Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

калемегданoцорвид

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

bg-6

There he was, plucking himself through the overgrown grass and dandelion tuffets crowning the fortress like the fuzz on an old man's head. "He looks like a duck!" I hear now, gathered around the display, something I thought myself behind the lens. He eventually caught something in the haze, strange gait apparently paying off.

What can be said about his home? It's the same place, nominally anyway, I first saw twelve years ago, towering over the confluence of the Sava and Danube, a brick boot towering over a soft and cowering pair of worms. The chestnut trees and mulberries still make the place feel like any other municipal park in this part of the world (though they're maybe a mote too neat and perfect, if one takes the time). The same sodium lamps, illuminating for all below what, up top, becomes a piercing orange eyesore still shine on at night. Memorable warning signs ("bricks fall from this vault!", etc) retain all their officious unheedability.

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And the town wrapped around it, the town that owes everything to it, as many yet do, still knows the art of overcast better than any other place I've seen. Belgrade is gray, and knows no other color until it's been put to the question a little. The same frivolous beauty and monumental brutalism comingle. The old broad streets are just as inviting for a walk against the wind. The nato-bombed building not far from downtown still looms, torn and sooty, over its resident block.

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I used to hop the train to Belgrade a few times a year by special order, often alone. I typically felt lost, amidst the language and the cold, desaturated landscape. It was a place that venerated things and ideas I didn't know, or didn't know much about, and frankly I wasn't all that interested, being overwhelmed by local points of interest back "home" to the east.

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The line, tempting, offers itself: nothing external really changes, only you do. But like all trite and obvious prosaicisms it's a half-truth, or possibly more like a quarter-truth. Yes, the passage of time has allowed me to spend more interest, to recognize more signs amidst the static. I feel less lonely in Belgrade, because I'm more lonely the rest of the time, because I'm more accutely aware of how alone I actually am.

But in the city itself there are real differences; the war machines were not laid out on the inner fortress lawns so long ago --were they stored, like decorations for a combative christmas tree, in some old cobwebbed basement? Neither was the "dinosaur park" in place back then; not that it's anything but out of place now, what's changed is it's there, a platoon of fiberglass models to some scale varying inside the modeler's head. The tyrannosaurus roars unconvincingly every fifteen seconds through a tuna can speaker hidden somewhere in the wood chips.

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Somehow the recipe for bread has been forgotten meanwhile. That happy memory of waking up in Belgrade to brave the chill for kefir and croissants will stay a memory, now; every пекара is a Fornetti front, a case full of margarine-laminant and naught else. The postered kiosks call out dates for bands I wouldn't see, much less lament having missed1.

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My time in Belgrade still seems, this tenth or eleventh instance, a trip through numerous hallways. Some lined in the old brass handrails and ancient smoke of hotels, some with the tall facades of department-stores-cum-science-academies, others with impermeable walls of people, not hostile but not friendly either, the occasional immigrant breaking through. All the city is a series of hallways leading to the kalemegdan, where the windows are thrown open and one can finally see, but only the kind of seeing achieved from a distant throne: vast summaries of life, detached and impersonal.

  1. Sometime in 2012 or thereabouts I spent a sad, eventless Friday night in Belgrade by myself, only to find a VNV Nation flyer posted in town the next morning, for the night previous. I just stood there for about fifteen minutes looking at it. Yes, it was gray. []

Recreation

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

mac-1

The spaces there; the pause between
what I can stomach, and the feast
leaves life a malleable thing now quickening
now sickening
now stagnant
now serene.

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mac-3

I've no idea where I might look to find the contradiction,
else but in your mind, or the fields stretched out before your gaze
or in my crumbling heart, here succumbing
now becoming
now belligerent
now base.

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mac-6

How could I hate the center of my life? And yet the sun is sometimes scorned
for shining forth too bright, for warming more than dainty life can suffer without singeing.
The inability to imbibe all is mine. I feel it healing
now kneeling
now knotted
now known.

mac-2

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The Roadblock

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

Via the bimbo we find:

Since the holidays are over, its now time for construction in Costa Rica. The locals decided to block one of the only major highways in the country for going on over thirty five minutes. Lucky for us, we ended up at the beginning of the line and had Master in the car. It took him only around a minute with the workers before the cones went up and they quickly got out of the way. Of course, this was after a few nervous looking men walked over to the workers and bailed out of any confrontation by getting on their phones and taking the walk of shame back to their cars without saying a word.

To which we offer a smattering of amendments, having conducted said journey through the tropical wilds at the wheel of a particularly shining silver steed.

Firstly, it's always time for construction in Costa Rica. It's not so much a matter of "growing development", this, but a necessary consequence of the brutal facts of ekeing out a civilization of sorts amongst the verdant exuberance of the land. Potholes. Sinkholes. Collapsed bridges, fallen switchbacks, obliterated pipes, all "repaired" inexpertly but with great enthusiasm, all contributing to a constant critical mass of catastrophe.

This time, the problem was mild enough: the yellow median had fallen just this side of invisible, and the poks1 had gathered up their very best paint in their very best mini-pokmog, eager to make the road safe again for the 40kph natives and the 140kph foreigners who weave around them. Except they decided to close down the entire road for the proceedings. As in, with roadblocks. Both directions. Whether this was an honest if inept attempt at safety or the effects of sheer wonderment at their own technology I couldn't tell you, but it was certainly several shades of ridiculous.

Valiant Prince MP ventured forth to the bevestacled2 roadslave and demanded an ETA. Thirty minutes. Which is an insane askance on the one and only road to the nation's northeast at ten in the morning on a thursday, but patience is well-coddled by comfort, something our horse has in spades. Ever play "I spy" in the rainforest?3 We didn't, but anyway. Thirty-five minutes went by, according to the bimbo's ever-faithful watch. A motley stream of family heads, some in characteristic pastel plaid button-downs and flip-flops, others in JC Penny-diaspora slacks and stacked heels, shuffled awkwardly towards the workers to lodge complaints throughout.

Here's how Costa Rican complaints go:

"Hey buddy, how's it going?"
"Oh fuck me dude, everything's so great, I'm so happy to see you!"
"Back atcha, friend. I thought, mayhap, there was, possibly, a thing not entirely great afoot?"
"I'm sure it's possible, but whatever, shit's great in general and mostly in particular!"
"I couldn't agree with you more. May all your days be glorious."
"May yours be better! Remember, I've two kidneys, should you need one!"

Fifty-fifty shot a hug goes here. Mind you, as the bimbo pointed out, actual confrontation was rare; for the most part these exemplars of effectuality merely approached the worker at not-quite shouting distance and tapped plaintively at their electronic rectangles4, only to walk back to their cars moments later, as though their subtle show of guarded inquiry were sufficient for anything at all.

But as I was saying, thirty-five minutes went by. At which point MP left his leathery cushioning and motored himself towards his municipal amigo again. I wasn't within earshot, but here's how (this) MP complaint went, from my perch:

MP approaches road worker at breakneck speed. Worker visibly if ever so slightly receeds from his post.
MP's arms rise to either side in exasperated parentheses.
Worker points in the general direction of the painting aparatus, shrugs.
MP's frame straightens, despite the impression it was already perfectly straight.
The handful of road workers previously lolling about in the adjacent vines chewing plantain chips get on their feet and move in to reinforce their colleague, meanwhile grown shorter and blown further back from his original stand.
The Blue-Red-and-White disco-dance, a possible misunderstanding of further pointing, squatting, and shrugging.
The ...5 aggressor delivers his fatal blow; left hand held slightly underneath, his right makes three decisive chopping motions --one to the left, one at center, one at right. This catalyzes the workers' retreat; they regroup a meter or so back.
A walkie-talkie is produced and passed frantically from one worker to the next. MP is stone-still.
After a beat, the workers run to the assembled cones comprising the road block and lift them.

So swift was the demolition that MP was obliged to run back to the car, lest he encourage 40kphers to overtake us. And that's how we almost lost half an hour on the ride in.

* * *

  1. Pok, noun, that species of Orc which proves lovable through its earnestness and innocuous nature despite its Orcdom. []
  2. It's my blog and I'll be a pompous foff if I wanna! []
  3. Hint: it's something green. You wouldn't shoot a gal, wouldja? []
  4. The pretense that these are "devices" chafes me. An abacus is a device --a "smartphone" is a travesty. []
  5. What colors are the Republican flag, anyway? Buttplug? []

Chimichurri and the Meaning of Life

Saturday, November 24th, 2018

BingoBoingo: re: http://btcbase.org/log/2018-11-15#1872387 How is Chimichurri Raptorson doing these days?

There is a time in the flow of duckitude ripe with thought and reflection, ever eager for an answer to that nagging void: when shall the next trocito of premium yellowtail materialize?

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Yes, his is a philosophical adolescence, a blooming of quill-topped q-tips o'er the wings, a chortling curiosity towards twins.

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The great horizons call, full of wonderment and hermit crabs. A duck cannot but wonder: why is he here?

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Who invented the lambada?

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If a feather grows in the forest and there's no one around to scratch it, does it make an itch?

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No matter the conundrum, the conclusion tends the same. A sunny disposition's the thing, whether doing laps in the sea or in wild bewilderment.

And they said you can't take it with you.

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

"Hey, get my other pair of underwear out of the trunk?"
"Anything else?"
"And the water."
"You want some fruit?"
"Yeah. Bring the banana for the crabs."
"And an apple? Orange? Some juice?"
"Bring the whole lot. Better yet, bring the whole car."

There's a sweet spot between the convenience of mobile provisions and the hassle of managing all the little tasks that go into stocking, sorting, packing, and retrieving, where that which one wants, one gets, with minimal administration. Banal as it may seem, there's little better than supreme and simple outfitting in the remote wild, which is where the preceeding exchange took place --a place with orders of magnitude more hermit crabs than people, by count, by mass, by whatever metric you'd like.

Apparently hermit crabs like bananas, among other things it's hard to imagine stumbling upon just-so on a shore human scrapsmaking rarely blesses. A particularly ripe one went in, therefore, with the other trunkstuffs unknown to beachkind, like a towel large enough to accommodate any particular angle of lazing about, and a thermos full of clove-infused cafe au lait.

I navigated surf-smoothed1 feet through the short trail of hot sand towards the car, skipping over judgment-browed iguanas and fraying coconut husks. And stopped cold. A heron! Head stretched tall in wary regard, he spent but a second to raise his wings and fly from just in front of the hood to a grassy clearing some feet away.

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Leaving him be to continue his automobile inspection2, I returned to The Great Towel Island with All the Trunk Things and the Banana Relief for Hermitty Victims of Crabreality began in earnest. Three grand chunks were flung, and several perambulating shells were observed approaching, and eventually coming to rest upon, the soft yellow anomaly.

Then came the crow, swift, merciless, and robbed these gentle curmudgeons of one chunk (the reader may take comfort in the report that no crabs were seen still attached)! A few minutes passed -- a heated discussion on the provenance of the winch took place -- seawater previously imbibed found routes from out of various holes in various heads. The crow returned. A female, stricken with that particular cruel joke of sexual dimorphism favoring males with brilliant oil-slick blues while the girls go brownly by. She landed several feet from her desired prize, unsure if the banana bit was a bit too close to wiggling toes. She meekly approached, foot-gawk-foot, --and I laughed wholeheartedly at the cautious maneuver, which sent the bird hopping back a ways. She eyed me, attempted one step bananawise, and sent me pealing again. Three times more with this routine and she had had it, sitting sadly on a branch back at the treeline. Apparently it's not only adolescent boys who cannot abide the sound of women laughing. All the better for the crabs, who care not for such trifles --for they are neither sea, nor salt, nor slightly rotten fruit.

Back in the valley, it happened one afternoon that we'd been walking mile after bus-flanked mile over unsteady sidewalks, klaxon-blasted and asphalt-fatigued into desperation for a break. What luck that a certain "anime cafe" was there, tucked into the parking lot of an office supply store. Rainbow-ropelights and well-trod astroturf stairs beckoned. Into dayglo knick-knack paradise we oozed. Did you know that Costa Rica has some of the best, ripest, loveliest tropical fruit in the world? Costa Ricans do not know. For which reason you're well-advised, when ordering anything fruit-based here, to request the item "sin azucar". I forgot to ask Gothic Alice in Wonderland to omit the stuff from my guanabana batido, no doubt distracted by the Hello Kitty popcorn machine and 4' Domo-kun plushie staring me down in the hallway.

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It was like trying to drink one of those scented markers from second grade. And it came with whatever this guy is --though I must admit I can't locate him again, and that possibly he was a mere hallucination caused by the two gulps of sugar-with-some-guanabana-in-it I took before pushing Diabetes Tumbler (that's a "medium", for the record) aside.

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Getting what you want is a lot easier in the middle of nowhere.

  1. The sand here is volcanic, varyingly fine, and this particular time actually managed to bleed my ankles a little in the rather turbulent waves. That aside, best pedicure one could ask for. []
  2. I received no official papers indicating pass or fail by review of Heronity. []

Panama Makes Me Ill

Friday, April 27th, 2018

And not just because of that stupid palindrome1. It literally made me ill after ~15 hours spent in its clutches, I'm a 5'9" congestion, ghow dho jdhoo gdoo?

Those fifteen hours saw about 20km of walking, which would've been no big deal were it not for the 20kg of gear and Panama's delightful wet-oven that spends all day doing free interpretations of the weather. Thirty degrees at ninety five percent humidity seems a lot more apt for making bagels than a livable climate, but one can only spend so much time in cafes.

Speaking of which, here's Casa Sucre, in the gussied-up part of Panama City, Casco Viejo.

panamac-1

Decent carrot juice and non-Costa-Rican-coffee2, if you're in the neighborhood and feel like imbibing at your imaginary grandfather's house. The Mac didn't have Oregon Trail, and that note on the piano kindly asks that you keep your children away from the instrument's crotchety old keys.

Panama City has a fairly massive littering problem, replete with the kind of odor you'd expect from a trash-happy city in a hot place on the water --I'll spare you particular description. Casco Viejo, however, is a proper tourist trap, where refuse is magically handled with care, paint flows o'er the walls afresh nightly, and pavers hold the train of your dress while laying flat before you the paths ahead.

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The tourism board apparently foresaw a lot of outdoor entertainment happening around here, though every time I've gone it's been deserted, save for the occasional shaved ice vendor, one of whom ran towards me when she saw me throwing on another layer of sunscreen. You'd be hardpressed to find anyone so grateful for something so small, and indeed, on the whole Panamanians are good-natured. They've been cooked, trashed, and hustled into something like an exhausted, stressed-out cousin of the laid-back Costa Rican, though.

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They're also living like bugs in a city with pretenses to "the Dubai of Latin America"; there's not much difference in costs of living between Panama and the US --at least, not anymore--, but the same air-conditioned bastions of North Americanity that beckon tourists to go from TGI Friday's in Cincinnati to TGI Friday's in Panama City ostensibly for the benefit of saying they've traveled have no fantasy in store for the locals. One cabbie I talked to described 14-hour stints in his totally-not-a-Tata to get bills paid after he left his job as network manager of the city's second-largest mall. He figured there had to be someone willing to pay more than $1000/mo for it. "Turns out, there isn't." He described buying gold bullion in 2012 after considering whether it was a better buy than btc. Then he was quiet for a while. He may be showing up in #eulora if the cockroaches don't eat him first.

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It's not a concrete jungle so much as a trash heap smoothed at the margins and covered in glass; a place where pretty much nobody walks --even for a few blocks--, and the one-upping edifices of US imports lid all, attempting illustration of a greatness and identity of which only regional managers and their braindead acolytes could be proud.

*** Interlude ***

Didja know Panama has a "Blockchain Embassy"?

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"What the fuck does that even mean?!" you ask. Well, it's in a strip mall, and that's all I've got.

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I go in, Wingus & Dingus are seated on stools, hunchbacked over whatever on macbooks. I ask if they'd like to trade som'fin'. Dingus can't talk to me over the wobble of his mouth. Wingus says they have a bitcoin atm. But it only sells. Except it doesn't have any bitcoin to sell yet.

"So...the market here is basically non-existant?"

"Basically, yes."

But they have t-shirts.

panamac-7

I'm still not sure what these shits are for, and I'm not convinced anyone involved knows either --unless it's outright a case of "ensure anyone clueless & curious about btc who approaches one of these things gets a clear signal that it's retarded".

***

Anyway, as I was saying, Panama makes me ill. I worked for a stint as a supermarket cashier in college, and the nicest old lady working there was from Panama City, made it sound like the sort of place where parrots3 sit on your shoulders and the plantains are like mana. I should've realized there was a reason she had moved to Ohio.

And if the city somehow fails to encurmudgeon you, the airport will: 30min cap on Wifi, several gates with broken A/C (the "causeways" aka mall parts are permafrigid tho'), and plenty of the kinds of logistics problems you'd rather not think about when handing your body over for flight, from frequently changed gates to directions that include lines like "you have to go down the unlit hallway behind the Chicken Port".

Happy trails!

  1. When your name's a palindrome, people seem a lot more eager to recite others they know to you, and that Panama shit gets stuffed in there 99% of the time. Here's one that reads better backwards than forewards. !uoy kcuF .setydolgort fo edaclavac a, gniretlews a, hcnets A []
  2. By now I'm convinced this is the only distinction that really matters, did the coffee come from CR or not? []
  3. In stark contrast to its northern neighbor, Panama, or at least its capitol, are devoid of wildlife. I saw one gull cooling its feet by the water. Otherwise, they've got roaches. []

Sede Atlantico

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

The University of Costa Rica has a handful of satellite campuses scattered here and there around this dimunition of a country, and for some reason figures that its compound in Turrialba has something to do with the ocean several hours' drive to its east. Overlooking the egregious decision to name it "Sede Atlantico" rather than its rightful "Sede Queso"1, I ventured forth on the two-hour journey to audit a class or two and see if there was any wasted talent hanging about.

It's a pleasant drive; the landscape shifts from the gray roughness of San Jose to the technicolor hovels of Hatillos, the city's pseudo-squattage, soon yielding completely to the overgrown jungle-forest-desert pastiche of the rural valleys.

On arriving at the campus, I found it rather remarkably empty for a monday mid-morning. In fact, there were many more cleaning women than students about, so I snapped a few shots of the freshly-painted, freshly-waxed hallways and looked for coffee.

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There wasn't any coffee to be found, however, the cafeteria being full of peeling wooden planks and chairparts. I asked what bipeds I could find, and was pointed towards a soda across the street. Coffee just isn't as enjoyable at a plastic table occupied by squeeze bottles of ketchup and mustard, you know? So I walked a few kilometers until I found a somewhat more passable joint that had mediocre cafe con leche and fantasia de higos, a sort of parlor-game dish where you excavate poor, helpless figs from ice cream that's nowhere near up to par.

With the walk back I'd killed a little time, and went back to campus.

Which, as you've probably guessed...

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Well, maybe people don't hangabout here, all business, I guess? Let's go to class.

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Here's Room 4, which both online and right outside its door professes to be holding a class from 1 to about 4pm. At ten minutes to 1, it was empty. At 1 exactly, idem. Fifteen minutes later? I don't think PC0305-901 is doing so well.

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I tried out a few more rooms that were supposed to be holding classes. They were similarly well-attended.

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I went to the administration and asked them why their online schedule, as well as those posted outside the classrooms, were incorrect. The attendant mula, visibly perturbed to be wrested from digging through her purse for god knows what and called to some sort of duty, disappeared for a few minutes and re-emerged with the certainty that the schedules were correct. "So why isn't anyone in any of your classrooms?" "They're there, it's 1:30!" "I was just down that hall, none of these rooms have anyone in there." "We have new classes starting next week!" "Okay, but what about these?" "They're in session." "So why is nobody there?" "There must be!"

I decided to quit the carousel and check out Turrialba itself. The dozen or so girls I managed to find milling around the bus-stops and chop-suey stations near campus had either admitted there was nothing to do on the weekend around there, or else had said the place to go was a disco called Latinos. Naturally, I wanted to see this item.

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What, you can't spot it? This is the happening spot in all of Turrialba, folks! Have you no eye for excitement?

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How about now? Nobody said you can't have a great disco on the balcony of the local social security building!

On a brighter note, the thing downstairs had decent beet-juice.

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In addition, of course, to a screen-for-the-sake-of-having-a-screen ("Activate Windows!") and advertisements for a "workshop on Mayan Mysticism" and "caldosas", which is, I shit you not, ceviche thrown into a bag of corn chips.

The town's main square held the day's real gem, with a certain elusive bird from other excursions somehow choosing this spot to laze about and croon in almost full view.

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Here he is mid-gargle. It sounds about like Roman candles look, if that does anything for you.

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Anyone know who he is?

A cheesy pit-stop on the way back ends this foray:

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Until next time I feel like being delighted and disillusioned in nearly equal amounts, bon fromage.

  1. Turrialba is Costa Rica's cheese mecca, a place where the cows and the coffee bushes do equally well. []

Blinks Abroad

Monday, February 12th, 2018

I had a dream this morning that I was back in college, and that the vast majority of students had decided the organization was no good, to be replaced with a daily process in which you'd line up at a reception table, fill out forms for a while, grab a stack of other people's paper assignments to be completed by yourself, then move on to a new table with a big vat of lemon blueberry pudding and piles of plastic containers, at which point you'd ladle out some of the stuff (yes, on top of the writing assignments), grab some plastic, and write down how many portions for redistribution you were going to produce that day once the papers were written. And I felt guilty, because I wrote four, but took five containers, intending to secret away a scoop of sludge for myself.

I have no idea, really, but I was glad for having woken up, once I did. In fact, it's rather difficult not to feel serene and relieved on waking to my life, awash as it is these days in resplendent natural beauty and adventuresome delights. In part, I think it's Costa Rica itself --well, it and its marked differences from Buenos Aires, where a mere walk by the riverside could barely, and often not really, be had. There's also likely something to be said for the distance in years, in paradigm, and in practice from those college days, even if the real thing was a little less blatantly insane (it was certainly less puddinged). But those are reflections for another day. For now, there's wilderness, that space sufficiently unmolested by humans to make being one in it feel better.

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Taking in the view after a thirty minute climb behind a rickety truck full of Nicaraguan date-palm-jacks.

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The jungle path, as curated by some worthy, quiet folks on the mountaintop.

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Hello from as close to Pepperland as probably exists.

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Rounding a corner, an odd call was heard. I pointed the camera at the branches, oh hope beyond hope...

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...of finally seeing a wild toucan, and there he was.

Once back, duty required that I journey on to Bogota, to be carouseled from a to b and back in a certain diplomatic chariot.

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No such luxury on the way in, however. Boingo wifi presents: flight schedule eggog, Panama edition! No tiene precio, kay?

blinks-7

I don't know what kind of dental procedures require generators-cum-soft-serve apparatus, and I don't want to find out.

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Colombia's coffee did not disappoint. Neither did the lulada, a sort of persimmon-ade.

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Bogota's most beautiful building, the Farshad rug store. I was going to use it as misdirection for a game of 'guess where I am', but the thing was too true and good for such trickery.

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This, for the record, was the most dangerous the city ever got.

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For Dad, another piece of the Stanford diaspora.

And here our journey ends, brief interval between delicious propulsions. Until next time, may your papers be your own, and your pudding non-communal.

Unsystematized Exploration, Tropical Ed. No. Whichever

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

I got a parking ticket today, the first traffic-y citation-y article I've ever earned. It was won adjacent the Torre Mercedes (a squat psuedo-tower a block away from the ~1.2x tall "Tallest Building in Costa Rica" housing a monstrous 70s fascism-style stairway/fountain/grim reflection point, plus a few regional business headquarters), for the infraction of not having paid the unstated parking fee to the not-present-while-parking parking attendant. The damage comes to 7800 colones, or about $16, or about twice as much as the actual parking fee would've likely been. Alternatively, the cost of a goodly amount of local bacon for the pits, now on strike 'til the next lamb stew is made.

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It might not be much of a parking ticket, but it's mine.

Other recent finds include the Templo de Servicios Sanitarios, an apparent hangout amongst the peaecekeepers:

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The world's bearingest papayaness tree, in someone's front yard:

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And that most venerable of university institutions, Tesis Kike:

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Here's one for Stan:

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And what looks to be some sort of Trinque refueling station:

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And if the locals ain't got whatcha want, why, you can always hire one to do some rearrangin':

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With a lopped-off limb and a life of utter decrepitude:

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How is a clever young man to make his way? Why, by matriculating in the general direction of that Windows 7 cake shop what they got o'er in Barrio Mexico.

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The real puzzler is, what'd be best carried in the following conveyance?

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Acquariums? Christmas lights? Or perhaps a new product line from

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I'll leave these things to the philosophers; meanwhile, it's time to load the Illegal Parker again and head to fairer margins:

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Beachcombing, A Guide

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

Remember when poring over the shore with a metal detector was socially acceptable, despite its apparently mandatory uniform of fanny packs, boater hats, oversized sunglasses, and ringed tube-socks pulled up tight to almost, not-quite reach the cuffs of beige cargo shorts? Well I don't. I'd only seen it taking place in cartoons, which might explain the universal dress code. During the last trip to the Pacific side of Paradise I spotted an old man looking almost, not-quite the part, detector in hand, headphones over hat, sweeping the sand.

I don't get it; metal detectors don't pick up crabs, and obviously that's what you'd go to the beach to see. Crabspotting is simple. You stand in one spot and wait for the shells and rocks to start moving, then you run to the morsel in question waving your arms and yelling.

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Sometimes crabs and their assorted friends rent out a better house, which you can find by looking for signs of redecoration:

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Sadly, this particular condominium was still on the market, and hadn't taken in any squatters.

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Better results will likely be had if one is brave enough to venture into the metropolitan crabcentres.

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Or inside ex-boat flotsam barges.

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Once a good quantity of crabs have been duly perturbed, a good day of beachcombing calls for saying something prosaic about how beautiful the sunset is.

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And of course, you get bonus points for finding bananas.

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Tally it all up and I'm pretty sure I came out ahead of ol' sweepy.