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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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   Valentines Day in Santa Teresa
Tuesday, February 14 2023

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

Gretchen wasn't feeling 100% this morning, but she was feeling good enough to go to her classes at the language school. This morning before she left for that, she got a response from Powerful explaining the Days Inn charges on her credit card, but it didn't smell like the truth. He claimed he'd been doing all sorts of social justice work and was so exhausted driving back from something involving that that he'd rented a room for two nights (we hadn't known it was for two nights!) in Albany. He said he was done with "all that mess" (meaning the whoring, which Gretchen had implied the hotel room was for). But this made no sense at all. Gretchen and I have driven home many times late at night from various places, and we've never once rented a hotel room in Kingston (or, for that matter New Paltz or even Newburgh) because we were "tired." If you're that close to home, you either drive home or (perhaps) you pull over somewhere and sleep in your car. And even if we were to rent a room in Kingston for such a stupid reason, perhaps because of our enormous amount of disposable income in a quantity that Powerful utterly lacks, it would only be for one night. This explanation sounded like an attempt by Powerful to wash the whole incident in "social justice," hoping that would be enough for Gretchen to say, "alrighty then, social justice, that's a good cause, my questions are over." If he thinks he's going to get off that easy, he obviously doesn't know us very well.

I took a recreational 150 milligrams of pseudoephedrine this morning, which helped me power through some pre-business-house software development and the two Tuesday morning meetings.
This afternoon I drank some alcohol during group QA that made that a little more fun than it might otherwise be. But after that, I didn't feel particularly motivated to do any work. And then Gretchen came home earlier than expected because she'd canceled a plan to drive the ATV to the beaches north of the language school.
At 4:00pm when the workday in the remote workplace was over (we're on Central Time here in Costa Rica), I went out on the ATV by myself on a mission to get super glue. I'd looked up the Spanish translation for that and found it was super pegamento, something I filed away in memory. Using Google maps, I navigated to Fercosta S. A., the hardware store near Green World. When I walked in, I found it was very different from an American hardware store. Instead of having access to the aisles (as one does in, say, a Home Depot), customers were presented with a long counter staffed by four or five employees with computer terminals, and this blocks access to the aisles. One is expected to take a ticket at the door and then wait for the number on the ticket to be called. Fortunately, I know enough Spanish to recognize the number cuatro (my ticket actually said 64, but the guy calling out numbers only called out the last digit). Knowing the Spanish word for superglue meant that I could conduct my business entirely in Spanish. Usually when there's a response to what I've said in Spanish, I have no idea what it is, but in the case of today's business, I could get everything I needed from context. For something that is so common and cheap in the United States, there was a surprising amount of bother regarding the tiny three gram tube of Loctite SuperBonder. The guy at the computer had to enter various things into his database and then go back to the aisles that are inaccessible to customers and find it. He held it up across the room and I gave him a thumbs up. He then passed it to a woman who actually handled the money transaction. The damn thing cost over 7375 colones, which is $13! In the United State it would've cost only about $1.50.
On the drive back home, I stopped at a super mostly to buy the sort of bread that makes for good sandwiches (as opposed to the thin loaves Gretchen has been buying that yield slices no bigger than playing cards). While there, I also got two cans of Imperial, thinking I might drink one on the drive up to the casita (though I didn't actually do that). As I was being rung up, I saw that the super actually did sell superglue, but they didn't keep it back by the other glue and tubes of gasket repair. They kept it up near the cash register, which made sense given how tiny and expensive it is.
Back at the casita, I climbed into the plunge pool and cracked open a brewski, which I drank while looking out across the ocean.

Valentines Day has always had significance to Gretchen and me since she first sent me message on Valentine's Day back in 2001. Traditionally we celebrate it by going out for pizza, something that hasn't always been easy since we both became vegans. Tonight Gretchen decided we should return to Nula, that vegan restaurant at the Zunya resort down near Playa Cuevas. She'd seen pizzas on its kids' menu, so she thought they could make vegan pizzas for adults just as easily.
So we took the ATV all the way down to Zunya, signed in at the entrance, and then walked directly to the beach, hoping to see Nula tables out there for some beachside dining. What we found out there were a bunch of deeply-tanned (and mostly photogenic) young gringos, most of them looking like the kind of who think their use of essential oils means they don't need to vaccinate. They were reclined on the ground with their heads propped up on a large log, watching the aftermath of the setting sun across the ocean, which was tossing and churning powerfully with the full power of high tide.
After not finding any dining tables, we went closer to the parts of Nula that are indoors and took a seat at a table. Eventually a staffer came over and informed us that actually Nula was closed this evening for an event. But we were welcome to attend that event if we wanted to. We decided crashing someone's wedding wasn't a great way to spend Valentines Day, so we researched other options. Eventually we decided to go to El Corazón, a restaurant Gretchen had heard good things about. It was back in Santa Teresa near Katana (the pan-Asian restaurant) up a bumpy side street.
Almost no customers were in Corazón when arrived. It featured a spacious semi-outdoor dining are full of plants and a high ceiling. The music playing from the sound sytem was a very specific kind: classic white-man English-language pop from the 1970s and 1980s, with musicians ranging from Paul McCartney & Wings to Hall & Oates.
Gretchen knew that Tori, one of her teachers at the language school, is a waitress at Corazón, and she happened to be working tonight. She seated us and took our order in a hail of Spanish that Gretchen followed admirably well. I ordered a "Naked and Famous" cocktail, which was a complex and interesting mix of flavors but not very big. Gretchen was still a bit off her feed after the lasagna she'd eaten at Drift the other night, so she was dismayed by how oily all the food we'd ordered ended up being. I wasn't too excited by any of it except for the small Korean bao Gretchen ordered for me. I should've ordered two of those. There was a pizza-like flatbread on the menu, but evidently it couldn't be made vegan.
Corazón, perhaps for obvious reasons, seemed to be something of a go-to destination for heterosexual couples on dates. They filled in around us, always with the women facing out into the room and the men facing the wall (which in this case was actually an island covered with plants). Unfortunately, much of the food served at Corazón features eggs in their most disgusting manifestation (for example, deviled) and Gretchen had to keep warning me not to look at the plates of the couples seated next to us.
One of the many things Gretchen and I discussed over dinner was the interesting fact that the nearest movie theatre to Santa Teresa is in San Jose, that is, it's in the capital city in the center of the country. It would be as if the only place to see movies in the United States were in St. Louis, Missouri. Evidently Costa Rica does not have a culture that places much emphasis on gathering together in a public space to watch a movie. This led into a discussion of where exactly the American movie-going culture comes from and why it might be absent from Costa Rica. Perhaps it's an Anglo-American tradition with origins in Shakespeare that was kept alive through pre-modern times with performance theatre and vaudeville. The Greeks also loved theatre, and it was their theatrical history that most influenced Shakespeare. Meanwhile the Romans, well, they much preferred to gather to see fights involving gladiators and big exotic carnivores. Perhaps Costa Rican culture is a descendent of that Roman tradition, something that continued into modern times in the form of bullfighting (though Costa Rica is far too civilized for that).
Gretchen didn't want to repeat the experience she'd had at Drift the other night, so she stopped well before we'd eaten all our food. She then asked for a caja from Tori, who had seemingly forgotten all about us. It's amusing to note that Tori, though attractive and charismatic, is neither a particularly good Spanish teacher nor a good waitress. "She's like an amphibious car," I suggested helpfully.
It turned out that Corazón was all out of cajas (boxen) but someone had been sent out to get more. But we began to feel trapped as we waited and waited for the cajas to arrive and were just getting up to leave when Tori ran over and gave us a box. We then shoveled the greasy leftovers into it and went out to the parking area.
Now there were numerous vehicles parked around our ATV with only a narrow slot available to escape. Gretchen thought it would be impossible to do so, but I managed to do it without a single collision.

A pair of a small species of dove celebrating Valentines Day. Click to enlarge.

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