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Original Explore & Create in Costa Rica

Explore & Create in Costa Rica Tour

July 2 to 10, 2011

Experience the diversity and richness of nature as you travel to various places found on the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the Costa Rican continental divide. Spend a day with the Maleku Indians as you witness their sacred fire ceremony spoken in their native language.  Experiment in your art journals with natural colorants harvested on our walk through their tropical rain forest and discover the importance of cacao (chocolate) and medicinal plants in the lives of the Malekus. 

Spend an afternoon creating with the members of Corazones Valientes (Brave Hearts), a group of female painters who have braved adversity to unite their talents and bring extra income to their families. Sit under the abundant shade of the large-leafed almond trees and bathe in the warm gentle Pacific ocean at Manuel Antonio Beach, listed in the NY Times bestseller as one of the “1,000 Places To See Before You Die”. Delight in the spontaneity of small group travel where each tour year brings unexpected Costa Rican experiences. Take home a memorable souvenir, an art travel journal that you created from your new skills and inspiration found in Costa Rica.

“Thanks for the time, effort and love that you put into this tour. It was a gift of yourself.  I had a wonderful time!                     Meg A. from Indiana

Explore & Create in Costa Rica 2011 Tour Itinerary

Day 1. Today your adventure in Costa Rica begins. You will be driven to a small inn with a panaramic view of Atenas and the surrounding mountains. Atenas (means Athens in Spanish) is said to have one of the best climates in the world.  Atenas is a small rural town untouched by tourism where school students go home for a homemade lunch, fresh milk is delivered to your home and the tall palm tree lined park is the favorite spot in town to sit, converse and observe. Participants should schedule incoming flights to arrive in the Juan Santamaria airport (San Jose) no later than 3:00 PM to allow time to attend a special welcome and orientation dinner.

Blue ox cart with decorative painted wheel at ox cart parade in Escazu, Costa Rica
Maleku Indian with carved & painted drum and rain stick of balsa wood
Palm tree lined park in Atenas, Costa Rica

Day 2.   Walk among organic coffee trees on a family owned coffee farm in the high elevation area of Atenas. The whole experience will be a family affair.  Gabriel, the son, will guide us through the whole process of picking, processing and grounding coffee. Rosario, the mother will prepare a typical Costa Rican lunch for us + teach us how to make the tortillas that will accompany our meal.  (Rosario is pictured with me on “Jan Yatsko, Artist” page).  The father, “Capo”, always likes to sit down with visitors and make them feel part of the family while the other son Raul will want to practice his English with you.  At your request, freshly ground organic artisan coffee will be prepared and packaged for you to take home while we eat our lunch.

“This trip satisfied my desires in t he most unexpected and delightful ways.”                  Nancy B. from California

Visitor to El Toledo organic coffee farm picking organic coffee near Atenas, Costa Rica
Maleku Shaman conducting sacred fire ceremony called, Nature, Man and God, in traditional palenque hut. Painted balsa Maleku Tazi drums are used in the ceremony.
Tour participant standing among the giant topiaries in Zarcero, Costa Rica

Day 3. The mountain town of Zarcero is kown for its beautiful landscapes, dairy products and a whimsical topiary garden.  It’s the perfect place to stop and have your picture taken among the huge topiary animal figures. Zarcero is on our way to La Fortuna which is located 4 miles from the active Arenal volcano.

In the afternoon, we will meet the female artist group Corazones Valientes in the small rural town that was founded by their parents. This group of 8 ladies was started over 20 years ago by a Peace Corp volunteer and is now into their second generation of painting in a distinct naive style. There will be a private showing of the works by each artist and a chance to do a creative exercise along side of these warm and fun-loving women.

“Jan was more than accommodating.  I wanted to experience the culture and life of Costa Rica, the people and the food. Thank you! Thank you!   Deborah G. from California

Day 4. A drive through the serene and remote area of Guatuso will take us to one of the few remaining Indian tribes in Costa Rica, the Malekus. Listen to their spoken language as you witness their sacred fire ceremony surrounded by colorful Maleku craft work. Walk through their rain forest under the canopy of cacao (chocolate) trees and learn the importance of chocolate and medicinal plants in their lives. Our Maleku guide will show you wildlife in their rain forest as well as their scared burial grounds where the spiral represents “the circle of life” and burial marker. Discover natural “paints” from their forest to use in your travel art journal and paint a jicara along with the Maleku women to take home as a souvenir. A delicious homemade lunch will be prepared for us by the Maleku women.

“The highlight of my trip was with the Malekus. I was especially moved during the walk through the rain forest and when the Maleku guide touched the piece of jade to my  cheek.”    Christine J. from Arizona

Day 5. We return to Atenas by lunchtime on a different route that takes us through a cloud rainforest area and continuous fields of ornamental plants grown for export. Art journal in the afternoon by the hotel pool or explore Atenas, a typical rural town untouched by tourism. 

Stacked pineapple for sale at outdoor farmer's market in Grecia, Costa Rica
Explore & Create participant journaling with natural colorants in the Maleku rain forest, Guatuso, Costa Rica

Day 6. Our drive along the scenic Pacific coast will take us to the town of Manuel Antonio to visit its national park. Manuel Antonio National Park is listed in the NY Times bestseller book “1,000 Places To See Before You Die”. In this protected primary and secondary rain forest you will have two days to hike trails, observe wildlife, relax and swim at one of its 4 beaches. Sit under the abundant shade of the large-leafed wild almond trees, bathe in the warm ocean water and record all of what you see in your travel art journal.  National Park entrance is not included in tour price.

 “It was a beautiful trip.  The countryside was truly inspirational.”   Nancy W. from PA

Day 7. This is your day to choose your activities.  Hire a guide in the morning to take you on the trails in Manuel Antonio National Park where you might see a 3-toed sloth, squirrel and white-faced monkeys, iguanas, coati and agouti.  Spend the rest of the day at the beach and art journal by the sea. Other optional activities outside of the park include sea-kayaking, snorkelling/boat cruise, horseback riding, canopy rides, mountain biking or pamper yourself at a spa. Today’s lunch and optional activity expenses are not included in the tour price.

Explore & Create in Costa Rica tour participant sketching in art travel journal on beach at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica, 1,000 places to see before you die from NY Times bestseller
3-Toed sloth found along roadside near Guapiles, Costa Rica
Pacific Ocean landscape at entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

Day 8. Although we return to Atenas along the same Pacific coastal road, we always see a different slice of typical Costa Rican life. A stretch stop at the River Tarcoles to see crocodiles made famous by National Geographic. We arrive in time for you to have the afternoon to relax by the hotel pool and to record your last images of Costa Rica in your art journal. A special farewell dinner (with surprises!) has been planned for you.

“I found the trip delightful.  I saw so many new things and tasted new foods.  Thank you for all of your planning and the surprises on the last night.”                 Allison W. from MA

Day 9. Return to USA. Hasta la próxima vez.

Note: Half or whole days of free time have been planned throughout this tour for art journaling and/or optional activities. Jan will conduct classes on observation, creativity and art journaling techniques (specifically related to travel) at various outdoor locations throughout the tour.

“Each place brought it’s own rewards.”                 Susan W. from Maine

For Original tour features and price, proceed to   Tour Information

For more information about Creativity Exercises and Journaling, proceed to Explore & Create in Costa Rica Tour

Peek into artist Jan Yatsko’s daily life in Costa Rica Pura Vida Costa Rica

                               Itinerary subject to change.

                             Copyright Jan Yatsko September 2010