The main village of the Boruca community although difficult to access is served by public transport twice a day. Coming directly from San José, we visited this indigenous community and stayed in a family on site.
This experience was the greatest we had since the beginning of our trip around the world. But before sharing it with you and to help you to understand what we learned here, I wish to make a link with a recent anthropological study realized by Daisy Stevens Rojas about the women Boruca. Yes this blog always links travel and research.
The study by Daisy Stevens Rojas first explains the notion of indigenous, which for us does not have the same meaning as for the Boruca. In my Western culture, bloodline will define whether the person is indigenous or not. The definition is different in these villages. For people living here the term ” indigenous ” is intimately linked to kinship organization and the manner in which one lives.
This notion of community is extremely strong here. It means sharing, helping and participate in the group life. For example the women will help each other to prepare meals, to take care of the children, for the cleanings and some creative activities among which the painting of the masks which attracted here. Sharing food, tasks and wealth. To quote the words of one of the members met: “If I have pig meat and my neighbour has beans, then I will give him some meat and he will give me some beans so we will eat the same thing both.”
Tasks performed by men and women are well defined and separated. Despite a certain machismo, it seems there is an equal measure of respect for each gender and for the importance of the work carried out.
One after the other, members of the community shared with us their culture. All were extremely happy to share it with us and it made the meeting a real pleasure. We ate and slept in a family that nicely welcomed us and made us feel like at home. The atmosphere was peaceful and kind. We had not met this warm serenity since a long time.
In the evening a man came to tell us the legends of his people. He teaches in the school the boruca language and the history of his people. He told us the legends of the spirits of the water. Also about the belief, still present, in a protector of nature called Cuasrán.
From house to house we could observe how they are making craft. Like the masks carved by men and painted by women. These masks helped Boruca to resist to the Spanish conquistadors. Indeed, at the sight of the Boruca warriors, the faces hidden by versions of masks much less attractive than those made today, the Spaniards believed they were attacked by devils.
We could also see the cotton spinning, dyeing and weaving.
Our stay here was particularly interesting. Boruca opened the doors of their culture and their way of life. It was an extremely rich immersion in a community based on mutual help and sharing. We will always be grateful to them. Unfortunately we must continue our journey and return to the touristic roads. But Costa Rica has many other things to offer and it’s with many dreams in our head that we are going to discover them.
Référence: BETWEEN TRADITION AND MODERNITY: CHANGING GENDER ROLES AMONG THE BRIBRI AND BORUCA WOMEN OF COSTA RICA. Daisy Stevens Rojas. Cuadernos de Antropología No.19, 113-122, 2009