Like Costa Rican Moonshine

Day 7 – January 9, 2013

Day 7 was probably our most jam-packed day, but I loved exploring so many things! To start the day off, we went to CODECE to hear more about El Encanto (a subcommittee of CODECE essentially) from Rigo and Edgar Sandí. It was helpful to get some clarification on the difference between El Encanto and CODECE and to hear more about what they do. After the talks, we got to see the memorial to “El Boyero” (a.k.a. the ox-herder). It was a really beautiful mural carved out of clay (if I remember currently) that basically ran the length of a soccer field. It was really amazing work and I loved the intricate details that depicted the traditional life of an Ox-herder, his work, and his family. Before heading off to our next destination, we popped into a church and saw a Christmas display…really nothing like I’ve seen before. It was like the Virgin Mary went to the carnival. There was a traditional manger scene, but to the right of it was a whole table full of animated figurines that moved all sorts of ways and honestly looked like a circus. There was a water mill that was actually spinning water, a ferris wheel, a nun opening a coffin, a Boyero driving some ox around a circle, some farmers making bread, a swing set, etc. Quite the scene.

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After the church, we headed to Don Torino’s sugarcane press. He was such a great guy. I think he said he was in his 70’s and he STILL makes sugar cane (which tasted sooo good). I really enjoyed the stop here, it was so interesting to hear his life story (he’s been working with sugar cane since he was 7 years old) and to watch the process – complete with really cute oxen (with adorable, floppy ears) turning the press. We also had a chance to stop by the workshop of a mask maker, Gerardo Montoya. When I heard “masks,” I imagined in my mind little wooden masks that merely covered one’s face. I was way off. The actual “masks” were large enough to cover a body…and then dance around like a maniac with. It was so funny to watch grown men suit up in these colorful masks and dance around like kids, but really was so fun to watch. And it was really great to see how proud Gerardo was of his work and how willing he was to share his experiences and stories with us. Before leaving, we got a taste of “Chicha.” I wish I could smuggle it into the states by the oil tank full. It was so delicious. It reminded me a lot of Southern apple pie moonshine, but with a Costa Rican twist.

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After the mask workshop, we headed to an organic farm to talk to a farmer and see his farm. We got to try some of the things that were growing right on the farm and take some really great photos for our website. After the farm, we finally headed back to CODECE to hear some “legends” of Escazú. The woman who spoke to us (Estéfana) told some really interesting stories and talked about the witch (“bruja”) that has essentially become the symbol of Escazú (she is basically the protector of the mountains). Once our marathon day ended, we headed back to the hotel to begin working on our presentation to CODECE the next day. Highlight of the night: ordering pizza. I had been craving it since Day 1 and was a little tired of rice and beans for every meal by that point.

What difference did you make to the success of the team? I think my main contribution was continuing to help with the language barrier and also working with Sylvia to begin translating the video footage we gathered and to pick out some of the more poignant parts of people’s speeches and interviews that could later be used on the website.

What difference did you make to the client? I have tried to really understand everything that CODECE does and stands for so that I can later write about their organization in the most powerful way that stays true to their mission. By paying attention to their speeches and talking with CODECE members, I think I have been able to begin piecing together their story which will hopefully result in a compelling website that will attract the attention CODECE needs and deserves.

Now that you have been in Costa Rica for almost a week, what elements of the visual environment have made an impression on you from a design standpoint? I still really love the colors that you see throughout the city and the hills. The rich natural colors are beautiful and the pops of brighter, vibrant, accent colors really add nice flavor to the community (especially as seen on the ox-carts). I also love the wood that is used to make masks, bowls, cutting boards, etc. The color of  the Purple Heart is so beautiful and unique. I also like the small details you can find unexpectedly while walking around the town. A curved wire that looks like a snake, a water spout disguised as a heart, the pure whiteness of tombstones in a cemetery…it’s all so visually stunning. IMG_5484

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