Next up on our Costa Rican adventure was a stay at the town of La Fortuna, near Arenal Volcano National Park. Arenal Volcano is a perfectly shaped cinder cone, but you have to be lucky to see it. Of the 4 days we spent staying right by the volcano, there was one day when the clouds disappeared for about 20 minutes and saw the whole volcano. On the other days we knew we were in the shadow of a volcano, but saw nothing but clouds where it stood.
This is a quick sketch at the end of a hike up a lava flow. Volcano Arenal is currently considered to be ‘resting’ between active phases. But in a land as young as Costa Rica, where 5 tectonic plates meet, you never know when a volcano will get active again- or when a new volcano will be formed.
Our hotel in Arenal had it’s own little organic farm and dairy. If you turned up at the barn at exactly 7am, you got to help milk the cows. This is my sketch of the barn. The rain played a big part in creating this textured sketch.
This guy filled a bucket up in a couple of minutes. When he was done, he added some cocoa to a cup and poured in some fresh, still warm (yes, unpasteurized) milk. The kids gulped it up. Apparently it was delicious. I didn’t get to try it.
One day I will learn not to even attempt some things. Like sketching a waterfall while practically standing under it, in a downpour. This is me attempting a sketch. I didn’t last at it for more than a few minutes. The middle piece of the image is as far as I got. The one on the right is what remains of it in my sketchbook now.
A quick sketch of our guide on a coffee and cocoa tour at Don Juan farms. Here he mixes up an ancient Mayan drink that included cocoa nibs, vanilla, tabasco, black pepper, cinnamon and hot water. It was like drinking a sweet and spicy mole sauce.
Here is Don Juan himself, playing checkers with colored bottle caps. I love my bent-nib pen. It draws an organicand somewhat unpredictable line that I find to be so ‘human’.
The little handmade sign points to the soda I was at. Sodas are family-run restaurants all over Costa Rica. They serve what is called a ‘tipical’ (yes, spelt like that) meal: rice, beans, fried plantain, salad, a vegetable, fresh cheese, and a meat dish. Strangely, even the tiniest sodas also have a fast food menu with burgers and fries.
My favorite part of a Costa Rican meal is fruit. It’s amazing how good a pineapple or a watermelon can taste when it’s sun-ripened. Here’s yet another rain-splattered sketch. This one of a fruit cart.
And my favorite Costa Rican fruit is actually Asian in origin. The mamón chino or rambutan.
Our next stop? The cloud forests of Monteverde.