Settling In

So after our day out at Barra Honda National Park ML headed off to work and I began the job of making yet another home out of somebody’s house. Normally the houses that we rent either have no furniture in at all and I have to start from scratch – now this you think would be easy but often we are in isolated places or rural areas and you have to take what you can get, or they are furnished and you have to make do.

While we were in Vietnam on a shopping trip to Vinh (the closest big town to where we lived) the only sofa that  I would consider buying was a cream 1980s throwback, it and I had a love hate relationship during our time together. The alternatives to cream was purple velvet or brown and turquoise striped chaise longue or bright orange sofa. The shop we bought it and its two accompanying chairs from gifted us four purple crushed velvet cushions that had red embroidery on them advertising the store. But that was an improvement on the solid wood seating that was in the house when we arrived and the stop-gap garden wicker sofa and chairs we bought before we found the cream sofa and moved them up onto the balcony.

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Or as in Australia we had a cream tweedy sofa that was so rough on the skin that it took my poor skin a month to get used to it, by the time we left 18 months later I had no reaction to it at all. We were also able to buy cushions to jazz it up.

The house in Costa Rica is the second home of someone who lives in America, and is furnished to their taste – well maybe, or maybe it is the only furniture they can buy. But the knick-knacks that cover every, and I mean every surface have been put there by them. Not only does each shelf has something on it but that something is sat on a doily or a mat and then there are things in them.

IMG_2652For example the glass-topped dining table on top of that is a crocheted doily and on that is a glass bowl which has dried flowers in it. The table has a glass shelf under it, on that is another glass bowl containing a purple flower.

You get the picture, so I know I can’t live with all the clutter it will drive me up the wall looking at it every day so I’m going to have to declutter. But then I have the dilemma in what do I do with all the knick-knacks and should I when we leave put it all back. I’ve never had this problem before as knick-knacks are not normally included, now that could almost be a film or a book title.

My solution was to go around and photograph the kitchen work surfaces, dining table, big display unit, coffee and end tables, chest of drawers in all the bedrooms and finally the umpteen shelves in the bathroom that contain enough shells to restock a medium size beach.

In the hallway is a large cupboard on one side there is a series of shelves so that has shellsbecome the repository for all the extraneous stuff. I spent the next few days constantly moving furniture until I was happy with the flow. There were fast acres of bare floor and all the furniture pushed against the walls, not any more.

Having sorted the furniture I started on the knick-knacks, I weeded, culled, discarded, rejected and moved things around until I was happier. There is still way more than I would have chosen but it’s either this or look at empty shelves. The big unit has 17 external shelves and four internal shelves behind glass doors, I was never going to get a minimalist look I like but I can cope.

I shifted the kitchen cupboards around and completely forgot to photograph what went where in the cupboards so they will have to sort those out themselves after we have gone. It was surprising what I found and didn’t find, the oven contained seven frying pans, all clean I might add, there were at least four more in the cupboard and a few odd saucepans. There were no oven trays, microwave, coffee machine, kitchen scales, liquid measure or cup measures, rolling pin, iron, ironing board, hoover or plastic storage boxes.

ML said he was quite glad when I finally stopped moving things as he was frightened to sit down in case the sofa wasn’t there anymore. I then started looking outside and cleaned the patio off and moved all the furniture around out there as well. Although there was the same amount of furniture it was set out better. We get every now and again a strong wind blowing from the big hill behind us down the side of the house and across the patio.

IMG_2653When we arrived there was a couple of wicker rocking chairs and a sofa on the patio, they were quite light and when the wind really blew hard the furniture scraped across the tiles on its journey across the tiled patio. By moving it just around the corner it now stays put and placing the huge wicker and glass table and benches which are too heavy to be moved we now no longer suffer from ‘wandering furniture’ syndrome.

I now had an ever lengthening shopping list some things more urgent than others but at least I was beginning to put mine and ML’s stamp on the house although there are corners that I can do nothing about unfortunately.

As there is no desk in this house I am set up on the dining room table, I have moved one of the wooden chairs out of the bedroom we don’t use and I am sitting on that as the dining chairs are instruments of torture which were not built for someone to sit on them for any length of time. They are a mixture of wood and chrome with a small not very well padded round seat. The back has chrome protrusions that after a while dig in your back. It is at times like this I miss my desk and office chair in Vietnam, it had an additional pink and cream Jacquard cushion that was so comfy I could sit for hours if necessary.

I’ve tried looking to see where I can buy the things I need but my poor Spanish and lack of websites I haven’t got very far. I think we are just going to head out to the nearest large town to see what we can find. If all else fails we will have to make a trip to San Jóse and hopefully we will be able to find it there.

sofaUpdate: Ugly sofa must have heard me talking about it, one of the drivers from Vietnam has just posted pictures of the first meal in his new house. He has been building it for the last year and it has finally reached completion. In amongst the many photographs is a picture of a large group of people sitting on ‘Ugly Sofa and its accompanying chairs. It too is having a new adventure.

Living in Costa Rica

Blog Expat: living abroad