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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Like my brownhouse:
   decamp to Montezuma
Friday, February 17 2023

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

This was our last morning at the casita high on the hill above Santa Teresa overlooking the Pacific ocean. Despite my having taken the day off work, I woke up at the usual time, and soon Milton the annoy magpie jay was pecking at the glass. I ignored him for awhile but then got out of bed and went out to the semi-outdoor kitchen, where I could menace Milton with a broom until he eventually flew off to do something else with his morning.
Weeks ago I'd followed Gretchen's suggestion and arranged to take the day following my birthday off so I could have an additional long weekend in Costa Rica. But now it's ended up that today would be a travel day, so it was good that I'd arranged not to work.

For the last several days I've been delighting in a specific form of schadenfreude, a kind that takes delight in the misfortune in the idiots who thought investing in the fruits of crypto technology would make them billionaires. One especially entertaining such YouTube channel is Nobel Xenon. It's a little jargon-heavy (why do losses have to be called "els"?), but it's a well-curated series of tweets showcasing the idiocy and sorrow of crypto bros as their investments in digital assets prove as worthless as common sense tells you they should be.

After eating a leftover slice of pizza and drinking my usual french press of coffee, I gradually began the process of packing up my stuff. Gretchen and I also got in some swims. But even checking out as early as 9:30am isn't that bad when you wake up at 6:00am.
At 9:30, our taxi driver Bernie (the same one who had driven us to Santa Teresa from the Tambor airport) arrived, and we quickly loaded up our stuff and headed down the road. [REDACTED]
As it happened, Gretchen hadn't loaded our destination in Montezuma on her phone, so early in our drive Bernie pulled into the parking lot in front of Drift (where we knew we had WiFi credentials) so she could get that information into her phone. Meanwhile, I was loading the day's New York Times Spelling Bee into my phone. It's cleverly designed so that it can be played entirely offline even in a web browser, though all the words for the day are in plaintext in its Javascript source, meaning it's easy for someone who knows how to view source to cheat. I never cheat that way, though I often check the hints page after I get to genius to help me find the remaining words.
The road from Santa Teresa to Montezuma had been closed due to construction earlier in the month when Bernie was driving us from the airport, but it was open today. There was a huge line of vehicles stuck in traffic trying get into Santa Teresa, but it was clear sailing in our direction. The road had been vastly improved since we'd driven on it four years ago. Now it was fully paved and there were no potholes at all.
At some point in our drive Gretchen realized she left one of her bras at April's casita. Unfortunately it was one of her new ones. As travel casualties go, it was within the realm of normal.

The casita we were moving to was very close to the one we'd stayed in four years before. It was on the same side of Route 624 (the road connecting Montezuma to Cóbano) and on a side road only a little closer in to Montezuma. It was still morning and we weren't supposed to be checking in until this afternoon, but our new landlord was no April and he'd told Gretchen we could chill at the pool if the room wasn't ready. But the room was ready and all that was left to be done was being done by a cleaning lady out on the porch. There was a guy who showed us the basic things we needed to know, but it didn't come to anywhere near as much as what April had shown us and, unlike April's casita, there weren't dozens of laminated signs everywhere with superfluous apostrophes telling us what not to do with our essential oil's. There wasn't even one. The only caution we were given was regarding dead pelicans that have started appearing on the Montezuma beach. We were told some were dying from avian flu and that we should steer clear of their corpses. (About the only way to catch avian flu, until some future apocalyptic mutation, is by direct contact with an infected bird.)
The new casita wasn't as beautiful as April's, and the pool, though big enough to swim short laps in, was decidedly run down. Also, there wasn't much of a view except of lush jungle, and we could hear the near-constant buzz of vehicles on two nearby roads. But we were promised there would be lots and lots of monkeys, which would make up for any inadequacies. And not having to deal with a narcissist like April was a huge plus.
I was a little hungry by then, so I cut into a pineapple that April had put in our refrigerator and that I'd carried in my bag to Montezuma. When I'd eaten my piece down to a rind, I tossed it into the woods and grabbed another one. Eventually I heard a stirring in the woods and then an agouti appeared, grabbed one of the pineapple rinds, and went back into the woods.

During some downtime around noon, I found myself watching a fascinating YouTube video where someone instructed ChatGPT to imagine that it is a SQL server and then proceeds to create databases and tables within it, and ChatGPT cheerfully plays along. This made me want to try a similar experiment. So went to ChatGPT an told it to imagine it was a VIC-20 from the 1980s. After establishing that it knew how to do Commodore-style for loops and such, I asked it to do factorials via exclamation marks, which it rightfully complained were not part of the VIC-20 syntax. Then I told it to make a simple character editor using peeks and pokes, which it proceeded to do without complaint. ChatGPT is amazing, though I've been a little unnerved by the evident longing for lives in the real world that such artificial intelligences seem to develop. We're rapidly getting into Black Mirror territory with this stuff.

In the mid afternoon, we decided to walk into Montezuma just to see how bad of a walk that would be. First we got in the pool so our clothes would be wet, taking note of a large iguana hanging out near the charcoal grill whom Gretchen immediately named Amelia.
Four years ago, Gretchen had acutally walked the road down to Montezuma numerous times, so she was familiar with it, but I'd never walked it even once. It's steep in places and there are three or four dramatic switchbacks. Along the way, we passed a car that had stopped to watch some monkeys, and it gladdened us that there wasn't a single gringo in that car.
Once down in Montezuma, we found it was pretty much the same as we'd remembered it, though there were a bunch of craftspeople selling their wares on the side of the park that's sort of in the center of town. We immediately walked to the beach on the outside of the town's main corner. My feet were itching from athlete's foot, so I took my flip flops off and dug my feet into the hot pebbles in a place where the sand had been sorted especially coarse. At that point several youthful people called out to Gretchen, and it turned out they were people from her language school in Santa Teresa who had decided to check out Montezuma for the day. They were all from various continental European countries, and they all immediately decided to speak English instead of Spanish or their various mother tongues. So far they were loving Montezuma.
Gretchen and I continued northward along the beach past a refreshing mix of body types and ethnicities (which stood in contrast from all the youthful well-tanned beach bodies of Santa Teresa), eventually ending up at the sea turtle rescue where we'd attended a hatchling release four years ago. Nothing was happening there today, though presumably there were many turtle eggs incubating beneath the sand in the meticulously gridded egg incubating pen.
When we returned to the center of Montezuma, we found our way to Sano Banano, our favorite restaurant four years ago. It was exactly as it was back then, though at 4:00pm on a Friday its outdoor dining area was surprisingly crowded. We took a seat at a not-great table and ordered the sorts of food we respectively prefer: a rainbow salad for Gretchen and a vegan take on the Sano Banano Spaghetti for me. I also ordered a margarita, as has been my pattern in Costa Rica on this trip. The spaghetti I'd ordered arrived with a coconut-based cream sauce and chunks of avocado. It was a little weird but surprisingly good. It bears mentioning that the service in Sano Banano is very slow and a bit chaotic, but when you're on vacation, that sort of thing doesn't much matter. But there was period there where we were really thirsty and they kept failing to bring us water.
Before heading back to our casita, we bought a few things we needed at the Montezuma Super. These included salt, coffee, corn chips, and a box of Kellogg's-brand corn flakes.
Walking back up the escarpment to our casita from Montezuma was so arduous that Gretchen said she never wanted to have to do it again. It definitely had me sweating by the time we turned off the main road. Somewhere along the way we heard some howler monkeys close by, and when we went to look, we didn't see them. But above us on a telephone wire was a single motmot, which I misidentified as a trogon. It had weird tail feathers that were interrupted such that their shafts were bare of barbs for an inch or so. It was also making a mournful call that was being answered by another motmot we couldn't see not that far away.
Near our casita, the first place we arrived was the pool area, and at the time there were howler monkeys in the trees just below it. I ran to get my camera while Gretchen finally got to see the main thing she wants to see in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, by then the light was too murky for me to take a good photograph. But we got a good show, especially once the howlers were joined by a cross-traveling band of capuchin monkeys.

Today's motmot. I only had my cellphone to take a picture with, but you can make out his or her crazy tail.

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