The Boaters of the Térraba River

~ by Prof. Fernando Pérez*

Térraba has its roots in the borucan word Dí Crí, in the Broran dialect the word Diquís means “big water.” Several villages settle at its shores, among them are: La Vieja, Curré, Lagarto, Pilas, Térraba, Potrero Grande, Clavera, Boruca, Puerto Nuevo, Cajón y Palmar de los Indios, residents of these villages often visited “Pozo,” currently known as Ciudad Cortés.

The Térraba river is a part of many stories and legends, in addition to being a fateful witness of the many adventures lived by the boaters.

Los boteros del Terraba

Los boteros del Terraba

The Borucan legend says the Térraba has an owner by the name of Dív Sújcra, which means “guardian of the waters.” This is a spirit capable of transmutation into multidimensional cosmological beings. Their God Sibú sent him in the form of countless and translucent gold figurines with the purpose of making sure man would use the river resources in a rational matter; otherwise they would have to be punished.

During the 60s, it was quite common to see numerous boats in its channel, all of them propelled by rods, traveling from ‘la Vieja’ to the river mouth. Because it was a dangerous journey, the travelers use to navigate in groups to protect each other against any possible danger. Unfortunately, there were many travelers never returning because they probably were victims of a wild animal attack, drowned, or lost their loads and their lives in torrential areas. Those making a return would stop to sleep in “Canchen” currently known as Cajón.

The indigenous from boruca used to navigate the ocean and collect the salt they needed; they also did some fishing and hunting to feed their families. The tribal women used to go and get the natural pigments to give color to the cotton threads used in the making of their beautiful clothes.

* Artist born within the Brunca region whom at a very young age declared a profound passion for his cultural identity. His art embodies his enthusiasm focused on the continuous investigation of our indigenous social groups in order to understand and demonstrate the pre-Hispanic cosmological connection to the universe.

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