Poisonous Millipedes of the Costa Rican jungle, and my nightmares!

During one of the jungle excursions I was on in Costa Rica I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. At a about 4-5 inches long, I immediately thought I had found some funky caterpillar. I was way wrong. On closer inspection it was the stuff of nightmares, at least for me. Millipedes and Centipedes are to me, like snakes are to Indian Jones. They absolutely make my skin crawl. That being said I still had to face my fears and observe this fellow on his journey through the jungle. I would later find out it was actually poisonous also.

When threatened the millipede will curl up into a little ball and secret a liquid which contains hydrogen cyanide and benzaldehyde. It is not potent enough to threaten human health, however I wasn’t going to find out first hand. After a quick photo opportunity the millipede disappeared into a crevice of an old tree stump. I was thankful for the encounter, and just as thankful that it was over as I continued on my way.

The Tampa Bay skyline…

I shot this photo of the Tampa Bay Skyline a few years back. Usually for a night shot like this a tripod would be handy. Just so happened I didn’t have one in tow. Sometimes you need to make the world your tripod. I was able to find a walking bridge with thick cement side walls. I was able to set my camera on it, I had to use my cellphone under the lens to level the shot, set the timer and let the camera do the work. Not the most technical approach but it did the trick in a pinch!

Tampa Bay, Florida Skyline

Purchase this photo in my online store here: https://www.byronfichter.com/store/art_print_products/web-byron-fichter-fotography?product_gallery=8790&product_id=945753

Photo of the day, the Best Tacos!

One of the really neat things about Costa Rica is it is kind of like living in a time warp. I am sure it isn’t quite as prolific as Cuba, which I have my eyes on for a photography destination in the very near future. However it is still really interesting. This food truck really caught my attention, I mean when doesn’t a VW Bus catch your attention?

The funny thing is I found this bus in an impound lot while I was walking around the small village of Quepos. I was actually looking for a secret local beach, which turned out to have a view to die for. More on that at a later date though. I had to get a photo of this thing. It was way too awesome with the hand painted art, and the classic VW logo staring me in the face. After a few attempts through the fence, I decided to approach the guard of the impound lot. He chuckled at my request, but was happy to allow me access for the photo.

I am not sure this truck really could boast the best tacos, however it did serve up an amazing shot.

Costa Rican “sodas” and Gallo Pinto….

A “soda” in Costa Rica is a restaurant. They generally serve “typico” or typical Costa Rican food.

A soda in downtown San Jose.

There was a real sense of pride with the service, and quality of food. Also the care and detail that went into the decorating of the sodas, reflected the genuine attention to detail the owners put into making their store unique.

Inside a soda in San Jose.

I really enjoyed the typico food, usually consisting of beans and rice with chicken, pork, shrimp, or occasionally beef. The dish would often be garnished with pico de gallo, guacamole, or fried plantains.

My favourite typico dish was the breakfast dish, also known as Gallo Pinto. Gallo Pinto is a simple beans and rice, served with scrambled or fried eggs. This dish was often served with fried cheese, fresh fruit, and/or fried plantains.

I have been making this dish at home often, and it is fairly simple. The following is my version. Just as a note I don’t really ever measure my food I pretty much just eye ball the measurements.

Gallo Pinto (serving for 1):
1/4 cup of rice
2 Tablespoons of black beans
Pinch of chopped cilantro (optional)
2 Tablespoons of diced onions (optional)
2 Tablespoons of diced sweet peppers (optional)
Dash of sea salt
2 Eggs
Coconut Oil
Try Me Tiger Sauce
Garlic to taste

1) Cook rice normally.

2) While rice is cooking I scramble the two eggs and set them aside on my plate.

3) While rice is continuing to cook, add oil to a pan and sauté onions, peppers, garlic and black beans (reserve the bean juice).

4) Once the rice is cooked add it to the mixture and continue to sauté. Add the black bean juice. Season with sea salt to taste.

One of the little treats in Costa Rica is the condiment which is called “Salsa”. It is actually more of a sweet chilli sauce than it is salsa. The closest thing I have found to it in Canada is Try Me Tiger Sauce. You can add this to the mixture while it sautes, or put it on your beans and rice after cooking.

Costa Rican “salsa” sauce.
Canadian alternative to salsa.

5) Garnish beans and rice with cilantro, and  serve along side the eggs.

There is no real set recipe. I had many different variations of this dish throughout my time in Costa Rica. I usually make mine differently from day to day also. Sometimes garnishing with green onions, instead of sautéing the onions with the peppers and beans. I will also sometimes add mushroom, and sometimes not have peppers or onions at all.


Grand-Prix Ski-Doo Valcourt, a must attend event!

I said it before, and I will lead off with the same sentiment. #Valcourt is one of those fun motorsports events, that you wish would never end! Usually my day would start off at about 10-10:30, as I would make my way around the paddocks. I like to wander around and grab some of those candid photos of people going through there routines preparing for the day ahead. I also visually, and mentally prepare for the day by going over a shot list, which I will sketch down in my daybook, or into the notes on my phone. It is very important to go through your photos at the end of each day, if not during the day at some point if you have the opportunity to do so. Sometimes you can pick up on some little detail, and make an adjustment to the composition, or “re-take” a shot. It is always a learning process at a new event, and for myself a sport I am not familiar with. It is part of training ones eye to take better shots.

I noticed right away on Day 1 that this event is focused on having fun. Hours before the first green flag drops the DJ is bumping (and I mean bumping!) tunes that I am sure can be heard for miles away. I caught myself putting on regular dance performances throughout the day. How could you not, as the snocross racers dance through the moguls almost perfectly in tune to Justin Timberlake’s Filthy?

Play track change, some old school Ruby Soho by Rancid and the action takes to the Ice Oval. The most fearless athletes in motorsport battle it out at over 100mph on a very unforgiving ring of ice. One slip, bad edge, or mental lapse and you’d find yourself barrelling into the retaining wall of hay bails, often with your machine coming in hot.

Of course if that isn’t entertaining enough, Valcourt serves up an order of bikes, ATVs, and Side by Sides.

I was also ultimately blown away by the “chill out zone”. Complete with a party tent, and all kinds of kid fun. Every evening from around 5PM, until waaayyyyy too late at night, live bands rocked the party tent. You could enjoy some amazing food truck eats, check out products from your favourite manufacturers, or have an adult beverage. Bring the kids too, there was all sorts of amazing fun. A huge toboggan hill was constructed, bouncy castles, a mini ATV race course, and fire pits to warm up beside.

Of course for me the fun is had with my camera. This event provided me with all sorts of challenges. Which I always relish the opportunity to work through. You cannot grow as a photographer without being faced with all sorts of challenges that push your limits. I talked about a few of these in brief in my other blogs. Some that really stood out were shooting in snow and ice during daylight hours. The white washes right out and it can really mess with your shots. Slightly overexposing seems to get a more favourable outcome to eliminate the hard shadows.

The obvious one was shooting in snow, and freezing rain conditions. Although I will admit I loved the results when I was able to snag them. The challenges were endless here. Fogging lenses and view finders, wet glass, frozen buttons, slippery buttons, you name it. It was just a measure of perseverance and realizing that the shots were totally worth it!

Another obstacle was not being able to use a flash. This became a task of creative shots, and utilizing the track lighting as best as possible. Along with full pressing the limits of the cameras abilities.

One other challenge I did not expect to face. An impromptu photoshoot with the Rockstar Energy girls. Also low lighting conditions, without any sort of lighting gear in tow. It took a little trial and error, however my Nikon D800 was up to the task as it always is!

If you were unable to attend the event, and wanted to take in the racing action. You were in luck! Sledknawker.tv broadcast the event live, and for free. The broadcast was also repeated via the official website of the Grand-Prix.

The official testing site for Ski-Doo, Grand-Prix Valcourt serves up this one public event yearly. It is an action packed event, where you will meet a lot of great and friendly people. There is a little something for everyone, but most of all, a lot of FUN! So we will see you in Valcourt next year? I know I will be there!