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
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

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   shortcut to Agua Vista
Sunday, February 19 2023

the northwesternmost casita at Toucan Hill, Montezuma, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

Aside from all the wildlife and the fact that our landlord isn't a lying narcisist, the new casita here in Montezuma is, well, kind of ghetto. The swimming pool looks to be crumbling, and it's accumulated a lot of debris since Friday, mostly the result of the strong winds that seem to arrive every night. In the mornings, Gretchen routine finds the umbrella has been picked up from its position in the table and has been hurled upside down into the pool, usually with additional tears in its fabric. As for our casita itself, it's fairly private, but it has a lot of mistakes in its construction that seem to indicate a lack of contractor oversight. Some of the cabinet doors cannot be opened without running into the knobs of other cabinet doors, the handles on the front door prevent the screen from being closed without extra effort, and even then there's a large slot allowing insects to fly in. In the bedroom, the window panes had to be wrenched out of their tracks in order to be closed so we could run the air conditioning, and the digital temperature display on the air conditioner is so bright that you can read by it when there's no other light in the room. Furthermore, though we almost never see anyone in any of the neighboring casitas (in that respect it feels like we've commandeered a crumbling compound in a post-apocalyptic hellscape), there are numerous babies that are crying all the time, often several at once from multiple directions. It's not a sound one normally associates with a tropical vacation.
This situation has us frequently breaking into song, singing the chorus of Elvis Presley's "In the Ghetto."
Unfortunately this morning we got up a little late, at around 6:00am, apparently after the last of any of the monkeys who might've been here had passed through. We'd heard the roar of howlers, but their voices travel far and it's possible they'd bypassed us.
Meanwhile Gretchen had been studying Google Maps and wanted to see if there was any way for us to get to the trail that leads into the top of the gorge above the waterfall from somewhere near our casita. So eventually we went for a walk up Route 624 to Calle Agua Vista (the next road off of Route 624 north of the one we were on) and went westward on that. Four years ago when we'd stayed at Casa Trogon, it was part of a small set of casitas at the end of Calle Agua Vista, so we knew the road well (especially Gretchen, who had walked up and down it numerous times). Beyond a certain point, the road turns private, but we ignored that signage and continued all the way to the inner gate, whereupon we got cold feet and decided to head back. Along the way, we'd passed the bottom of a couple gulches that someone had apparently cleared with machetes such that they looked to be walkable trails through the jungle. We decided to walk northward on one such trail (9.656997N, 85.076257W), though it wasn't long before we encountered thorny vines that had to be pushed out of the way and then the trail ended, with a rats nest of vines filling any possible avenue of advancement. By that point Gretchen had been raked across the cheek by a vine and was bleeding, and she was done with the whole adventure.
Fortunately, the walk back to the casita was much shorter than the walk from it had been. At some point on the walk down Agua Vista, I'd noticed a house through the trees, and when we went to investigate (someone had cleared a trail to that with machete too), we found the house was actually our casita. So the only real trick to getting home was crossing a somewhat dilapidated barbed wire fence. Gretchen seemed to be terrified of the fence, probably because she hadn't grown up climbing over, installing, and repairing them like I had. But I showed her it was no big deal to grab the wire between the barbs to pull it out of the way or to step on the barbs with the protection of the sole of even a thin-soled flip flop.
For much of the afternoon Gretchen and I spent considerable time out in the chaise lounges near the pool. She was reading an kids' detective store in Spanish and I was drinking kratom tea and reading more about crypto culture, this time from an article on that was taking the technology more seriously and not revelling in the schadenfreude. At some point we heard a rustingly and Amelia, the big lizard who likes to hang out by the pool, came down out of a tree with great fanfare and then waited in the grass staring at us, wondering when we were going to give her the room she needed on the deck to feel comfortable. Eventually Gretchen left, and that was all Amelia needed to get up on the deck and take a spot in the sun. At the time it was about 1:45pm.

Our friends Jenny & Doug who used to live in Willow (and then moved with their farm animal rescue to High Falls, and then, when they were ousted from that, eventually moved to Louisville, Kentucky) had been wanting to do a Zoom hangout for awhile, and it happened unexpectedly this evening a little before sunset. They told us about life in Louisville, which is apparently not too bad given that it's a blue island in a red state full of idiots with guns. We hadn't talked to them in forever, and they didn't even really know that we now have a cabin on a lake in the Adirondacks. As we were talking to them, a golden-bellied flycatcher landed on the top of a post nearby and I snapped a photo. It would've been great had some monkeys come through during the call and we could've included them in our video feed, but alas it wasn't to happen. As with all Zoom calls, it ended without much warning at the end of the 45 minutes (or whatever the time limit is for free calls) and then it was over, with nary a goodbye exchanged. As someone who absolutely detests long goodbyes, I kind of like calls that end this way.
This evening Gretchen made gnocci with red sauce. She wanted to also make some tofu from the plastic-packed block of it she'd bought somewhere in Santa Teresa. But he took a sample tasted and decided it was the worst tofu she'd ever had. I tasted it and could see what she meant but I thought I could eat it okay. So Gretchen fried the hell out of it, and when you fry the hell out of something, it's hard for it not to taste good.
While we were eating, we hoped some monkeys might come through. But instead all we got was a single coatimundi, the first I'd seen on this trip. His ears were almost completely chewed away and he had nasty poorly-healed scars on his shoulders, but evidently he'd been eating well because he was about as fat as coatimundis can get.
After sunset, Gretchen wanted a better chance of seeing monkeys, so we climbed through the barbed wire fence to take shortcut to Calle Agua Vista and then went walking westward. We managed to come across a motmot and a couple agoutis, but that was it. But then when we returned home, the trees were alive with capuchin monkeys everywhere. There were big ones, little ones, and bold ones that came swinging over to get a better look at their old world relatives (us). One monkey jumped to the top of the pole holding up a shade tarp over the pool and it was an amazing thing to behold.

Amelia the poolside lizard today, waiting in the grass until the deck near the pool wasn't so crowded. Click to enlarge.

The golden-bellied flycatcher. Here it looks like taxidermy, but he or she is alive.

An agouti near the casita.

The banged-up coatimundi who came by this evening. He was moving a bit too much to get a good photo but you can see the nubbins of his ears and the scars on his shoulders.

A motmot seen along Calle Agua Vista.

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