The Job that Came with 100 Keys
I got a strange job in Costa Rica in 2017, and it came with 100 keys. My job was to personally visit ALL the vacation properties managed by Special Places of Costa Rica in order to write brief descriptions of them to post online.
Boy, did I see a lot of nice properties!
My boss was (still is, actually) Kenny Segers, the founder and jefe of Special Places of Costa Rica. He gave me and my girlfriend, Guiselle, a free place to stay at a nice ocean-view condo in Flamingo, just across the street from his HQ, for two or three weeks.
Every morning I would go to Kenny’s office and he would give me five or six keys to condos or villas or jaw-dropping beachfront mansions. He told me the name of each property, described how to get there, and gave me a verbal description based on his excellent recall.
Then I drove off, found the property, let myself in and wandered around writing down how many bedrooms it had, what the kitchen counters were made of, what the artwork was like, what kind of view it had and so forth.
If I had been a burglar, I could have made out like a bandit! Some of these were multimillion-dollar properties, and nobody was home, and I had the key! But I am a very honest person, so on my stealthy visits to these fabulous properties I took nothing but notes and left nothing but footprints.
After making my rounds every day, I returned the keys, went back to the condo, had dinner with Guiselle and wrote up the property descriptions.
On one occasion I walked into a beachfront mansion called Hacienda del Arbol, and I felt like one of the Beverly Hillbillies, staring at this stunning place with my mouth open. I thought: If Lady Gaga came to Costa Rica, this is where she would stay.
The description I wrote is still online:
“Just … wow! Hacienda del Arbol in Flamingo is a 5-bedroom, 5.5-bath beachfront mansion in Flamingo that may be one of the finest homes you’ve ever seen.
“Brilliantly designed and professionally decorated, this immense structure features huge interior spaces with soaring cane ceilings, anchored by a central spiral staircase. And you could throw a rock into the ocean from the rear deck — underhand.”
I was born in Arkansas, where a double-wide trailer is considered a luxury home. This new job had me steppin’ in high cotton!
There were plenty of other homes that wowed me, but there were also several condos that a person like me could afford. Not once — never! — did my daily rounds take me to any place that I thought was a dump. There is not one bad property in Kenny’s inventory, and I know because I’ve visited them all.
Special Places of Costa Rica in Coco
After Flamingo, it was time to relocate to Playas del Coco, where Special Places of Costa Rica has a second office. This job came with a nice condo at Pacifico that Guiselle and I enjoyed for a couple of weeks. Again, every day I would go to the office and collect a bunch of keys to properties I needed to visit. The upside here was that virtually all the rentals were in the same condominium resort, here at Pacifico, all within walking distance.
I soon learned that all properties at Pacifico have air conditioning, TVs, washers, dryers and of course swimming pools. There’s not a bad condo in the lot. I just had to find creative ways of describing them differently. When I found one that had wall-to-wall carpet, which is extremely rare in Costa Rica, I knew that would be my lede.
At long last, I turned in my final key, wrote my final property description, and prepared to vacate my free lodging with Special Places of Costa Rica. I had just spent a month living in two nice condos and visiting a hundred others, and I felt like an Arkansas boy who had stepped “through the looking glass” to see how the other half lives.
Oh, and Kenny paid me a thousand dollars.
Best job ever!