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:
   cenote near the squatters' camp
Tuesday, February 21 2017

location: Cabin C, Mayatulum Resort, coastal Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

The soupy black beans were back at breakfast this morning, though that doesn't really work with a slice of bread. They really demand tortillas (and a lot of salsa, which is provided). It's a mystery why tortillas aren't provided by default; evidently Americans (even sensitive yoga-practitioners getting their Eat, Pray, Love on) can't imagine getting quite that Mexican in the morning. Gretchen asked for tortillas, and they came. But we really needed about ten, and they never provide more than about four.
Later in the morning after I'd slathered sunscreen all over my body, I walked south down the beach two resorts over and then went to look at a rock outcrop mostly in the intertidal zone (20.166850N, 87.450277W). I was interested to see there were a great many chitons on the rock. Chitons are a whole class of molluscs that resemble flat snails with a segmented patch of armor covering most of their dorsal surface. A little south of these rocks, I found a undersea hill of sand that rose to very near the surface, allowing me to stand fairly far out in the water at depth of less than my knees. The sand here was mostly clear of seaweed, which was choking the water nearly everywhere else. When I turned back to face the shore, I saw eight or ten women standing still together, facing the sea. They were topless and covered with what appeared ochre. It looked like a performance art piece, though nobody except me was watching and nobody seemed to be recording the event for posterity. This went on for the entire time I was there, which was probably about ten minutes.

Early this afternoon, Gretchen and I biked again out to Charly's Tacos for lunch. This time I got Charly's signature tacos, which were so deliciously savory (much like their bean soup, which we'd had the day before yesterday) that it makes you wonder how such flavor was even possible. Today I'd brought a flask of mezcal so I could adulterate a big glass of lime juice. Charly's hasn't offered any alcoholic beverages, but such things are unncessary if you're carrying a hip flask of booze.

I was able to make a little more progress on my obsessively-attended-to Generic Report project, but eventually Gretchen managed to drag me away and get me to bike with her to the cenote she'd discovered yesterday (20.154817N, 87.458549W). It was a little over a mile to the south and the entrance was at a roadside juice stand. The sign advertising the cenote was so small Gretchen might've missed it had she not been on a bicycle. Beyond the juice stand, a little further into the jungle, was a makeshift camp of marginal people living rough under the trees. Somebody had a fire going to cook food, and there was an impressive pile of aluminum beer cans. When Gretchen asked about the cenote, one of them mentioned a price (100 pesos, or a little more than $5, each), and she grumbled a little and handed it over. Then one of the other guys led us back through the jungle. Initially it seemed like we were off to our deaths, but then there was a circular natural pool about 50 feet across. The water was clear so we could see all the way to its rocky bottom a good ten or twenty feet beneath the surface. Gretchen immediately jumped in and our guide also went for a brief swim. But then we had the place all to ourselves.
The walls of the cenote were steep and actually somewhat undercut the surrounding jungle, meaning there was no place to gradually wade into the water (as I prefer to do). I tried wading out from the small section of wooden decking onto a sunken tree trunk, but without a good transition beneath my feet, I was reluctant to get into the water. There was also the problem of the water's temperature, which was noticeably colder than the sea had been. I tasted the water and noted that it was slightly brackish.
Then some other people showed up. By this point I'd found a fragment of a styrofoam boogieboard that I intended to use to augment my buoyancy. The sudden arrival of strangers made the shoreline suddenly less appealing, so I flung myself out into the water atop that piece of styrofoam. Somewhat surprisingly, it did exactly what it needed to. Eventually I was even able to swim about two-handed by hooking the front of the styrofoam plank under my chin.
The new people were a couple young American guys and a young American woman with a baby that soon would require a diaper change. Gretchen was initially disappointed by the newcomers' arrival, but then when one of the guys jumped from a tree near the dock, she wanted to do the same. She ended up jumping twice, the second time executing such a perfect dive that her shorts ended up around her knees.
The edge of the cenote was surrounded mostly by mangroves, and in these mangroves was a fair amount of semi-tame bird life. In addition to the ubiquitous great-tailed grackles, there were some birds I'd yet to see in Mexico. There was an anhinga, and at least two species of heron, one looking a old and moth-eaten. There was also a spectacular bird with yellow markings that looked like a kingfisher but behaved like a flycatcher. Later I would indentify it as a social flycatcher. Gretchen would try to creep up on these birds and they'd let her get pretty close. But she behaving an awful lot like a crocodile, and eventually the birds (the flycatchers and the bemused old heron) always flew away, though never very far. At one point I looked up and saw a pink flamingo flying just above the treetops maybe 200 feet away. When I drew Gretchen's attention, the bird had already disappeared. But soon she saw it herself flying back the other way. She wasn't sure it was a flamingo, but no other bird is pink like that.
Some more people showed up. This time they were young women speaking some Germanic language such as Danish. By now there were so many people in the cenote that some people were waiting on the shoreline for it to clear out. The smell of pot hung apologetically in the air. By this point I'd had enough, so Gretchen and I walked back through the squatters' camp, said goodbye, and biked back home.
For dinner, we went a fourth time to Restaurare. The menu there isn't big, and we'd tried everything, so now I knew what I wanted: the salbutes. I also tried the Akumal porter, since it was the only other beer available beside the Indian Pale Ale. Porter is a weird kind of beer to drink in the tropics, but it wasn't terrible.
We got some tea from the dining hall and headed back to our cabin. When Gretchen checked her email, she saw that our housesitter (who'd proven herself to be surprisingly dopey with her questions) was reporting that she'd yet to see Clarence the Cat anywhere. So Gretchen told her to check the basement and garage just to be sure he wasn't trapped somewhere. But then we started to worry, Gretchen more than me. I wasn't convinced the housesitter could distinguish between Oscar and Clarence, even though the former is much fatter and fluffier than the latter. Partly to get our minds off that possibly unpleasant subject, we watched a movie called Bad Moms that I'd downloaded just before we'd left. Gretchen had liked the trailer and the cast, and hoped it would have the sort of irreverant gut-busting woman-centric humor of, say, Bridesmaids. Alas, Bad Moms wasn't anywhere near that good. It mostly stuck to a very formulaic comedy arc, with a fastidious wrapping up of loose ends at the end. Clearly it aspired to be a deeply mainstream comedic triumph, and that poisoned much of the possible humor, since real humor requires shock. There was, however, perhaps one scene that was genuinely hilarious. It was the one where Kristin Bell's character talks about how her husband is a "never hard," forcing her to fold his penis in half before stuffing it in there "like a balloon animal," adding, "sometimes I stuff his balls in there too, since they're among the few things that are firm." That definitely had us laughing out loud.

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