of person but I’ve tried virtually every place in San Ramon from the upscale (well, upscale may be giving one club too much credit) to the downright dangerous looking. I won’t cover them all as that is a whole blog entry in and of itself, but I’ll mention a few that seem to be pretty popular and fun.

For the laid back set, “Mi Rancho,” which is directly across the street from the B&B can be fun, particularly on Thursday nights when they have karaoke and on the weekends. Karaoke night is usually SRO and fortunately the loud and sometimes bad karaoke only makes it very faintly over to my place.

For the younger folks, three bars/clubs in particular in downtown San Ramon can be a great time. Two are right next door to each other, just about a block west (think) of the town square: System and Secretos. To me, both are fairly similar, attracting late teens up through 40s and older but I’d say mostly 18 to 30-ish. With San Ramon having a branch of the University of Costa Rica here, these bars get packed, particularly Friday nights through Sunday nights. It is interesting, however, that not only do the bars get packed, but the street in front does as well with dozens of kids hanging out on the sidewalk, talking with each and watching life go by. I’m told that many do not go into the bars as they don’t have a lot of money for drinks, however, everyone, those inside the bars and outside, all seem well dressed and about the same as most American kids. I think this block is just the place to be “seen” on the weekends.

Another club is Excalibur, a short stroll (or “wobble” depending on your earlier activities!) from the other two bars. It is more of an “after hours” club staying open until about 7am. I must admit I did go home as the sun was coming up one morning recently after leaving Excalibur and I’m not going to do that again anytime soon! I recall the evening as having reached the point of “diminishing returns” at about 2am so why I added nearly another four hours to that, I’m not sure! Never again though (everything in moderation!). Oh, and just in case you are wondering, I never do this if I have guests at the B&B!

One of my favorite bars is called “Mirador Poetas.” It sits high on a hill overlooking San Ramon. It’s great to catch the lights of the city (when it isn’t fogged in during the rainy season) while having a few drinks. They do karaoke almost every night and the owners, a couple, are really terrific. The woman usually does one or two songs a night in English and her voice is great—in English or Spanish.

Then there’s “Steel,” a cavernous structure that I think could hold 500 people or more. They also have karaoke nights and the music is more Latin and traditional in nature compared to the other clubs that tend to play much more American music. I’ve been to several other bars and clubs but remembering the names is a problem as they tended to be a bit seedy or I just decided for another reason I wouldn’t be going back. I’m also sure there are others or some of you who read this blog and live here have other favorites, but these are just a few that I’ve enjoyed.

If you want even more details about these bars/clubs and the many others, send me a note and I’ll put you in touch with a couple of gringo guys who know the scene in San Ramon better than most Ticos do! You two know who you are!

Thanks for reading and for your comments. More soon!

Pura Vida!

Andrew (real estate and more!) (4-day/3 night relocation/retirement/real estate tour!) (Boomers’ Real Estate & More Blog!) (the B&B!)


5th June 2007

Solution to muddy driveway
Hi Andrew - I have just finished building a house in San Carlos (Penas Blancas). I had the same problem with my dirt driveway. I ended up buying about 40 truck loads of river rock. The rocks setteled into the mud and I now have a solid driveway. Hope this helps. Pura Vida
5th June 2007

Just come up the road and see what 36 wagonloads did for Rancho Lobo, or come out to Butterfly Dance and see what 120 wagonloads did there, with a road levelers to curve up the road, then a steam roller to pack it down. I´ve had to put in over 150 concrete drainage pipes there as well. If you do proper ditching, which may involve concrete boxes (cajas de registro) and pipes (alcantarillas) to channel the water at certain places, it should last a good long time. You have to do some calculating on how much a year you should put away for this, and maybe re-do it every 3-4 years, or as needed. See if the neighbors will contribute towards the cost.

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