Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


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


decay & ruin
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Irving housing

got that wrong

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   parking lot ablutions
Friday, April 4 2008

setting: Ylang Ylang Beach Resort, a half mile northeast of Montezuma, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

Todat we'd be heading back to New York, but we wouldn't be retracing our footsteps here. Instead of taking a little puddle jumper back to San Jose, we decided (for scheduling reasons) to take the shuttle instead. It's a much cheaper way to go, though it takes five hours (as opposed to twenty minutes). We caught the shuttle (a van) in the middle of Montezuma and then changed to a much more crowded van in Cobano.
On the way to Cobano, I'd noticed our driver was listening to a radio station that played some sort of beat-heavy Latino pop music. Every minute or so I'd hear a distinctive "Ca-ca-ca-ca-CAHHH!" in the music, sounding almost like a chicken. We'd been driving for well over the length of one song and yet I'd still hear that chicken noise. My first theory about it was that it was a sound effect popular with this genre of music, but on careful listening I realized it wasn't actually part of the music at all; it was an overlay inserted by the radio station, sort of like a watermark, perhaps to discourage piracy or to serve as a sort of wordless station identification.
The drive from Cobano took us through beautiful countryside, much of it open cattle pastures. The roads tended to be rudimentary, reminiscent of those of the Scottish Highlands: paved but narrow. (The road connecting Montezuma to Cobano isn't even paved.)
Our shuttle dropped us off at the ferry in Paquera complete with ferry tickets and "Alex," the name of the guy who would drive us the rest of the way to San José. The ferry was boarding when we arrived. It was a surprisingly massive vessel, complete with drive-on decks for automobiles, an air-conditioned deck for pedestrians, a food concession, bathrooms, and televisions showing grainy broadcasts presumably scooped off the air with rabbit ears.
Disgorged in Puntarenas, we quickly found Alex (though there had been hundreds of passengers on the ferry, no other vans appeared to be waiting to pick people up). Our ride to San José was on larger roads, though these never had any more than three lanes. The third lane would be given to whichever direction was climbing a hill, allowing the impatient to pass the heavily-laden trucks. Traffic was heavy and occasionally seemed to be on the verge of gridlock.
The drive to San José was so long that we stopped at a cafeteria for lunch. Gretchen and I managed to cobble together a fairly tasty meal from nothing more than rice, beans, shredded cabbage, and hot sauce. Unfortunately I'd received "No" in answer to my question "Hay tortillas?."
We'd been running a little slow, not leaving much buffer time for us to catch our plane. But the airport is on the west side of San José and our plane had been delayed, so we had plenty of time to kill once we'd made it through security. We ended up in the food court eating stuff from a Papa Johns franchise and watching old footage of Steve Irwin wrestling crocodiles for no discernible purpose. Irwin was explaining what was going on, but the sound of the food court televisions was off.
Typical of the third world, our Taca Airlines flight had been delayed because one of the crew members had been stuck in traffic on the way to work. This is third world for two reasons. The first is that a flight was delayed because of a single employee's flakiness, possibly causing a cascade of delays both in San José and even JFK. The other is that the pilot told all the passengers this over the PA system. Such candor is unheard of in the first world, where the delay would have been blamed on malfunctioning equipment or runway conditions.

Because we'd checked in late, Gretchen and I were separated by a few rows on the flight back to New York. We found ourselves stuck in the middle seats between strangers. Gretchen was surrounded by illiterate women from Ecuador whom she had to help fill out their customs forms (they couldn't read the Spanish version). The woman seated next to me was also from Ecuador and was 24 years my senior. She was chatty in Spanish, and I mostly responded with head nods and what not, though I offered her a pen when she needed one and also helped her get her bag from the luggage compartment when she needed it. She crossed herself and muttered things about Jesus and Maria when the plane took off, landed, and also when it encountered turbulence somewhere over New Jersey or Virginia.
At this point I should note that my lower intestine had not recovered since my illness the other day. Every bowel movement since had been an explosive one, though I'd remained in control of their timing. Once we'd landed at JFK, though, my bowels became considerably less deferential to my needs. Something about the little sprint to catch the Air Train shook them enough to place their demands front and center in my mind. When we got out of the Air Train at long term economy parking I could delay no longer. There are no bathrooms in the Air Train station and there are no bushes in the parking lot. But because it was an emergency I had to think quickly. Heading off to look for our car, Gretchen gave me some tissues and her blessing to do what I needed to do. So I ducked between two of the least fuel-efficient vehicles in the lot and dropped my pants. Sweet (though somewhat painful) relief! It would have been difficult to carry the toilet paper necessary to decontaminate the catastrophe that my rear end became, but luckily there was a sewer lid cover nearby cradling a puddle of water. My parking lot ablutions must have made some interesting viewing wherever the security cameras are monitored.

It was 6am when Gretchen and I finally made it back to Dug Hill Road. By that point I needed to explode once more, so I abandoned the car at the end of our driveway so Gretchen could continue on to Andrea's to pick up our dogs. I didn't make it into the house but at least I made it out of my pants.

Along the road from Cobano to Paquera.

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