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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dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

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   Playa Cuevas
Saturday, February 11 2023

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

It being a Saturday and neither of us having anything otherwise scheduled to do, Gretchen had filled the day with scheduling of her own. We set out in the mid-to-late morning on the ATV, heading southeastward through Santa Teresa with an ultimate destination of Playa Cuevas, or "Secret Beach," the southern-most beach accessible by road on the Nicoya Peninsula's western shore. April had provided some beach equipment, but this didn't include snorkels or flippers, so we thought we'd rent some from a place Gretchen had learned about along the way. Unfortunately, though, the place we went (and that Gretchen had called to place a reservation at) didn't have anything to rent us when we arrived.
Next we continued down to our next destination, Zunya, a holistic resort featuring a vegan restaurant called Nula. As we walked through the grounds to the restaurant, you could tell the sort of place it was when you saw a Buddhist monk in saffron robes having a Zoom meeting on his laptop with a colleague somewhere else in the Multiverse. Nula was near a stony bite-shaped cove in the rocky coastline. Most of its seating was entirely outdoors, so we moved a table into the shade and took a seat. Our waitress had a bit of mischievous vibe, particularly when describing what I thought was an IPA on the menu. She said it contained CBD (one of the ingredients of cannabis) and then pantomimed someone being relaxed and woozy when we couldn't understand the Spanish she was using to describe it. I'm always open to new things so I said sure, and of course that triggered Gretchen, who was suddenly worried that it would fuck me up and we'd have a repeat of our recent flight from Newark. But I've never noticed any effects from CBD the few times I've tried it, and I didn't expect that to change. This momentary disagreement led to a sequence of annoyed statements and irked reactions, most of which Gretchen blamed on my not having eaten anything in awhile (though I actually had eaten a fair number of corn chips with refried beans back at the casita before we'd set out). But then out came the beer (which had CBD in it but was not an IPA, though it was pretty good) and then the food and everything got better. I wasn't that hungry, so the only food I'd ordered was avocado toast, and it was great. As I ate it, I joked about how avocado toast is the reason routinely given for why Millennials can't afford to buy houses. Then I realized that one doesn't hear as much about Millennials any more because they're aging out of relevance. Because there are so many of them, they'll never been completely forgotten (like our generation, the one labeled "X," has been). But mostly all you hear about now is Generation Z, since they're the photogenic ones that look good in movies or lipsyncing on stage in front of thousands. As for Gretchen, she had some sort of salad, since that's pretty much what she always orders.
When we returned to our ATV and attempted to start it, we had that problem again where we couldn't shift it into neutral. And turning the handlebars left and right (which might've been a cargo-cultesque ritual we'd developed that had no relationship with the ability to go into neutral) wasn't working. We were getting hot in the sun and a little desperate, so Gretchen asked one of the guys manning the Zunya entrance if he knew how to get our ATV started, assuming that knowledge of ATVs is endemic among the population of the Nicoya Peninsula. But he tried a few things and couldn't get it to start either, deciding eventually that its battery had died. By this point I'd managed to shift it into neutral, but when I hit the ignition button, nothing was happening. But then I flipped a switch that the Zunya entrance guy had apparently put into a new position, and with that in the right place, the ignition button worked and we could continue our drive.
There were patches of pavement here and there, especially near the nicer houses. But in other places the road became very rough, and I'd have to slow down to maneuver around the worst of the potholes and ruts. Eventually we came upon a store (it was more of a convenience store than a "super," though convenience stores aren't really a thing in Costa Rica) called Minisuper Chico, and we went in there looking to buy flip flops, as Gretchen had worn an open blister into one of her toes with her sandals. We both ended up buy flip flops, as well as bottles of water and a can of beer. We also took note of the astounding fact that this little store stocked tempeh, a product we'd never seen in Costa Rica (either on menus in restaurants or in grocery stores) and had assumed was so completely unavailable that we'd considered bringing some with us on this trip. We had a full afternoon out in the Costa Rican heat in front of us, so we didn't buy it. But we noted it for later.
We continued south all the way to a parking lot in the forest at the end of a very rough cobble-strewn roadway just outside of Playa Cuevas. There was a guy administrating that parking lot, both working as security for the parked vehicles and renting out snorkeling gear. (There was an older man sleeping in the shade behind him, perhaps they took turns doing the job.) When we arrived, there wasn't much selection, though there was a very large pair of flippers that could fit my enormous feet. Fortunately, the turnover of equipment is high, and some young women returned snorkels while we were there looking at the selection. Gretchen noted as we were leaving that the price for the snorkels here was much lower than they would've been at that place that didn't have them along the way.
A short walk away led us to a beach above a couple coves cut into what appeared to be a lava flow on the south side of a cliff-sided hunk of rock towering above the sea and adjacent landscape. This beach is known in English as "Secret Beach," evidently because not many people had discovered how awesome it is. But by the time Americans like us find out about something, it's hard to pretend it's still a secret. (For related reasons, make sure you're not invested long in whatever is being hyped on YouTube &emdash; Masterworks, for example &emdash; by the time it's being hyped by everyone.)
The initial hope was to be able to find some shady place with a view of the ocean that wasn't too close to anyone else. But there was no such place, so we ended up in 15-foot-wide space between other people, which ended up being fine. Gretchen immediately went out with a snorkel to explore the nearby ocean, which formed two fairly large pools edged with remaining lava and rubble. We'd arrived shortly after low tide, which the web had told us was the ideal time to be there. Meanwhile, I had a couple articles loaded on my phone that I read while drinking the beer I'd just bought. Periodically I'd look up to see where Gretchen was, watch the interactions of dogs, or behold the diversity of shells being used by the hermit crabs, which came in all sizes and were crawling around everywhere nearby.<
Soon after Gretchen returned, the parking lot administrator came by wondering if we were done with the big flippers that fit my feet. But I hadn't used them yet, so the answer was no.
That snorkeling equipment, particularly the goggles and snorkel, were terrible. The goggles leaked no matter what I did, meaning I could only swim for a short time before having to rest. And the snorkel was unreliable and seemed to clog in ways that didn't make me feel secure. So once I'd seen a couple small grey fish I was done and returned to our place on the beach to offload that useless junk. Then I went out wearing my Crocs to just bob in the water was the waves came in. The water was very warm, particularly near shore in the pools. Further out, though, the waves of the incoming tide was fairly punishing, and I was slammed against the rocks a couple times in a way that wasn't all that fun. As I was doing this, there was some sort of mostly-white bird of prey flying around. Perhaps it was some sort of sea eagle or a white hawk.
After being at Playa Cueves for several hours, we packed up our equipment and drove back north. Now Gretchen had the idea of going to some nice beach-side restaurant and having a drink. First, though, we had to stop at the MiniSuper Chico to get that one unit of tempeh.
North from there, we were looking for a pizza place that we never manged to find. But we did find a small resort called Gigi Brown which was on a stretch of beach with yet more stony pools. We found some comfortable chairs in the shade, and the only downside was the three oversized Gigi Brown banners between us and the ocean. After a nice staffer came out and took our order (a strawberry daiquiri with real alcohol for Gretchen, a margarita and an order or vegan sushi for me, and an order of fries for both of us), we retreated to better shade further from the beach. Occasionally groups of people on horseback went past on a trail along the beach, and of course some people on those horses were snapping selfies as they passed, which Gretchen considered a harbinger of the secular end times.
When the food and drinks came out, wow, let's just say it was a lot of sushi and we had a dinner reservation somewhere else for two hours from then. As for the drinks, my margarita was good enough and Gretchen decided her daiquiri was the best she'd ever had.
There were only a scattering of humans on the grounds, most of whom seemed to be guests fast asleep in hammocks. But there was a live DJ present spinning a constant mix of dreamy ambient music with a strong beat with occasional flourishes of DJ tehnical tricks layered on top. When I looked over to see, I noticed the DJ was standing in front of a sunburst pattern of tiki that reminded me of the Iron Throne in the Game of Thrones franchise.
At some point, in preparation for dinner tonight, Gretchen managed to change her outfit entirely, switching from shorts and a teeshirt into a dress right there on a chaise lounge out in the open.
Towards the end of our Gigi Brown experience, I was looing off across the ocean towards the southwest at a distant group of birds when I saw the vertical steam cloud of a surfacing whale. I quickly told Gretchen and had her run with me over to a clearer view. There I saw another steam cloud and then a large dark form surfacing on the water. It only lasted a few seconds, but Gretchen saw it too. She asked a nearby staffer about it and he said that whales were indeed visible where from the beach, and that it was most likely a blue whale. He said there were also orcas, but that they were usually from around only from July through September.
From Gigi Brown, we drove back into the heart of Santa Teresa, parking near Kantana, the pan-Asian reservation where Gretchen had made a reservation. We were there a little early, so Gretchen wanted to do the thing I find most boring of all: wandering into shops nearby to look at products that do not interest me. We went into a store selling clothing made from bamboo fibre, a surprisingly soft material in its finely-divided form. Gretchen briefly considered a hat that was less dorkus than the one she'd bought for herself a week ago, but it lacked a chin strap, which would cause it to blow away when riding around on an ATV.
Next we hurried down to the beach on an access road and arrived just in time to see the sunset. After that we stayed to watch the surfers, most of whom displayed impressive skills in waves that seemed truly massive up close. At the time the beach seemed crowded with deeply-tanned gringos, some of whom where drinking beers and watching the sunset or taking a break from surfing. I'd never seen so many surfers in my life; they seemed especially thick on the water when looking roughly parallel to the coastline. There were also a fair number of dogs present, most of whom were at least a little bit shy in the face of Gretchen's effusiveness over them.
One thing that's most striking about society in the Nicoya Peninsula is the complete absence of any form of law enforcement. The people (gringos, ticos, etc.) all appear to be self-regulating. The only indication that humanity there has a potential for evil is the presence of guards at the entrance of some of the larger supers, but even these guys look to be outfitted only with pepper spray and light body armor. During our stay in Montezuma four years ago, we learned that occasionally the local "mafia" (as they were lovingly described) would occasionally beat up troublemakers and put them on the ferry with a stern warning never to return. Perhaps that's the only form of law enforcement there is here.

At Kantana, we were seated in roofed area beside a forested riverbed. Such riverbeds so close to populated centers are usually a little trash-strewn, but this one was pristine. Towards the end of our meal we would see a pair of raccoons (not coatimundis!) making their way among the boulders towards Calle Cóbano.
We weren't far into our meal before the maître d' came by to ask me if I could repark my ATV so more vehicles would fit in front of the restaurant. I was able to back in it tightly beside another one, which would make it easy to drive away at the end of the meal.
Due to all the sushi and fries I'd eaten earlier, I didn't have much of an appetite, and what little I did wasn't really interested in Asian flavor profiles. There were some mushroom pot stickers that were pretty good and the pad thai was alright. But I wasn't really into the interestingly-spiced cauliflower. What I most enjoyed (though initially I thought I wouldn't) was the "wasabi margarita." It was a conventional margarita with just one difference: instead of using regular salt for the rim, they'd used "wasabi salt," which was much more wasabi than salt. Just to drink the margarita, had to brave that rim, and initially it was punishing, but in the recreational way that I find wasabi to be. After that, I could soon meter my dose by either choosing to drink from the part of the rim that was clear of wasabi salt or by intruding into as-yet-un-drunk-from parts of the rim. This made drinking much more interesting than I would've expected it to be just from a description like the one I just gave. Meanwhile, Gretchen was loving everything she'd ordered, though she'd decided the pot stickers were more a me thing than a her thing.
Due to how little I ate, we had an enormous amount of leftovers to take back to the casita.
Back at that casita, I had a sudden need to seat myself on the toilet. As usual, I grabbed my work-issued laptop, which had spent the whole day chilling by itself. Actually, it wasn't too chill because it been on for some unknown reason, probably because Microsoft has never really figured out how to implement a reliable sleep. Because of this, it had exhausted its batteries completely, which also cleared its CMOS settings, the fundamental switches we used to tweak in something called BIOS (it's now called something else on newer computers like that one, but it's the same idea). So even once I'd plugged it into AC power, it refused to boot, telling me it had no bootable drive. Initially I panicked, since this is the only machine I can do any work on and I still have three weeks of remote work left to do. But then I remembered that to install a pirated copy of Windows 10 Ultimate (or Professional, or whatever the non-cut-down version is called), I'd had to disable secure boot. Even that wasn't enough, as I also had to enable something called legacy boot. With that, the laptop booted up just fine and I could breathe a sigh of relief and climb into the pool with Gretchen.

A black vulture sunning him or herself in the tree in front of our casita this morning.

A frigate bird on the wing.

A parrot doing parrot stuff near our Santa Teresa casita.

The cliffs of the biggest landform of Playa Cuevas. Click to enlarge.

The sushi and drinks at Gigi Brown, with Gretchen snapping a picture.

Click to enlarge. The Playa Cuevas landforms seen in the distance from Gigi Brown.

The DJ working behind his Iron-Throne-style backdrop.

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