My Last Costa Rica Trip for a While
March 24, 2020
My Last Costa Rica Trip for a While
The world has changed for everyone, and we have no idea when it will get back to what we used to call “normal.” Plus it is challenging every business large and small. With galleries temporarily closed due to COVID-19, I only have Instagram and Facebook to show and promote my photographs. Though it’s worked well in the past, my sand pattern photographs show much better in person. Who knows when all the gallery shows that jurors have already selected me for will ever open to the public?
Happily, I snuck in one more shooting trip to Costa Rica, returning Saturday, February 29, two days after my last group show, “Do or Die,” opened at the Westport Library. That was the same day residents had stripped the drugstores bare of masks and sanitizing wipes. My flight out was the Saturday before and early in the morning. Not being a morning person, I stayed at the TWA Hotel at JFK which incorporated the famous Eero Saarinen-designed TWA terminal from 1961, now connected directly to the JetBlue terminal where my flight to Liberia was leaving.
I had stayed there before my earlier trip in November and spent hours walking around viewing all the pitch perfect museum displays. It felt transported back to the late 50’s and early 60’s, which I lived through and remember well. Rotary dial phones, a newsstand stocked with newspapers and magazines of the era, flight attendant and pilot uniforms from then, plus an old Constellation airplane with its distinctive three tails outside the terminal turned into a cocktail lounge. Lot’s of fun stuff to see.
But what attracted me the most was the architecture of the building. So much thought and attention put into the walls and structures that I felt I was inside a sculpture. So I grabbed my camera and started shooting inside and outside. I’ve added these photos to my new gallery called “Contemporary” because though they are abstracts, they are real shots of real surfaces inside the building: pure art. I hope you’ll enjoy them. When galleries open again you can see some in person at the Rene Soto Gallery at One Wall Street in Norwalk, CT.
When last in Costa Rica in November, everything was bright green. In February that had all changed to brown. No rain for months will do that. But nothing had changed at my hotel where I have stayed for my last 12 trips. The hotel is special being right on a Pacific Ocean beach in Guanacaste with only 17 individual casitas and a 30-second walk to the beach. The open air restaurant is practically on the beach so the view could not be better. Lots of surfers out before the sun rises and catching waves until sunset. The day ends with everyone on the beach, cocktails in hand, waiting for the setting sun to bring out the brilliant colors.
I plan my trips and shooting according to the tides. I’m on the beach two hours before low tide waiting for the small receding waves to pull out the patterns, mostly right at my feet. I’ve been shooting these patterns for more than six years on this one beach near the hotel, so I know where the more interesting ones generally appear – always different. But it takes a lot of patience. The patterns change slightly each time a wave comes in, and I literally have a second or two to shoot one I love before the next wave changes it.
As you might imagine, I get a lot of odd looks from beachgoers who have no idea what I’m photographing. Some come up to ask but most just look at me with puzzled faces. Of course, they don’t realize they’re missing the art of the ocean. Over the years, I’ve invited interested people staying at the hotel to come with me to experience it. Some see what I see and some don’t. The ones who can see the patterns are totally amazed and understand why I have been photographing them for six years. They see them as an organic form of art, just as I do.
After a week I headed home, just before the virus got really serious in the U.S. No known cases in Costa Rica then, but unfortunately there are now. I was able to shoot a lot of new and interesting sand pattern photos and am in the middle of editing them to decide which ones to post here. They should be up shortly. So please stay safe and healthy during this pandemic. I’m hoping to make my annual November trip back to Playa Negra, but only time will tell.