Creating Art at Cloudbridge

Detail - fern imprint

This is an amazing place to create art.  I have been painting here for almost a year and would like to share a series with you.

“Portraits of Survivors”

Images of large trees emerge through layers of acrylic paint and collage on stretched canvas in my series titled “Portraits of Survivors”.

This body of work was painted in the tropical forests of Costa Rica. I am intrigued by the giants that loom up above the other trees.  They must have been the ones that weren’t cut down through deforestation.  The secondary forest is emerging all around them, but it is slow. It is said that when regeneration begins it can take a century for recovery back to the original state as a primary rain forest.

  The paintings are imbedded with butterfly wings and skeletalized leaves found in the forest. Other collage remnants are stamped prints of leaf venation and ferns on dyed tissue paper.  In the paintings they become the symbols of the living ecosystem dependent on each tree for existence. Through these tree portraits I have focused on the individual old growth trees, survivors of earlier times.

To look at a tree, each with its own unique form and contribution to the forest is to gain wonder about our own individual existence.  “We need trees more than they need us” 


Linda Moskalyk


Old Man's Beard


Reaching New Heights


Going Topless


A Fine Balance


Detail - stamping "How do I love thee, Let me count the ways"


Detail - spiraled paper - This symbol is seen in indigenous art and petroglyphs in Costa Rica. I am still looking for the significance of it.


Detail - Skeletalized leaf found in the forest


Timeless Confidence


Cloud Stripping


I Can Move Mountains

There are many more trees to be honored through my paintings.

 My goal for this series is to have exhibitions for the awareness of the protection of our forests.   Cloudbridge has been my inspiration and motivation for this initiative. 





Dutchie Pancakes

These pancakes are worth making.  Our Dutch researcher Michiel made them for us several times.  We ate them with whipped cream  fresh mango and syrup.  mmmmm

Michiel’s Dutchie Pancakes

Flour – at least 4 cups

1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

Baking powder – a little

Add 2 eggs.  Beat

Add milk – at least 1 litre.  Wisk for a very long time until it reaches a good consistency similar to thin pancake batter. (slightly fluffy)

Heat frying pan, add a little butter to cover bottom.

Put a scoop (soup ladle) into the pan, move the pan around so the batter moves and coats entire bottom.

When top begins to dry out shake the pan to loosen the pancake and then flip it in the air and hopefully it lands on the other side.  Cook until slightly browned

Add butter to pan before every pancake.  Very important.


·         Put cheese in hot pan and add batter over top.  Flip

·         Fried Bacon in hot pan and add batter over top.  Flip

·         Add raisons and apples and cinnamon

·         Add bananas.



This is a large recipe for approx 6 people. Plain pancakes can be served with fruit and whipped cream.  Top with maple syrup.


flipping- This could take some practice


This is a popular dish in the Netherlands. 


April at Cloudbridge


If you are thinking a year ahead, sow a seed.

If you are thinking ten years ahead, plant a tree.

If you are thinking one hundred years ahead, educatate the people.

                                           Chinese proverb   500 BC

We are once again entering the rainy season.  There are just hints of it with some sunny days and some days where we are starting to see showers in the afternoon.  We always just smile and say its good for the trees!

April was a month of clearing the weeds from out tree research plot in preperation for the rains and working to install a pipeline down the mountain to power a new micro hydro electric system for the Enviromental Learning Center.  After several pipe joints blowing and a Pipe explosion we finally got it.  Oh to have local experts would be such a great asset.

We had 28 students and teachers from Beacon School, N.Y., N.y. for four days as part of a Spanish cultural class.  Students participated in a number of hikes, planted trees and worked on service projects including moving tons of soil from the septic project landscaping around the Environmental Learning Center, building compost bins, sanding lumber for table tops and painting a sign for a new womans co-op resteraunt sponsored by Proyecto San Gerardo.

Beacon Spanish Cultural class

Students planting trees along the River trail


Designing & Painting the Bambu Cafe sign

Power Tools?


 Our two researchers are Michiel and Tijmen from Van Hall Larenstein University of applied sciences in the Netherlands. Their major is Tropical Forestry and Nature Management.   They are doing research on the comparison of natural regrowth and plantation planting.  Many hours were spent in the forest measuring, identifying species and collecting data.  They are on a 6 week internship.  We are enjoying there company with many great stories of the Netherlands, their adventures in Costa Rica, and also their cooking skills and interesting dinners.

A Different Kind Of Hike

We went on a very unique kind of hike with a group of students from Beacon High School, New York City.    We decided to take our long time employee, Victor with us to learn a little about cultural history of the area.  Victor grew up on a farm in the Talamanca mountains.  He eventually sold the farm to Ian and Genevieve and it became Cloudbridge North, a part of the Cloudbridge Reserve.

We weren’t sure if Victor would be interested in taking part in facilitating a history lesson on what his life was like growing up here and then later farming the property.  He willingly volunteered to do it for the students.

He told us about the difficulties of living so far from the closest community (Caanan) and the challenges of a lifestyle in isolation.  There were no roads, only a very narrow trail leading out of the mountain area.  The bridge across the river was a very long log that was washed away every year in the rainy season and had to be replaced.  They couldn’t even use horses on this trail and so the trip into town was always on foot.  One person from the family would go in once every 8 days to sell palmito (heart of palm) harvested from the palm trees to make money for the purchase of a few supplies.  They didn’t sell any of the produce that they grew as they needed all the food they could get for the large family.   He said he remembers often being hungry.  With deep emotion he repeated throughout the conversation that it was a very difficult life.  One of the students asked him what games they played as children.  He said that he couldn’t recall playing, only working every day.  Health care was non-existent as they were too far from any hospital.  “If you cut your finger off you just hold something over it”.  There were many diseases that took the lives of people because they couldn’t get treated.  He lost five of his siblings.

After Victor gave us some background information we all hiked up through Cloudbridge to what remains of the little house in the mountains.  It is a one room building with a roof but not much for walls.  They slept just on the floor which was the bare ground.  “We slept on the soil” he said.  There remains some remnents of a very simple life – Rocks arranged in the corner for cooking on, and a few pots and pans. 

I looked up at the giant Tirra (Mexican elm) tree near the house and asked him how big was the tree when you were young.  “It was just as big when I was young” he said.  That must have been one of the trees that didn’t get cut down. Maybe they saved it for shade and shelter.  He told us how they cut down most of the forest on their land because they needed to grow food.  We asked him if they felt any remorse for cutting down the forest. He said no they were very poor and needed to eat.  They chopped each of the huge cloud forest trees with only an axe. Some trees took two days to fell.  The wood was burned. Once the land was cleared they planted beans, squash, potatoes and other vegetables.  They also had a couple of cows for milk.

The students wanted to know what they ate besides the vegetables.  He said “Anything that lived in the forest….monkeys, tapirs, peccaries, pizotes, birds etc.” They ate it all!  He said that they were hungry and so it was all delicious.

Victor expressed his need to give his children a better life.  He is very proud of the work he does at Cloudbridge and the opportunity to provide his family with a better home and education.  He has no formal education as they lived too far from any school. He understands the importance of education for his children so that they can have a less harsh life with more opportunities to choose from.

 Victor has a vast knowledge of the forest and the environment and Cloudbridge is fortunate to have him.  Cutting down the forest was for survival.  Ironically he now plants trees back where they were taken out and he knows the reasons why.  He talked about what he called ‘Gringo technology’ meaning that foreigners have helped  the reforestation process with their knowledge of environmental issues and global perspective.   He explains to the students that it is important that he tells them his story so that they will know how hard life was for people years ago and how important it is to protect the forests.  He explained that the rivers were contaminated when the trees were removed.  The soil and the ashes from the trees washed into the water.  Now the rivers are once again clear.

As we walked back down from the mountain I caught a glimpse of Victor momentarily stopping and looking back.  He seemed to be deep in thought.  I think he enjoyed sharing his story and it probably brought back memories that he hadn’t thought about for quite some time.  He has given the students a lot to think about as well.  This is an experience we won’t forget.