That’s Mr. Pumps to you.

Hola, Muchachos,

I hope you’re all transitioning well into the fall season. Here it has been warmer and more humid than at other times, but my house is always comfortable, and the evenings are always cool. The rain comes later in the day, and usually doesn’t last long. It can be intense, though, and the thunder, which comes rarely, could wake up the dead. It sounds less like the thunder we know and more like the world is breaking.

I am happy to report that a team came to my house today to fix my bomba.  This is a pump which provides water to my house in case of disruption of service. First of all, let me say that I have very good, clean water which comes to my house as it does to yours.  However, there are occasions when the water delivery is interrupted- maybe once every couple of months.  For those situations, I have a private water tank under my driveway with plumbing into my house.  When the water pressure from the street drops, the pump kicks in and brings water into the plumbing.  I see no difference when this happens; I just hear the sound of the pump under my stairs.

Over a month ago, I noticed that I had no water in the pipes. When I questioned the guard, he said that there was work being done in the neighborhood and that no one had water. However,  my pump had not kicked in. Further investigation revealed that the circuit breaker had popped, which meant an electrical issue. After several negotiations with appropriate vendors, including one called “Mr. Pumps,” I finally got the repair authorized and completed. (The manager who gave me contact info informed me that it was the name of a company, not a person. Glad she cleared that up.) For the record, I ended up using La Casa de Tanques, which is the House of Tanks (also not a person).

Life is, for the most part, predictable. I have my mornings to myself, and the few students whom I teach in person are professionals and constantly change or cancel classes. I serve my Chinese overlords on weekends in the evenings, when it is morning in China. Did you know that the entire country of China has only one time-zone? I’ve read that there’s a movement afoot to make the whole US one time, Greenwich Mean, which would require adjusting to breakfast at 01:00 and lunch at 18:00, more or less.

I recently went on a version of the Ketogenics diet, which favors fats, proteins and vegetables with no carbs. I did this less as a weight-loss program and more as a try-to-save-whatever-brain-cells-I-have-left program. From medical and anecdotal evidence, it has successfully reduced the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other causes of dementia, as well as many physical problems which present themselves as we age. I have changed my “way of eating” at other times in my life, so that part isn’t difficult; what is challenging is finding foods on which to snack which do not have carbohydrates or grains. Also, going from a normally low-fat to high-fat diet has not left me feeling particularly hungry, so I have to make myself eat. And, sadly, the only ice cream approved is coconut ice cream, which is super expensive here. How I long for a Costa Rican Trader Joe’s. At least I’m reading and learning lots of interesting stuff about body and mind.

I am at the end of my three-year lease, which I plan to renew for one more year. I hope to make changes in the summer of 2020, but I’m not yet sure what those will be.

I’m thinking of a trip to Guatemala in the near future, but just for vacation. With its colonial history, and its incredibly low prices, it is possible to rent a lovely four-bedroom house for $500 per month. Antigua, near Guatemala City, is a beautiful town and haven for ex-pats and tourists. However, the medical care and infrastructure are not what they are in CR, and it is even less cosmopolitan than where I now live. So I want to go for the experience; I have not traveled in Central America as much as I would like since my arrival.

My oldest brother and his wife are coming to visit me in a couple of weeks. I am really looking forward to it. My niece, Jen, and my friend, Bob, have been my only visitors in three years. Hint, hint. I am therefore excited to share, however briefly, my adopted country and life with loved ones. It will also, I hope, be fun for them, since they have had a hell of a year (or three) and deserve a week in a beautiful and relaxing place.

After my nightmare experience with my Internet provider, I am delighted with my new company. I have not had one day or night without Internet (except for a one-hour disconnection due to an error in their billing department). I miss the 24-hour English-speaking helpline of my previous provider, but my Spanish is sufficient to explain any problems or ask questions. The television picture occasionally pixilates, but it is improving. The beauty of this company is that they don’t share cables or wires with any other entity, and problems are easy to isolate and fix.

I just completed a series of fantasy novels and novellas by Lois Bujold, whose writing and storytelling are delightfully entertaining. I’m also reading Ben Bernanke’s (former Fed Chairman) book called The Courage to Act, which was selected by a student for discussion. A very well-written explanation of how the Fed does and doesn’t work, it chronicles the disastrous recession which I remember all too well and with no small amount of pain. Finally, I’m still reading Isabel Allende’s “La Casa de los Espiritus” (The House of the Spirits); with trusty cellphone dictionary in hand.

Ciao for now.