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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   what it takes to have a fancy house in Costa Rica
Sunday, February 5 2023

high up a hill just northwest of the center of Santa Teresa, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

Gretchen and I were so worn out from the things we'd done yesterday, particularly the climb up the hill to the casita, that we decided to stay at the casita all day today (well, until after dinner). I set up my workstation in the form I'll probably be using for my remote work (that is, on the island of our open-air kitchen), and we both made ample use of the pool.

Last evening, we'd tried to use our bedroom's air conditioning unit (which is a split), but it hadn't worked very well. It would produce cold air for a time but then just blow room temperature air. It hadn't been a big problem, as the sun was about to set and things were about to cool down. But today during the heat of the afternoon, we tried running the air conditioner again, and again it failed to stay one to provide the kind of cooling necessary to cool the room down. It would blow a little cold air and then act like a fan from them on. So Gretchen send a message to April, whom I'd begun referring to as "the wicked witch." Not surprisingly, April tried to make the whole thing into a problem of our stupidity. She claimed to have just installed the air conditioner, so that couldn't be the problem. Then she mentioned that other guests hadn't known how to operate it. Perhaps it was in the wrong mode? Whatever the problem was, she was definitely not hiring a technician, since the last time she'd done that the whole thing had been her tenant's fault. The thing is, though, that we're savvier than most people about air conditioning units. Not only do we have very similar such units at our house back in Hurley, but I have a good sense of how they work. So I went around back and had a look at the outdoor half of the system. Unlike the indoor unit, the outdoor unit was nowhere near new. It was rusty and covered in grime. I reported this to Gretchen, and she wrote (in a very businesslike way, ignoring April's snippy insults) that perhaps the problem was the outdoor unit, which might be jammed with dirt and having to shut off due to overheating. She also included a photo of our remote clearly showing it to be in a mode that should result in cooling. At this point April switched to saying that she was sick and had been up all night due to illness. But she eventually conceded that she'd come and look at it with a techncian tomorrow. Again, how does this horrible woman run a successful business in the hospitality industry?

This evening Gretchen put together an Asian noodle dish featuring water chestnuts, broccoli, and that canned tofu that used to be the only form of tofu one can could in Costa Rica. We ate it out on the nearer of the two day beds while watching the sun go down. Darkness comes quickly after sundown in the tropics, but before it got too dark a couple bats appeared to keep the air near us relatively insect-free. There'd been the bloated corpse of a bat all covered with aggressive ants on the floor of the outdoor kitchen this morning and we'd wondered if it was one of the bats we'd seen the night before. Evidently there are more bats where that one came from.
After dinner, Gretchen and I went for a stroll outside the compound, walking down the steep driveway to the actual road and then following it up the hill. There's a very nice big house a little distance up that, and as we passed it we saw a guard flipping around on his phone out front. It seems that the thinking is that if your house is that nice you probably require the services of a full-time guard. As steep as the terrain is, it's hard to make a quality driveway even for the nicest of houses, but the people at this house had done their best, paving most of the steepest part of the road (including the parts serving other houses) with concrete. Above the fancy house, though, the road turned to particularly rough gravel with occasionally cuts slashing through it sideways to redirect runoff in the rainy season (which this is most definitely not). There are a fair number of famous rich people with vacation homes in and around Santa Teresa; our driver from the Tambor airport had told us these include Tom Brady (some football star who is always retiring and un-retiring) and Jack Dorsey (one of the founders of Twitter).

The moon as it prepared to set early this morning.

A large wren drinks out of our plunge pool.

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