Where the Wild Things Are: The Creatures of Costa Rica

Where the Wild Things Are: The Creatures of Costa Rica

Travel Tips By Natasha Ganes

lizard

If you’re a fan of watching wildlife play around in all of their cage-free, natural glory, you will fall in love with Costa Rica. After my visit, I’m convinced the country contains at least one of every bird and lizard on the planet. Had I known I would see so many creatures I would have invested in a better camera and taken it with me on every adventure. I’m still bugged I missed getting a shot of the red poisonous tree frog who tagged along with us on our zip lining tour. Or a decent image of the colorful crane that walked right up to me, bobbed his head into my face, and then sidestepped his way through my open hotel room door. Ah well – it’s just another good excuse to go back again. In the meantime, here are a few shots of some of the wildlife I encountered on my trip. Pura Vida!

 

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According to the local tico who pointed it out to us, spotting a wild Scarlet Macaw is a rare event, in part because we were nowhere near where they normally hang out and also as they’re now an endangered species. I’ll tell you this much: seeing one of these beauties in flight is a spectacular, rainbow-colored event that I will be forever grateful I was lucky enough to witness.

 

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Turns out a resting crocodile looks fake—still as a garden statue made of rock that’s been placed on the ground between the flowering petunias and rose bushes. Until your boat driver decides to tease the tourists and make the sleeping prehistoric beast move by ramming the riverboat into shore a few times. Then you change your observation real quick because nothing looks more alive than a ticked off croc diving into the water and chasing down your boat.

 

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The iguanas seemed to be constantly asking the question, “Where’s Waldo?” And the answer was “everywhere.” Seriously, there were hiding everywhere: in the middle of the road, hanging from tree limbs, napping along the coastline, creeping around your hotel room, chilling on the sidewalk, everywhere. Some of them were almost larger than me. It’s a good thing I really like lizards.

 

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Ever heard two hogs mating? Me neither, but if you crossed that imagined creepy noise with whatever sound the monster who lives under your bed makes right before he eats your face in the middle of the night, you would come pretty close to the terrifying, echoing commotion of howler monkeys.

 

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Related to the raccoon, coatis are friendly, curious, and look like if you spoke their language they would have something intelligent to tell you. Or maybe they would just say, “give me your mango, macha.” Either way, one thing I know for sure is that they travel in packs and cause traffic jams. Ah, to live in a place where the morning commute is stalled not by other drivers, but wild animals standing in the middle of the road looking for food handouts and posing for pictures.

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It turns out sleeping long-nosed bats will let you climb right up to them and snap a bunch of pictures. Probably because they’re really vampires and if they left the shade of the tree the sunlight would kill them. In any case, unlike crocodiles, these furry little guys don’t wake up regardless of how much noise you make, which is probably a good thing considering there were a few dozen of them per tree. I love bats, I just don’t want them in my hair.

 

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If you’re with a tour company owner who tells you he’s going to sneak bananas onto your boat and bribe the driver to let you try and feed wild monkeys with them, just go with it and say “okay.” Believe me on this one: there is almost nothing more amazing than having a wild animal trust you enough to climb in your lap, dance on your shoulder, scamper down your back, and eat out of your palm. Don’t blame me if you end up with head lice or fleas though.

 

Sharing secrets with my new buddy.

Sharing secrets with my new buddy.

Free back massage with every banana.

Free back massage with every banana.

Looking for Emerging Artists and a Selection of Contemporary Works? Stay Local

Display at the Guggenheim Gallery (artist uncredited in display)

Display at the Guggenheim Gallery (artist uncredited in display)

Exploring the cutting edge work of both emerging and established artists is just as easy as visiting your local campus. Both universities and community colleges feature galleries on campus that host a variety of works and exhibitions.

Chapman University's Gallery

Chapman University’s Guggenheim Gallery

In Southern California, Chapman University’s Guggenheim Gallery features contemporary art created by students, professional artists and organizations within the surrounding community, including the Orange Unified School District, the Orange Art Association, So. Cal. Artists, and the Orange PTA. The gallery was established to “provide a framework for an interchange between artists, scholars, students and the community at large,” according to their mission statement. Per the gallery’s website, admission is “always free” and the hours are Monday – Friday, 12 – 5 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., which provides plenty of opportunity for viewing. For more information about Chapman’s Guggenheim Gallery and its upcoming exhibits, visit http://www.chapman.edu/wilkinson/art/gallery/

Chapman’s gallery has also collaborated with Cal State Fullerton to create the “Confronting Nature: Silenced Voices” exhibit. On a related note, CSUF’s Begovich Gallery is currently hosting work generated by faculty from the Visual Arts Department. For more information about the show, visit https://www.fullerton.edu/arts/art/Begovich_current/Exhibit%20Detail_Fac2015.html

Works on display at the Guggenheim Gallery

Works on display at the Guggenheim Gallery (artists uncredited in the displays)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos on display at the Guggenheim Gallery (artists uncredited in the display)

Photos on display at the Guggenheim Gallery (artists uncredited in the display)

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Display at the Guggenheim Gallery (artists uncredited)

 

The Guggenheim Gallery

The Guggenheim Gallery

Young Masters Art Show: Celebrating the Artists of the Future

Young Masters Art Show: Celebrating the Artists of the Future

By Natasha Ganes

Young artist Olivia Ganes with her painting, The Pumpkin

Young artist Olivia Ganes with her painting, The Pumpkin

Last weekend, the artwork from almost 600 Southern California students (aged kindergarten through grade 6) was on display at the opening-day festivities of the 25th annual Young Masters Art Show. Each school within the Irvine Unified School District selected one piece of student art per class, which will then be displayed at Irvine City Hall for the next two weeks.

The budding young artists were celebrated on opening day with live entertainment, balloon artists, creative art activities, face painting, and of course a whole lot of proud family members. I was one of them: my seven-year-old niece’s painting The Pumpkin was nominated for exhibition in the show. Obviously, a love of the arts runs in our family (check out her dad’s work here), which is amazing. More importantly though, as I’ve said on here before, is that programs such Young Masters continue to honor and encourage the creativity of young artists year after year.

The Young Masters program is held in collaboration with the school district, the City of Irvine, Arts Orange County, and Imagination Celebration of Orange County. To view all of the student art, visit: http://www.iusd.org/vapa/YoungMastersArtShow.html. For more information about the Young Masters Art Show, go to: http://www.alirvine.org/ps.projects.cfm?ID=999.