Costa Rica

Postcard from Costa Rica

Postcard from Costa Rica

Here is the perfect place to rest after a day of travel.  The surrounding trees are filled with butterflies and birdsong; the Heliconia flowers attract hummingbirds.  From the hammock, it may be hard to concentrate on the book you brought, because the sunlight shining through the leaves shimmers and captures your attention.  The forest around […]

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Does an environmentally friendly resort make you think of pig waste?  Probably not, but the Lapa Rios Eco Lodge uses pig poo bio-gas to power their kitchen.  In addition to that, the resort, which was originally established as a nature reserve, uses energy from solar panels, recycles 80% of its kitchen waste (either composting food […]

Postcard from Costa Rica

Postcard from Costa Rica

There’s nothing I love more than a fiddlehead, perfectly curled with potential and about to unfurl into full-leafed beauty.  Maybe I have a special place in my heart for ferns.  They blanket the forest floor in my woods at home and my father used to dig one or two up and bring them home and […]


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Benjamin Garcia Saxe, designer of the bamboo-ring house, worked with Laura Morelli and students during a workshop at Universidad Veritas in San Jose, Costa Rica, to design and build a project with limited resources and with the goal of creating a space and eliciting human emotions.  Wanting to convey light, space, and movement, the team placed […]

From Water Bottles to Roof Tiles

From Water Bottles to Roof Tiles

Donald Thomson and his wife Terry-Lee, who have lived in Costa Rica since 1990, began organizing a volunteer beach-cleaning initiative to clean up the massive amounts of plastic that washed up on the beaches of Playa Pochote.  After watching children jumping on the plastic bottles to flatten them, Thomson had an idea: to recycle plastic […]

Postcard from Costa Rica

Postcard from Costa Rica

At the fruit stand, I was in heaven.  I ate mango: sun-warmed, sweet, juicy, a piece of the sun and earth.  With sticky fingers, I tried guayaba, tough, seemingly unripe, and filled with small, hard seeds.  The caimito, a fruit I had never seen before, was three consecutive experiences.  First: soft and sweet, tender; second: […]


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A design and construction firm called Bamboo Groove builds homes from insulated shipping containers and bamboo.  This design gives Intermodel Steel Building Units (ISBUs) a second life.  These container houses are built to insulate from the heat and provide natural ventilation for cooling.  Guadua bamboo, one of the fastest growing bamboos, is harvested locally in […]

Postcard from Costa Rica

Postcard from Costa Rica

I found several beautiful green feathers littered on the forest floor before I found the Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus) camouflaged amidst the green leaves of the canopy.  Smaller than the colorful Keel-billed Toucans we saw flying over an open field, these birds still have impressive beaks, used to pick fruit and capture invertebrates such as […]

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Tim and Robin O’Hara of Rancho Mastatal, an environmental learning and sustainable living center, used Robin’s design to build their home out of cob, wattle and daub, lime plasters, bamboo, locally milled wood, and recycled fence posts.  A cob house is made from subsoil, water, and fibrous organic material such as straw.  Sourced from local […]


Postcard from Costa Rica

Postcard from Costa Rica

There is an abundance of wildlife in Costa Rica, and while traveling with a naturalist guide, we were shown the best hiding places for elusive animals.  Though I usually looked to the trees for birdlife—quetzals, toucans, toucanets, hummingbirds, motmots, and more—one look up led me to this Mexican hairy porcupine (Coendou mexicanus).  A nocturnal, arboreal, […]

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Architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe designed this two-room bamboo house with open courtyard for his mother, who had moved to Costa Rica to live in the forest “in search for home.”  Originally living in a shelter that she built with scrap wood and plastic bags and with a view of the moon from her bed at […]

New Glass Frog Species Discovered in Costa Rica

New Glass Frog Species Discovered in Costa Rica

Scientists have recently described a new species of glass frog found in the Caribbean foothills of Costa Rica.  Named for lead author Brian Kubicki’s mother, Janet Diane Kubicki, Diane’s Bare-hearted Glassfrog (Hyalinobatrachium dianae) is Costa Rica’s fourteenth species of glass frog.  This is the first time a new species of glass frog has been discovered […]


Postcard from Costa Rica

Postcard from Costa Rica

Walking through the rainforest at night leads to many surprises.  I went on a night hike with a naturalist guide and his ten-year-old son, who easily caught tiny frogs before the rest of us recognized their whereabouts.  We were searching for frogs, in fact, and I searched for small snakes in each bromeliad I passed, […]

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With a variety of accommodations, Tree House Lodge has a focus on sustainability.  The buildings are built with fallen trees, the furniture is handcarved with sustainable wood, and one of the bathrooms is built around a living 100-year old Sangrillo tree.  Water is gravity-fed and heated by solar panels, cleaning materials and detergents are biodegradable, […]

Postcard from Costa Rica

Postcard from Costa Rica

On a search for the elusive Resplendent Quetzal, my group heard its distinctive cooing high in the canopy.  We kept turning our heads, following the sound, until finally we saw the beautiful bird fly over a gap in the canopy, its long, elegant tail feathers trailing behind the rest of its body.  It landed in […]


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Within driving distance from Volcano Arenal, this tree house is surrounded by mineral-rich, natural hot springs.  The tree house sits in 35 acres of surrounding rainforest filled with two-toed sloths, iguanas, capuchin and mantled howler monkeys, tree frogs, toucans, hummingbirds, and butterflies.  An afternoon on the balcony observing the sights and sounds of the rainforest […]

Costa Rica goes 75 Days without Fossil Fuel

Costa Rica goes 75 Days without Fossil Fuel

For 75 straight days (and counting), Costa Rica has met 100% of its power demand with renewable energy.  Most of this energy has come from four hydroelectric power facilities, due to heavy rainfall this year.  The country supplements this energy with other sources of renewable energy, including geothermal, solar, biomass, and wind sources.  Costa Rica […]

"Mystery Stone"

“Mystery Stone”

Rima de Vallbona is also the author of “Mystery Stone.”  On a tourist trip in Guanacaste, Berta spends the night at the home of her two cousins.  When she arrives at their home, I entered into a magic world, in which a certain something lingered in the air; the enchantment was enhanced by the vases […]


Rima de Vallbona

Rima de Vallbona

Rima de Vallbona has written twelve books of short stories, novels, and essays.  These include Mundo, demonio, y mujer, Polvo del camino, Noche en vela, and Cosecha de pescadores.  Among her several literary awards is Costa Rica’s Premio Nacional Aquileo J. Echeverría. She is the author of “The Chumico Tree,” a story that shows the […]

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Does this childhood dream ever go away? For many of us, apparently not. A Colorado couple made their dream a reality in the Costa Rican rainforest by creating a treehouse community called Finca Bellavista, a fantastic yet real treetop paradise where people can live out their dreams. The whole of the property is now close to […]

José León Sánchez

José León Sánchez

José León Sánchez, in a plan to reclaim the Virgin’s riches for indigenous people, attempted robbery of the Basilica de los Angeles in Cartago.  At age nineteen, when he entered prison for his crime, Sánchez was illiterate, but he went on to write fourteen books.  Among these are Tenochtitlán, La isla de los hombres solos, […]


"The Carbonero"

“The Carbonero”

Carlos Salazar Herrera has a second story published in Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion.  “The Carbonero,” originally published in De amor, celos, y muerte: tres cuentos is translated by James Hoggard, who also translated “The Bongo.”  Hoggard is the author of eight books and seven produced plays, and his translations have been widely published. […]

Carlos Salazar Herrera

Carlos Salazar Herrera

Carlos Salazar Herrera is the author of two stories in Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion.  He was an art professor at the Unversidad de Costa Rica; the author of many stories, poems, and plays; and the 1964 winner of Costa Rica’s Premio Nacional de Cultura Magón. Originally published as “El Bongo” in Cuentos de […]

Samuel Rovinski

Samuel Rovinski

Samuel Rovinski is an essayist, playwright, and fiction writer.  He is the author of Ceremonia de casta, Las fisgonas de Paso Ancho, El martirio del Pastor, and La hora de los vencidos, for which he won the Premio Nacional Aquielo J. Echeverría. His story “The Adventure” is not about an adventure in the typical meaning […]