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I first traveled to Costa Rica in 1989 and it changed my life. I had been a textile artist making a living weaving and selling woman’s clothing and accessories. Although being a weaver had been my passion, I began to get weary of doing art shows and needed a change. With little money, I went to Costa Rica with friends and my bicycle. I had never traveled internationally and desperately wanted to see the rainforest.

The 2 weeks I spent in Costa Rica prompted me to make radical changes in my life and career. After seeing red-eyed tree frogs, 3- fingered sloths, harlequin beetles, and blue morpho butterflies, I was hooked!  I enrolled in the New York Botanical Gardens Certificate program to become a scientific illustrator. My love for insects, plants, animals and all things nature was my focus. I had an undying passion and enthusiasm for the tropics and knew I had to take the leap into this new phase of my life. I quickly got my certification and then began to teach classes at NYBG. During this time I continued to travel to Costa Rica to work with some conservation groups I had visited along the journey.  My art began to reflect all this new found interest. I brought the enthusiasm into my classroom. After several years, my students at NYBG wanted to go with me. It seems that my enthusiasm had become contagious and this is how my journeys to Costa Rica evolved.

It is now 30+ years since I have been traveling to Costa Rica and it never ceases to amaze me. The diversity is so great. I always get to see new things I have never seen before. I get to continue doing research into the topics I love….and I get contribute to conservation organizations as well as share it with people who travel with me.

This past year we traveled again to Costa Rica and it appears that contagious enthusiasm is still abounding! One of my participants was Preethi Swami. This young woman reminded me of myself 30 years ago. She was on fire! Everything she encountered was full of excitement and wonderment. Her enthusiasm spilled out to others in the group and it was warming and dear to my heart. When I first started doing tours I was concerned people would not appreciate it like I do. Over the years I have found not only do people feel the same way but it is a magical and enlightened experience to share it with others who are like-minded. 

I wanted to share some of the art Preethi created while she was on the trip as well as some pieces she did afterwards. She was dedicated and passionate, spending every waking moment immersed in creating and learning about the rainforest.

The enrollment for the Journey to Costa Rica for 2025 is now open. We are offering a $250 discount for early enrollment by September 1, 2024. We have sold out 2 years in a row and already have 6 people enrolled. If you would like to join us here is a link to the full itinerary: Click Here.

You can also contact me we can arrange a zoom or phone call or communicate via email: Mlighthipe@mac.com

For those of you have already been to Costa Rica……… a new destination is in the works….. Peru|Machu Picchu|Amazon Summer 2025! Stay tuned for more details!