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
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Irving housing

got that wrong

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   things lost at Montezuma Beach
Wednesday, March 1 2023

casita #9, Hotel El Jardin, Montezuma, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

I spent most of the early morning near the pool, but when it got too hot I moved into the casita, where I did my morning meetings. The WiFi is flakier at El Jardin that it's been at the other places. There are a bunch of different WiFi hot spots which have to be manually switched between as one moves from one area to another (or as they mysteriously crap out). In other places the hotspots have behaved more like a cellphone network, using a common SSID.
In the late morning one of the cleaning ladies managed to communicate in Spanish to me that our next casita (#5) was ready. So immediately began dragging stuff over there. It was off in the north end of the hotel compound at the end of a narrow path along the contour being encroached upon a row of bushes. The relative remoteness from the center of the hotel might've normally been a good thing, but it was just up the slope from the main road coming down the escarpment from the chain of switchbacks, meaning big trucks would be jake-braking past our casita and unnecessarily loud motorbikes would be announcing their astounding capabilities to the world as they zoomed up out of town.
Another downside of the new casita was that the WiFi was even worse than it had been in #9. It didn't seem to work at all from within the casita, and was spotty at best even out in the porch area.

Breakfast ends at 11:00am at Sano Banano, and we wanted to get their gallo pinto, which they only serve at breakfast. So we walked down there after the ending of my sprint review meeting at around 10:30am and took our favorite table, the one at the apex of a bend in the line of tables. (The tables at Sano Banano are too high for the chairs, making diners there feel a little like children.)
I ordered the vegan tipico (which is gallo pinto with avocado, cooked vegetables, and smashed sweet plantains) and a flute of ice coffee while Gretchen ordered vegan scramble with a side of gallo pinto. I thought my food was great, but Gretchen found the tofu in her scramble "disappointing," saying it had the texture of Nasoya and would've been better had it been the kind of tofu that comes out of a can.
As we ate, the wildlife was putting on a show for us in the trees overhead. A big bare-throated tiger heron was perched on a branch and a magpie jay flew down to take an energetic bath in the fountain. There was also an unusually dark-skinned iguana high on another branch. Evidently he was too big to worry about being eaten by the heron. The other diners were very excited about all these animals, suggesting they hadn't been in Costa Rica very long. One of our waiters was a gringo from Texas and he only knew the magpie jay as "the Costa Rican blue jay," which is apparently how it's known to the Costa Rican staff. I hadn't initially brought my good camera, but our room was close enough for me to run back and get it.

This afternoon, Gretchen had another conversational language lesson with Andy, followed by an "immersive" visit to an old woman who lives in a makeshift house along the beach between central Montezuma and Ylang Ylang (the hotel we stayed at back in 2008). The woman was familiar with the needs of vegans, so there would be some food preparation going on as well.

As I'd mentioned a few days ago, I injured one of my feet (my right one) on the walk on the "trail" down to the Montezuma Falls from Casa Frangipani. It had initially seemed to be healing okay, but today on the walk to Sano Banano and back, I began to wonder if it was slightly infected. So I used Gretchen's cuticle snippers to cut away as much dead skin as I could to further open up the gash (in so doing, I noticed that the dead skin immediately adjacent to the injury wanted to tear away in long, narrow strips). Ideally I would've then smeared it with antibiotic salve, but I didn't have any of that. So I decided to use bacteria-fighting techniques from the pre-antibiotic era as handed down to me mostly from my father. A hot compress is good for fighting bacteria, but the only source of hot water was an electric tea pot at the front desk. What I did instead was find a particularly hot stretch of sidewalk (heated to an uncomfortable temperature by the tropical sun) and press it against my wound, often while standing with my good foot on the grass or a shaded part of the sidewalk.
Another technique my father used to use to fight infection in injuries (antibiotic salve was unknown in our household) was salt water. An obvious source of that was the ocean. So I locked up the casita and walked to Montezuma's central beach, the place where the waves are calm enough to land and launch boats. There was a guy casting a fishing rod into the surf and several other people bobbing in the water a little further out than I wanted to go. I put my flip flops somewhat above where the waves were licking and then waded a short ways into the water. All I needed was salt water on the sole of my left foot, but the waves have a way of luring one out. Soon waves had soaked first my shorts and then the bottom of my tee shirt. I was worried about the one object I was carrying, the key to the casita, which I kept reaching into my pocket to confirm it hadn't been knocked out. Some of the waves hit me with such violence that I was almost knocked over. It seemed the people who were further out were not having it quite as bad, so I waded out a little further. And then, at some point, a big wave crashed into me so hard that I was pulled under and water shot up my nose. I didn't panic and was able to get to the surface. A woman nearby smiled at me and said, "well, that wasn't fun!" and I agreed. I stumbled out of the water, put on my flip flops, and headed for town. As I was washing the sand off my feet and flip flops in the tiny little creek that trickles past Hotel Montezuma, I suddenly realized I wasn't wearing my glasses. They'd been ripped off my face in the surf!
So I returned to where I'd been in the surf, watching what was left behind on the sand as every wave crashed and receded. I also looked to see what objects were churning in the water. I knew from experience that the water on a beach isn't really going anywhere; it moves back and forth in various dimensions but doesn't really carry things away. But my glasses had vanished completely. As the water around me grew crowded with little brown Tiko children, I gave up. Adding insult to injury, someone had stolen my flip flops (which I probably wasn't going to be carrying home anyway), so I had to walk back to Hotel El Jardin barefooted. At least I hadn't lost my casita key. Getting all the sand off me took a real effort, and hours later I was still finding it embedded in my scalp.
Fortunately, Gretchen had brought two reading glasses on this trip, one of which had a progressive prescription with a 1.5 power reading prescription at the bottom and no prescription at all at the top. Since the prescription I have at the top of my now-lost progressives is only to correct an astigmatism (which isn't much of a problem except in dim lighting conditions), these would be good enough to use for the couple days remaining in Costa Rica. But I liked those lost glasses and immediately ordered an exact replacement on The lesson not to wear glasses in the ocean was a $217 one (unless you also include the price of those cheap flip flops).
When Gretchen returned from the old lady's house, she had some patacones and vegan ceviche. She was also exhausted after all that Spanish and just wanted to climb into bed in an air conditioned room and watch something brain-dead and English like the 2019 version of the movie Charlie's Angels. But the WiFi was so bad in our room that instead we had to go hang out by the pool to consume our media. Initially Gretchen was watching a Spanish-language show she's been enjoying while I downloaded Charlie's Angels using Bittorrent and watched a new kind of video YouTube was recommending: ones where older women are romantically manipulated into sending endless checks and money orders to African scammers posing as wealthy white doctors or military men on secret missions. Some of the scammed were so stupid that I didn't even feel sorry for them, particularly one woman who didn't believe in interracial dating who was being scammed by a man from Ghana.
Meanwhile one of the El Jardin cats was stalking a pair of gray-cowled wood-rails (probably the ones I'd seen yesterday morning) as they strutted nervously near the pool (which, after dark, is lit up appealingly from below). There were a few humans with us at the pool as well who seemed as interested in the cat and rails as we were.
Then I discovered a WiFi hotspot that provided good internet in our room, which was great because the mosquitos were getting bad near the pool.

The bare-throated tiger heron in the tree above Sano Banano late this morning. Click to enlarge.

Doing some preening. Click to enlarge.

The bathing magpie jay at Sano Banano. Click to enlarge.

A beach dog near where I lost my glasses in the surf. Click to enlarge.

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