Baile de los Diablitos 2023
AUTHOR: Marie Kasseroler
The Borucan are an indigenous tribe that ruled the South Pacific of Costa Rica for centuries. These tribes were buzzing with life, creativity, and traditions and still are today.
Every year, the community of Boruca celebrates the annual “Baile de los Diablitos”- the little devils´ dance from the 30th of December to the 2nd of January yearly, when they honor the victory over the Spanish colonists.
And that is where we went.
The village is a bit challenging to find. We drove 2,5 hours from Uvita over motorways, unpaved roads on mountains, and rock falls. The view was an incredible highlight overlooking the two valleys and the Talamanca mountains at the horizon.
We knew we had arrived when we first saw a group of disguised people ahead of us.
What once was nothing more than a small group of cabins is now a relatively big village with a restaurant, supermarket, and a museum that educates visitors about the history of the tribe. Here, we could admire the handicraft of the tribe, for example, an ancient sphere (a huge circular stone). It is a secret how the ancient Borucan could chisel it so perfectly round. There were also handmade textile work and colorful balsa-wood masks at the gift shops.
The whole time we could hear drum rolls in the distance, but now they were getting louder, and we knew it was time to go to the fairground, where residents and amazed tourists were waiting patiently. A train of men arrived decorated with skirts of banana leaves, painted bodies, and chilling scary masks on their heads. Once they all stopped at the square, they began to dance around the bull and represented the Spanish intruder.
They pricked him with decorated spears and tried to scare him away. At times, the ambiance got hot when men from their ranks were knocked down, but that was part of the game. When the bull got tired, another man took over. So, it went on for hours (four days in a row).
After their first dance this afternoon, the train moved on to dance with the residents' gardens, and we got something to eat. First, we had some ceviche at a recently opened restaurant, then tamales at the table of a kind indigenous leader lady, who proudly showed us her handmade masks. She handed us an alcoholic drink made of fermented corn called chicha. We made a side trip to the festival hall, where a DJ was already expecting his audience, and waited for the parade to come back to dance again.
A couple of hours and a delicious regional cup of coffee later, it was time for us to leave since it was getting dark. So, we, unfortunately, missed the highlight of the day when the Borucan finally burned the bull, symbolically sealing the victory over the Spaniards.
Nevertheless, our hearts were full. Indeed, the brave Borucan and we slept soundly that night.
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