Monday, April 19, 2010

Oxcart Parade

One of the highlights of the annual Climate Festival in Atenas is the oxcart parade.

Excerpt from History of the Costa Rican Oxcart:

The oxcart integrated Costa Rica into international commerce by becoming the main means of export transportation after 1840. The first shipment of coffee to London was transported from the coffee plantations to Costa Rica’s main ports by oxcart in 1843. Oxcarts transported coffee to Puntarenas on a small road between 1844 and 1846.  After World War II, the oxcart became obsolete due to new inventions. It has been used since then as an ornamental object although some farmers still use it during the coffee harvest season to carry coffee to processing plants in rural areas.  Painting oxcarts developed into a form of original Costa Rican art in the early 20th century.  Cowherds decided to add life to oxcarts by hand-painting them with bright colors and geometrical figures.  There are never two oxcarts painted the same.  All of them contain changes in color tones and figures.  This art has been passed from generation to generation up to the present time.  The painted oxcart has become a Costa Rican symbol throughout the world and has promoted economic development through the production of handicrafts in the Costa Rican cities of Sarchí and Puriscal.




Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dancing in the rain

Léah`s dance troupe had been preparing for months to dance at the annual Feria del Clima (Climate Festival) in Atenas. All of the festivities are outdoors and unfortunately, heavy rains rolled in first thing in the morning. Nonetheless, the girls were committed rain or shine.

They danced to the song "Holding Out for a Hero" in Wonder Woman costumes that were made specially for the show. The dance was super-b! (I couldn’t resist the pun.)




Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bark scorpion

We have found around 20 scorpions in our house so far. The uncomfortable reality is that nearly all of the scorpions have been alive.

This bark scorpion had been camping out on my shorts for at least a half hour while I was preparing breakfast for the kids. Mélanie spotted it before it had a chance to sting me.


Scorpions seem to like my bathing suits and shorts. Maybe I should start wearing pants?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Volcán Arenal

The volcano was asleep for hundreds of years… In 1968 it had an eruption and destroyed the small town of Tabacón… Arenal is considered Costa Rica's most active volcano


We visited Arenal last year around this time and we had beautiful weather during our stay in the area. I was able to snap some clear, early morning pictures of the smoking crater.

DSC_0265[1]Unfortunately, we returned this year to mostly rain and fog. Some cheap ponchos helped us enjoy the outdoors despite the dreary weather.



On the last day, it did clear up a bit (but not enough to see the volcano) and we enjoyed the hot springs at Los Lagos.

The kids striking a pose in front of the hot springs:


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jesus Christ Lizard

The Common Basilisk (Basiliscus basiliscus) is a lizard found in Central and South American rainforests near rivers and streams… [they] take the nickname the "Jesus Christ Lizard" or "Jesus Lizard" because when fleeing from predators, they gather sufficient momentum to run across the water for a brief distance while holding most of their body out of the water.


The children spotted this Jesus Christ Lizard off the path to the beach in Manuel Antonio National Park.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Kids Saving the Rainforest

We headed back to the Manuel Antonio National Park with Marie and Sylvain. This time, we stayed close to Quepos at the Blue Banyan Inn. The inn is part of a finca (farm) which encompasses 25 hectares (or 65 acres) of rainforest. To get there, we drove through 3 miles of jungle and for 2.5 miles, questioned if we were lost.


At one point, you do pass a very small village that suggests that you might still be headed the correct way.


The Blue Banyan Inn has a variety of animals roaming the property and the owners are active in the Kids Saving the Rainforest (KSTR) organization.


KSTR purchased 4 acres of rainforest property where they built an animal rehabilitation center in which they care for and release injured and abandoned animals. During breakfast time one morning, our kids got to meet these cute marmosets who have been nursed back to health.


Marmosets and Tamarins, collectively known as "callitrichids" are charming New World monkeys that dwell within the rain forest canopy of Central and South America. They are among the smallest members of the monkey family, usually weighing around 1 pound.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mamie Marie

The kids got to spend a fantastic 2 weeks with Mamie Marie, Mélanie`s Mom, and “Papie” Sylvain.

Sylvain doesn’t speak English so Naimah spoke to him only in Spanish. We tried to convince her that he didn’t understand Spanish either but she was insistent.