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!)

Like my brownhouse:
   a visitor to our vacation
Thursday, February 23 2023

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

As I mentioned a couple days ago, Gretchen has a friend who used to be student of hers in the New York State prison system back when she taught English in the Bard Prison Initiative who was, upon release, immediately deported to the Caribbean. This friend had the prison name "Light," though now he goes by "Martin." He's something of a genius, having taught himself several languages, including German, Spanish, and maybe even Korean. He's also a math whiz, and since being released from prison he's had various tech jobs, the most recent of which involve non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The bottom has fallen out of that market, but he still finds work somehow. Since he's forbidden from coming to the United States, Gretchen assumed she might never see him again. But then she realized he could come visit us while we're in Costa Rica. So last night he flew into San Jose and today would be taking the puddle jumper to Tambor and then a cab to our casita on Toucan Hill above Montezuma.
Light arrived in the late morning, pulling a suitcase with wheels over the uneven ground. Our casita has a second bedroom, so he threw his stuff in there and then got the password for the WiFi so he could jump into a meeting. But the meeting was on Pacific Time, so it wasn't happening for another three hours. So he and Gretchen relocated to the pool, where Light prattled on and on for hours. I've overheard Gretchen's multi-hour conversations on the phone with Light, and I wasn't sure it would be such a great thing for him to be intruding on our vacation. But when I'd expressed a very mild negative view of this some months ago, Gretchen seemed dismayed that I wasn't overjoyed that we'd be seeing him. So I crammed that idea down (as I've learned to do) and acted like I was delighted by the idea. For me, his visit was no big deal, since it was mostly Gretchen who was going to have to deal with his incessant conversation. But by this evening, she was taking me aside and saying that the next few days were going to be hard.
Today in the remote workplace I was mostly researching the absence of data in dashboard, but periodically I'd take breaks to go over to the pool for a relaxing dip in the water, arriving in mid-conversation about something. At one point Light was telling Gretchen about the eating of organ meats, particularly kidneys. So I contributed the story about when I was young and poor in Charlottesville and used to buy cheap fried chicken thighs at a place off Jefferson Park Avenue. Those thighs were a lot of food for the money, though there was that one time I bit into something hard against a bone that released the smell of a toilet that had been peed in dozens of times and never flushed. It must've been a kidney. "But I didn't stop buying them even after that," I declared.
Something else that was discussed at the pool was the macho cult of personality around Vladimir Putin. Light knows several people who admire the man and was convinced he was a strong, effective leader. But, he said, that's been a difficult opinion to hold since the ass whupping delivered by the much smaller and weaker country Russia illegally invaded almost exactly a year ago. Interesting, Paul Krugman wrote an opinion piece on this very subject and publish it this evening.
Another time while I was at the pool, Light called Powerful on his phone for a video chat. (Powerful and Light knew each other well in prison.) Powerful was looking terrible. He was more overweight than usual and his hair had grown out. It made sense that he was now reduced to using credit cards belonging to the people who had helped him the most.

After the end of the workday, I walked down the hill to Calle Linda Vista and went southwest on it again to the jungle gulch where I'd seen the howler monkeys and trogons yesterday. There was nobody there today except for an agouti.

Not long after that, Gretchen, Light, and I began our walk down into Montezuma. We took a little detour to the place I'd just been to look again for howler monkeys, but still nothing was happening. So we walked out to the big road, encountering some capuchin monkeys along the way. Light told us a story from Barbados about some monkeys that were frightened by a dog into climbing a utility pole. One of the baby monkeys who apparently didn't know better grabbed a power line and died with a shriek. I'd been wondering why the ground under the powerlines aren't littered with dead monkeys, but evidently they have a way to transmit such cultural knowledge. (Monkeys, unlike birds, have a tendency to grab things that are spread far apart when high above the ground, and when those things are two separate powerlines or a powerline and something grounded, well, that's an immediate death sentence.)
Speaking of cultural knowledge, on the walk down into Montezuma, we passed a couple young women who were hitchhiking up the hill. So Gretchen stopped and told them about the best place to catch a ride. Gretchen is too much of an extrovert to live up to the misanthropy she claims to have.
After showing Light the small beach near Montezuma's downtown, we a took a seat in Sano Banano's jungly outdoor dining area and Gretchen ordered him a vegan casado and herself a rainbow salad. As for me, I ordered a Mexican Sin alcoholic beverage (it contained tequila) and the vegan patacones sandwiches. They looked beautiful when they came out, all pinned into a vertical cross with toothpicks. But there wasn't much too them; all they contained between the fried plantain patties were cucumbers and tomatoes. They needed something else. I wondered if perhaps they were supposed to come with guacamole in there but it was left out because both Light and Gretchen hate avocados, and it was assumed that I did too. Later we ordered a side of refried beans and guacamole, but by then I'd eaten half my patacones and was feeling like I'd completely scratched my patacones itch for this whole trip.
Over dinner, Light initially tried to convince us that baseball was the best sport ever, and he had all sorts of supporting evidence, none of which Gretchen nor I had the background knowledge to process. Then the conversation changed to the subject of what sorts of music Light likes. He said he likes rap, soul, and R&B, and some pop. That's it, though he also allowed that he likes some Led Zeppelin and even Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit, though not, when Gretchen specifically asked, "Come As You Are." He then went on to qualify that he really only likes New York rap, and that the rap of someone like Eminem does nothing for him. It came up that I'm not a big fan of R&B, especially the tendency of vocalists to "showboat." I like my sung melodies to be straightforward. Perhaps this is why I find Rihanna a much more appealing vocalist than someone like Mariah Carey. Light also tried to convince Gretchen that "Fortunate," a song written by R. Kelly and sung by Maxell, is much better than "This Woman's Work," also sung by Maxwell (but written by Kate Bush). But when Light played "Fortunate" on his phone, Gretchen shrugged and said "that's really boring."
Meawnhile a guitarist was setting up his pedals which would allow him to sing and play his guitar over looping samples. The music, as always seems to be the preference in this part of Costa Rica, was reggæ, a genre none of us like. (Though Gretchen admits she likes Jimmy Cliff, and Light said he likes Bob Marley. Always the bomb-thrower, I said I only liked Ziggy Marley.)

At the Montezuma Super next door, we bought some provisions. This included MSG-containing corn chips, tostadas, a box of corn flakes, and a litre of vodka (that last one was for me; Light and Gretchen don't drink alcohol).
Hitchhiking at night with three people wasn't going to be easy, so we went to the taxi stand near the beach and hailed a cab that was just arriving. Gretchen had it in her mind that the faire would be 3000 colones, but the guy charged us 4000, saying that climbing the escarpment was murder on his diesel. Something he really needs to look into is a vehicle with regenerative braking.

A chachalaca, chicken-like bird that is a bit clumsy up in a tree. Click to enlarge.

Richard the Coatimundi and Agnes the Agouti chowing down on some stale peanuts. As you can see, the agouti is not the least bit concerned about the coatimundi. But if you replaced him with a housecat, Agnes would be terrified. Earlier today Richard had a fat tick on his back, but it seems to have fallen off by this point in the day. Click to enlarge.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next