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:
   sushi and spaghetti
Saturday, February 25 2023

casita #2, Casa Frangipani, Montezuma, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

The coffee provided at Casa Frangipani is definitely better thsn the stuff in the kitchen at the Toucan Hill casita. It was so good that I made a second pot (though the coffee maker itself, carrying the "Premium" brand, was the cheapest piece of Walmart crap I've ever used). Since neither Light nor Gretchen drink real coffee, I had it all to myself.
Today was Light's 41st birthday, though he spent much of it on work-related calls even though it was also a Saturday. Meanwhile Gretchen and I solved the New York Times Spelling Bee by the pool.
In mid-morning I returned by myself to the casita on Toucan hill, mostly to have a little me-time before the three of us walked down into Montezuma.
I spent some time over at the pool, where I watched Amelia the "female" iguana viciously chase off a smaller iguana who looked a little like her. This confirmed that the iguana we see hanging out on that patch of deck really is Amelia and not some look-alike. And, because she seems to have no problem with Boris (or him with her) this suggests a more complex and lasting family arrangement than the one that is typically assumed for lizards.
In the late morning, Light and Gretchen hiked over from Casa Frangipani and the three of us then hiked down into Montezuma. It was nearing midday and the tropical sun was high, but there was some shade here and there on the way down. Montezuma actually has two different outdoor markets on Saturdays, and we first went to the one we'd visited last weekend, the one a little south of the center of the town near the beach. There, again, Gretchen bought the little patacone-breaded vegan sandwiches that the jolly slow guy sells, and there was also vegan focaccia being sold by an adjacent vendor, so Gretchen got a slice of that too. Light has lots of food aversions, including onions, which the jolly slow guy slowly and imperfectly plucked from one of the two sandwiches Gretchen bought. I also went over to the cold-pressed coffee people and bought a cup of their product, but (unlike last week) it didn't give me euphoria.
The other outdoor market was taking place in the Montezuma's central park, a shady jungly-area featuring a number of big strangler figs. There weren't many vendors or shoppers at this other market, but the one that mattered was: a woman who can make vegan baked goods and whom Gretchen had commissioned to bake a birthday cake for Light. He likes chocolate, and it was a "death by chocolate" cake, not the sort of thing I'd ever eat unless I was very hungry. The baker gave us the Tupperware-like container with the cake, with the understanding that Gretchen would somehow return it.
With that, we were done with our day in Montezuma, so we went out to the main road out of town and stuck out our thumbs. I think the only car that passed us was one that didn't have room for us, but then first one that did have room pulled over and we jumped in. It was driven by a Tico, and (as always) Light addressed him in Spanish, which is decidedly more fluent that Gretchen's.
While Gretchen and Light headed back on their own to Casa Frangipani, I continued with my me-time on Toucan Hill. I even fixed myself a classic vodkatea with ice, though the best bag of tea I had to add to it was green tea, which is deeply imperfect in that application.
I then packed some things into a backpack (including a change of clothes, bread, a bag of corn chips, my work-issued laptop, and a way to charge Android phones) and hiked back to Casa Frangipani, where I proceeded to have a fairly relaxing day mostly near the pool (which was cleaner and in considerably better repair than the one on Toucan Hill). At some point I noticed howler monkeys high up on a large mostly-leafless tree just below the pool and alerted Gretchen and Light. Gretchen can never get enough howler monkeys, and that they were right there so early in the day (at about 4:00pm) came as something very special.
One of the other guests at Casa Frangipani is an older British gentleman (he looked a little like Santa Claus) married to (and living with) a woman from the Boston area. Gretchen had had a conversation with him earlier in the day and learned that his parents were Jewish and fled Germany during the time of the Nazis, eventually ending up in England. He and his wife returned this evening from an all-day outing at Tortuga Island (which Gretchen and I had visited back in 2008 and had considered visiting again until I reminded her that the snorkeling there hadn't been so great, at least compared to the Galapagos). The gentleman proceeded to say good things about the snorkleing at Tortuga, emphasizing how helpful the staff had been (though he'd managed to cut his foot on the steps on the side of the boat and was hobbling around, as were Light and me, both of us having sliced open our feet somewhere on the trail down to Montezuma Falls). All it took was this one guy talking about the snorkeling at Tortuga for Gretchen to completely change her attitude about it. No longer did my memory of it count for anything. Suddenly not only did she want to go, but she also wanted me to play hookie from work so I could go too. But I didn't want to go, and I certainly didn't want to go if it involved faking a sick day in order to do it. But now suddenly she was complaining about how we weren't doing as much on this Costa Rica trip as we've done on other trips, failing to consider, for example, the fact that entertaining a guest for one of our weekends had definitely cut into our ability to have adventures. This all left me feeling irked and belittled, a feeling that the older gentleman managed to aggravate with a few things he said.
Then later, after Gretchen returned from watching howler monkeys on a previously-unknown path into the jungle below the pool, I decided to go down that path too. But I was barefoot, and when I stepped on a pile of discarded bamboo debris, a swarm of large ants (they looked like a big ant you'd see in the Hudson Valley) materialized and began attacking my feet, especially in the gaps between my toes. I don't know if they were biting or stinging, but they obviously injected some sort of unpleasant chemical that left a burning feeling that lingered for the better part of an hour.
Another of the recommendations of the older British gentleman was Casitas Sollevante, a hotel that also included a good restaurant. Freakishly, it was immediately across Calle Linda Vista from Casa Frangipani. Gretchen checked the menu and saw they had some vegan options, so she immediately booked a reservation for 6:00pm. Not having to walk into Montezuma and then wonder how we'd get back was huge.
So at 6:00pm, we walked over to Casitas Sollevante, which featured a nice infinity pool with a grand view of the Pacific, with all of the town of Montezuma invisibly tucked away in a wrinkle in the landscape (much the way Santa Teresa had been when viewed from April's casitas). The actual restaurant was a roofed structure with no walls with a view of both the ocean and the pool. There was a content-looking cat walking among the bikini-clad guests and he looked a lot like our old cat Clarence, though his color was little more towards beige.
The two dishes Gretchen thought we could work with was spaghetti marinara (for Light and her) and veggie sushi (for me; it contained avocado). Additionally, she ordered a portobello mushroom for Light and some sort of salad with cooked potatoes. For starters, we had spring rolls and edamame, the latter of which Light gamely tried but admitted he didn't much like. I thought my sushi was excellent, and one roll of it was nearly enough food. (Though I ended up supplementing it with some of Gretchen's spaghetti.) Light had never had wasabi before, so I gave him a little to try on a potato, and he didn't seem to think it was horrible. Being the only drinker, I was the only one with a non-water drink. The margarita at Casitas Sollevante includes long thin slices of cucumber, which was fun.
Dinner conversation spent a fair amount of time on various trends in technology, most of which Light was bullish about. He was particularly enthusiastic about self-driving cars, seeing that as being a solution to a lot of problems (especially given how imperfect human drivers are). But he was also bullish about the "metaverse," which I'm much more dubious about. As for me, my big tech interest these days is artificial intelligence, which has made astounding progress. But I'm not sure now whether it is a force for good or evil and whether building machines that can actually suffer is going to represent moral progress.
We also spent some time talking about the incoherence of right wing views and propaganda. By incoherence, I mean that right wingers don't believe in doing tactical polices that achieve even their strategic ends if it doesn't result in the punishment of "those people." And by "those people," I include the children of poor adults.
After dark, some night bird started singing, and I really wanted to know what it was. I tried downloading two different apps that are supposed to help with that, but I quickly discovered that the technology is not yet there.
Later the conversation drifted away from topics that interested me, and I started feeling anxious about the fact that we'd left our casita at Casa Frangipani completely unlocked. It's part of a pattern Gretchen follows to, I think, demonstrate that she's not too attached to material things. But if it ever were to happen that someone, for example, climbed into one of our cars and drove it away without even having to find the key, I think she'd feel extremely foolish. At some point I just couldn't take it any more, so I said I was walking back to the other place. [REDACTED]

One of the howler monkeys near the Casa Frangipani late this afternoon. Click to enlarge.

A pair of collared aracari toucans at Casa Frangipani were bathing in the sprinklers, and that's why this one is so wet. Click to enlarge.

Another picture of that collared aracari toucan. Click to enlarge.

Dinner tonight at Casitas Sollevante. Note my cucumber-containing margarita and the faint remnant of the injury on Gretchen's cheek. Click to enlarge.

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