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Merge of Cultures Through Art

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What is the definition of Art? Did some research on internet and dictionaries, and the concept is so extensive that I thought it would be better if I tell you what art means for me instead. I think art is the way your eyes see things, the way words come out of your mouth, and the way your hands give life to things.

I do believe everybody has their own concept of art and that is what I’m seeing in the group of women I’m working with here in Toronto. They are of all different nationalities. They decided to come together as a group to express their life experiences through art (acrylic painting technique). We meet every Monday for three hours, to learn about painting techniques, history, and to put the brushes and color to work on the canvas. I’m not an artist at all, at least I haven’t discovered the artist within me quite yet, but I was asked today from the members to join them and start “painting.” I have to say I was so nervous, but still grabbed the brush and did what looks like “a confusion of lines and colors.” The feeling was overwhelming, as I was mixing colors and drawing lines, and it gave me some kind of weird freedom and excitement that I haven’t experienced before. I guess the real artists out there understand better what I’m trying to say, and that is how these women who, by the way, have lots of experience painting, convey their issues, obstacles and wishes in their lives.

Nicaragua holds International Tourism Trade Show

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Nicaragua held the 1st International Tourism Show in its capital, Managua. The aim was to promote Nicaragua’s beauty through us, international tour companies from Canada, United States, Peru, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras, including some media partners, by giving us the chance to interact with a range of local exhibitors such as hotels, transport companies, local operators, and community-based projects, anxious to show us the product they had to offer. We had the pleasure of meeting distinguished tourism industry officials, such as the president of the National Tourism Board, the Vice-president of Nicaragua, and the Ambassador to Guatemala. You could see the pride they felt for their country and that they really wanted this event to be a successful one, and it was indeed.

With the potential to be the hot new destination in Central America, Nicaragua is working with Rainforest Alliance to promote themselves as an ecotourism destination, alongside countries like Costa Rica. Unfortunately Nicaragua is still seen by some as a territory of guerillas and political issues, but that face is in fact what they are trying to change, by giving people the opportunity to explore its multiple volcanoes, rain and cloud forests and beautiful beaches on both the Caribbean and the Pacific coasts. Sad to say, but most of the time media plays a big role in how a destination is presented, and that is what they are dealing with now by trying to show that their country has a lot of what its neighbor offers, including safety.
So… what did I think? The beauty of Nicaragua is outstanding! As we were landing at the Augusto Sandino International Airport, the panoramic view of the Momotombo Volcano and the Xolotlan Lake gave us a very good impression of what to expect on the following days. And it wasn’t just the panoramic view that made us feel welcomed instantly; it was also its people, their friendly faces and the service we received upon arrival and throughout the show.

I especially recall a meeting I had with Maria Ismelda Ayala Castillo, a charming woman who was promoting her homemade rosquillas (rosquillas are similar to an Italian biscotti, designed to be accompanied by a hot cup of coffee). I was just so happy to know that these kind of community projects have a space and the opportunity to be at these trade shows, I got a business card from Doña Maria Ismelda, and I couldn’t contain myself from hugging her and having my picture taken with her, it reminded me of my mother.
If you have the chance to visit Nicaragua, you absolutely must visit Omepete Island. With an area of 276 square km, the island is located in Lake Nicaragua along with the Conception and Maderas Volcanoes, featuring also a rich archeological background, tropical beaches and natural reserves and forests.
The island’s population is just 37,000 people, who sustain themselves by fishing, producing high quality agricultural products and by international tourism. Ometepe is full of destinations to discover, such as Altagracia with its traditions and heritage, where they have established a Pre-Columbian museum exposing ceramics, statues, and petro glyphs found on the island. Santo Domingo is a beach paradise: An unpaved road takes you to the most secluded beach, bordered by the two majestic volcanoes, where you can also be adventurous, and try zipping down the canopy cables, windsurfing and even kite surfing!
I have to say that I was impressed by the beauty of this country, its people and service. Next time I will have to explore, in more depth, the northern part of the country. I didn’t get a chance to visit… such as Leon and the Corn Island Have you been there?

Costa Rica Introduces New Paper Currency

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In the next few months, six new bills will enter into circulation. The current old bills of ¢1.000, ¢2.000, ¢5.000, and ¢10.000 will be replaced, and two new bills valued at ¢20.000 and ¢50.000 will be introduced. At present rates of exchange, these bills are worth a little under $2, $4, $10, $20, $40 and $100 respectively. The bills will be of different sizes and colors and will have an ecological image on one side, relating to one of the six major ecosystems of the country. On the reverse will present an image of an important historical person of our nation. Old bills will be gradually phased out of circulation.

Below is a brief description of what the bill papers would look like.

1000: Dry forest, showing one of our Tico National Symbols, the White-tailed Deer ! It is an endangered species in CR, so you may want to send some down here!
2000: Coral Reef and Shark
5000: The Mangroves, with a White-faced Capuchin monkey.
10,000: Rain forest and the famous 3 toed Sloth.
20,000: Subalpine/Paramo, showing the endemic Volcano Hummingbird.
50,000: The Cloud Forest, showing a beautiful Blue Morpho butterfly.

A Costa Rica Family Adventure To Remember

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During the Christmas holidays, our family of 4 took a trip to Costa Rica. We were 2
middle-aged (but in pretty good shape physically) and active adults, and a 19 and 17 year old. It
isn’t easy to plan a trip that will satisfy all of the wishes and wants of 2 adults and a college age
and a high school age teen. Usually, we plan our own trips, but this one called for some savvy
and well-informed assistance.
We had read in Conde Nast Traveler magazine about some travel agencies that specialized in
Costa Rica, so I took their recommendations and called 4 places. I gave each one a description of
our group, and our wish lists and priorities, as well as the time frame. We then carefully read and
evaluated the proposed tips itineraries and budgets.
Greenspot stood out from the beginning. We liked their suggestions, and felt that they “got”
what our family is like and what we were looking for. And they were so pleasant and easy to
deal with.
The trip turned out to be absolutely wonderful- we’d do it all over again in a minute! We were so
happy with all of the choices of accomodations and activities. What made the trip so enjoyable
and stress-free was that the logistics were flawless. Greenspot made sure that, at every transfer,
we were met by drivers who knew exactly what to do and where to go. They were always there,
waiting for us, pleasant and prepared to do their jobs. So we could relax and just enjoy
ourselves.

Read more about some of our highlights of the trip next.

The creation of the Agro-Costarrican Museum

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It would work as a tool to teach the children of the community about how to preserve what it’s been so hard to get, our land.
The museum will expose the history and development of the area, through the eyes of those founders who worked hard to make sure that their families had a place to live and be part of. The founders had the opportunity to give the community a message which was mainly said in these words “Let’s value and preserve what we have now, and teach the rest of the world that our community has been built to give visitors the opportunity to learn about our culture and our identity, and pass this along for many generations to come.
The construction would take close to 5 years, and would be located in the town of Chachagua, just 20 minutes from the town of La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano.

We hope to see you there!

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