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!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Costa Rica Nature Journal/Sketching Workshop ~ 11

My last day in the cloud forest started out a bit rough. When I was ready to get some breakfast, I trotted over to the concierge's building to telephone for a taxi. Uh oh. Nobody there, and no directions for how to look for anyone, either. Not wanting to bother the people at the gas station again, I decided to walk up the road to Santa Elena. It was only 6:30am, but in the tropics life generally starts really early and ends early, so there were occasional people and vehicles on the highway.

After about a half-mile walk (without my morning coffee, gritch-gritch) I arrived in town and ate breakfast then arranged, at a nearby booking agency, for a visit to Selvatura, a nearby cloud forest park with eight hiking suspension bridges and a whole slew of canopy ziplines. After a few misadventures (read the journal page) the first suspension bridge stretched invitingly before me and for the next several hours I was entranced.

It was misting lightly, but that only made the jungle, with its epiphytes, drooping-draping lianas, orchids, mosses, and huge gnarly trees more mysterious. From the railings,which spanned deep forested ravines, I was looking down into the tops of shorter trees, admiring the endless leaf growth patterns, taking in the shades of green, and looking out, and sometimes up, into giant trees adjacent to the bridges. From most of the bridges it was impossible to see the ground, but from two or three there was a stream partially visible way, WAY down (see journal picture).

Occasionally I heard, from a couple of the bridges or the trail, a faint ecstatic shout as a tiny human whizzed by far overhead on a zipline. The ziplines range in length from 219' to 1660' and I think if I get to Selvatura Park again I'm going to go for some zipline thrills in addition to walking the bridges again. I don't think there would be much time for rumination on a zipline tour, but just imagine the ride!

As I meandered slowly down the trail, I listened for (and heard) howler monkeys and invisible birds making all sorts of beautiful calls. I saw another slaty-backed nightingale-thrush, and numerous birds I didn't have time to identify. But mostly, I was just soaking up jungle. I could have stayed for days. And oh, yeah, I took scads of photos. Sigh.... However, Mai-Liis has offered this photo from HER trip to the cloud forest so you can see its eerie beauty. She says she didn't take more photos because she didn't want to get her camera wet.

I can certainly relate to that ~ as I was crossing the sixth suspension bridge, it started to rain. Foolish me. No umbrella, although you can borrow one at the park lodge (but when I had started out, it was only misting). Now, for the remaining distance of the hike, I got pretty soppy (but not cold), and by the time I returned to the park lodge, I could have used a towel. Actually, since it's rain that makes the cloud forest so lush and beautiful, I didn't feel I had any right to complain, so I went to the restaurant for a soothing cup of delicious Costa Rican coffee while I dried out a bit.

The turismo vans leave for town on the hour, and you can catch whichever one you want, so since my bus to San José was to leave Santa Elena at 2:30 I caught the noon van back to town (I had checked out of my hotel-cabina earlier and had put my pack in a locker at the park while out on the trail), had lunch, bought my ticket, and caught the bus back to San José right on schedule.

The rest of the story is on the journal pages, which you can read or not, as you please. Over all, I was quite happy with my little trekking adventure, and although a bit more Spanish would have made things easier, I got along quite decently with my few words and a bit of help from strangers. Costa Ricans appreciate their tourists, in general, since we bring a modicum of prosperity to the country. Tourism is one of the Tico's mainstays.

The main trouble with vacations is that they end. My whole trip was, in essence, quite smooth, and it was pretty contented, too, since I didn't know my camera had been pilfered until the day after I got home and I tried to find it in my pack.

Fortunately, in an effort to remain inconspicuous, the thief didn't take my camera case with the lovely Guatemalan-belt strap, so I still have something to put the next camera in. I'll be filling out the claim form later today, and I hope I can get its value back with which to buy a new camera.

But I don't want to end on a sour note, not at all. Because since I lost all my pictures, I have had a lot of rewarding post-class communications with my workshop students, and with Mai-Liis, too, as I've requested photos from them, and I've enjoyed the comaraderie as well as their generosity.

So there you have it. My February 2008 Nature Journal/Sketching Workshop in Costa Rica. I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as I enjoyed creating it.

I wish to say muchas gracias to Joel and Belen for looking after me in San José, and to Adriana, Dani, Gerardo, Elyer, and all the staff at El Remanso for making my/our stay there so perfect.

And to you all, buenas tardes, mi amigos y amigas y estudientes!

p.s. well, that uses up a whole slew of my Español!


Leslie said...

Wonderful, Irene! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog about Costa Rica. Very informative and motivating! I look forward to the next one!

Irene Brady said...

Thanks, Leslie!

It's really gratifying to share good times with others who have similar interests, so I'm glad you enjoyed it. I've posted a note about "the next one" and who knows? Maybe one day you'll be able to join us!


Leslie said...

I sure hope I can do that some day! It would be awesome.

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