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:
   crappy reefs of Cozumel
Monday, June 18 2018

location: Room 2342, The Reef Coco Beach, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Today as the first real sunny day of our Mexico vacation, so an outing had been planned on the nearby island of Cozumel. This required all of us to be driven (in taxis) to the ferry in Playa del Carmen. After making it past phalanx after phalanx of would-be merchants (nobody does DIY capitalism quite like Mexicans), we made it to where we could by tickets for the ferry. To actually board the ferry, which was a fairly massive ship, we had to walk out some distance on a pier. One of Gretchen's mother's hips is soon to be replaced, and she's been getting around in a wheelchair of late. So we had someone go fetch us one of those. But just walking the length of that pier without any shade was an ordeal, so intense was the tropical sun overhead (at this time of year, the sun was actually just slightly to the north of us).
Inside the ferry, the family broke up into two parts, since there wasn't seating for all of us in one place. Gretchen and I ended up with her brother and nephew in a room where a three-piece band was performing covers of familiar rock songs. They were playing electric guitars, though the volume wasn't especially loud, so it made for a surprisingly pleasant experience.
We landed on the west side of the island of Cozumel, and then languished at the pier while whatever negotiating needed to happen happened and we secured a boat for a modest snorkeling expedition. This meant sailing with a small crew in a little boat with a pair of young Argentine women (who were added to fill out our group) to some reefs south of the pier and then snorkeling there. I wasn't really much in the mood for snorkeling, but I played along. To ease my concerns about drowning in the occasionally choppy water, I put on a small floatation device. We swam through some shallow reefs along the shore, though there wasn't much to see. The reefs themselves (with the exception of fan corals) were mostly dead. There were some colorful fish, but without the coral, they seemed a bit out of place. Our guided eventually found an octopus and made a big deal about it, drawing us all over to look at the poor thing cowering in a depression in the sand. He then prodded it a few times, eventually getting it to change color. This didn't sit to well with either Gretchen or me, and the guide did little to improve his reputation from there. He seemed to be spending a lot of time trying to upsell pictures taken with a GoPro camera to the two Argentinian women.
After we were done with that place, we motored to some other place where attempts had been made to repair the reef using manmade structures. In one place, cubic cages had been combined to form a pair of boxy humanoid (perhaps in the style of Minecraft). A few creatures had set up shop on these things, but most of the new "reef" real estate was unoccupied. There were also a number of cameras set up to take time-lapse photography, which is all stuff we would've known about had we bothered to watch a movie called Chasing Coral (which I had downloaded but Gretchen and I had never actually watched). Beyond those faux reefs were a number of concrete domes with containing regular perforations, and these seemed to be more satisfactory for would-be reef-dwellers. If anything, though, the snorkeling at this second place was worst than it had been at the first.
Really, the only good thing about the outing was that there was a cooler containing drinks, including cold beers, for after the snorkeling. At first it was just me and the Argentinian women who were going for the beer, but then Gretchen joined us, and perhaps her brother as well. On this trip he's been more into drinking alcohol than I've ever seen him; in the past we would do things like split a glass of wine with his wife (and other unnecessarily abstemious things). For my part, I didn't feel any need to be abstemious in the least. If anyone on this trip had license to be drunk for the entire thing, it was me.
Back at the pier on Cozumel, the sun was almost exactly overhead, casting the tiniest solar shadows I had ever seen. The plan for the time remaining before the ferry back to the mainland was to go to Cali Café, a vegan restaurant Gretchen had found via the glories of the interwebs. This was quite a production, since it meant walking several blocks for Gretchen's mother, who did not have her wheelchair (she did, however, have a pair of canes). There was also the matter of my bladder, which was about to detonate explosively. I saw a place a sign advertising a bathroom and quickly ran in and started pissing, well before being accosted by the people who were collecting money for the service. Fortunately, my brother-in-law was right behind me and picked up my tab as well as his own (I didn't have any money on me at the time).
Then it turned out that Cali Café was closed, as seems to happen far too frequently. So we settled on a festive Mexican restaurant called La Rumba. It's nearly always possible to get vegan food at a Mexican place. And besides, the food at the resort had me craving the actual cuisine of this country I had come to visit. We were all pretty stressed out about the hunt for the vegan restaurant that ended up being closed and about the long walk Gretchen's mother had had to take on a failing hip, so I can't say it was completely inappropriate that our table ordered a pitcher of margaritas. But in this family, that really pushes the limits on living it up in Mexico. For food, I ordered the vegetable burrito sin queso. It came with a little guacamole, but there were so many guacamole haters at the table (Gretchen and her brother) that I had enough guacamole to get a little in every bite I had of that burrito. That made it an amazingly delicious experience to devour.
We walked diagonally across the square back to the pier and caught the next ferry for the mainland. This time a group of us sat in a quiet room near the front of the boat. I was found myself becoming increasingly paranoid about my former workplace. That clique of sociopaths seemed capable of anything, and I hadn't heard back from one of my confidantes in The Organization. Such paranoia feeds on itself and leads to distraction. I followed along when Gretchen and I went with our nephew on a walk out to Marvin's Burgers for some "chicken" fingers to bring to the dismal buffet dinner, but this was all I had in my mind was this sense of dread. The one moment of relief was when Gretchen suggested we go into the pharmacy near Marvin's to see if they had adderall. She'd forgotten all her prescription medication on this trip (celexa and synthetic estrogen) only to discover that prescription aren't really a thing in Mexico. You go into a pharmacy and ask for a drug, and if you have the money, it's yours. The prices tend to be expensive, but there's no judgment. You get your pills and go. So I'd said maybe we should get me some adderall while we're here. When we walked in, the guy at the counter said he had adderall (asking additionally if perhaps we also wanted valium) and quickly produced a 30 pill bottle, but the price was over $200. That seemed too expensive, so I went with a fifteen pack of ritalin instead. It came to about $40. The non-prescription nature of the transaction and price might all have been a blackmarket racket run on the side, but I got my drugs. This would accelerate my job search.
I had to leave dinner early, so bad was my malaise. I went to the room and sent out several resumes. Continuing my job search has proved to be the best thing to keep me from losing my mind.

At first on the ferry, we tried the sun deck. Too sunny! From left: Gretchen, her brother, our nephew.

My nephew in the foreground with the pleasant rock band down inside the ferry boat.

At La Rumba. From top left: Gretchen's father, my nephew, my sister-in-law, Gretchen and her mother. We had WiFi, accounting for Gretchen's father's distraction.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next