Five Months in Uvita, Costa Rica: A Summary
My wife and I today gave the final touches on the cleaning of the house we had rented for the past five months in Uvita. Here's a summary.
We felt that we were wise to rent, as opposed to buying. Financially, properties are very expensive there. The house we rented probably cost well over $100,000 to build and well over $100,000 for the property. But the rent, including electricity, cell phone, land line, internet, garbage, water - $700 per month. Of course cheaper places can be had, but we decided that we wanted to spend the money to enjoy our time in Costa Rica as much as possible. I was able to do some good work online, and covered the expenses in any case.
We had a hard time making friends. We're both sometimes reserved, but we made more local (Tico) friends in one month in Grecia than five months in Uvita. When we were in Grecia, we were easily welcomed into family's homes, and we were also welcomed as volunteers at the school. In Uvita, we were rejected by both schools as volunteers and even rejected by the police when we volunteered to teach English (they were initially interested, but ultimately the chief said, "I'll call you to confirm" which of course meant no thanks). We also had a hard time relating to the foreigners in Uvita. Most seemed either drug users or SUV-drivers, and we just don't fit. More than half the invitations we made to other foreigners were snubbed. Maybe with more time we would have developed some closer friendships.
We loved the nearby trees with the toucans and howler monkeys. We appreciated the friendliness of the Toucan Hotel where they gave us coconuts and at Cascada Verde where they gave us cuttings and katuk for salad. We loved the view, the weather, the convenience of the store, the usually-reliable internet connection.
We never had even one thing stolen from us in Uvita. We left out tools, machetes, gloves, umbrellas, motorycle helmets, electric dog shears, kitchen utensils (the house had an open design and it would have been hard to lock these things up every time we left). We heard about a few robberies by intimidation, but we were never ourselves threatened in any way.
Overall it was a blessing to live there and to have a peaceful and safe environment close to nature to welcome our daughter into this world.
Today we traveled by taxi to Perez Zeledon (25,000 colones), by bus to San Jose (4,300 colones), and then locally to our friend's house where we are staying now.
We did have one near-loss on the bus ride today. We had quite a lot of stuff, including my expensive LCD computer monitor. I had it next to me in the aisle (in the second-to-last row of the bus), but it was banging around a little. One Tico man about 25 years old, about six-two and muscular, was sitting in the stairway just in front of us. His wife and child were in the seats behind us. He suggested that we put the LCD monitor on the convenient space next to him, underneath the seats in front of me. I made a mistake. I agreed, and gave him the LCD monitor. Later, just before Cartago, he and his wife and child got off the bus. My wife noticed that just as he left, he grabbed our monitor. She said to me loudly, "Our computer!" I looked out the window and was shocked to see the man carrying away our LCD monitor. I bolted down the stairs and barely made it out the door as it was closing, with the bus already in motion. He started to run, with the monitor. I ran fast, and he had a backpack and the box for the LCD display, so I was catching up. Then he just put down the LCD box as he was running. Amazingly, it skidded to a stop without even falling over. He kept running. I took back our monitor in my hand still in its box and went back and boarded the bus. "No piense que todos los Ticos son así," said the man across from the aisle, lifting his nose from Deutoronomy. "Yo sé," I said. Many people in the bus were still looking back, so I said, "Solamente que hay que estar bien listo uno, aquí en Costa Rica." Everyone went back to their sleeping positions. After we got off the bus, our friend from Deuteronomy said he was glad that we'd gotten back the monitor and apologized on behalf of his country. I said thanks.
In retrospect, I'm not sure whether I made a wise choice to chase him. Obviously, it's possible he could have been armed, or that he and nearby friends might have ganged up on me. But I definitely made a poor choice to trust him with the expensive, flat-screen monitor in the first place. Getting your things "conveniently taken" from the bus as it nears San Jose is such a cliche at this point, what a 'tard I was. It almost turned into an expensive bus ride.
In retrospect, I'm glad we had the opportunity to spend the past five month in Uvita. It is one of the most beautiful places I've had the fortune to live.