Even relatively new wooden support beams are totally infested.
Kitchen cabinet being eaten by termites.
Edwin checks termite-riddled support beams.
Braulio surveys beam eaten by termites.
Termites eat their way right through the ceiling and siding.
A window sill eaten away.
Galvanized sheeting to be replaced entirely.
An electrocution waiting to happen.
The Villarevia home seen from Calle Rodriguez.Phase 1 materials $3,145
Phase 2 materials $2,800 (partial)
Phase 2 materials (continued)
In Costa Rica a home of untreated wood is a termite buffet. This insatiable scourge will devour a home in just a few years. As the end approaches, everyone -- parents, kids, pets -- is at high risk as the house inevitably starts falling apart.
This is exactly the state of Flor's parents' house today, which I saw on a recent visit. I was appalled. This home to eight people -- four adults, four kids -- is so termite-ridden that the entire structure resembles Swiss cheese, threatening to cave in from the weakened wood support beams. To make matters worse, everything else made of wood -- cabinets, shelves, closets, furniture -- is hopelessly infested and must be replaced. No amount of poison can halt the destruction. At this late stage the collapsing will begin within months, but Flor's parents lack the resources to replace the rusted-out sheet metal roof and wooden beams, let alone furniture.
As a retired American ex-pat, I lack the funds to do the job, so I hope to draw on the generosity of caring folks by way of this fundraiser. Money raised will be used solely for the critical and urgent structural improvements, new furniture can wait. I will ride herd on the project to ensure that it gets done.
THE VILLAREVIA FAMILY
Flor Villarevia earns a living within the foreign retirement community near Grecia, in the heart of coffee country. She cleans homes, house-sits, is an expert gardener, loves any type of building project (she's not afraid of breaking a nail), can wield a mean machete or chainsaw, and drive a tractor, as needed. She is one of the most honest and conscientious people I've ever known. Over five years I've hired her for countless jobs of every sort, witnessing her boundless energy, cheerfulness, and take-charge command mode, privately thinking what a great drill sergeant she would make!
Flor once dreamed of being a car mechanic, but her real passion is sewing, having worked for years in a clothing factory (maquila). Her considerable talent goes into making BBQ covers, upholstering sofas, and virtually anything that requires fabric and thread. Flor owns five monstrous, industrial grade sewing machines, and recently started her own business making beautiful tote bags for tourists featuring spectacular wildlife embroideries.
Sadly, although Flor earns a livable wage, rarely does any of it go to her beyond basic living expenses. No frills. No special just-for-me treats. She's the rock of a large family, upon whom everyone depends to tackle the latest crisis du jour. An extra room for a dying aunt. Another for a niece with no place to live. An oxygen tank. Medical supplies. Electric, phone, and water bills. Spaying and neutering two homeless cats, Lulu and Lucio. The list is endless, and Flor is utterly selfless in meeting any need, even when it means sacrificing her annual Christmas bonus.
But the dire termite situation is beyond Flor's means. Her parents -- Edwin is a gardener, Mari knits blouses -- don't earn nearly enough to cover repairs. When the house starts falling apart the situation will upgrade to desperate, having no place to relocate. Here's a YouTube sampler of the damage:
Once I saw the termite damage, the urgency screamed at me. With Flor's construction-savvy brother-in-law, Braulio, we hammered out a plan. Phase 1, the most urgent, consists of immediately replacing the roof with new sheeting and steel beams to halt further termite damage. It's crucial that this be done before May, when the rainy season with its torrential electrical storms (aguaceros) drenches the country. The clock is ticking...
Phase 2 is equally vital, but can be done once the new roof is in place. This consists of rewiring the entire house with all new cable, fixtures, switches, and breaker boxes -- safety against fire and lightning strikes.
WHAT WILL IT COST?
Phase 1 materials come to $3,145 at the current exchange rate (the attached estimate is in Costa Rica colones). My goal is to raise this first to get that new metal roof up ASAP. Edwin and Flor have already lined up labor, to be covered by a local charity and experienced volunteers, including yours truly.
Phase 2 materials are $2,800. So, for a total of around $5,945 the Villarevia family can at last reside safely with the peace of mind that their home won't come crashing down in a midnight thunderstorm.
To most of you, Flor and her family are complete strangers. But their need is genuine and urgent, and through the course of this project you can get to know them. Each phase of the renovation will be documented with photos and video clips, all capped off by the grand finale, hopefully before the aguaceros resume.
Even modest donations add up to a new roof and wiring. So, if you can pitch in on that front, I'll devote myself to making this happen, with every dollar going directly toward materials -- no slush fund for lavish meals and private jets! Helping Flor help her parents is my reward.
Flor would like to give one beautiful tote bag to the two highest donors as of April 30, 2020, with delivery in the USA or Costa Rica. Once your friends see it they'll all want one!
Gracias and ¡Pura vida! ... or Pure Life! as the Costa Ricans say.
Gone native fundraiser Walt Clayton
- jacqueline Norton
- Suzon Huet
- Pierre Lusignan
- Philip Schmalfuss
- Leah Schmalfuss
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