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:
   basilisks in the Montezuma River Gorge
Thursday, March 2 2023

casita #5, Hotel El Jardin, Montezuma, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

Overnight, Casita #5 wasn't as noisy as expected, since traffic ebbs away significantly at night. But last night there had been an unexpected Wednesday night party nearby. It later turned out that this party had taken place at Hotel Aurora (across the road as it enters the town).
Things are laid back in the remote workplace every third Thursday, and this was such a Thursday. Allee, the woman who usually leads sprint planning, has strep throat and was trying to give her throat a rest. So of course Joe had to lead sprint planning just as he'd had to do sprint review yesterday. I feel bad not stepping in for these things, but Lou and Guy (the two other developers on the team) are perfectly happy letting Joe be the only backup for such things. Some day I hope to be familiar enough with with all the products that can spell Allee and Joe from time to time.
While I was being a wallflower during sprint planning (and my mic was on mute), there suddenly was the prolonged sound of a leaned-on horn. And then a loud fight erupted in the road directly in front of our part of the hotel. There was much use of the term "puta" and plenty of Spanish obscenities I don't know. Gretchen and I initially assumed there had been some accident, but we later learned that it was all a conflict about right of way, and it had been between a local (a Tico) and some tourist (a gringo).
After my meeting, it was time to move to our third and final room (#12) at Hotel El Jardin. This last one was clearly the worst; it was down at the front of the complex, directly on the main road through Montezuma, directly across from a youth hostel. Loud motorcycles and groups of people constantly walk past and Costa Rican construction is not especially good at blocking noises from the outdoors. Since the new room was directly on the street, it was especially important to keep it locked (if only to keep out the disoriented drunks).
Once that move was complete, Gretchen and I began our hike to Butterfly Brewing Company, the place where we'd be having lunch. We brought with us some items from our refrigerator that we weren't going to get around to eating, including Tofurky, a red onion, most of a beautiful head of lettuce, and at least two kinds of breakfast cereals, and at some place along the way we spilled it all into the jungle for the street dogs and other critters to find. Along the way, we passed a couple people Gretchen knew in the town, including the cab driver who will be driving us to Tambor tomorrow and the old woman who lives on the beach whom Gretchen ate ceviche with yesterday. She was driving an ATV slowly down the road while one of her dogs ran along beside her.
Getting to Butterfly Brewing Company required walking all the way to the Montezuma River (where we stopped to dip in the water and completely soak our clothes) and then walking up the Montezuma-Delicias Road about three quarters of a kilometer. As with most roads leaving the coastline, the Montezuma-Delicias Road is initially very steep, and climbing it would've been brutal in the mid-day heat had we not still been soaking wet. The road climbs up to the top of a narrow stony ridge, with at least two fancy pedestrian bridges connecting nearby structures to the road across deep gorges. When we finally got to our destination, I recognized it immediately as one of the places we'd driven to for dinner when we'd been in Costa Rica four years ago.
We were served by the owner of the restaurant, who explained why the restaurant can't accept credit cards (fortunately, though, they do accept Venmo). It seems that back during covid and the tourist dollars dried up, the locals became desperate and started cutting down utility cables to steal the copper. Evidently this was worthwhile with the DSL lines that are used to connect credit card machines. Since then, most of the data transmission infrastructure has been replaced with fiber-optic cable, a material that doesn't lend itself to easy resale. (I'm not sure why credit card processing equipment can't be attached to conventional internet routers.)
We both ordered the black bean burger, which was one of the two things that could be made vegan on the menu. Normally that comes with a bun that has an egg glaze on it, but the owner said that if we were strictly vegan (he said it in a dismissive way, as if we would of course say we weren't) he had this other kind of bun. We did of course want that other kind of bun, and it ended up being perhaps the best sandwich bread that we'd had this whole month. I didn't have high hopes for the sandwich, but it was surprisingly good. But better than that was the beer. I ordered a "flight" of small beers brewed right there at the brewery. The best of these was a Belgian ale, which might be my new favorite kind of beer (I think I might be weary of even hazy IPAs at this point).
Our lunch date went so well that I asked Gretchen if it was mostly what she'd hoped for when she'd asked me back on Monday to play hooky from work, the request that precipitated our biggest (and perhaps only) fight of the trip. She said that it was.
After lunch, as Gretchen was figuring out how to pay for it with Venmo, I realized that hiking in wet Crocs had torn a hole in the skin on the arch of my left foot, so I had to apply some bandaids before I could hike back down to the coast. Gretchen and I would be going separate ways; she wanted to hike on a trail into the gorge above the falls to revisit a path she used to take to Spanish class four years ago. She remembered there being plenty of good swimming holes and howler monkeys back in there.
Back in dreary room #12 at Hotel El Jardin, I fired up the air conditioner and then took a shortcut to the pool (which wasn't far away via shortcut). Once I'd washed away the sweat and the dust, I could do some actual remote workplace work. It was straightforward C# development, and I managed to accomplish the work I wanted to for the day.
About two hours after I got back, Gretchen returned. It wasn't long before she'd registered her complaint about our room's air conditioning, which wasn't quitw doing what it needed to. So the guy at the front desk went and fetched us a fan, all of this taking place while I was dressed only in a towel around my waist and frustrated by a lagging user interface experience in my Amazon Workspace when all I wanted to do was commit some fucking code and be done with my work week.
Room #12 is not a pleasant place for hanging out; it's mostly windowless (though there are translucent windows facing the street) and somewhat resembles the inside of a post office. So after Gretchen returned from her hike, we spent much of our time near the pool. She showed me some pictures of lizards she'd taken in the Montezuma River gorge and they reminded me of photos I'd seen of basilisks (my continued ability to classify creatures based only on animal photos I pored over as a child surprises even me). Sure enough, we managed to find pretty much the exact species she'd seen, its back and tail adorned with massive fins and frills the color of dead palm banana leaves.
At around sunset, Gretchen wanted to walk north up the beach to look for monkeys, which she hadn't seen in days. So we walked all the way up a little beyond Ylang Ylang. We saw a few little crabs (hermit and otherwise) and a tiny shore bird, but no monkeys. The new injury on my left foot was giving me trouble, so I had to take my Crocs off and walk barefoot. This was fine when we were walking on sand, but coming back we followed a beachside road that was covered in one patch with molasses (as a dust control measure) and that put an unpleasant stickiness on the soles of my feet. Along the way we encountered a small snake, no more than about fifteen inches long, slowly making his way through the dust on the road. As a car came, I hurried him along, and he just barely avoided the crunch of the tires of a vehicle driven by an impatient gringa.
For dinner, Gretchen had been entertaining the idea of going to Organico, a restaurant I'd remembered not liking four years ago. As we approached it, the sound of new-agey music coming from inside was yet another reason to go somewhere else. But if Gretchen wanted to eat at Organico, I was willing. But when she expressed ambivalence about going there or eating yet another meal at Sano Banana, I said that settled it, we should eat at Sano Banano. And soon we were taking a seat at our favorite table, at the outside of the bend in the table arrangement. As we were sitting down, I remarked that this (eating so often at the same restaurant and often even at the same table) reminded me of being on a cruise.
It turned out that Sano Banano has a whole menu of microbrews, and I'd so enjoyed my Belgian ale at the Butterfly Brewery that I ordered a pint of one of those. It tasted about the same, which was excellent. I also ordered a plate of the weird Vwgan Sano Banano spaghetti plate, the one with mushrooms and avocados. It was soupier than it had been last time but didn't disappoint. Meanwhile Gretchen ordered a custom pasta plate based on a fra diavolo sauce and fettuccini and she seemed to like it okay.
At the adjacent table was a German couple about our age, the female half of whom asked Gretchen what they should order. After first explaining that we're vegan (because of course!) Gretchen walked over to their table to give them recommendations (there was a one-man band performing mostly reggæ using his guitar, clarinet, and looping technology, and it was a bit loud to hear conversation over). After she'd done that, the woman kept asking me questions about places to stay and such, and not only did I not feel equipped to answer, but she was having trouble understanding my English (particularly given the loudness of the entertainment). I was concerned she might want to talk to me for the rest of the meal, but happily that didn't happen. Just before our food arrived, Gretchen remembered she had nutritional yeast back in our room, which was so close it might as well have been in the same hotel.
One of the Sano Banano servers mentioned to the German couple that the internet was out, and when we got back to our room at El Jardin, it wasn't working there either. Perhaps an anchor had torn out an important undersea fiber optic cable carrying internet to the south end of the Nicoya Peninsula.
To minimize the time spent in our room, when returned to Hotel El Jardin, we went directly to the pool. I even waded in it for a time to enjoy the you-might-be-on-an-space-cruiser ambience that comes from the underwater lights making everything glow. While I was in the pool, I could still hear the reggæ guy performing over at Sano Banano playing his clarinet.
Our room didn't have much going for it, but it did have two beds. We tried one and decided it was too close to the street; it was easy to imagine, I said, that we were spending the night in a crowded shopping mall. So then we tried the other bed and it was somewhat better, at least in terms of light leaking into our faces. As we lay there, some guy was speaking very loudly very close by. It turned out he was some sort of story teller providing entertainment at Chelo, the pizza place had dinner with Andy at early in our Montezuma stay. Before discovering the source of this loud obnoxious voice, we'd assumed it was just some loud drunk going on and on to much quieter companions. Gretchen had even been fantasizing about using a silencer-equipped rifle to shoot him in the vocal cords. Riffing on this idea, I suggested maybe using a boomerang instead, and this led into a surprisingly long discussion of the word boomerang (so funny to say!) and the object it refers to. "Do they actually work?" Gretchen asked. What she meant was do they return to the thrower after being thrown.

Plovers bathing in the mouth of the Montezuma River as I walked past after lunch.

Me with my flight of beers at Butterfly Brewing. I'm wearing Gretchen's glasses that most closely match my prescription.

Montezuma Beach, looking south this evening. Click to enlarge.

Montezuma Beach, looking north this evening. Click to enlarge.

A tiny shore bird among the boulders on the shore near Ylang Ylang. Click to enlarge.

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