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:
   a serious lack of awareness
Wednesday, June 20 2018

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

Today's adventure was to rent a van and a driver for the day and go south to Tulum, stopping at a couple cenotes along the way and eventually having lunch at Charly's Tacos (now at a new location). Our first stop was at the Jardin del Eden Cenote (which you can probably translate for yourself), though to get to the entrance with a ramp suitable for the person in our entourage in a wheelchair, we had to first head south a considerable distance and then back north, and then south again, since Route 307 is a divided highway with few places for U-turns.
At the cenote, we paid our admission, got our floation devices (we'd brought our own snorkels) and went down to the attraction, a series of small interconnected linear pools, all of them looking very much like collapsed caves. My paranoia was back, though this time it was that I'd foolishly brought my wallet and I was worried someone would steal it from where we left our towels. So I didn't get much enjoyment out of the cenote. I did go in, snorkel for a bit (it was much better than the snorkeling off Cozumel, though the fish were less spectacular), and then come out to sit on the shore and let the little cenote fish that nibble loose skin from one's feet do their work. They really went nuts on my old, weathered feet, and they were about as happy with Gretchen's parents's feet when they later joined us, though they found little of interest on the feet of the kids. I could easily see how such fish could evolve into piranahs. As it was, they schooled around my feet enthusiastically, nipping so ardently that I could barely take it (it didn't hurt, though it tickled). I could see one of them having slightly sharper teeth and thus a slight advantage over the others, perhaps nipping off chunks of living flesh. The evolution story writes itself.
I should mention that by the point I'd taken a dose of valium to help with an antisocial anxieties, which otherwise were keeping me from being much of a participant in the family fun.
We didn't spend too long at Jardin del Eden. From there we drove to a coastal cenote called Cenote Ya-Ku, which actually opened up into a lagoon and continued out into the open sea. There was no shade at all at Ya-Ku, but by then we were slathered with sunscreen. I went along with the activity of swimming the various stretches using a floation device and my snorkel to see what could be seen under water. Ya-Ku was a bit overrun with people today, and it wasn't always easy to find a clear path to swim, particularly at my pathetic speed. I surfaced on a rocky shoreline near some buildings and thought I'd cheat by walking some of the distance overland, but some dude stopped me to tell me the shoreline was "privado." I made maybe half as far as Gretchen did, sunning myself on a rock for a time and then swimming back to where I'd come from. Swimming in that direction was difficult due to currents, though this time I did manage to find a place I could get out and walk along the shoreline.
The others took awhile to come back, so I sat on a wooden platform with a towel around me to protect me from the sun, watching a gringo guy trying to convince his wife to just go for it and snorkel. But she was confused by the apparatus and was reluctant to try. But he couldn't really help her because he also had to stand by the baby in a stroller. The baby was completely isolated from the rays of the sun, which seemed like a good strategy.

With Ya-Ku behind us, our driver drove us through Tulum and then down to the funky human-scale handmade part of Tulum stretching south down the beach. The goal this time was merely Charly's Tacos, which would've been easy in the recent past. But they'd moved since February, 2017, when Gretchen and I would go there for every lunch. Now Charly's is way down the beach, further south even than that squatters' camp cenote we'd visited.
The problem with the beachside road is that it is full of speed bumps designed to reduce traffic speeds to about 15 miles per hour past the businesses, all of which press close against the roadside. We drove and drove and still no Charly's Tacos. In frustration, we stopped at some point and Gretchen's brother got out to ask someone working at a clothing shop where Charly's Tacos actually was. It's possible there was some language confusion, but when he got back in the car, the message was that we'd already passed Charly's but that, no problem, there was a much better vegan taco place behind us only about a kilometer called Safari. So a decision was made to turn around and head that way.
When we got to Safari, it was pretty clear the place was not vegan. In the center of it all was a huge rack of ribs cooking over a fire which we were going to have to be looking at and smelling no matter how vegan the food turned out to be. But Safari didn't actually have any vegan tacos on their menu. A guy told us he could definitely come up with something for us, but that was clearly going to be a lot more like eating at the The Reef Coco Beach buffet restaurant than Charly's Tacos. There was some stress in the air over this topic, with a strong inclination (despite how depressing it would be) to stay here and make this work. Gretchen and I were decidedly not in that camp, and though it took some gentle (if persistent) persuasion. By now I'd found where Charly's Tacos actually was by zooming in on the stored map in Gretchen's phone and saw that we'd been only a mile away from it before turning around. How sad would it be to get that close and then go to Safari? It reminded Gretchen of the time Mary Purdy couldn't wait fifteen minutes on the waitlist to get into Plum Bistro in Seattle and they went to some shitty place instead. That decision has haunted her for years.
So we loaded back up and headed south again. This time we kept an eye on Gretchen's phone, shouting out landmarks just before they appeared to reassure everyone that we had navigation completely under control. And there it was, Charly's Tacos. It was much as it had been in the other place, though with fewer scrubby trees and no massive sign on pillars waiting for a gust of wind to come down like a huge flyswatter and extinguish the life of some hapless vegan taco fans.
The thing about Charly's Tacos is that they leave good memories, but those memories pale in comparison to the tacos themselves. I got the three-taco special, avoiding the poblano pepper one (which I remembered being a bit weak) and was not disappointed. It certaintly helped that I also had a nice big passionfruit margarita. (The others were mostly drinking sangria.) There was even WiFi, so I could check in with The Organizational disaspora. By the end there, I needed to lie down. My brother-in-law had taken the hammock, so I took a bench of an unoccupied picnic table in the shade.
I don't much remember the drive back. There's something about Charly's Tacos that makes one want to take a nap, and then not work terribly hard on whatever else you might've had planned for the rest of the day.

Cenote fish going nuts over my old man hobbit feet.

Gretchen at the signs in front of Charly's Tacos. The only reason she isn't losing her shit was this was after we'd eaten.

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