"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

February 5, 2019

Boruca Indian Masks

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
I haven't found shopping to be much of an activity in Costa Rica...it's hard to find nice little shops that have true Costa Rican made items. You can find all the touristy things with Costa Rica or Pura Vida on them, but finding nice things is a little more challenging. Last year I had read about the Diablo or Boruca Mask, but didn't have a chance to buy one. This year we were in the area where the indigenous people live who make these beautiful masks. Diablo masks reflect the Costa Rican rainforest and are made by the Borucan Indians that still have a village in southwest Costa Rica, just east and a little further south than Uvita.

The masks originated during the Spanish Conquest. Villagers learned the Spanish were afraid of the devil, so in an attempt to protect their village, they wore “diablo” (devil) masks. They failed to chase the Spanish away, but were able to save their village and retain their own culture. Today, the Boruca artisans carve and paint three types of masks...the diablo, the ecologico, which represents a stern-faced shaman surrounded by the flora and fauna found in the wilderness around Boruca and the combinado, which combines both the diablo and the ecologico. The masks were originally carved out of cedar, but are now carved out of balsa wood, because it's a fast-growing native tree. It goes from seedling to harvestable in three years; each tree can yield as many as 30 masks.  

The village of Boruca has a current population of 1,500-2,000 people, who live on the indigenous reservation. Sixty percent of the residents make their living as artisans of these masks and other textiles. They give tours of their village and workshops, but we didn't have time to go this year. It'll definitely be on my list of things to do on another visit to Costa Rica.

Traditional Diablo Masks
Combinado Masks
Ecologico Masks
These were some of the masks for sale on the beach in Dominical
Here are the ones I bought to hang on Texas Pearl
This video shows how the masks are made and painted.

February 4, 2019

Feb. 2 - Resort Day in Uvita, Costa Rica

“Fill your sand pail with life’s hidden treasures.” –Author Unknown
We're staying at a nice boutique hotel above Uvita, called Vista Ballena. It has a wonderful view of the ocean and a spectacular pool. For these reasons and the fact that it's quite warm...we decided to take a resort day. We spent the whole day sitting around the pool...with an occasional dip in the water to cool off. When we planned this trip we thought we'd spend more time at the beach, and there are some great beaches in the area, but walking on the beach isn't very appealing when the daytime temperatures are in the 90s and the sand is dark. Hopefully we'll have more beach time on the next vacation.

The view from our room...you can just make out the whales tail in the distance. Low tide was at 6:15 AM, so we missed getting to walk out there, but we had a peaceful relaxing day by the pool.
Our view with breakfast
Chillin' in the shade
Taking in the view from the pool
Sunsets are amazing on the Puntarenas Coast
We have seen toucans quite a few times this visit to Costa Rica, but this the first time they were actually close enough to photograph.

February 3, 2019

Feb. 1 - Uvita, Costa Rica

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls” – Anais Nin

Our third stop on the Pacific coast is Uvita. This little village is about 10 miles south of Dominical. It's home to the Cola de Ballena (Whale's Tail) and the closest village to Marino Ballena National Park. The tiny village consists of some dirt roads lined with farms, guesthouses, gift shops, a cluster of strip malls along the main highway and a scattering of hotels in the jungle-covered hills above. It's a very low key area...definitely not the heavy touristy beach area you'll find around JacoTamarindo Beach or the Nicoya Peninsula. Many expatriates from North America and Europe have made Uvita their home. Tours available in the area range from whale watching, ATV tours, surfing lessons and snorkeling excursions...and of course there are waterfalls to explore.
Marino Ballena National Park has become famous for its migrating pods of humpback whales and its virtually abandoned wilderness beaches. Humpback whales meet and mate here every winter and spring. If we can catch the tide right we will wake out there tomorrow.

Vista Ballena and it's amazing view is our home for the next few days.
Our check in wasn't till 2:00 so we went to the Uvita Waterfall while we waited. It's not the tallest or biggest in the area, but it has something else that most waterfalls don’t have...a natural slide. The water has smoothed out the rocks to create a little pocket that people can sit in or lie down on and slide over the waterfall. 
The waterfall is just a short drive out of town and the trail down to the water is actually a set of stairs...they're a little steep, but short and very doable. There's a restaurant at the top of the falls to enjoy a cold drink when you're done having fun in the water.
The upper falls and pool
The lower falls and pool 
Jumping into the lower pool
 The purple-stained Daggerwing butterfly
Many-banded Daggerwing Butterfly
A video of the Uvita Waterfall