Orosi Valley, Costa Rica
(The top photo was taken in 2003 before the Pondorosi was even conceived or the finca was subdivided into parcels. It appears in the Orosi entry in Wikipedia. The photographer Dirk van der Made authorized its use here and sent me the original in higher resolution. I annotated it and a cropped version above showing the location where the Pondorosi would later be constructed and landscaped. The lower access road was in place for agricultural purposes, although blocked by forest in the photo. It provided no access at all because of the extreme gradient. A new access road, our driveway or servidumbre, would later be cut in from uphill on Calle Gavilan to access the pad where the house would be built. )
(The above photo was taken in June 2008 when the Pondorosi was being built. In the foreground is the access road that forms the lower boundary of the property.)
Our Costa Rica property was divided into two distinct segments: the accessible and the inaccessible. Not necessarily inaccessible for Costa Ricans or horses, just for retired Americans who were afraid they might not make it back up the hill if they went down it. And in four years, we had not done any landscaping in the former coffee field downslope from the house.
Access being the major impediment, I knew we needed to carve a new path for a wheelbarrow to reach this nether region. So we backed up from the edge of the flat pad the house sits upon and started trenching a new pathway into the ground to tame the fierce dropoff. That, along with two switchbacks, would give us a walkable and wheelable trail to our new mirador, or scenic overlook.
Like many such projects, the scope continued to grow. We improved the network of rustic pathways, or senderos. Once we had a hardworking, honest and competent crew of trabajaderos in place, we kept them working for three months.When completed, we had mixed 153 tons of concrete, not counting the rebar and water. Our property's drainage systems were not adequate to contain the water of a two day drenching in late July, not to mention a mudslide at the bottom of the hill that made the road below impassible. This was corrected. Many hundreds of trees, flowers, bushes, and ground cover were planted, some purchased, some gifts from neighbors and friends.
Hopefully, next trip we will have photos of them surviving the leaf-cutter ants that denuded some of the trees we planted overnight. But that is for another time. The photos I'll be showing are mostly of our new infrastructure and the workers who responded so well to my orders "Mas concreto!"
There are so many photographs that I divided them into four slideshows to tell the story. Click on the picture icons below to view a .pdf Slide Show from November 2012:
In April of 2014, we modified the senderos. Click below to see:
Video of the senderos from April 2015:
Panoramic video from 2010:
One of many landscaping plans from 2012: