Bought the Farm

My friend Larry moved down to Costa Rica about 5 years ago and began working as a salesman for a real estate development just getting started east of San Jose about two hours.

In the course of his work, he came across a piece of property that seemed really special. It was 17 acres of riverfront property, which the then-owner advertised as an ‘eco-farm.’ It had a lot going for it. The river was clear and had some nice places to cool off from the daytime heat. There were 2 horses, and 2 pigs that were in a pen that was set up to produce natural gas from the pigs’ … doo doo. There were two big springs, a bamboo grove, five tilapia ponds and a pond where 2 crocodiles were kept (well fenced, I should add).

Not only that, there was a 3 bedroom rustic house. It was pretty rustic, alright, but it did electricity (lots of bare wires hanging), a toilet and a shower (of sorts). For under $100 thousand this could all be his! Not only that, it had a large covered patio and a sort of bar with a kitchen out back where parties could be held. It even had a half soccer field with a goal and everything!

Larry’s girlfriend fell in love with the place and pretty soon Larry was dreaming up all kinds of things he could do with the place. He envisioned his girlfriend running the place (she was a local girl) and having special events, selling the tilapia, riding the horses, and so forth. He went ahead with the purchase and soon it was all his. Since he was busy with the development, he put his plans on hold temporarily and hired a caretaker to keep the place under control (mostly keeping the vegetation from overgrowing the place. He bought the best weed-whacker he could find and began his stint as gentleman farmer.

The weed-whacker turned out to either be a lemon, or the caretaker was abusing it. After many trips to the shop he traded it in on a different one which seemed to work alright. He was making trips to the farm, which was about 10 miles off the paved road, at least twice a month. The pigs and fish needed food. The weed whacker needed gas. The worker needed paid. As time went on he began to get suspicious. There seemed to be a lot less tilapia in the ponds than when he bought the place. And the amount of feed he was buying for the fish and the pigs seemed rather high. Well, he wasn’t selling the tilapia anyway, and the pigs would fetch some money when they got the right size to butcher. The place was still beautiful and he was negotiating with a local ecological institute to do tours on his farm. Things still looked good.

(to be continued, Part 2 is here: http://www.usexpatcostarica.com/2010/01/sold-farm.html

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