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Kathleen Duplantier
The Duplantier’s front room, with a view of the hills above San Ramon
The kitchen

Kathleen and Stephen's (very secure, wheelchair-accessible) dream house

Where and what Kathleen and Stephen were BCR (Before Costa Rica)
Originally from Louisiana, Stephen and Kathleen Duplantier moved to Costa Rica in early November 2004. Stephen made documentary films about Cajun food and music and taught at Southwestern Louisiana State University. Kathleen taught grade school, taking early retirement when she contracted Multiple sclerosis (MS).

How Kathleen and Stephen built their dream house in San Ramon
A month after they arrived in 2004, they bought a hectare (about 2.5 acres) outside of San Ramon for $45,000. They bought the land from a local farmer. Next door, a developer was taking hectare lots, dividing them into 6 or 7, then selling each of those tiny lots for $30,000. Stephen and Kathleen found their land through a friend, a gringo who'd been in the area for 20 years. They hired a local architect, Carlos Reyes of San Ramon, with whom Stephen worked closely to design the house. It took about 14 months to build the house, which is 2,250 square feet.

"We sold our house in Abita Springs (Louisiana) for $200,000," says Stephen. "With that money we bought the land here, built the house, bought a car for about $8000, and lived for eighteen months-which probably cost around $1500 a month. So I guess the house probably cost around $120,000 to build."

They made the doorways wide to allow for passage of Kathleen's wheelchair. And security became important to them after burglars slipped into their rental house, taking everything, including all of their computer equipment and all of the backup disks.

"We had an instant and massive case of digital Alzheimer's," laughs Stephen. "It wiped the slate clean. It was kind of like cutting the final cords with the past. The up side of the robbery was that we thought, Now we know what kind of house to build. It's going to be a fortress."

But what a beautiful fortress! And one without the usual imprisoned look of the average Costa Rica home. But it is secure. The front door, for example, is a thick slab of mountain almendro so heavy they needed to make special hinges, flame-shaped pieces of iron now bolted to the wood. When they couldn't find a lock strong enough to hold the door, they special-ordered one from an Italian company that makes bank vaults.



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