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:
   monkeys among the wires
Sunday, February 26 2023

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

I got up early and went to sit next to the pool with my work-issued laptop and my good camera and it wasn't long before a beautiful pale-billed woodpecker started hammering away at the tree only four or five feet behind my head. But of course when I went to take a photo, my camera announced that its battery was exhausted. Since I didn't want to miss another such opportunity, I decided to hike back to Toucan Hill to retrieve my camera's other battery from the charger plugged into an outlet in the bathroom. I wasn't there long, but during the short time I was, a pair of magpie-jays showed up and convinced me to give them a few pieces of tostada. On the walk back to Casa Frangipani, I passed a bush were there were a number of small birds, including what looked to be a male painted bunting, which I don't think I've seen before (though they also can be seen in Eastern North America).
Back at the casita, Gretchen was worried that I'd been so mad about how we'd left things last night that I'd decided to sleep at Toucan Hill. She apologized for being mean to me last night and also for failing to apologize, and that was satisfactory way to end the whole stupid thing.
I eventually saw a pair of pale-billed woodpeckers and then some other woodpecker species, but none of them posed for a picture I managed to take.
Later Gretchen and I took a northward walk on Calle Linda Vista. There's a house next door to Casa Frangipani with dusty photovoltaic solar panels on its roof, the only I've seen in Costa Rica. We saw a woman drive her car from that house this morning and it was an all-electric vehicle from a manufacturer I didn't recognize. This was the first electric vehicle we'd seen in all of Costa Rica. Just hybrid technology would help a lot with the energy wasted braking on the road down to Montezuma, but if you throw in all the power that can be collected by mostly-cloudless skies (at least at this time of year), it's a wonder why solar panels aren't everywhere. Maybe it can't compete with cheap electricity from the Lake Arenal dam. But that would be even more of a reason for people to be driving electric cars.
Not that it was particularly far away, but we walked all the way to the bottom of the road up to Toucan Hill, where we found a large group of howler monkeys in the trees and even among the wires of a utility pole. It was hard to watch a mother and a baby sitting there on a fat braided cable that I knew to be carrying 240 volts. The individual wires were insulated, and that was why the monkey was still alive. But overhead at the top of the pole were some bare wires attached to ganged insulators, and I knew those wires were carrying thousands of volts of electricity. Any monkey who doesn't know this, at least on some level, doesn't last very long. As for the many other wires on the pole, some of which carried telephone or internet signals and others of likely carried 240 volts, perhaps sometimes with missing or failing insulation. So it was difficult to watch a monkey up there casually holding on to multiple different wires with various hands, feet, and tail. If the monkey were to grab the wrong wire and die while I was standing there, I would wonder if perhaps I had the distracted the monkey into making a fatal mistake. It wasn't something I wanted to wonder about for the rest of my life. Gretchen, on the other hand, was completely unconcerned by such thoughts and was even squealing with delight about them. By contrast, whenever I said something I said it at something close to a whisper.
Later the mother on the utility pole was joined by another female, and then the two tight-rope walked on the cable to the next pole to the east, stabilizing themselves as they went by looping their tails around a parallel wire over their heads. As for the other monkeys in a nearby tree, they continued doing monkey things largely in place for a long time afterwards. I'd had enough monkey by then, so I gradually headed back to Casa Frangipani by myself, leaving Gretchen behind. Along the way I, took a few bad photos of a trogon and the bush with little birds that included a male painted bunting.
After drinking a fair amount of coffee and playing the New York Times Spelling Bee in the roofed reading area (which is separate from the pool), I eventually cracked open an Imperial I'd brought over yesterday. It was only about 10:00am at the time, but I didn't want to have to carry it back to Trogon Hill (and we'd be checking out at 11:00am). Meanwhile Light seemed to be working despite it being a Sunday. He's also very social, fielding numerous calls using a variety of technologies. But you can usually tell the work-related calls because they don't begin with "What's up homie?"
Just before checking out and walking back to Toucan Hill, we were hanging out by the pool and Light was telling Gretchen for the first time about the crime that resulted in a 20 incarceration. He'd been involved in a robbery in which one of his companions beat a woman to death, and they all were charged with her murder. As that discussion was winding up, the older British gentleman hobbled over on his cut foot and wished us a good rest of our vacation. Gretchen had him fetch a plate so we could give him some of Light's birthday cake, which was too much to carry back to San Jose and (after that) Barbados.
The howlers hadn't moved much when we passed them on our walk back to Toucan Hill, though eventually Gretchen watched a long line of them walk down the braided cable we'd see the two females walk down earlier.
Light would be leaving for the airport in Tambor this afternoon, but first four hours would have to pass. He would spend most of that time talking and talking and talking to Gretchen over by the pool. I don't know how she had the energy for that; I showed up a few times to take a dip, always arriving in the middle of a conversation that wasn't all that interesting, such as one about the similarities and differences between people's interest in football and fine art (where Light didn't seem to be distinguishing between actual æsthetic appreciation and financial speculation). Eventually I fixed myself a strong drink, which I drank in the hammock's casita.
After Light finally left, a still descended upon Toucan Hill, punctuated only occasionally by the squalls of one of the neighborhood's at least three humanoid babies.
At around 5:00pm, Gretchen and I cobbled together a lupper. Mine involved tostadas and corn chips with refried beans and some fish sticks I fried up, onto which I layered on some lettuce spiced up with Caribbean hot sauce and Costa Rica's own Lisano sauce. At some point the capuchin monkeys came through, including the one with mange (and since that one is almost visible in the group, it seems to indicate that it's always the same group of capuchins coming through). Not long after that, darkness descended and I climbed into bed with a vodka-based beverage.

A howler monkey this morning in an actual tree. Click to enlarge.

Howler monkeys in among the wires of a utility pole making me nervous. Click to enlarge.

See those blade-like fins on the diagonal support cables? I suspect they are there to keep monkeys from proceeding absentmindedly past them to the lethal high-voltage wires at the top of the pole. Click to enlarge.

Is this Boris? This is just below the Toucan Hill pool. Click to enlarge.

Another relaxed iguana in the tree below the Toucan Hill pool. Click to enlarge.

A summer tanager. These can be found in the Hudson Valley, but the overwinter in the tropics.

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