Saturday, 29 January 2011

I'm off to Nicaragua in the morning....

Temptation, thy name is down ones...
We have just seen the most wonderful house in Costa Rica's capital, San Jose...and we are running away before we get out the cheque book and go for it.

Its roof looks distinctly permeable...the fact that the agent refrains from showing the interior in his publicity reinforces this suspicion....the wooden walls look as if only the paint is holding them together....we have no idea what lies behind it...and it is outrageously expensive!

As against that it is in the old centre of town, a quiet area of parks and museums and within walking distance of the markets and shops we like to frequent. We have often talked of having a house in San Jose, just to ring the changes from life in the countryside, and walk around likely areas, looking for 'For Sale' signs.

Well, walking past the Foreign Ministry, the Casa Amarillo, we saw two.
One was advertising a tiny house, some one hundred metres square, with beautiful original tiles and gilded woodwork....but no garden, not even an internal patio, so even as a pied a terre it was off the list of possibles.
Then, turning the corner past a wall of twigs which conceals the Cinco Hormigas Rojas B and B which advertises itself as the only rainforest B and B in San Jose - a claim unlikely to be in dispute - we saw the house.
Two storey, wooden construction, tin sheeted roof with gables and a recessed porch with pillars.
Dilapidated beyond belief.

If we had sold the house in France we would, I know, have been on to the agent as soon as we reached home.
But we haven't sold the house in France. There's been interest, but all from people trying to sell their own places endless chain that always breaks somewhere.
Perhaps it is as well, as we have been forced to pause for thought...not generally a factor in our house buying policy!

If we go ahead, it will take every spare penny we have just to buy the place, let alone to think of doing anything to it and leave us vulnerable to financial shocks...something we have determined never to be.
It will inevitably be subject to luxury house taxation, even before being renovated, just because of land prices in that area of town.
At our age, we must be off our trolleys to even to think about starting on a major renovation.....without knowing builders, electricians and plumbers, with having to hire a guard to prevent building materials from being stolen while the work progresses, with not living on site and having to travel in each day to control progress.

We know all this, but the temptation is severe. There is nothing like bringing a house and garden back to life, making space, light and colour work together, and when a building is not on the register of protected properties it is possible to do this without being tied down to detail.

I have not forgotten the experience of trying to convince an Architect de Batiments de France that we could put a glass roof over part of a ruin to make a vast green house.


Why not? There are glass roofs and skylights all over that part of town. Your predecessor put one on the roof of the chateau stables, one block away from our house. Furthermore, no one can see it, given the situation.

Somebody flying over in a helicopter might.

So the chance to get to work on a building that allows us to respect its style without being obsessed by it is a temptation indeed.

However, we have to be realistic. Every factor is negative.
The money would be a strain.
We are no longer young.
We're working in the unknown.

But, blast and damn it all, the worst is having to accept that we are past it!

So we're off to Nicaragua tomorrow on the early to  Matagalpa, the Pearl of the lick our wounds among friends.

To eat pork cooked over a charcoal brazier at one of the stands by the cathedral.
To visit the more of the petrogylph sites.
To drink Toña beer in a glass straight from the freezer.
To get away from temptation.

There is, after all,  no fool like an old fool, and in this case two fools' heads are no better than we're running away to Nicaragua to save ourselves from ourselves..


  1. Oh that temptation, I know it well! You're stronger willed than I am.

    Enjoy Nicaragua!

  2. Another Day of Crazy, we're not good with temptation...thus the need to distance ourselves physically from the telephone....

  3. A good idea that... I mean, getting away to Nicaraugua. Sounds like a potential money hole... maybe best to just admire from a distance and dream a little. Not all dreams have to come true ?

  4. Owen...I just wish you could see this house!
    Money holes we're used can be worth it just to be able to live there while you draw breath afterwards....and make a bit more for the next money hole...

  5. It looks lovely - houses have the same effect on me; heart over head! Maybe your French house will sell this spring and this house will still be for sale ...

  6. Given the current financial climate I think the only asnwer to the temptation to spending money is either to flagelate yourself or run away. I'm not keen on pain but I have great running shoes.

  7. I will always regret not buying a beautiful little house in Henley. Just on the outskirts of town, tucked away and not visible from the street, Pyt Cottage was a breathtakingly beautiful little house in white with black timber frame.

    It was a bit more than we could afford, and it was falling down so we'd have had to live in a caravan in the garden while it was being fixed up.

    And we didn't have the money to buy it and to renovate it. And we had busy jobs and no time. And, and. And I regret not buying it. 35 years ago.

  8. Return of the Native, I think if the last couple of years in France hadn't knocked the stuffing out of us we would be in there, taking the risks and loving it...but now we're cautious.
    Though if we sell the house, that's a totally different financial picture...

    Steve, that's why we're off! But I know we'll always regret not going for it.

    Mark in Mayenne, we missed an Italianate nineteenth century convent years ago...we were just short of the price and the banks turned us down.

    Someone else tore it down and turned it into hideous flats...banks had no trouble financing that!

    I know we'll regret not buying this...but we're not up to living on a financial knife edge!

  9. Our love affair with houses is hard to fathom, but I have it too.

    Oddly enough, what I covet most is a house in France; but in the Alps

  10. Mark, it is hard to fathom...why is it that some houses are boxes for living in and others communicate with you?

    Alps are not at all my scene, though i do like the Pyrenees....if ever you take the plunge contact me for the things to watch out for!
    I think we've met with most of them in our time.

  11. I've heard that property in Nicaragua is fairly cheap...there may be more temptation there...

  12. e, when it comes to houses, there's always temptation, but prices have been rising there...except for the U.S. financed development lots on the Pacific coast.

    I've kept an eye on prices up in the north and for anything at all decent in Matagalpa you're paying European prices.

  13. Your flights of fancy are no worse than ours.

    Enjoy Nicaragua, I'm drooling at the very thought of it

  14. Lulu LaBonne, nice to know we're in good company.

    I do like Nicaragua, but particularly and relatively cool with a smashing market with a cooking area with about twenty ladies each with their own station, wood fueled fires blazing and smoking, producing food which, while simple is so well seasoned.
    It looks like a scene from the middle ages....

  15. What you don't spend on the house you can spend on keeping your spirits up. :)

  16. Your new life sounds fantastic, though I'm sure a lot of hard work has gone into making it so. I'm crossing my fingers that your French hous sells and nobody else buys the town house in the meantime!

  17. Well I'm more inclined to say that you're never too old...never past it, and I know how you feel about some houses just reaching out to you. Maybe if the French house had been sold, you wouldn't have to even think about running away.

  18. Sarah, just been on a spending spree in Matagalpa.....hoes. I've never seen so many nice shoes at such cheap prices. Now I'm off to look for a bag to carry them back in...

    Pueblo girl, nice to see you, number six....we did do a lot of planning and thinking, it's true and we are having a great time.

    Ayak, if we had stayed and brooded I think we might have plunged in regardless...that house is so tempting.
    Still, running away has been beneficial. We have been over the sums again, looked at the risks we would take if we scrape up every spare penny and decided to hold our fire.
    I did feel that one of the factors was that we were past it...but it turned out tobe a false diagnosis...we have survived two days travel on buses, a three hour queue in the sun at the frontier and we are totally revitalised!
    Yes, fingers crossed on both counts as we have been doing the sums and can't justify going ahead unless we get a sale.
    If we can, then it's full steam ahead!

  19. What I'd love is a beach cottage near my home town. Mere mortals have been priced out of that market though. sigh.
    However I do have a wonderful hand made house in the mountains where people drool over our little piece of land. This house still isn't "done" but it has so much charm I'd have a hard time living in anything without character.

  20. I know the temptation. There's a building in San José downtown I'd love to own, as well. And there was another lovely house behind Casa Amarilla, but it's already taken. Wonder if it's going to be transformed into a resto.
    By the way, I gotta show you that Arabic style building that is a resto.
    Enjoy Nicaragua :D

  21. Zuleme...that's the problem when an area becomes 'recognised'...but you're right, I couldn't live in a shoe box house either...

    Ana, the more we walk, the more we see! We'll get to that cafe when you come back from Guanacaste!

  22. but still this is a pretty place and a pretty house:) Greetings!

  23. Have just re-discovered you... will be following constantly.

    I know what you mean about finding a 'perfect' house and also about not being quite young enough to go into the full blown renovation mode.

    Enjoy Nicaragua you two, one day we might join you to do the same.

  24. Ola, nice to see you!

    Trisha, I'll keep you a seat in the bus ....

  25. Hopefully u will sell yourfrench house soon xx

  26. Bombshellicious, nice to see you over here!
    Yes, it would be nice, but French agents aren't the most energetic...

  27. Good luck Fly! The house does sound rather tempting.

    Nicaragua sounds good too. Let your own head make up its mind. Mind you. I think it has been a good thing that lack of money has stopped us jumping into things.

    Ooh I don't know. I shall watch and keep an eye on your adventures! Hxx