This painting was inspired by hiking along the water’s edge at Playa (beach) Panamá, in the northwest Guanacaste province of Costa Rica. I’ve always been a fan of smaller secluded beaches, and Playa Panamá fits the bill. Also, it’s very close to a bit of a larger beach with more people – Playa Hermosa, which is also very nice.
Did you know that Guanacaste is one of the so-called Blue Zones where, in general, people live healthy lives and often live to very old age? I never knew this while I lived there as a Peace Corps Volunteer, but found out years later! People live life outdoors and in community, and in general, have a pretty simple, healthy diet.
The other day I was thinking that I have a fairly extensive body of work from the past several years, and I’m going to start sharing bits of it every Thursday on my Facebook fan page, on my Twitter page, and right here on this blog!
As many of you know, from 2006 to 2008, I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Costa Rica, working in Community Economic Development. In my spare time (there’s plenty of spare time in rural Costa Rica), I enjoyed, you guessed it, painting.
Over the course of a few months, I sketched and painted a detailed world map onto the side of the local elementary school, where I taught Junior Achievement and English, and was a soccer star (until I played with other adults). The map had every single country on it, with the names in Spanish, as well as some inspirational quotes on the sides.
The quotes read (translated):
“The more we know the world, the more we love it.”
“The Earth is ours, let’s take care of it!”
“Almost always, the creative and dedicated minority has made the world a better place.”
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
Once the map was finished, we used it to teach geography through trivia games. The kids really enjoyed it. Most of them learned a lot, although one boy already knew the name of every single country in the world, where they were located, and some information about each country! He showed me his book one day that he studied to learn all of that. It was pretty impressive.
Since then, the school built an additional room, which enclosed the map inside.
We definitely had a good time at the school, both learning:
and having fun!
Lastly, I recently donated to the National Peace Corps Association and got this cool bumper sticker artwork to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps!
While I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica, I visited neighboring Nicaragua with my wife (then girlfriend), who was visiting me from the U.S.
My wife’s father is from Nicaragua, so we went to see the extended family in the capital of Managua. Before going to Managua, we visited the coastal town of San Juan del Sur.
While Costa Rica and Nicaragua are similar in many ways and also have a little rivalry going (both claim to be the creators of the “gallo pinto” dish), I never did see women carrying things on their heads in Costa Rica, but saw this many times in Nicaragua!
We had a memorable trip and I look forward to visiting again and seeing more beaches, such as Miramar on the Pacific, or Corn Island on the Caribbean side.
Currently I’m working on a painting of a sunset over the water in San Juan del Sur.
Potomac River Hiking
The other day we went for a walk along the nearby Potomac River. After a cold winter, Spring is in full bloom here.
I got a few photos that I’ll also soon be painting!
Adventure in Playa Panama, Costa Rica
Playa Panama is in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica, along the northwest Pacific coast.
It’s a tranquil alternative to nearby Playa Hermosa, a popular beach among locals and tourists.
A few friends and I visited both beaches, and took an adventuresome route from Playa Panama nearly all the way back to Playa Hermosa a couple miles away. We decided to walk/climb/crawl along the waters edge between the two beaches.
I came across this photo on Facebook last night of my former students Brad and Itxel, in traditional Guanacaste dress, standing in front of the mural I painted of a Guanacaste man and woman in traditional dress! A few months ago several of my former students got on Facebook all of a sudden after the school was able to get a computer lab. I can’t hardly believe it…before that, only a few families in town even had a computer, never mind the internet. I painted this in 2007 when I was a Community Economic Development Advisor with the Peace Corps in Costa Rica. I lived with Brad’s grandmother’s family my first several months in La Cruz, so we saw each other often outside of school. Itxel lived down the street, and was in my English and Junior Achievement classes (and soccer games). They look like they’re ready to go to a fiesta típica and dance to some marimba! Except for the mean faces. People don’t seem to smile too much in pictures in Costa Rica….in reality, these kids were smiling and laughing all the time. I think Brad is trying to imitate his grandfather Hernan, who always looks like that. The camera incorrectly dated the picture 2003, it was actually taken in 2010.
The past few days I’ve been taking the bus from Alexandria to Arlington. We live in a diverse neighborhood on the north end of Alexandria, close to a large Latino community made up of mostly Central American immigrants. Since I am usually one of the few gringos on the bus, it sort of reminds me of being in Costa Rica, which is where I first started making art for others besides myself. Even though I worked in community economic development as a Peace Corps Volunteer with the local people of La Cruz de Abangares, I especially enjoyed collaborating with several of them on artwork for public display. So I thought I’d post some pictures of that work, along with a few other non-art projects!