To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here. I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.
My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Costa Rica Sketch Journal ~ July 14, 2008 (still)
Sketch/journaling is half the fun of traveling or taking a vacation. It gives your trip a continuing life ~ that vacation is never really "over" if you can go back and relive it in full color (and with memory joggers for scents, sounds, ambiences, and other happenings). Making a sketch and/or writing about your day's adventures will greatly enhance your memories later. Hey, sketch/journaling your DAILY LIFE is a trip of its own!
That's why I journal my travels and also why I love teaching travel journaling to others. What a wonderful gift to be able to give other people ~ the ability to "retake" a vacation!
....Back to July 14, Daniel and I were enjoying wandering down the creek, which was about four feet wide and only a few inches deep (navigable in Crocs or other water-type shoes, but you wouldn't want to do it barefoot or in shoes you expect to dry later ~ they'll probably mould before they would dry out at this time of year, the beginning of the rainy season).
A troop of howler monkeys passed by overhead, about five of them, one mother with a baby and ... WHOA! A pinto howler! One of the howlers, a big male, had areas on his body without black pigment and the fur was brilliant golden-orange! Since the troop was about 70' up in the leafy canopy, we didn't get a lot of clear viewing, but it was very obvious that a large part of its tail was pure orange, and part of its lower body. Fascinating! We must have watched for twenty minutes, until our necks complained so loudly they drowned out the fascination and we walked on.
The stream had a cut a ravine down the mountain so that the banks rose at an angle on each side covered with trees, shrubs, and vines. For much of the distance, the creek traveled parallel to the ocean, separated from the beach by a high ridge. We could hear and smell the ocean for much of the walk (see the map journal page above).
We saw cecropia trees in a canopy opening (they grow fast to fill up openings caused by fallen trees) and along the stream we found a palm studded with spines. You definitely wouldn't want to mess with that spiny palm! I collected a spine and a bunch of leaf skeletons, as well, which you can see on this journal page.
We were fascinated by the exotic buttresses on the trees. These are adapted to help hold the trees upright in the shallow, often water-logged soil. On this tree species, whatever it may be, the top of each flange was a gorgeous, unusual coppery orange.
Reaching the lagoon, where the stream pools before wandering out to the ocean, I found a big, boxy crab shell (see the picture at right).
Here you see the (fairly) well-equipped casual hiker, with a walking stick found along the bank, camera, binoculars, water bottle and lunch and a sitting pad in the bag. The camera is usually in the bag, but I'm holding it here. I also should have had a bandana to tie around my forehead (or a soft hat to wear) because later, on the beach, sweat kept running down into my eyes. This is the humid tropics, after all.
The lagoon waxes and wanes with the seasons. On a couple of our visits it has been almost entirely absent, with the stream emptying out right into the ocean. This time, it was lovely and broad, and I saw a jesus-christ lizard race across the lagoon from one side to the other (I didn't make that name up, they really call it that because of how it "walks on water"!). They're really fast and alert, and difficult to photograph.
It was a relief to get out into the beach breeze. As we sat companionably on a log eating energy bars (from my bag), we discovered we were being watched. Be sure to click on the image here to see who was peering out over the top of the log from under the beach almond. (Hint: remember what a pizote is from previous blog entries?)
After the pizote wandered off, we were just sitting watching the waves when Dan noticed a black blob coming toward on the beach us from the north. As we watched in puzzlement turning to astonishment, an Indian water buffalo pulling a wooden cart filled with people hove into view. Talk about incongruous!
We both started snapping photos of it, hoping not to offend, and apparently the people on the cart thought we were pretty funny, because they smiled and waved at us. Later back at the cabina I sketched the preposterous scene from the viewfinder on my camera (this is Dan's photo ~ his were the best, mine were too hasty).
I love my digital camera! That oxcart was in sight for only about five minutes, and only close enough to sketch for maybe one minute ~ I'd never have been able to draw it as it passed.
Speaking of digital cameras, when I travel, I always carry two spare sets of rechargeable batteries for my camera, plus my charger. That means I always have an extra set to carry along with me, even if I have to leave a set charging in my room ~ which has happened. Additionally, I don't have to worry about running the batteries down if I want to draw from the viewfinder or share pictures with others. I never have a problem with my camera running out of juice.
As well, I use a 1 or 2 Gigabyte storage card in the camera and always carry a spare card in case I fill the first one up. Knowing I have the spare card, I can take as many pictures as I want. And I have learned the hard way that before checking my bag for the plane ride home, it's a good idea to either carry the camera or to at least remove the card with my precious photos and tuck it into my wallet. My camera was stolen, along with my entire trip's photos, last February. I minded losing the photos a LOT more than I minded losing the camera ~ it sure was a good lesson!
Tomorrow's entry will the last one for this trip. It includes sketching the jungle from the beach, drawings of some cool things I found along the beach, and the trip home (including a crocodile!). See you then! And after that, I will get back into the process of preparing for my new Oregon Trail historical workshop.