Our first little casita

Our first little casita

Here was our home away from casa for the first 4 nights of our vacation.  Called Villa Rica Guest House, it is owned by Ginny Vargas and Dave Denny.  Dave is from the U.S., and Ginny is a native Tica.  They spend part of the year in Texas, and part of the year in CR.  Ginny’s family was really helpful when we first arrived:  meeting us at the airport so we could follow them to the guest house, taking us to the bank to change money, offering ideas on where to go, and how to get there.  Everyone was wonderfully kind.

Our little place was in the same compound as Dave and Ginny’s house.

Here are some views of our house: 

The living room was the first space you entered when you walked in from the garage.  Mom and the girls are playing catch while Zachary draws on the aqua doodle Aunt Andrea lent us for the trip.  Directly behind Zachary is the door to Chris and Jennie’s bedroom.  Directly behind Zoe is the door to the children’s bedroom.  The doorway directly ahead leads into the kitchen, and through the door at the back, you can see Dave as he visits with Chris in the dining room.

This picture shows the view from the garage leading down into the living room of the picture above.  There was a little courtyard off to the right with a picnic table.

This shows the children’s bedroom and the bunkbeds they slept on.  This gives an idea of the simplicity of the home.  The walls were wooden, ceiling wooden, generally one or two pictures on the walls in each room.  Tile floors throughout the house.  Besides lots of ants, and some big bugs, it was very clean, and easy to keep picked up.

The two sides of the kitchen.  Note the tile counter and floor–again, very simple, but lovely.  Plenty of dishes.  The pots and pans were a little challenging.  If you know me, you know that cooking on no-stick pans that are flaking gives me a bit of the heeby jeebies, but when in San Jose…  We cooked all our meals at home, except for the one day we were out for the whole day, which I’ll write about shortly.  It worked out so well because there was a grocery store about 1 1/2 blocks away, and we were able to find food that the children were happy to eat, as well as trying to make some things with local flavor for the adults.  Buds made some great rice, sausage, and beans one night and fish tacos another night.  The kids pretty much ate exactly what they do at home.

That reminds me, it does feel so much like the U.S. culture has invaded everywhere.  We purchased Tang at the Pali grocery, albeit in rice flavor, which I guarantee you won’t find at home.  Another interesting aspect of shopping here was that everything came in little plastic bags.  We don’t know if people transfer them to their own containers when they get them home, or if it is just the style here.  Since we saw nothing resembling recycling in San Jose, it would create less waste than the typical cardboard or plastic container.  For example, the peanut butter came in a plastic jar, though much smaller than we are used to, but the jelly was in a plastic “bag” about the size of those tuna in a bag containers we can get at our grocery stores.  Things like liquid laundry detergent were also in these plastic bags, which must have to be transferred to something else because they are packed to bulging and would be very messy.

The showers were superb!  Really large with waterfall showerheads.  It did take us two days to figure out how to get hot water.  In the U.S., the more you turn the faucet, the hotter the water gets.  Not so here.  If you want the hottest water, you only turn the faucet a tiny, tiny amount.  Buds hypothesized that the hot water was heated in the shower head, so the less water you have going through, the hotter it can be.  Once we learned that little secret, all was good!

This was the dining room/office, next to the kitchen.  The internet connection was here, so you could generally find someone in this room if we were home.  The back door of this room led to the back patio, where the washer and dryer were off to the side in a locked room, and after opening a gate with barbed wire circling the top and a chain and padlock holding it closed, you were in the back yard where the chickens and baby chicks wandered, and this space connected to the yard by Ginny and Dave’s house.

The children loved this swing over by Ginny and Dave’s house.  Zoe would get it zinging through the air, and luckily, it had been staked into the ground.  There was also a hammock hanging over here, hung between two huge palm trees.  I tried to fall asleep in it our first afternoon there.

This photo shows the outdoor space next to Ginny and Dave’s.  The use of outdoor spaces here is really inspirational to me.  Several benches, picnic tables, chairs, etc., sitting outside.  The indoors just flows right into the outdoors.  Everything is tile, tin roof, only screens on windows.  I just didn’t realize how different it could be living in a climate where low 60’s is the coldest it ever gets.  (Wow!)

There were fruit trees all over the yard as well:  bananas, coconut, limes, oranges, lemons, and mangoes as big as footballs (Dave said.)

This picture doesn’t show anything new about the space, but it does remind me of one of the things I loved about our stay in San Jose/Alajuela.  We were a little out of our element here.  There wasn’t really anywhere to walk to for fun.  We enjoyed our trips out of the city, but once we were tucked into our little home at night, it was easy to just settle in there.  The children did such a fantastic job of making their fun where they were.  We used boxes to bring home our groceries, and those became a million different games for the kids, as well as the plethora of pillows that were used to decorate the beds and couches.  Those became various games of all different sorts.

And for the record, we only broke two things, even with all the pillows that got tossed around.