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

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Like my brownhouse:
   Boris the Lizard
Monday, February 20 2023

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

I was up early and when the capuchin monkeys came through, so I got Gretchen out of bed so she wouldn't miss them. It was the usual large group passing through, though this time I noticed that among their members was one with some sort of hairloss disorder (mange?) that had rendered his or her back pink. When that monkey later appeared this evening at around sunset, it suggested that the whole group of monkeys was the same and chose both times to be near our casita.
After that was over, Gretchen revealed how much she was upset about our ghetto accommodations. She felt she'd been baited and switched, because the advertising for our casita showed the pool when it was brand new and the better furniture in the other (unoccupied) casita. She said she'd been unable to sleep last night and went researching other places in Montezuma and found a super fancy place with its own private trail to the Montezuma waterfall that only cost $25 more per night. None of this was what I wanted to hear. What I had been hoping for (but feared would probably not happen) was that Gretchen would love this place. It has a lot going for it, at least in terms of wildlife. But it is kind of near the big road, so it has unpleasant road noise. And there are at least three squalling babies in nearby residences. But now that she'd compared our place with other places, there was no way she was ever going to be happy. She has a strong desire not to be played for a sucker, and now that she was feeling like a sucker, it was difficult to see how she'd ever be happy. By contrast, I am a much more tolerant person who can find joy in decidedly uncomfortable accommodations. I also hate the bother of moving all the time. This casita is fine, why can't we just make it work?
Later in the morning a solitary howler monkey came through, and she did a good job of munching on her breakfast of of shoots and leaves out in the open where we could watch her.

After Gretchen walked down to Montezuma to have her first pre-class meeting with Andy, her Spanish teacher from four years ago who now has his own language instruction business, I went to the pool to check things out. I saw Amelia the lizard had climbed up onto the back of one of the chaise lounges and nearby was a much larger, frillier lizard whom I quickly named Boris. Amelia is so understated that it's difficult to tell exactly what kind of lizard she is, but Boris, who looks like Amelia but much more extreme, is clearly an iguana. Boris was more shy than Amelia and when he saw me he left the deck and went beneath it.

After her language meeting when Gretchen returned to the casita, she told me more about Casa Frangipani, the place she'd researched in the middle of the night. Supposedly it was only a six minute walk away at the end of the side street we were on, Calle Linda Vista. She didn't want to just go there and make a decision whether or not to relocate there. She wanted me to come along and play a role in the decision. Nothing much was happening in the remote workplace, so away we went.
Casa Frangipani was a much nicer place than Toucan Hill. It was well-maintained and tidy, and (after overcoming some communication issues with a young staffer), we got a look at the room we'd be staying in if we moved there. It was gorgeous, with well-made concrete countertops and lots of indoor space. It even had its own roof deck. The problem with it, though was that it was basically a hotel. We wouldn't have any private outdoor space, and we certainly couldn't expect to have the pool to ourselves (there was some old white gringo, exactly the demographic of the place, sitting in a chair beside the pool when we were there). But there were nice views, both of the Montezuma River gorge and the Pacific Ocean. And having a trail down to the Montezuma River is huge. Gretchen was so pumped about Casa Frangipani that the young staffer took us to see a tiny owl sleeping in a nearby tree (the kind of tree that is covered with short thorns and doesn't have leaves at this time of year). The owl was no bigger than a robin but had tufted ears like a great horned owl. The staffer then showed us some pictures of toucans he had on his phone. He even had a video of a toucan taking advantage of sprinkler to take a shower.
This was all great, and Gretchen was excited as we walked back to our sad post-apocalyptic casita. She was happy I was playing a role in the descisionmaking and that it wasn't all up to her. "Toucans," she said, "there are even toucans." But I reminded her I'd seen that same species of toucan at Casa Trogon and it was very likely we could see them at Toucan Hill. I said I wasn't entirely sure about the place, especially that it had more the feel of a hotel than the other places where we've stayed. So Gretchen said we should sleep on it.
At some point back at the casita, we were at the pool and heard a loud rustle in the tree that Amelia likes to climb. I looked and saw Boris the iguana headed down the tree, having nearly reached the bottom. I went and got my good camera and photographed him as he slowly made his way up the hill, eating bits of vegetation along the way. Gretchen and I were delighted to watch him, noticing his crazy black and white striped pattern, the length of all his many spines, and the bright red color of his tongue. Ultimately Boris clambered into the end of one of the hollow steel pool deck support beams and disappeared. Meanwhile Amelia, looking so basic by comparison, was lounging in her usual spot on the deck.
This evening Gretchen fried up some more of that not-great Costa Rican tofu for me, this time adding the last of some mushrooms I'd bought. She put at with some lettuce and red onion into a taco, and it would've been great but she also added some nasty chipotle hotsauce she found in the fridge. I then added some of my Caribbean-style hot sauce, which solved most of the flavor problems.
The capuchin monkeys came swinging through this evening at around sunset, and we watched them doing all their crazy arboreal antics. After they'd moved on to the pool area, we watched them over there. But some of the monkeys didn't seem to like us being over there. They snarled at us and made sudden brief movements at us as if they were about to leap on us and attack us. Looking like something between Umpalumpas and the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz, this was making us uncomfortable. Gretchen in particular doesn't much like capuchin monkeys because of their uncanny-valley resemblance to white people, and this made her miss howler monkeys all the more.
A little before falling asleep tonight, I told Gretchen that I didn't want to move to Casa Frangipani after all, that I preferred staying in Toucan Hill despite its flaws. This wasn't what Gretchen had hoped to hear, but we are different people and that was my opinion.

This morning's lone howler monkey. Click to enlarge.

At the grounds of Casa Frangipani this afternoon. Click to enlarge.

Some sort of composite flower on the road between Casa Frangipani and Toucan Hill.

The tiny owl in a tree at Casa Frangipan.

Boris the Iguana. Click to enlarge.

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