Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Volcanoes of Costa Rica


Costa Rica is part of "the ring of fire", a series of volcanoes that circle around the surface of the earth, ringing the Pacific ocean.  It should therefore, be no surprise that volcanoes are commonly found all over Costa Rica.
Whether people come to Costa Rica early and experience a little of San Jose before our tour, or just come the night before, the next morning we start our day off early. It’s a must, to see the Poas Volcano, stop in all the right places, and then travel southward towards our retreat.

Poas Volcano and Team Costa Rica 2014

Today I am going to talk a little about Costa Rican volcanoes. There are 6 active and 61 inactive volcanoes in Costa Rica alone. I thought volcanoes were shaped like mountains, but there are many, many types. A mountain shaped volcanic form is called a cinder cone. But Poas, the volcano we’ll be going to, is a caldera volcano, a crater filled with water and rising steam or smoke. 

Poas Volcano National Park is situated in the central Highlands of Costa Rica, only 1.5 hours from San Jose. The drive from San Jose and back takes us through coffee and flower farms, and an area known for growing strawberries. Lots of pitstops for photos. Martine will be her usual encyclopedia of information on the economy and farming history of CR as we drive along. 

Flower farms in the Central Highlands, just north of San Jose

We can stop whenever we see anything that catches our eye. Last year, we had a very exciting stop for a sloth that was on the side of the road. It moved so slow, that I thought it was injured. This was quite an opportunity. The sloth population is healthy, but their regular habitat is the upper canopy of the jungle, well hidden. Once in a while though, a youngster who doesn’t know any better may come down. Who knows what we’ll see this year! 


No fear Martine, redirecting a young sloth away from the road,....

Seems like a docile and sweet little thing-Sloths in Costa Rica

Another view of Poas, a little further away, you get a sense of it's placement, amongst low lying mountains

Poas Volcano one of the largest and most active volcanoes in CR, 1.6 km. wide, this rain fed crater emits Sulphur (you can smell it), and is occasionally active, with geysers reaching as high as 250 metres. The venue is very safe, with a platform that gives a spectacular aerial view of the main crater. There is also a secondary crater. It’s a pleasant walk, and if the skies are clear you can see both coasts from this vantage point!

What a way to start the first day of our tour. With one of the worlds miracles. One of many to follow. Tune in next time, for a glimpse of our journey to the Chirripo Mountains. 

For anyone around Ottawa this weekend please come by and say Hi at, taking place at the EY centre on Uplands drive. Both Martine and myself will be there, at booth #39, listed under rrescape. I'll be demonstrating with a pastel painting from Costa Rica, and we're talking trips to Costa Rica all weekend. My demo will be Saturday at 2 pm. This is a great opportunity to come out, meet us both, ask any questions you might have! 
If you have any questions at all before hand, e-mail me!

Friday, 4 September 2015

Costa Rica: Getting started in San Jose

      This year, Martine and I have decided to keep things simple. We are travelling this year to Chirripo again, and will spend all our time there. I want to write this year, in detail about this trip, so as to savour every anticipated moment. So I'll start with the first day of the trip, and what we have planned, spending more posts on different stages of the trip.
       My students will arrive in San Jose,  Costa Rica, on January 23rd, 2016. 

        Image result for san jose costa rica

I love flying into San Jose. It's nestled in the bottom of a bowl - like fashion, surrounded by low lying and well spread out mountains. If you fly in at night, you've got all the city lights, and the subtle horizon line of the surrounding mountains. Notice the lights getting fewer and fewer as you ascend the mountains. 

      Image result for mountain views by plane Costa Rica

If you fly in during the day, while still in the air, it's very exciting, as you can see roads and unending rivers trickling down mountains sides, National Geographic like.

       Image result for Casa 69 San Jose Costa Rica
       It's still part of the miracle, entering a plane in Canada in January, and exiting the plane into the gorgeous balmy warm breezes of Central America. We'll be staying at a new hotel this year. The place we have previously stayed is very nice, and quiet. However this hotel is downtown, in a great location. Everyone will arrive at different times, and make their way to our hotel, Casa 69. 


           San Jose has tons of colourful shopping districts,...

The National Theatre, (built 1897) located in la plaza de la culture,. The marble lined lobby of this 18 century building houses 19 century paintings depicting Costa Rican life with paintings of coffee and banana plantations. 

Art, culture and history are all represented in many museums, such as this one, very close to our hotel.

You'll drop your luggage off, and get out for a walk in the historic downtown-a great thing to do when you've been on a plane for several hours. Whether you find someone from our group to accompany you or not, you'll find much to entertain. There are museums and art galleries, and many outdoor shopping stalls, selling all sorts of things, from food and fruit, to Costa Rican chachkas, souvenirs and clothes. There are many large public sculptures down different streets, and a festive air of bustling business every street you walk down.  

Image result for public sculpture SAN JOSE COSTA RICA

Many of my past participants on my trips come early or stay after out tour to experience San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. 
Our trip hasn't even begun!
After arriving at our hotel, Casa 69, we'll meet for dinner, get a good nights' sleep, and assemble for a very big day on the first day of our tour. 
That will be in my next installment though! So stay tuned as I take you through out exciting itinerary. 
Painting starts in 2 days!