Contractors in Costa Rica

Surprisingly, contractors work very quickly here in Costa Rica.  I was shocked that on the same day that I got the estimate, there were guys here later that afternoon to install a screen door (which was custom made), fix the door’s wheels and latch, install screens on 2 windows and put in a new piece of glass in one of the windows.

Also within a day, I had electricians at my property fixing various issues and installing outlets (remember, the bathroom had no outlet – at all!) and there was only one 3 prong outlet in the entire house which was in the living room.  I also got my toilet fixed and a new seat installed.

All in one day!  Now if only the banks, customs and other governmental agencies could work that fast!

Another interesting thing is how you pay contractors here.  One contractor handed me his business card and on the back of the card was his bank account number and Cedula ((which is like a social security number).  He asked me to transfer the money into his account rather than paying by cash or credit card.    Of course, when I went to the bank, there were more complications (did you expect anything less?).  First, I was told that I had to have my real passport (not a paper copy) to transfer money or withdraw money (even though I can do both from the ATM with just my PIN).  Then she told me she must include a reason for the transfer of funds.  WHY???  It’s so very big brother here and I can’t understand it.  I thought I only had to explain why for dollar amounts over $1,000 but this was nowhere that amount.   I just have to accept that nothing is easy here when it comes to the bank or the government.

I have also learned that sometimes, you just have to make adjustments to what you currently have.  Take for example the leaking freezer.  Since it wasn’t working and the contractor couldn’t find the rubber thingie that goes around the edge to fix it, I was temporarily given the frig/freezer from the owner’s house (who lives in Italy).  But the frig had a three prong outlet and the owner and manager had refused to spend the less than $20 to install a 3 prong outlet in the kitchen for me.  I had previously asked because the tea kettle I purchased at a local Costa Rica store came with a 3 prong plug.  But instead of replacing the outlet when the frig was brought over, the contractor just broke off the 3rd piece of the plug.  Simple as that.  The frig seems to work so I guess it’s okay.  And it’s not my frig so if that’s how they want to treat their belongings, then so be it!

Since the house has no cabinets – none, not a single one – and since there really are no nearby furniture stores, I’ve had two pieces custom made for me.  One was a medicine cabinet (photo above) and one was a nightstand and the other is a nightstand.  At least when I move, I can take both of these with me.

I also recently had a flashback to the 80’s…remember when we used to get the huge catalogs from Best (I think that was the name of the department store) and maybe it was either Sears or JC Penny?  And then you’d flip through them and pick out all the things you wanted (for me, being a kid, I always went straight for the toy section).  Well, I was doing just that recently when a friend’s cousin brought me a catalog of furniture.  I desperately need a sofa and haven’t been able to find one that was reasonably priced and in which the delivery fee wasn’t extraordinary.  And once again, I was surprised to learn that my sofa would be delivered 3 days after ordering.  And just like the others, I paid her via her bank account and Cedula.  I guess identity theft doesn’t exist here because in the States, you’d never give out either of those pieces of information to others!

Pura vida…Chrissy