5 seconds of surf and other beach scenes

(To read El Gringo Feo’s Costa Rica Diary from the beginning, start here.)

Saturday, September 8

I’m heading to the farmers market in a bit, so instead of a barrage of words today, here’s a quick walk on the beach, shot here at Playa Colonia in Uvita, Costa Rica. Enjoy your weekend.

Looking south. That distant peninsula crowned by clouds is Osa.
Nothing to see here. Just the sea.
A surf fisherman tries his luck.
Gratuitous flower photo 1.
Gratuitous flower photo 2.

It’s tough to beat a day spent in a hammock

The Whale’s Tail in the morning …

Friday, September 7

Since the nightly rains have swamped my sunset ascents to the shack, I’ve started going up in the morning. Took the machete with me yesterday to attack some weeds that were encroaching on the driveway. I arrived at the top an hour or two past high tide, so the Whale’s Tail was clearly discernible from the surf breaking on it. The Osa Peninsula, a dark, shadowy stretch of land that juts out into the Pacific south of us, was crowned with ominous clouds. It definitely was raining there, but here in Uvita it was sunshine and hummingbirds. At least at the time …

Yesterday was a cleaning day. I finally located a toilet brush and other cleaning supplies, so I put the Treeehouse in order. It was getting a tad grungy. I also did laundry. Those hikes into town produce a lot of sweaty clothes.

My view for the day.

I decided to stay on site, spending most of the afternoon reading Darkness Visible, a fictionalized account of the Homestead strike that I recently stumbled across. The author, Trilby Busch, did a nice job, especially in her description of the late 19th Century steelmaking process and of what Homestead looked like back in the day. She did extensive research, and it shows. Busch tells the story from the viewpoint of Welsh immigrants, and while overall the writing is solid, I’m getting impatient. I catch myself skimming large chunks as the characters flirt and bicker. There’s method to her madness since I think she’s really plumbing the class and social distinctions of the time, but I’d love to edit it down to about half its current size. (We get more “dumb hunkies,” but not in her words; we see that prejudice through the eyes of one of the characters discriminating against them. Her portrayal of them is sympathetic, if passing.) Halfway through the book, we’re still months away from the strike itself. I think some of my problems are specific to what I’m trying to get out of it. To be honest, it would make a great TV movie. Lots of little interrelated dramas in the shadow of a big, looming crisis. The characters are generally well-developed and their motivations feel true. We’ll see if it picks up as we get closer to the climax.

After a few hours of reading, I wrested myself from the hammock and made good use of all the veggies I bought at the farmers market Wednesday. Green beans. Asparagus. Rice. And a few cheese tortillas. Perfect in its simplicity. True to form, evening vespers were swamped so I studied Spanish for a while before listening to lessons on writing dialogue in the fiction course I’m working through. That inspired me to crank out Chapter 2 of my book, but I hated it as I wrote it and really had to force myself to see it through. I already was up and tinkering this morning. I’m finding that if I take a day or three after I write something, I often hit a eureka moment when I return to it. Hoping that will be the case here. I think I’ve already substantially upgraded the opening scene.

Are a thousand words worth a picture?

(To read El Gringo Feo’s Costa Rica Diary from the beginning, start here.)

Thursday, September 6

A scene from yesterday’s beach combing.

These posts have become a torrent of words, partially because uploading images puts nasty dents in my Kolbi phone account balance, but also because my humble iPhone SE leaves a lot to be desired as a camera. When I do find a wireless network, the data trickles more than it streams.

So we’re left with words, Thousands of them. And the occasional photo, like the one above.  I know this stands in opposition to everything the Internet has devolved to. Lo siento, amigos.

At the farmers market yesterday I stocked up on asparagus, green beans, papaya, mangos, bananas and onions. I looked at the homemade peanut butter one woman was selling, but 7,000 colones for a big jar struck me as batshit. That’s about $14 bucks, more than I spent on everything else combined. So instead I stopped at el supermercado later to pick up a few cans of tuna (packed with jalapeños) for those times I need a quick jolt of protein. I haven’t eaten meat (with the exception of seafood) since leaving the States. Not missing it much, especially when I can grab a lunch like the one I had yesterday for about 10 bucks.

There’s a soda, or small hole-in-the-wall restaurant, right next-door to PurVita. It’s called El Nueva Jungla and is run by a 40s-ish man and a younger woman whom I believe is his daughter. I had a generous helping of Ceviche de Pez and followed up with Arroz con Mariscos, which included a small side salad and fries. The rice and seafood was swimming with clams, mussels, white fish and crab. All for $4 bucks less than that jar of peanut butter would have cost. While I ate, the owner switched on the TV news out of San José, where they were paying tribute to Javier Rojas González, a radio sports journalist who recently died at 79. I was proud to be able to follow along, vaguely, as they discussed his life and career in Spanish. Working men arrived at the soda one by one, ordering lunch to go. While I ate extravagantly, you can get a solid meal there for about 4 or 5 bucks. I was impressed, once again, with Tico ingenuity. The takeout meals included drinks poured into plastic bags, presumably to be consumed via straw at their destination. It made it a lot easier to tote four or five drinks than it would have with styrofoam cups. Probably cheaper, too.

I bracketed my trip to the soda with a pair of visits to the beach. I normally walk along the highway to the Wednesday farmers market and then return via the beach since there’s an unguarded entrance near the market and I can slip in without paying the $6/day fee. Not this time. A polite but firm guard collected my fee, which I paid in colones. So I figured If I’m going to pay, I’m getting my fill of saltwater and sand. I spent time watching the waves in the morning during my hike home, sitting beside a backpack bristling with fruits and veggies and a giant bag of bananas. I returned after my lunch at the soda for more. I saw a pair of osprey shriek overhead while a fisherman worked the surf, tossing a treble hook out, yanking the line back in quick, short bursts to snag schooling fish in the churning water. It’s the best 6 bucks I spent yesterday. Any day, for that matter.

I spent a few hours in the evening banging my head off a Spanish book. Then the rains came, not as violently this time, but persistently, lasting well past midnight. I closed the night listening to a 2014 George Clinton interview on the New York Public Radio podcast. Damn, that’s one funky guy. He discussed some of the details of the recording of Maggot Brain and how the Parliaments morphed from a Motown-focused outfit to the mashup of Funk and psychedelia they ultimately became. “We were too black for white people, and too white for black people,” he said. But somewhere in there, they found an audience, a yin-yang of fans who defied categories and got funked up.

The mechanical cacophony of nature

(To read El Gringo Feo’s Costa Rica Diary from the beginning, start here.)

Wednesday, September 5

Now I know what they call it a rain forest.

I could see the day building toward a storm, and it delivered. I almost tried to beat it with a dash down to the local soda for a late lunch but thankfully I stayed put. It’s not so much the intensity of the rain that surprised me. It’s how sustained it was. It didn’t let up for a while. I’d been feeling a bit down leading up to it. The impending storm scrambled my mind, and I was brooding over one of our rental houses in Athens that needs a major repair. The Book also was clouding my disposition. I spent much of the day organizing sources and thoughts.. I have a lot of stuff floating around in my files. Links to newspaper articles. Half starts on The Book. Dead-end ideas. Schemes that just might work. Character sketches. This has been percolating in my mind for well over a decade. So I’m trying to sort through it to figure out what’s worth keeping, what isn’t. I made a lot of progress and I think, perhaps, a breakthrough on how I want to handle the “supernatural” element of it. I was terrified of cranking out a weak imitation of George Saunders’ Lincoln the the Bardo. He’s brilliant. I’m not. I need to heed my limitations and write to my strengths. I think I found a way.

Random butterfly/moth thingy that sat still long enough for me to snap its photo.

As the gloom of the day built, I plugged away, finally getting cranky at the nettlesome gnats buzzing my ears. I called it quits, deciding to head up to the Treehouse to lie down for a bit. Then the thunder cranked up like a hot-wired Harley and the rains came. And came. And came. I couldn’t sleep for the roar of it so I stepped out onto the Treehouse’s deck. Deep breaths, sucking in the cool breeze that arrived with the water. Hey, this was proving cathartic, calming.

Though that lightning strike right THERE pushed catharsis to adrenaline, the difference between a relaxing sencha green tea and a triple shot of espresso. At times, it doesn’t even sound like thunder. More like a cannonade. BOOM boom boom boomboomboom as it bounces pinball-like around the surrounding mountains before drifting off into the Pacific.

As the rain faded, the denizens of the jungle started to party. The cicadas rose up in a roar reminiscent of spaceships taking off in 1950s sci-fi movies. I’m astounded at how mechanical nature can sound. A monotonous whoop whoop whoop whoop drones on like a distant car alarm. The first time I heard it, I was convinced it was a car alarm. I”m guessing some sort of frog? ¿Quien sabe? Another sounded like submarine sonar pinging through the jungle. The birds clucked and chattered. Even my house gecko, Chuckles, joined in with a joyous croaking. I never realized they made noise, yet alone noise so profundo. Sometimes Chuckles feels the need to let loose at 3 a.m. I keep a flashlight next to the bed so I can paw around in the blackness to locate it, click it on and shine it in his general direction. Silence. (Jeff advised me to keep a flashlight nearby and use it for nocturnal trips to the bathroom. You really don’t want to step on some stingy bitey thing in the middle of the night when you’re packing a full bladder.)

Stoic mill Hunkies, Medieval monsters and the Grapes of Wrath

(To read El Gringo Feo’s Costa Rica Diary from the beginning, start here.)

Tuesday, September 4

Treehouse selfie before setting off to explore Uvita.

I awoke at 2 a.m. to kettledrumming thunder and rain pinging the metal roof. That might explain the odd dreams I had. Nothing frightening. Just a series of non sequiturs related to people and events I was pondering yesterday.

I spent yesterday morning plowing through info on the Homestead strike that I downloaded from Archive.org, an incredible resource for materials in the public domain. The one I spent the most time with was “’Fort Frick,’ or the Siege of Homestead,” published in 1893 by Myron R. Stowell. The strike had occurred a year earlier and Stowell was present for many of the events he describes. Strangely, I couldn’t find much trace of him otherwise when I started Googling around for more info.

There are a lot of fascinating details here. He clearly sympathizes with the strikers, but he calls out their excesses, too, and I wouldn’t say he portrays Frick as a villain. His summary of the congressional investigation into the Pinkertons is great. I downloaded that document from Archive.org too. It’s dense and circuitous. Congress hasn’t changed much.

Stowell does indulge the stereotyping of the day, as in this passage where he describes the funeral of one of the slain strikers:

They were typical Hungarians—stoical, morose and silent, but their countenances reflected their feelings and left an impression upon the keen observer that the bitter experiences of the recent past would never be forgotten. Aye, and the sins of their enemies would never be forgiven! Stoically, morosely and silently they drank in the words of the man in the pulpit, and then, when it was time for them to sing, they chanted a weird dirge, which harmonized with the tragic circumstances. There were but eight women in the audience, and eight women among three hundred brawny men who were burying a comrade thus, could not be expected to exert that gentle influence which softens hearts of steel and causes men to forget they have been injured. When the minister denounced the Pinkertons as a lawless mob, there was no audible expression—the Hungarians’ glares grew fiercer and they set their teeth together more firmly. That was all.

I hiked into town around 11 a.m. By lunchtime, I was looking for a place to eat and spotted the shady seating at House of Ginger. And they have wireless. Overall, I was underwhelmed on all counts. The food was OK but certainly didn’t fulfill the 4.5 star online reviews I’d read. It reminded me of the Chinese food you’d get at the food court at a mall. And the wireless was slow, but that’s pretty much par for the course here in Uvita.

After grabbing a handful of colones at the bank, I made my way to the beach to watch the waves for a while. I easily logged 6 miles on the excursion, raising new blisters as I went.

Back at PurUvita I showered and dug into John Gardner’s “The Art of Fiction,” which is packed with gems reminding me why I love his writing.

Where lumps and infelicities occur in fiction, the sensitive reader shrinks away a little, as we do when an interesting conversationalist picks his nose.

The real reason I’m studying him, though, is for his critical prowess. He ruffled a lot of feathers, calling out writers and writing he found inferior. I am particularly taking the following passage on John Steinbeck, whom I love, to heart:

Witness John Steinbeck’s failure in The Grapes of Wrath. It should have been one of America’s great books. But while Steinbeck knew all there was to know about Okies and the countless sorrows of their move to California to find work, he knew nothing about the California ranchers who employed and exploited them; he had no clue to, or interest in, their reasons for behaving as they did; and the result is that Steinbeck wrote not a great and firm novel but a disappointing melodrama in which complex good is pitted against unmitigated, unbelievable evil.

Sunset from the third floor of the kitchen/bar building at PurUvita.

I almost canceled evening vespers last night. A light rain was falling, so I went up to the third-floor deck of the kitchen/bar area, which has a nice view of the Pacific and the sunset. But when it became clear the rain was not going to become a torrent, I scampered up the hill in time to catch the view from the shack. Two for the price of one.

And sunset from the shack after I raced up there …

In the afterglow, I listened to the latest installment of Mike Duncan’s Revolutions podcast, which was on the Mexican leader Porfirio Díaz. The Porfiriato era sets up the revolutionary tumult to come in 1910. Duncan dropped this quote from Díaz, which seems as relevant today as it did in his time:

Poor Mexico, so far from god, so close to the United States.

I closed the night with another episode of the History of English podcast, where Kevin Stroud discussed “The Birth of English Song.” I’ve enjoyed this podcast so much I purchased his “Beowulf Deconstructed: The Old English of Beowulf.” It’s in the queue, along with Maria Dahvana Headley’s “The Mere Wife,” a contemporary retelling of Beowulf with feminist themes, and Seamus Heaney’s beautiful translation of the epic into modern English. (I listen to or read the Heaney translation at least once a year.) While I’m at it, maybe I’ll download and reread Gardner’s Grendel, which casts the story from the monster’s perspective. I’ve exposed another obsession, I suppose …

The agouti speaks and the stars shine on Uvita

(To read El Gringo Feo’s Costa Rica Diary from the beginning, start here.)

Monday, September 3

Sunday night’s sunset

After several ho-hum sunsets in a row, last night’s was a stunner, perhaps the best I’ve witnessed from my perch atop the hill. But the best was yet to come.

Generally, clouds roll in around sunset and when there aren’t clouds, the moon has been at or near its full phase. For a brief time last night, before the gibbous waning moon rose, the skies cleared and the stars burst forth. Venus dominated the western sky while the southern sky was sizzling with stars. It lasted only about an hour before the rising moon put a damper on things. New moon is Sunday and I’m praying we get at least one clear evening around then.

Soursop, still has a way to go …

I had a much-needed conversation with Lara yesterday. I miss her terribly. She assured me all is going well at home, and I assured her I’m not putting heads on stakes atop the hill while creating a demented jungle empire down here. As we talked, I sat on the deck of the Treehouse watching yellow fly-catchers snag bugs mid-flight in fits of acrobatics. They’re becoming one of my favorite birds here. Big personalities and total showoffs.

On the way up to the shack for evening vespers I managed to spook an agouti, who let out a strange series of guttural yet high-pitched grunts while bunny-hopping away from me. He stopped briefly and when I started talking to him (I talk to agouti frequently here) he panicked again, disappearing in a swirl of underbrush and distress sounds.

A few of the remaining rambutan after the raid.

And finally, someone raided the rambutan (mamón china) tree, ravaging much of the ripe fruit and greatly diminishing what I had considered my own personal strategic reserve. The offender likely was avian. In response, I gorged myself on most of the remaining fruit rather than risk losing it in a second attack. I also surveyed the other fruit trees on the property. The pineapples are going great guns, and I pulled a beautiful lime off the lime tree. The soursop still have a way to go but they’re cool looking as hell …

Rest in peace, noble AirPods

(To read El Gringo Feo’s Costa Rica Diary from the beginning, start here.)

Sunday, September 2

The nearby hoots of howlers burst into my room this morning. Those are my peeps. I know those guys. I wonder if that’s Big Balls leading the chorus …

The rest of yesterday felt anticlimactic after my monkey encounter. I went on a supply run earlier in the day and spent most of the afternoon reading. When it came time for evening vespers, I almost bailed, listening warily to distant thunder-rumble in the mountains, dreading the thought of getting caught under a metal-roofed shack on a hill.

But then I said, what the hell. You only live once.

It looked as if the storm might skirt north of me so I ascended the driveway. But at sunset — 5:43 p.m., to be exact — the clouds closed pincerlike, forcing sol to sink with a whimper.

Thunder bolt and lightning

very very frightening me

Clouds move in to muffle the sunset.

This poor boy fandangoed down the gravel driveway amid bangs and flashes and rainfall. After a dinner of leftover veggie calzone, I listened to the next lecture of Writing Great Fiction, the Great Courses audiobook I’m working through. That spawned a few hours of fevered keyboard pecking as I did that lecture’s exercise and started fleshing out a few key characters I want to introduce in The Book. The whole time, the sound of rainfall punctuated a series of albums I listened to — Open (Cowboy Junkies), Maggot Brain (Funkadelic), and Faithless Street (Whiskey Town). Three very different yet common-themed masterpieces. Eddie Hazel’s guitar work on the song “Maggot Brain” is simply brilliant. It’s criminal that he doesn’t fully get his due while we drool over every outtake available from Jimi Hendrix.

All of this, sadly, was heard via portable speaker. While it sounds good, it’s no match for my AirPods. After 72 hours on rice, I pulled my recently laundered gadgets out, plugged them in and … nothing. DOA. They did not survive a vigorous spin in the washing machine. Can’t say I’m surprised. But I already miss them.

AirPods, a Eulogy (2016-2018)

Me and my AirPods during happier times.

Rest in Peace, my friends. Your time on this mortal coil was not in vain, short as it might have been.

You let me smile benignly at 30,000 feet while infants screamed and jet engines droned.

You filled me with the History of English as I walked SunnyDog through bucolic Athens.

You helped me get my head around Alan Moore’s epic, wonderful, astounding, confounding Jerusalem

You pissed me off when you popped and blipped and fizzed, trying to stay in phase

You made a middle-aged man look kinda cool while he rocked across campus with a head full of Hot Tuna.

You freed me from the tyranny of the tether, letting me pace the halls during endless conference calls.

You roamed the beaches of Uvita, filling my head with Mexican revolutions and revisionist histories.

You proved these damned millennials aren’t so bad, especially the one who endured my Apple Fanboy taunts and finally convinced me to buy you.

You converted me from hater to evangelist, preaching your merits to my wife and all who would listen

Fare thee well. I’ll think of you every time that damned cord rips the earbuds out of my head, making the music stop.

Odds and sods

I’ve spotted two new-to-me birds in the past few days. The first were a pair of kites who were being harassed by yellow fly-catchers up near the shack. I heard them first, which prompted me to start scanning for hawks. I know that sound. Then I spotted them. The agitation of the nearby fly-catchers confirmed they were raptors, and based on size and color, I’m confident they were kites.

The second was a pair of birds it took me a while to ID, and I’m not certain I have it right. But I’m pretty sure. They were hopping around in the trees long the driveway, eating berries and making a godawful racket. I believe they were brown jays based on the white underside, brown top and shrieks which sound very much like the bluejays at home.

I’m no Jane Goodall, but …

(To read El Gringo Feo’s Costa Rica Diary from the beginning, start here.)

Saturday, September 1

I’m lounging in the hammock after a sweaty 6-mile traipse across Uvita, lost in John Gardner’s most excellent The Art of Fiction. As I swipe my Kindle to go to the next page, I hear something scratching tree bark over my left shoulder.

I twist in the hammock, awkwardly looking back to discover a howler monkey methodically moving up a tree about 15 feet away. This is by far the closest I’ve come to one of these guys. And of course, I left my phone in the room, part of my ongoing attempts to get my Internet crack habit under control.

At first glance I think sloth. His movements are that slow and deliberate as he climbs. This monkey is in no hurry. He has no idea El Gringo Feo is nested nearby.

Then more noise, this time higher up, in the trees over my right shoulder. As I slowly pivot in the hammock, realigning so the climbing howler is on my right and the commotion in the trees is on my left, I spot monkey number 2. I hunker down to observe.

More howlers appear. At this point, I’m glad I don’t have the camera. I’d be fidgeting with the damned thing rather than watching the monkeys, ending up with a crap iPhone photo instead of this sublime experience.

More monkeys appear in the kaleidoscopic swirl of leaves, branches and tree trunks surrounding me. When they stop moving, they disappear, even when they’re close. I watch carefully for any hint of movement, quickly learning to discern the difference between branches rustled by a breeze and those brushed by a monkey.

In all, I count at least 12 in this group, including a youngster and his mother. Several of them are very close — maybe 20 feet. So close I whistle gently at them to announce my presence. I don’t want to startle them, and I definitely don’t want to end up within selfie range. When I whistle, the one who is closest, the sloth-climber, looks into my eyes for a long moment while he hugs the trunk of the tree. My presence doesn’t seem to bother him at all, and he’s soon going about his business, oblivious to my intrusion.

They spend an hour above and around me, munching some sort of berries, lounging , talking softly to each other in what can only be described as monkey sounds, but quiet, intimate, not the braying howls that will emerge in a few hours as they yell at the sun for abandoning them again.

In a higher branch, one of the larger howlers looks down at me. It appears he has some sort of light colored fruit in his lap. Er, wait. That’s not fruit. Those are his testicles, which becomes apparent as he climbs to a higher perch with those puppies blowing in the breeze. He shall henceforth be known as Big Balls.

After tiring of this spot, they move on up the hill, following an arboreal path through the trees that they’ve likely traversed countless times. Not sure how widely they range, but their morning and evening howl fests grow closer over the course of several days before bursting into my room one morning as if they’re on the deck. Then the howls fade over the next few days, only to repeat.

This is, hands-down, the most moving thing I’ve witnessed so far In Costa Rica. I now totally understand that beatific look Jane Goodall had whenever she was communing with her monkeys.

Rain, pizza, pit vipers and John Waters

(To read El Gringo Feo’s Costa Rica Diary from the beginning, start here.)

Saturday, September 1

I spent most of yesterday writing, or more accurately, rewriting the first chapter of The Book. I’m really happy with where it landed, but it’s just a second draft. It still needs a lot of work. And about 20 more chapters.

The rain let up around noon, so I ventured to Pizza Time, a nearby restaurant I’ve been meaning to try. It’s the real deal. I had a vegetarian calzone and a caprese salad that both were excellent. I really liked the place. It’s a short walk from here (not much is) and they have wireless. Might become a new haunt.

I finally finished Jack Ewing’s Where Tapirs and Jaguars Once Roamed: Ever Evolving Costa Rica, which I highly recommend. He has a scientific mind and a writer’s gift for description. His anecdotes about local people are fascinating. More than once I put the book down wondering how folks can be so mentally tough when facing physical adversity.

In one section, he tells the story of Alvaro Mesa, who is bitten on the arm by a tericiopelo, a type of pit viper. There are a few types of them here, and they’re incredibly nasty. After the bite the swelling starts almost immediately, and his friends try to get his wristwatch off:

The swelling had enjulfed the watch band in flesh. When Daniel gave up trying to remove it, his hands were covered with blood. It was oozing from Alvaro’s pores.

PigPen after his encounter with a rattler on Skyline Drive. This was a few days after the bite …

I once had a lab cross, PigPen, who was bitten by a rattlesnake on Skyline Drive in VIrginia. It took about an hour, all in, to get him to the vet, who told me the real danger at that point was infection. Snake bites can cause skin necrosis that leads to a lot of nasty infections and complications. If PigPen was still alive by the time he got to the vet, no need for antivenom. The vet did hook him up with antibiotics, and the poor dog’s leg swelled to twice its normal size. But within a week or two he was back to normal.

Pit vipers are much worse.

As his friends scramble to find a way to get Mesa to a doctor, they come across his archenemy, Eliecer Castro, who has a Jeep:

Eliecer Castro looked at the swollen form of Alvaro Mesa sitting at the edge of the road, blood dripping from his nose and dribbling down his shirt.

The sight was disturbing enough to prompt Castro to provide a ride despite his past differences with Mesa. It takes four hours from the time he’s bitten to the time he gets medical treatment. And it still isn’t enough to save his arm, which he loses to infection and gangrene.

That’s why Jeff strongly advised against bushwhacking here. I’ve even noticed that when someone’s running a weedwhacker they tend to armor up like a medieval knight — full face mask, chaps, the works. It’s like going to war.

As an aside, the most fascinating thing in that pit viper story (I guess I buried the lede here) is that after the bite, one of the men’s pregnant wife approaches and Mesa freaks out.

God, no! Stop her! Don’t let her get near me! If she gets too close I’ll die on the spot.

Apparently, it’s a common belief that being near a pregnant woman will instantly klll a snake bite victim. How strange. I’d love to know the origins of that …

Recommendation: Last night, I listened to a 2014 New York Public Library podcast interview with John Waters that was uproariously funny. Somehow, the sounds of the jungle all around me only added to the hilarity. Waters was discussing Carsick, the book he wrote about hitchicking across America, and it’s everything you’d expect from the man who made Devine famous. Definitely worth checking out.

Red sky at morning …

Red sky at morning, viewed from the Treehouse.

(To read El Gringo Feo’s Costa Rica Diary from the beginning, start here.)

Friday, August 31

After a restless night, I awoke to a scene from an alien abduction. A rosé glow pulsed outside and the howler monkeys were in full flail, donkey-braying to greet the day. I got up, went to the deck and looked out. My ocean view was nothing but red sky …

How’s that for a 5:15 a.m. wakeup call?

True to form, the red sky gave way to rain, which is falling gently as I write. I ran down to the kitchen long enough to make coffee, slice up a papaya and peel a few bananas. This will be a good day to hunker down and work on The Book. Based on reading and research yesterday, I’m rethinking the first chapter, especially the nature of the protagonist, perhaps taking a darker turn.

Not much else to report. And that’s good. So here’s a gratuitous dog picture. This guy beamed in next to me at the beach the other day while I was sitting on a log watching the waves. I didn’t even hear him approach. I just turned around and there he was. After realizing I wasn’t a Gringo with Food, he padded off toward his next mark. Adiós, dude.

Random beach dog.