Friday, 30 March 2012

Some updates

Getting ready for the Palmex roof

The master bedroom

Almost ready for the Palmex palmas

View from the inside

Hanging stairs

View from the master bedroom

Hanging stairs looking good

The Palmex bus arrives on time at 8am

Bird's eye view 

Sunset on the project

The roof taking shape 
From the master bedroom towards the kitchen/lounge

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Week 11- The countdown has started!!

Bambu plantation in Costa Rica
With my last two weeks of 'the experience - the adventure - the challenge' about to begin we come to the end, somewhat unbelievably, of week 11. Hopefully you will have seen our progress via the sporadic photos uploaded over the last few weeks - albeit with a lack of commentaries or blog posts - you will have to excuse the lack of finer details of late, 10 hour days during the week have become 12 recently and we even worked the weekend (some of us at least) this week just short not a huge amount of spare time for blog writing especially with the constant struggle the lack of Costa Rican Communication & Infrastructure seems to provoke.

The freshly roasted Bambu
Starting with the 'lowlights' or nervous moments - and there have been quite a few anxious moments of late - the main 'bronca' being with the roof. Already on design number 5...(since the initial conceptualization back in June), the treated Guadua Bambu had arrived and was looking grand, with most of the 'team' new to bambu and its irregularities, there were the inevitable grumbles and 'mas o menos' became worrying inaccurate. With around two thirds of the bambu 'vigas' or roof spines in place it was clear that the carefully designed roof that Maish International and I had spent so long sketching and modelling was never going to be symetrical regardless of builders optomistically telling you otherwise. In theory the design was fine, the mistake was encouraging Alex and the team to trust the architects plans which had somehow, and rather expensively, managed to mix dimensions and measurements of the OLD design!

By mid week (last week) we had an emergency site visit, myself, contractors, builders, roof contractor, engineer and lastly our Josefino architect. Frustrations arose, fingers were pointed, excuses made, heads scratched, measurements taken, questions posed, plans scrutinized and critisized but the important thing was that 4 hours later, a solution was found - it would mean taking it all down, a few new lengths of bambu, a week lost and the whole team slightly disillusioned - but at present time of writing, the new roof is 80% complete and with its bambu & palapa finish, should be the real protagonist of the jungle villa which is what we always wanted. 

The next day, another friend arrived on Costa Rica soil - and was almost immediately dragged from the idylic landing strip in Palmar Sur on yet another shopping trip to Panama! This time for swimming pool pipes, fans, switches and dimmers, placas and the whole electrical kit for the 'acometida' (basically a glorified fuse box with lots of underground earths, wires, fittings and connections!) 

Same game, same rules - $500 limit of tax-free goods per person on the condition that you stay 48hours in Panama. The truth is that I was feeling guilty for kidnapping my friend who was scheduled to be in Costa Rica for just 6 days - 2 of which were going to be bouncing between hardware strores haggling them all down on prices as if they were marketplaces! 

So in short, we left Panama early, after the normal mahem and chaos at the border - how anyone that doesnt speak Spanish manages it I do not know. Dave was amazingly patient and optomistically put it all down to the adventure of the 'road trip'.

After various stamps, queues, and forms we came to our penultimate hurdle - the customs office. He immediately noted (despite my lame attempts of distracting him with my friendly Tico banter) that we had been out of Costa Rica for just over 24hours - the truth is that we didn't really know the consequences of this but the general concensus was that we could go home empty handed and with a heavy fine - worrying moments indeed. I was careful not to disclose the real amount of our shopping trip nor did I mention the toilet smuggling of late - he eventually let us go, saying that he wouldn't 'denunciar' us but we would inevitably come unstuck at the 'second' police/customs post 30km down the road. Night was falling and we took refuge in a local cabana for the night. After a few beers, telephone calls and some scare stories of the locals, we took their advice to leave at day break when the border police were less likely to be 'heavy searches'.

As we approached the border, with an empty road ahead I toyed with the gas pedal and a speedy getaway, only to remember the age of my loyal Toyota pickup combined with its blatenly top-heavy cargo and the relatively innocent 'co-pilot' who thought he came to Costa Rica on a 6-day 'holiday'!

Amazingly, yet again, the locals advice paid off. No searches, no passport checks, no questions, no receipt showing, no unloading, no fines, no tax to be paid, no worries - Pura Vida...just three sleepy looking policemen in hamnocks sipping their morning coffee - 3 times lucky - I won't disclose how much we got away with this time, needless to say it won't happen like that again!

A few days later, back at the site, the phonecalls start to come in... Big delays with the 'orno' or 'drying device' for our freshly cut teak wood that will eventually take the form of 10 very stylish custom designed sliding panels covering three sides of our open-plan living area. This inevitably puts everything out of sink as the carpenter already has the bambu 'tableta' ready and waiting...

Then came the swimming pool permits ballsup. While they were supposedly ready to pick up last week, it turns out they're missing the ever so vital 'firma' or signature of the architect that designed them! That wouldn't be such a problem if that same architect didn't live on the other side of the country, many jungles & volcanoes away!

Despite the complete lack of urgency and consistancy that seems, almost charmingly inherant of the 'Ticos' Costa Ricas, we are all in good spirits.

With the roof dramas almost over it becomes apparent that with 'la mayor parte' of the bambu guadua structure in place another bambu run was necessary. A slow windy 3 hour 66km roundtrip from the coast up to San Isidro and back and we were enroute back up to the Jungle Villa. One more stop, via the aseraderro to pick up some locally sourced teak lengths for the window sill and horizon ledge of the sea-view master bedroom. Its going to be stunning.

Downstairs, the Jungle View ensuite boasts a freshly poured and polished concrete floor which constrast brilliantly with the recently installed, oven roasted ornemental. Round the corner, the bathroom is complete, with its natural stone finishes complete with bambu faucets, looking very 'ecolujo' indeed.

Could winter be coming early here in Costa Rica??? It rained last night, and LOTS!

With completion on the horizon I'm very happy to announce we are now officially taking bookings from June! We got our first Premiership Footballer enquiry yesterday...!

Buenas noches

Our Bambu (not our dog!)
Teak wood for the deck
The Bambu structure

Almost finished
The roof from below

Saturday, 17 March 2012


All that's left now is the last 'agua' which hangs iver the lateral deck and the front & back 'aleros' which hang out and 'shelter' the jungle villa...
Sunset as the working weekend begins
...showing where the two rooves meet at the corner between the open plan living area and the master ensuite bedroom...

Saturday, 3 March 2012

5.30 Friday, the weekend begins!

Proposed location of our plunge pool- with sunset view of course

With the plaster work almost finished, the spaces start to take shape

Still very much a building site, but starting to take shape

Getting the angles in...

Looking up towards our very "open area" living area

The walls have been plastered- the panacor way

First details of roof installed as Friday's sunset approaches

Bedroom sliding door entrance

View across lounge and out onto side deck (hanging over jungle canopy)

With most of the heavy work now complete- access is clear and we can start with the finer details & finishes

The plantel, home of our team and supplies- Bambu just arrived

Looking across the lounge and the entrance to bedroom 2

Alex preparing first supports for the roof